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CONCORDE PEAR TREE
Concorde was first released to UK gardeners and commercial growers in 1994 but breeding first began in 1968 at the East Malling Research Station. The parents are Doyenne Du Comice and the very widely grown Conference.
This relatively new variety takes much of the excellent taste characteristics of Doyenne Du Comice and combines them with the regular and vigorous cropping features of Conference. Although classified as self-fertile there is no doubt that Concorde benefits greatly from a suitable nearby pollinating partner. See below for full details.
PARENTAGE OF CONCORDE
The female seed parent is Doyenne Du Comice and the male pollen parent is Conference. Pollination was carried out artificially at the East Malling Research Station in 1968. When the seeds were sown they gave rise to several different varieties and after several years the best variety was selected for further development as Concorde in 1977.
Having grown the tree from seed initially all further development was performed by budding and grafting onto Quince A and Quince C rootstock. Concorde was released for sale to the general public in 1994, twenty six years after the first seeds were pollinated.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF CONCORDE
The pears are slightly larger than many other varieties with a long thin neck and a bulbous lower half. The base colour when ripe is a light green-yellow-brown and often the side which faces the sun has a pink flush to it, mainly to the top half of the fruit. It's an inviting looking pear by any standards. There is some russetting to the skin although this is only partial. The leaves are a dark, glossy green. The flowers are white.
The taste of Concorde pears is sweet with lots of aroma, there is no mistaking that it has real pear flavour to it which most find very agreeable. The texture is smooth and not coarse, it doesn't melt in your mouth but it has lots of juice to it.
Fruit is produced mid season (see below for average expected flowering and harvest dates) and Concorde should be harvested when the pears are slightly under-ripe. See here for detailed information on when and how to harvest pears. This variety is no different from others, after harvest it should be stored in cool conditions and bought inside the house for a couple of days prior to eating.
Concorde produces a crop of fruit a year or so earlier than most other varieties. It's a very regular cropper and produces a good amount of fruit every year. You can expect it to produce a small amount of fruit in the second year after planting and reach its full potential three years after that.
Concorde (pollination group 3 to 4) is partially self-fertile, bordering on fully self-fertile. Many fruit tree suppliers will try to convince you to buy another pear tree as a pollination partner for Concorde but in our experience this is not required. In practice, this variety can often become overloaded with fruit requiring it to be thinned. To ensure the maximum amount of fruit, other common pear tree varieties which will pollinate Concorde are:
- Beth (pollination group 3)
- Beurre Hardy (pollination group 3)
- Beurre Bosc (pollination group
- Clapp's Favourite (pollination group 3)
- Doyenne du Comice (pollination group 4)
- Gorham (pollination group 4)
- Humbug (pollination group 3)
- Moonglow (pollination group 3)
- Sensation (pollination group 3)
- Williams Bon Chretien (pollination group 3)
- Winter Nelis (pollination group 3)
HOW TO PRUNE CONCORDE PEAR TREE
Most of the normal rules for pruning a pear tree apply to Concorde. However, this variety can often become overloaded with fruit, especially when the wood is young, and this can cause branches to break. Overloading with fruit is not the only reason that branches break on Concorde, it also tends to produce very upright branches which sag easily under the weight of fruit. The first solution to this problem is to thin fruits in June especially on younger trees.
The second solution is to train the branches to grow more horizontal than they would naturally do. By gently tying the branches down to stakes in the ground for the first couple of year's growth they can be encouraged to grow outwards rather than upwards. This will also encourage a more open central part to the tree and allow good air circulation.
The final height and spread of a mature (seven year old) Concorde pear tree will depend on the rootstock used, soil and growing conditions. Averages are as follows:
- Quince C rootstock (semi-dwarfing) 2.5m to 3m (8ft to 10ft)
- Quince A rootstock (semi-dwarfing) 3m to 4m (10ft to 13ft)
- 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 Concorde pears is for eating and it is slow to brown when cut open so is good for salads. It is OK for cooking but does not retain its shape as well as a proper cooking pear variety.
