U of M Pear Breeding Program

Much like the apple breeding program, pear breeding at the University began in the early 20th century with the aim of developing varieties that would survive and produce well, despite Minnesota’s cold winters. Parker, Bantam and Golden Spice were the early varieties developed by U of M for Northern growers with the hardy, and disease resistant, Summercrisp joining them in the 1980s.

In more recent years, a goal of the fruit breeding team was to develop hardy, crisp-fleshed pears, similar to “Asian pears”, that were becoming familiar to regional consumers. Trees of the first release from this effort, Juicy Jewel™, will be available to purchase from licensed nurseries. Home gardeners should be able to purchase trees from retail garden centers in 2022 or 2023. Fruit will start becoming available from local orchards in 2025.

Asian Pear vs Traditional 

Pears can be divided into two simple categories: European and Asian. Asian pears are traditionally uniform in color (yellowish-tan) and shaped more like apples. Flavor-wise, they are sweet and juicy like a pear and, but their texture is crunchy, much like an apple.

U of M Pear Varieties

Image Variety Year Features Ripens Plant Availability
Parker Pears Parker 1934 Medium to large, yellow-bronze fruit. Popular for its fine-grained, tender, juicy flesh. Fruit must be picked before it ripens. Upright, vigorous growing tree which may be susceptible to fire blight. September Available at retail garden centers
Not available Bantam 1940 Not available Not available

Heirloom variety with limited availability

Not available Golden Spice 1949 Small fruit, very hardy Not Available

Heirloom variety with limited availability

Summercrisp Pear Summercrisp 1985 Sweet flavored, crisp fruit. Fruit is harvested while crisp and with a green background, often with a red blush. . Hardy in zone 4. May be used as a pollinator for Juicy Jewel™. Mid-August Available at retail garden centers
Juicy Jewel pears growing in a tree. Juicy Jewel™ 2021 Early ripening Asian-type pear that is hardy in zone 4. Fruit is attractive with an occasional orange-pink blush. Should be picked ripe, while crisp and with a yellow-green background color. May be used as a pollinator for Summercrisp.

Mid-August

Will be available at retail garden centers in 2022 or 2023. 

Juicy Jewel™ is a trademark of the University of Minnesota.

Introducing Juicy Jewel™ Pear Tree

The University's latest pear variety packs quite a crunch! 

Know to Grow

‘Summercrisp’ is the hardiest University release. Plant another variety, such as Parker, for pollination.