GORHAM PEAR TREE
By David Marks
A highly under-rated variety of pear, Gorham is, in reality, an “improved” version of the Williams / Bartlett pear. The flavour of the two varieties is almost indistinguishable but what makes Gorham stand out is its high resistance to scab. It also has good resistance to mildew.
The Americans bred this variety of pear but as with all varieties the descendants are 100% British. For some unknown reason the Americans have not taken to Gorham but the British most certainly have.
PARENTAGE OF GORHAM
The parents of Gorham are Williams and Josephine de Malines. It was first bred at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1910. It was not until the late 1920s that this variety of pear first came to the attention of commercial growers. Trials at the Colorado State College Experimentation Station from 1928 to 1936 identified Gorham as resistant to many pear pests and diseases which affect the commonly grown Williams variety but resistance to change led to Gorham being side-lined. It was introduced to the UK in 1940.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF GORHAM
The fruits are cone shaped with almost no neck at all. When under-ripe the skin is a browny green turning to a more yellow colour as it matures. There is a good amount of russet to the skin. The flesh is white with a relatively small seed area.
The taste of Gorham pears is, overall, sweet but there is a background hint of acidity. There is a slight musk element in the aroma. The flesh is juicy and soft when ripe. One benefit of this variety of pear is that they also cook very well.
Fruit is produced mid season (see below for average expected dates) and Gorham should be harvested when the pears are slightly under-ripe. See here or detailed information on when 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.
POLLINATION PARTNERS FOR GORHAM PEARS
Gorham (pollination group 4) is partially self-fertile but to get the best crop from this pear tree you need one of the following other varieties nearby:
- Beurre Bosc (pollination group 4)
- 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)
- Moonglow (pollination group 3)
- Winter Nelis (pollination group 3)
HOW TO PRUNE GORHAM PEAR TREE
The normal rules for pruning a pear tree apply to Gorham. They grow very well as fans and espaliers.
The final height and spread of a mature (seven year old) Gorham 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 Gorham pears is for both eating and cooking.
BUYING GORHAM PEAR TREES
Gorham is available to buy from a many online fruit tree specialists. It is not commonly available at garden centres. As far as 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.
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GORHAM PEAR TREE
USE: Eating and cooking
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Browny green turning slightly yellow when ripe/
FLESH COLOUR: White
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Sweet juicy and smooth texture
FRUIT SIZE: Average to slightly larger than average
SUITABILITY FOR FAN / ESPALIER GROWTH: Yes
TREE SIZE: Average
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Regular with good crops
POLLINATION: Flowering Group 3 (RHS classifications), self-fertile but does even 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 three and four.
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.
BOTANICAL NAME: Pyrus communis ‘Gorham’
SPECIAL FEATURES: As good as Williams Bon Chretien but with better disease resistance.
FLOWERING AND FRUITING TIMES: The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Gorham 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 Gorham in the UK is the first 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 Gorham 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.