CONCORDE PEAR TREE PESTS AND DISEASES
Concorde pear trees have good overall resistance to pests and diseases and have been reported as having good resistance to canker, a common problem for many varieties of pears. Their one weak area is a susceptibility to fireblight. This is a bacterial infection which thrives in warmer parts of the UK and it is unlikely to be a problem in the Midlands and north.
Picture of Fireblight from Stark Bros
The symptoms of fireblight are hard to miss even at the initial stages of infection. First the blossoms are infected (not always the case with pear trees) then new shoots, fruit and finally the main branches can be affected. The key symptoms are:
- Blossoms quickly die off turning a dark brown colour
- New shoots then become infected a week or so later and they too
wither and blacken although they tend to remain on the tree. Some shoots
may randomly be completely unaffected
- If the weather is warm and wet the affected shoots begin to weep a
sticky goo which is laden with bacteria
- Developing fruits then wither and die
- This year's wood growth is then infected and this turns black and
begins to die
- If the tree is not treated the infection then affects wood from previous years' growth and at this stage the tree will almost certainly die.
With pear trees in particular, the infection at the blossom stage can sometimes not occur, the first signs being noticed on new shoots. This is because pear blossom tends to appear a week or two earlier than on apple trees when the conditions are not yet warm enough for the bacteria to flourish.
For more information on treating fireblight, read our page dedicated to this bacterial infection.
BUYING CONCORDE PEAR TREES
Concorde is readily available to buy from garden centres, plant nurseries and online in the UK.
In common with most other pear trees buying online from a garden centre looks to be the most expensive option although picking up a tree yourself from your local garden centre will give better prices. As far as other online websites are concerned there are large price differences as far as this variety is concerned so see our price comparison page to find out which supplier is the cheapest and which is the most expensive - prices for a single tree range from £20 to over £50.
If organically grown pear trees are important to you, a good supplier is Walcot Nursery. Their trees are raised on plant nurseries certified by the Soil Association and inspected by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
CONCORDE PEAR TREES IN CONTAINERS
The variety Concorde is suitable for growing in containers. Choose one which is grown on the smallest rootstock which is Quince C.
Use a pot which is heavy if possible (not plastic) to help it not being blown over in heavy winds. A pot size of at least 50cm / 20in wide is best, the larger the better to reduce the need for frequent watering. Ensure you put some stones in the base of the pot before planting the tree to help drainage and provide some weight at the base. Fill with a John Innes loam type of compost although multi-purpose compost will do a similar job.
Feed twice a year with a handful of fish, blood and bone fertiliser. Don't feed with nitrogen rich fertilisers, they will reduce the amount of fruit it produces. Water frequently, especially in warm weather, this can mean once a day in warm weather. If you can possibly water with rainwater that is by far the best. Rainwater can be collected in a water butt (see here for our recommendations).
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CONCORDE PEAR TREE
USE: Eating and in salads
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Starts as green turning yellow as it ripens. The sun-facing side takes on a pink tinge. The skin has a slight russet to the surface.
FLESH COLOUR: White
TASTE AND TEXTURE: A full pear flavour and aroma. The texture is smooth with a slight crispness. Lots of juice. Overall excellent.
FRUIT SIZE: Slightly larger than average
SUITABILITY FOR FAN / ESPALIER GROWTH: Grows well as both an espalier and fan trained tree.
TREE SIZE: Average size depending on rootstock and conditions
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Regular, good crop
POLLINATION: Flowering Group 3 (RHS classifications), self-fertile but can do better with a suitable pollination partner, see text above for suitable varieties.
DIPLOID / TRIPLOID?: Diploid, good as a pollinator for other pear trees in flowering groups 3 and 4.
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: RHS AGM in 1993
PROPAGATION: Concorde is registered for Plant Breeders' Rights. Propagation by unlicensed growers is prohibited.
SPECIAL FEATURES: One of the few recently bred pear trees that are available commercially. Easy to grow, tolerant of soil conditions, ideal for the beginner. Produces fruit early in its life.
WHEN TO PICK / HARVEST CONCORDE:
The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Concorde 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 Concorde in the UK is the second week of May. Fruit will be ready for picking in the first week of October. 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 Concorde 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.