Bradford pear trees called “a danger to agriculture”

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 6:40 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - The Bradford Pear tree is as aggressive as it is fertile. Farmer Gary Meeks deals with this tree regularly and has seen the many problems from the plant’s thorns.

“When these thorn trees, just a few of them get started in your field, you can’t run your equipment to make your hay or do your pasture or you’ll have flat tires and that’s a lot of lost money and lost time,” Meeks said.

The spread of the species is in part thanks to birds.

“The birds carry these little Bradford Pear berries all over the area,” Meeks said.

Even though the trees were technically sterile as introduced, seeds from the berries are fertile enough to create new Bradford pears wherever the bird drops it.

The Bradford Pear is dangerous enough alone but worse with cross-pollination.

“The trouble comes when the pollen from a fruit tree miles away blows on it and, suddenly, you have a hybrid situation,” Meeks said.

When you mow the small ones they keep coming back from the root. The root of this tree builds more strength each year so trying to control them takes continuous effort.

“If you don’t mow your land three to five times during the summer to keep them down or plow your land regularly, or poison it, your land is going to be taken over.”

Farmer Meeks recommended using Racheal Carson’s or Silent Spring Fear for soaking the land in chemicals. His other method is to hand cut every tree and poison just the cambium ring of the stump, which uses up a lot of saw chains and bar, due to abrasive soil on the bark, at ground level.