WINTER NELIS PEAR TREE
By David Marks
Winter Nelis, when grown in the UK, is the best of the winter pears overall. When picked in October it has the ability to be stored into January. Because the weather has started to turn cooler in October no special storage facilities are required other than a garage or shed.
This is not a good looking pear but it certainly is a sweet one with lots of flavour which develops best when grown in a protected, sunny position.
PARENTAGE OF WINTER NELIS
The parents of Winter Nelis are not known although we know it was bred in Mechelen (French named Malines), Belgium by Jean Charles Nelis in the very early 1800’s. In 1818 it was introduced to England and then in 1823 to the USA.
HOGGS FRUIT MANUAL
Hoggs Fruit Manual dates back to the 1880s but as far as pear trees are concerned there is no other source of information which provides more useful information on what we now call Heritage varieties of pears. The book also has the eminently redeeming feature that it was not trying to sell pear trees, it was aimed solely at informing the average UK gardener. For this reason we quote below the relevant entry from that book in its entirety below. Click here to skip this information to go to our own unbiased review of this variety of pear tree.
“Fruit, below medium size; roundish obovate narrowing abruptly towards the stalk. Skin, dull green at first, changing to yellowish green, covered with numerous russety dots and patches of brown russet, particularly on the side next the sun …… Flesh, yellowish, fine grained, buttery and melting, with a rich, sugary and vinous flavour and a fine aroma.
One of the richest flavoured pears. It is use from November till February. The tree forms a handsome small pyramid, is quite hardy and an excellent bearer. As grown at Teddington it is a good pear but of rather flat flavour. Not to be compared with Josephine de Malines.”
This variety has a bulbous, almost round shape, not the most attractive of pears. Most of the skin is lightly russeted with a light brown colour, turning slightly more yellow when fully ripe. It’s smaller than an average pear. The flesh colour is creamy.
The taste of Winter Nelis pears is rich with lots of aroma. It’s sweet and juicy with very little crunch to it.
Fruit is produced late in the season season (see below for average expected dates) and Winter Nelis should be harvested when the pears are slightly under-ripe. See here for detailed information on when to harvest pears. This variety has outstanding storage properties for a pear and can easily keep for a couple of months. After harvest it should be stored in cool conditions and bought inside the house for a couple of days prior to eating.
Winter Nelis is a rather slow-growing pear tree and it is best grown on Quince A rootstock in the UK, Quince C rootstock is not vigorous enough.
POLLINATION PARTNERS FOR WINTER NELIS PEARS
Winter Nelis (pollination group 3) is self-sterile so to produce fruit you need one of the following other varieties nearby:
- Beth (pollination group 3)
- 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)
- Gorham (pollination group 4)
- Humbug (pollination group 3)
- Josephine de Malines (pollination group 4)
- Merton Pride (pollination group 4)
- Moonglow (pollination group 3)
- Packham’s Triumph (pollination group 3)
- Sensation (pollination group 3)
- Williams Bon Chretien (pollination group 3)
HOW TO PRUNE WINTER NELIS PEAR TREE
Most of the normal rules for pruning a pear tree apply to Winter Nelis. This is a slow growing tree and pruning should be restricted to encouraging the tree to grow well in the
first few years.
The final height and spread of a mature (seven year old) Winter Nelis pear tree will depend on the rootstock used, soil and growing conditions. Averages are as follows:
- Quince C rootstock (semi-dwarfing) – not recommended
- 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 Winter Nelis pears is for eating.
BUYING WINTER NELIS PEAR TREES
Winter Nelis is available to buy from online fruit tree suppliers. Some specialist garden centres occasionally sell it. 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.
SUMMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WINTER NELIS PEAR TREE
USE: Eating only
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Light brown / green
FLESH COLOUR: Cream
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Sweet and juicy with fine texture.
FRUIT SIZE: Slightly smaller than average
SUITABILITY FOR FAN / ESPALIER GROWTH: Not recommended
TREE SIZE: Average but slow growing
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Good regularity.
POLLINATION: Flowering Group 4 (RHS classifications), self-sterile, see text above for suitable varieties.
DIPLOID / TRIPLOID? Diploid, average as a pollinator for other pear trees in flowering groups three and four.
ROOTSTOCKS: Best in most conditions on Quince A rootstock.
AWARDS: None known
PROPAGATION: We know of no restrictions to propagating this variety of pear.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Excellent storage properties, can be eaten well into January
FLOWERING AND FRUITING TIMES: The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Winter Nelis 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 Winter Nelis in the UK is the last week of April. Fruit will be ready for picking in the last 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 Winter Nelis 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 garage, shed or the fridge. For more details on harvesting pears click here.