Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia, Pyrus ussuriensis) are a valuable crop in the northeastern United States. Asian pear orchards that are high in productivity, fruit size and fruit quality can gross up to $40,000 per acre. However, to fetch an optimum price, Asian pears must be about 4.5 inches across. Achieving this size along with optimum yield requires substantial fruit thinning because this type of tree blooms so heavily. In the past, most Asian pear thinning has been done by hand, which is time-consuming and expensive.
To provide Asian pear growers with more sustainable, cost-effective thinning strategies, a SARE-funded team of researchers and farmers in New Jersey studied how effectively Asian pears were thinned by a synthetic plant growth regulator called benzyladenine. They found that MaxCel, one of several chemical thinners that contain benzyladenine, can reduce the cost of hand-thinning by up to 50 percent while delivering fruit yields and sizes comparable to those of untreated, hand-thinned control trees.
This fact sheet provides a brief introduction to plant growth regulators and directions on how to use MaxCel as a crop thinner for Asian pears.
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