What can you tell me about the use of Bradford pear as a rootstock?
Answer: Bradford pear belongs to the “wild” species Pyrus calleryana. Bradford is simply a selection from that species, chosen for ornamental purposes. Bradford is actually budded or grafted onto seedlings of P. calleryana, which may or may not (due to the genetic variability of seedlings) closely resemble Bradford. Callery, as the nurserymen call it, is a somewhat common rootstock for pears, especially for the southern U.S. where it is well adapted to the heat and challenging soil conditions. Bradford has fallen out of favor with horticulturists in large part because of the weed-like spread of seedlings from seeds distributed by birds. But the same thing that makes those seedlings “weed trees” makes it an excellent rootstock. You almost can’t kill it! I don’t use Bradford, per se, as my pear rootstock, but I do use callery seedlings, which is almost the same. I buy the rootstocks from specialty nurseries in Oregon, but one could simply take some of the little pear fruits from the Bradford in the autumn and start plants from those. Also, if a person had a bunch of callery sprouts already on a piece of land, you could bud or graft them in place. Grafting to large Bradfords would also be possible but considerably more trouble.To learn more about pear production, consult the ATTRA publication Pears: Organic Production. This introduction to commercial organic pear production covers pear diseases, disease-resistant cultivars, rootstocks, insect and mite pests, and their treatment, Asian pears, and marketing. Two profiles of organic pear growers are included. Electronic and print resources are provided for further research. It is available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=7.