Origin and distribution
Asian pear belongs to the family Rosaceae and said to be native of China and Japan. It is grown in these countries and other Asian countries including India for at least 3000 years. Asiatic pear is also cultivated throughout East Asia, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. It has been naturalized in mid-hills of western Himalayan region, northeast Indian Khasi-hills of Meghalaya and Nilgiri hills of south India between altitudes 800-1800 m. Locally, it is called Nashpati, Nashipati, Pathernakh and Tang.
The trees of Asiatic pear are 15-20 m tall, vigorous, spreading and prolific. The leaves are ovate-oblong, dark green, pubescent, elliptical and comparatively large in size, flowers white umbel, which appears prior to the emergence of leaves. Flowering occurs in February to early March depending on the elevation.
Fruits are mostly round shaped with a depression at stem end, deciduous calyx, russet, very hard and full of grits cells, crispy, grainy textured with a refreshing sweet taste but lack aroma, very different from the buttery European pear. Fruits ripen in July-August. Nutritional value and uses: The fruits are eaten raw and also made into jam and jellies. Fruit juice is also prepared from fully ripened fruits. The nutritional value of Asiatic pear per 100 g edible portion is given below.
|Moisture (g)||86.00||Fibre (g)||1.00||Iron (mg)||1.00
|Protein (g)||0.20||Other carbohydrates (g)||12.40||Vitamin A (IU)||14.00
|Fat (g)||0.10||Calcium (mg)||6.00||Riboflavin (mg)||0.03
|Minerals (g)||0.30||Phosphorus (mg)||10.00||Nicotinic acid (mg)||0.20
Asiatic pear is hardy in general, it prefers mild warm climate and requires 250-400 chilling hours below 70C. In India, it is grown at an elevation of 800-1800 m on a deep and warm soil retentive of moisture, though in actual practice it is generally grown on poor and marginal soils. The plants of Asiatic pear are propagated by grafting or budding on the P. pashia (kainth) rootstock and occasionally on quince. The grafted plants are planted in the field during January or February, following space of 6-7 m in 1 x 1 x 1 m pit filled with a mixture of soil and well rotten farmyard manure and 30 g Aldrin dust.
Irrigation is given after filling pits to settle down the mixture. Long roots and side branches can be pruned so that plant remains straight after planting. Proper training and pruning are essential for the development of plant growth and vigour to provide the convenience of pruning, spraying and harvesting. The trees are usually trained using modified central leader method.
In first-year plants are headed back at 90 cm low headed trees. In subsequent years training consists of thinning out unwanted branches and cutting others to desirable side limbs. The recommended dose of fertilizer for the 10-year-old plant is 50 kg FYM, 700 g N, 350 g P and 700 g K in hills. The trees come to bear in the 5th year after planting and their profitable bearing life is said to be about 60-70 years. The fruits are perishable; therefore 2-3 picking at 3-4 days interval should be done.
In India, 97 accessions of pear germplasm are being maintained in our field gene bank, 56 accessions at Regional Horticulture Station, Kotkhai. Other like RHRS Mashobra and IARI, Regional Station, Amartara, Shimla also maintaining the germplasm of some improved types. World’s largest pear germplasm about 1700 accessions representing 26 major Pyrus taxa and their hybrids are being maintained at USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, USA.
Out of 97 accessions that are maintained in NBPGR 11 accessions belongs to P. pyrifolia. The exotic Asiatic pear varieties i.e. Shin-sui (EC038739), Neijisekii (EC038740), and Chinese Sandy Pear (EC552676) were introduced from Japan. The indigenous collections of P. pyrifolia were collected from Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nilgiris. These 11 accessions have been characterized. The variability observed for days to fruit maturity (120-185 days), fruit length (1.94-7.89 cm), fruit width (2.26-5.77 cm) and fruit weight (32.47-170.70 g). Deciduous nature of calyx was observed in all the accessions.
Fruit ground colour was yellow, green yellow and green, and fruit over colour yellow, yellow with brown russet and brownish. Fruit surface smooth, medium rough and rough. Pulp texture is soft, medium and hard, with medium to high grittiness and pulp colour white-creamy. Total soluble solids ranged from 8.0-13.8%. Fruit juiciness medium-high and pulp taste sub-acidic, medium, and sweet. The accession EC38739, IC20804, IC20814, IC20821 and IC538508 showed high productivity. There are many important cultivars of Asiatic pear available in other countries viz. Early Asian, Shinseiki, Housi, Doitsu, Seuri, Shinko, Chojuro, Erishinge, Ya Li, 20th Century, and Megeitsu.
- National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources Regional Station, Phagli, Shimla