Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Minnesota couple harvests plenty of pears

By Mychal Wilmes
wilmes@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 12:55 PM

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MABEL, Minn. — Arlo Schmitt wants people to know that pears can be grown successfullyin the state.

"Most people don't believe you can grow pears in Minnesota,'' Schmitt said.

The Schmitts — Arlo and his wife of 48 years, Mary Helen — didn't always have such good fortune when it came to pears. Their farm's previous owner had a pear tree, but it didn't produce good fruit.

"A tornado came through and broke it off,'' Arlo said.

The lost tree was replaced with two Bartletts.

"Bartlett is really a good-tasting pear,'' Arlo said.

Orchard owners can attest that 2012 was bad for fruit trees because of weather problems. However, the Schmitt's two trees didn't skip a beat. The trees yielded 18 five-gallon pails filled with fruit. So many pears requires a certain creativity. The Schmitts make sauce, pear butter and freeze slices. Pear pies, Arlo said, taste just like peach.

Surplus pears were given to Amish friends and neighbors.

Arlo said the Amish taught him an important lesson. