Pear cultivar testing in Belgium

J. Vercammen, A. Gomand, D. Bylemans
In Belgium, ‘Conference’ remains the main pear cultivar and occupies nearly 90% of the pear acreage. Such a dominant cultivar has advantages as to branding and product recognition, but also disadvantages since low yield or low prices have a much larger impact on the earnings of the fruit grower compared to when the risk is spread over more cultivars. Cultivar testing is one of the important research topics in the “Experimental Garden for Pome and Stone Fruit” of pcfruit. Yearly several new pear selections are planted in the first phase (screening). From each selection we plant 10 trees on ‘Quince C’ or ‘Adams’ with ‘Conference’ as reference. Observation descriptors based on the IBPGR Descriptor list are used. A report is annually sent to the breeders/licensors. The new pear must be productive and delicious, with good fruit size, good appearance, good storability, and a good shelf life. It must have an optimal growth in our climate and be preferably, less susceptible to pests and diseases. Parthenocarpic fruit set must be possible through sprayings with gibberellins and the new selection should be complementary to ‘Conference’ (i.e., adjacent picking windows). After four to five production years a first selection is made. From these, more trees are planted in the second and third phase (scaling and optimization). Trials on improving fruit set, chemical thinning, fertilization, fruit quality and training and pruning techniques are set when needed. To test the ideal storage conditions, we work together with VCBT (KULeuven). The ultimate goal is to make a technical guide for the fruit growers. Current potential candidates are: ‘Saels’/‘Corina®’ (early clone of ‘Conference’), ‘Celina’/‘QTee®’ (‘Colorée de Juillet’ × ‘Williams’ from Norway), ‘Cepuna’/‘Migo®’ (‘Conference’ × ‘Doyenné d’Hiver’ from INRA Angers, France), and ‘Rode Doyenné van Doorn’/‘Sweet Sensation®’ (red clone of ‘Doyenné du Comice’). A potential candidate for the coming years is ‘CH201’/‘Fred®’ (‘Harrow Sweet’ × ‘Verdi’ from ACW, Switzerland).
Vercammen, J., Gomand, A. and Bylemans, D. (2021). Pear cultivar testing in Belgium. Acta Hortic. 1303, 15-22
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1303.3
'Saels'/'Corina®', 'Celina'/'QTee®', 'Cepuna'/'Migo®', 'Rode Doyenné van Doorn’/‘Sweet Sensation®', 'CH201'/'Fred®'

Acta Horticulturae