How to grow the common medlar
The common medlar or Germanic medlar (Mespilus germanica L.) is a fruit tree of the family Rosaceae, not to be confused with the medlar of Japan. The common medlar tree is of south-western Europe and is a medium-sized tree with a maximum height of 6 meters and a foliage of 8 meters and with bright green leaves, oblong-oval or lanceolate with a dented margin. The flowering occurs in the period of May and the plants are self-fertile and the fruits are generally small in size and color around the brownish (but also vary according to the various cultivars). In this sheet we see how to grow the common Medlar and the most suitable techniques. It is a very rustic species that endures very low temperatures (up to – 15 ° C) and with longevity up to 40-50 years.
For the plant of the common medlar it is advisable to buy seedlings already produced in nurseries (normally grafted on Cotogno A) that is quite vigorous or on pear or hawthorn rootstocks for plants with reduced bearing. The most commonly used grafting technique is the English double split technique and the “T” incision graft.
The planting must be in the autumn period or for the more southern areas of Italy also at the beginning of winter. Consider that for its optimal development the common medlar must spend a period of cold (vernalizzazione) with temperature lower than 7 ° C for a minimum that ranges between 100 and 450 hours. The plant should be exposed in full sun but away from frequent winds. Although very adaptable it is preferable not to choose calcareous and poorly drained soils and with the availability of a quantity of water for irrigation in the summer. Those grafted on hawthorn are more adaptable to soils of various kinds, while if grafted on quince it is good that the soil is with neutral pH and with active limestone not higher than the threshold of 5-8%. For the planting of a common medlar cultivation a sixth of 7 x 8 must be respected. If the breeding is in the bushy form, it is possible to go down to 4.5 or 5 meters in the framework. Entry into production is around the sixth year of life. Before planting, it is good to excavate the bunkers in which to place organic matter (mature manure or compost) and provide an irrigation system to meet the young seedlings that have not yet formed the root system and for the summer period; these last ones have to be done in pre-flowering and after harvesting, or in conditions of high drought and very hot days when the plant shows suffering. For the integration of nutrients it is advisable to resort to green manure (which also solves the problem of weeds) and fertilization with mature manure to be distributed at the end of winter. The residues of the prunings are then burned with the dual purpose: to eliminate any pathogens that lurk in them and to recover some mineral salts, such as above all the potassium that must be integrated to the ground with the ashes obtained.
The pruning must have the objective of ventilating the inner part of the foliage with small cuts in the winter, trying to grow the plant according to its natural attitude and by citing the jets that have fructified the previous year; moreover, for plants grafted on rootstock polloniferous it is necessary to provide, in the month of May, the removal of the suckers at the base of the plant. For harvesting, the fruits are harvested in October (maturing) and stored in boxes laying on a bed of straw in a room at a constant and rather cool temperature, avoiding damp places. Following the preservation, the tannins are transformed into sugars that allow the consumption of the fruits otherwise having an astringent flavor and therefore not edible. The ancient proverb “With time and straw ripen medlars” refers precisely to the common medlars, already known in Europe since time immemorial.
Among the most common diseases of the medlar we recall the fungal ones: leaf maceration of the medlar tree, puncture of the medlar, ramial cancer (Sphaeropsis eriobotyae, anthracnose and Oidium) Among the insects we remember above all: Capnodio, Cocciniglia di San Josè and Minatori foliar (Phyllonorycter blancardella). Another adversity is the one called bacterial fire.