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The Beth pear tree can be summed up in two key phrases, early in the year to fruit and a superb flavour. It might not be your choice for the first pear tree you buy but it must come high on the list for a second pear tree. Most pear trees produce fruit in October but Beth reliably fruits in early September. This can extend the pear eating season considerably.

The flavour and texture are amongst the best of all pear tree varieties. The flesh melts in your mouth and the taste is sweet without being sugary.


PARENTAGE OF BETH


Beth is a cross between Beurre Superfin and Williams Bon Chretien. Although Beurre Superfin has delicious taste and texture it struggles to grow well in many areas of the UK. The Williams however is much more suited to our weather conditions and the cross between the two varieties has resulted in a delicious tasting pear which can be grown in most of the UK.

This variety was first identified as having commercial potential in 1938 by Henry Tydeman who is best known for breeding the apple tree Tydemans Late Orange. The development of this variety was curtailed when World War II broke out and it was not until 1974 that it was named Beth and released for sale in the UK.

APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF BETH


This variety is slightly smaller than average with a conical shape and a relatively thick neck. The skin is smooth and thin with no russet to it. It haS a typical pear colouring of green /yellow with some brown areas at the stalk end. On the sun facing side the skin can have a slight pink tinge to it. 

The Beth pear variety
Beth pear.

The taste of Beth pears is very similar to traditional French style pears - it's sweet and juicy with the flesh smooth and melting, very little crunchy texture.

Fruit is produced early in the season season (see below for average expected dates) which makes this a good choice if you also have a mid to late season variety such as Concorde. Beth should be harvested when the pears are slightly under-ripe. See here for detailed information on when to harvest pears. This variety is no different from others, after harvest it should be stored in cool conditions after harvest and bought inside the house for a couple of days prior to eating.

Beth begins to produce pears early in its life, typically starting as a three year old. From the fourth year onwards it will often produce too many pears for the young branches. Thinning the fruit will be needed and the best time to do this is when small fruits have formed, normally in early June time. See our article on pear tree care for full details.

POLLINATION PARTNERS FOR BETH PEARS


Beth (pollination group 3) is self-sterile so to produce fruit you need one of the following other varieties nearby:
  • Brandy (pollination group 4)
     
  • Clapp's Favourite (pollination group 3)
      
  • Concorde (pollination group 3 to 4)
     
  • Conference (pollination group 3)
     
  • Doyenne du Comice (pollination group 4)
     
  • Humbug (pollination group 3)
     
  • Invincible (pollination group 2)
     
  • Moonglow (pollination group 3)
     
  • Sensation (pollination group 3)
     
  • Winter Nelis (pollination group 3)

HOW TO PRUNE BETH PEAR TREE


Most of the normal rules for pruning a pear tree apply to Beth. This is an upright growing variety and will benefit from some gentle training of young, main branches to encourage them to grow more horizontally. One very cheap but very effective method of doing this is to drape a pair of tights over the branch and weigh them down with a few large stones. 

The final height and spread of a mature (seven year old) Beth pear tree will depend on the rootstock used, soil and growing conditions. Averages are as follows:

  1. Quince C rootstock (semi-dwarfing) 2.5m to 3m (8ft to 10ft)
     
  2. Quince A rootstock (semi-dwarfing) 3m to 4m (10ft to 13ft)
     
  3. Pyrus c. rootstock (natural size) 6m to 8m (20ft to 27ft)

More information about growing pear trees including planting, feeding, watering, mulching, harvesting and pruning can be found on our page here.

The primary use for Beth pears is for eating, they do not perform well at all when cooked because the flesh tends to fall apart.

BUYING BETH PEAR TREES


Beth is available to buy from some garden centres but is more easily found from online fruit tree specialists. See our price comparison article for detailed information on buying good pear trees at the best prices.

SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BETH PEAR TREE



USE
: Eating only

SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Green / yellow with small areas of brown. Very little russet.

FLESH COLOUR: White / cream

TASTE AND TEXTURE: Sweet, juicy, smooth.

FRUIT SIZE: Medium to small

SUITABILITY FOR FAN / ESPALIER GROWTH: Not recommended

TREE SIZE: Average but slow to grow

REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Very regular

POLLINATION: Flowering Group 3 (RHS classifications), self-sterile, see text above for suitable varieties.

DIPLOID / TRIPLOID? Diploid, good as a pollinator for other pear trees.

ROOTSTOCKS: Best in most conditions on Quince A rootstock. If soil conditions, nutrients and water supply are good it will also grow well on Quince C rootstock which will restrict its size slightly.

AWARDS: AGM from Royal Horticultural Society

PROPAGATION: We know of no restrictions to propagating this variety of pear.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Regularly produces an early season crop of tasty pears.

FLOWERING AND FRUITING TIMES:
The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Beth pear tree are set out below. If you have set your home town we can give you a more accurate estimate, if you have not set your home town (do it now by clicking here) the dates below will be the average for the UK.

Your town has not been set, the average main flowering time for Beth in the UK is the last week of April. Fruit will be ready for picking in the first week of September. Click here if you want to set the dates to your home town.

Flowering and fruit picking dates vary according to the weather in any particular growing season so the above dates may well change slightly from one year to the next. The flowering date above is when the pear tree produces the maximum number of blossoms, it will also produce blossom, although less, a week or two either side of the date given.

The fruit from Beth should be harvested when it is just under-ripe because they ripen best off the tree. In practice, wait till a few pears drop off the tree of their own accord and then harvest the remaining pears over a couple of weeks. They are ready for picking when they can be easily pulled off the tree. To ripen them fully, take them into the house (not on a window sill) at normal indoors temperature. They will be ready to eat after two to three days. To store longer keep them in a cool dark place such as a garage, shed or the fridge. For more details on harvesting pears click here.

COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS

Date: 5 November 2017 From: Lillie
QUESTION: I have both Beth and Williams. I'm not sure which is which. Tree no 1 is cropping now (nearly finished) with small fruit but very scabby. Tree no 2 has larger fruit, not yet ready for picking but free of scab. Which is more likely to be Beth?

ANSWER: Beth produces smaller pears compared to a Williams and Beth crops earlier than a Williams. So on that basis tree 1 is the Beth and tree 2 is the Williams.


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