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Author Topic: Trying to hybridize some new Quince-Pear varieties  (Read 987 times)


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Trying to hybridize some new Quince-Pear varieties
« on: April 06, 2018, 10:10:12 PM »
I'm going to be trying to hybridize pear with quince to get some new varieties that will be good for out of hand eating.

I have Karp's Sweet and Passe Crassane in zone 10, and
Kuganskaya, Crimea (Krimskaya), and Comice in zone 8

I did a lot of research and tried to select the quince cultivars that would be the most edible. Kuganskaya supposedly has slightly better flavor and is slightly less fibrous than Aromatnaya, though the fruit size is smaller and it is not as disease resistant, nor productive, nor do the fruits have as much aroma. Crimea is very productive, and supposedly has more flavor than Aromatnaya, though the eating quality may not be quite to the same level. I think all three are in the same subclass of quinces though (i.e. Russian) so the differences may be pretty small when compared to regular quinces.

I selected Comice because, well of course it has exceptional flavor that few other pear varieties compare to, but second because it is one of the few pear varieties considered compatible on quince rootstock, so I thought there might be better compatibility. Passe Crassane is a rarer French varietal pear that seems to be pretty obscure outside of Europe, and is notable for being believed to be a rare pear-quince hybrid.

There's a reason for both those that are growing in zone 10. I've read a report that Karp's Sweet in particular needs a lot of heat to produce the best eating quality, and Passe Crassane variety can be extremely susceptible to disease if not grown in a dry climate.

Further information for those of you who don't know anything about quince:

Why try to hybridize them? Well, if you've ever encountered a quince fruit at a market, they have an amazing aroma and fragrance. It almost smells like an intense heirloom apple mixed with pear, mixed with something else that could best be described as a green unripe mango smell, with hints of violet. Some people believe the aroma is a little like lemons and oranges, somewhat citrus-like (which might be a little stretch). It's the type of aroma and flavor that you want to keep eating. Except you can't, the fruits are astringent. Imagine the most amazing flavor but you are eating sawdust, or maybe chewing on a dry sponge. Some varieties are better for out of hand eating than others, but all of them have some level of tannins that cause astrigency. I wouldn't say it's much worse than an astringent persimmon though. In addition the texture of quince fruit is pretty dense (probably caused by pectin content). Some people compare it to eating a block of wood, albeit a deliciously flavored block of wood (maybe balsa wood?). It's the type of fruit you'll either love of hate. I can only eat about half of one before the astringency starts becoming too much, though at the same time there's a part of me that feels compelled to eat more. So obviously, there's the possibility that hybridization may be able to remove this astringency, or be able to capture the aroma and flavor in the form of a completely edible pear.

In the old days quinces were used in pies and jams because of their naturally high pectin content. It only takes a little to act as a thickener. (In case you were wondering why people ever grew quinces)
Quince can also be good in desserts. Once cooked, the flavor and texture are completely transformed, develops a deep flavor almost like cough medicine, and the astringency almost completely disappears. Because of the tannins being exposed to air it turns pink after cooking too. 1/4 quince to 3/4 apple can add a lot of flavor. Some people even used to hang a quince fruit in a closet or doorway to perfume the surrounding space.

Normally, trying to hybridize pear with quince is not easy. Most of the hybrid seedlings will die or be severely stunted, so there are compatibility problems. But the rare seedling is able to grow to produce fruits. The hybrids also seem to be very susceptible to disease, possibly I would hypothesize because the ones that show the least incompatibility have weaker immune response. Technically quince and pear aren't even in the same genus.

Luther Burbank was one of the early pioneers in plant hybrization and at one point made an attempt to crossbreed quince with pear, and obtained a few hybrid seedling plants, but after grafting some of cuttings onto an apple tree for a few years he was unable to obtain any fruit. (Luther Burbank: Methods and Discoveries 4: 138-140, (1914))

Another bit of related trivia here, the quince variety 'Van Deman' was selected by Luther Burbank from among 700 different crosses he had made between 'Orange' and 'Portugal'. He was trying to obtain the best qualities from both parents. Well let's see, I believe I have eaten a Van Deman quince before when it was at the very peak of ripeness. It was decently palatable (eaten raw I mean, and of course that's probably very subjective), although probably nothing special compared to the Russian cultivars.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 11:24:50 PM by SoCal2warm »


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