Winter Pruning and the Bradford Pear Tree

January 31, 2012 at 11:44 am
Bradford Pear Trees
Bradford Pear Trees In Bloom

Winter is an excellent time for pruning and evaluating potential hazards in deciduous trees as the absence of leaves reveals the plant’s branching structure. It is also easier to spot previous storm damage, such as broken branches, which may fall in more winds or heavy snow.  Similarly, exposure to plant pathogens and fungal diseases is much lower during the winter months, which is beneficial as pruning most typically involves exposing live tissue which can create an entry point for disease.

Here at E-Landscape Specialty Solutions, we were taking care of some winter pruning this week which was prompted by a call from our client, a healthcare facility.  They have quite a few Bradford Pears(Pyrus calleryana “Bradford”) in their parking lot and a branch snapped in high wind causing damage to a light pole and customer’s vehicle.  The Bradford Pear was bred to be a prolific flowering tree with a narrow canopy making it desirable as a street tree with excellent fall color as well. This narrow canopy coupled with it’s aggressive growth, however, creates many weak forks or crotches which split easily under high winds or heavy snow.  This damage can be prevented with proactive pruning to thin the canopy and remove any heavy, low branches.  While there are improved cultivars of the Callery Pear that are less susceptible to self-destructing, such as ‘Cleveland’ or ‘Aristocrat’, the species still remains relatively short lived at around 25-30 years and is considered invasive by many agencies.  This does not mean you need to eradicate  Bradford pears on your commercial property, but you should make corrective pruning a part of your maintenance program to ensure you do get the most life of out of them!