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While I was away, a person cut off all the branches on my over grown pear tree. Some should have been removed totally and weren't. All were cut short to the tree with 'stumps' left. Now the new growth is just crazy!

I removed a lot of them about a 2 months ago, but it's overgrown again and we are into July in Maryland.

  • How do I control the new growth so it can turn into a healthy branch?
  • Should I cut the center branches back to the main tree?
  • There is a section with thousands of woodpecker holes. What should I do about that section?
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  • Hi Diane, please post a few photos Jul 18, 2023 at 0:40

2 Answers 2

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You can salvage your pear, but you cannot call the new growth saplings.

  • Cut out the woodpecker dead wood. They eat the insects that bad wood attracts, so their pecking shows you what's got to go anyway. Ignore that advice if the tree is healthy above that area. Spray for the insects (find out what's there and what's the least toxic), and the birds will not return.

  • Leave a single leader in the center, as pear trees grow that way. Prune old, good wood further only for aesthetics and symmetry.

  • Remove all new growth but 10-20 scattered branches—the number is an educated guess. Select them at the largest angles to the leader. Any branch more vertical than horizontal will snap under the heavy weight of a full harvest over the years. That's why commercial growers use limb spreaders to train their young trees (saplings!) into this broad shape.
    Create a strong framework of limbs. A strong framework of limbs is essential for years of growth and productive harvests.

Early pruning for later harvests

  • Supervise your gardener closer next time.

The final look

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  • I cannot find how to attach a picture! Yes, no more work will be done without my supervision. I will remove the woodpecker area and the suckers as instructed, thank you! When should I cut out the woodpecker area? I'm afraid to farther shock my tree. I was also wondering if I should leave all the other big branches there that should have been cut completely off? This was done in March, it's now July. I live in Maryland USA Jul 19, 2023 at 17:15
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I'm assuming that the tree in question is a Callery Pear (also known as a Bradford Callery Pear). These are short-lived trees in the best of circumstances, and your tree is near the end of its life, as the average lifespan is 25 years; the dead wood on a major vertical branch is typical of the way Callery Pears begin dying.

Because they are considered invasive in most areas, I would cut it down and replace with a native Serviceberry, which has similar white flowers (pleasant smelling, unlike the Callery) and a clear scarlet fall color.

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  • I love Serviceberries and have one myself but they grow so slowly you need to get a good size specimen
    – kevinskio
    Jul 18, 2023 at 11:20
  • @kevinskio I've seen two feet of new growth a year, which I wouldn't consider horrendously slow (and I think that's a factor of its environment), but yeah, I wouldn't want to start with a seedling or whip. A redbud could also be a good substitute, but then the colors won't match the pear.
    – Jurp
    Jul 18, 2023 at 16:57
  • Two feet a year? I must live in a harsh climate. Oh wait, I do...
    – kevinskio
    Jul 18, 2023 at 21:44
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    @kevinskio Canadian, eh?
    – Jurp
    Jul 18, 2023 at 23:00
  • My pear tree is a Bartlett or Kieffer. Jul 19, 2023 at 17:16

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