Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Biscamp Pear

Biscamp Pear

Biscamp Pears June 16, 2012
(Black Celeste fig)

Biscamp Pears June 16, 2012
(Black Celeste fig)

Here are a couple pictures of the Biscamp Pear. It is a low chill pear variety that originated in Louisiana. Years ago, Dr. O'Rourke bred figs, apples, and pears at LSU. Could this be one of the O'Rourke bred pears??? Who knows for sure. IMO, it is quite possible that both Biscamp and another excellent tasting pear named the Southern Bartlett were bred by O'Rourke.  LSU does recommend Biscamp for growing in Louisiana.

At any rate, this is an excellent pear variety for growing in the deep South.  It is disease resistant and its popularity is on the rise across the South. More and more people are learning about this pear. Larger retail nurseries now are selling it. It is dual purpose pear that can be used for both cooking and eating fresh.  Pick them right off the tree and they can be cooked like any other hard pear.  However, allow them to ripen on the kitchen counter for a week and the flesh turns into a buttery soft texture that is nice and juicy.

Note: they will not ripen to that soft texture while they are still hanging on the tree. They must be picked and allowed to ripen OFF the tree.

I highly recommend this variety to my neighbors.

Semper Fi-cus 


TucsonKen said...

I've had no luck growing pears (Bartlett, Monterey, Shinseiki) in Tucson. The Monterey did best, hanging on for several years but never setting fruit and having constant setbacks from fireblight. Any thoughts about Biscamp in Tucson? Does it need a pollinator?

King Fig said...

Biscamp is self fertile and is resistant to fire blight. Another great tasting one is the Southern Barlett. It tastes exactly like a regular Bartlett pear. Regular Bartlett pears will not set fruit in my area either and will come under attack by fire blight. Those two low chill pears compliment each other in an orchard because the pears ripen at different times. I would definitely give them a try if I lived in Tuscon. FYI, they are sometimes available by mailorder from Just Fruits and Exotics.

Fred said...

I am going to try to find a Biscamp pear. Can you recommend a nursery in SW Louisiana?

King Fig said...


Prien Pines Nursery in Lake Charles had them a few months ago.

Semper Fi-cus

drjmcrochet said...

I have a Biscamp that has served me well for over 30 years. I also have a Spalding, which is an EXCELLENT pear. I ordered it from Ison's in Ga. about 20 years ago. It has never failed to produce a large crop of very good quality pears, good for eating and cooking.
I live South of New Iberia. If anyone wants cuttings they are welcome to them.

King Fig said...

Thanks for your comments and generosity.


carl mohrherr said...

I asked Travis Callahan of the Nafex Southern Pear Interest Group about the origin of Southern Bartlett.
His emailed answer back
"I got the first graft wood off Southern Bartlett in 1987. The parent tree owner was my 50 year barber. he said that the Southern Bartlett (his tree) was at least 60 years old at the time. So it is not Dr. O’Rourke that bred the pear."
"Dr. Edmund Newton O'Rourke, Jr. died peacefully at 12:30 PM on Sunday, November 11, 2012, in a local hospital with his family around him. Ed was born on November 22, 1923"

Carl Mohrherr Pace, FL

King Fig said...

Hello Carl,

Thank you for taking the time to send me this information.

However; despice that information and Travis's time line recollection, I for one still DO NOT rule out the possibility that the Southern Barlett and/or the Biscamp pear came out of Dr. O'Rourke's breeding program. He did in fact breed new pears, apples, and figs at LSU during the 1950's. Most of which were never officially releaased to the general public due to lack of funding. He did in fact distribute some of his "fruit tree selections" to private individuals. I have found many of his fig selections and I know where one of his low chill apples is growing and producting good apples every year.

You can read about the LSU breeding program in another post on this Cajun fig Blog.


Peacock Man said...

Everybody says the Biscamp pear tree was developed by O'Rourke in his orchard in Louisiana. If so, why is it called a Biscamp and not an O'Rourke?

In the 1800's a Chinese pear tree was brought to Tennessee. It crossed with local varities. The Biscamp pear and the Kieffer were the two crosses that survived.

Read the following memorial to John Ruffin Bishop and see if you agree that his brother-in-law Lyle Biscamp was the person who brought the tree to Newton County in Southeast Texas.

Lyle did not develop the pear but he is the one who introduced it. It is know as the Biscamp because he was the first to grow them in the South when they had no other name.

John Ruffin Bishop was the third child of eight children born to John William Bishop and Texanna Stroud. He was born on 11MAR1886 in Houston County. His siblings were; Margie Bishop, Elizabeth Bishop, Ruth Ester Bishop, Annie Bishop, Pearlie Bishop, Buddy Bishop, and Rosie Bishop.

On 27NOV1921, he married Alice West. Together, they had seven children; Thelma Bishop, William Alfred Bishop, Baby Bishop, James Adam Bishop, Dorothy Mae Bishop, Cecil Ray Bishop, and David Wayne Bishop.

He had worked for the railroad when he and Alice were first married. After leaving that job, he farmed for other people for a while, before buying ten acres of land in Newton county. Later, they bought ten acres in Jasper county, and the two tracts of land were separated only by the county line.

The old home place was in Newton county, but when a new house was built in 1949, it was in Jasper county, so they would not have to go all the way to Watson’s Chapel to vote. It was about ten miles there, and only half a mile to Kirbyville. He never did have a car, so a neighbor would pick them up to carry them to vote.

He did all of his farming with a horse and plow, and they had a wagon in which they would go to church, and to town. He raised watermelons, cantaloupe, peas, tomatoes, beans and other things that he would peddle in town, going slowly down first one street then another, ringing a little bell as he was near his regular customers home. He also had some pear trees, and at times, he and his children would pick at least a hundred bushels of pears, and Mr. Harry Hinson would take them to the Port Arthur area to sell them. They were what was known as the Biscamp pears, and were introduced to the area by Lyle Biscamp, the first husband of John Ruffin's sister, Ruth Ester Bishop.

John Ruffin was an ordained deacon of the Free Will Baptist Church. He stayed active in the church for as long as his health would permit, for he had suffered from a heart attack many years before his death on 28NOV1957.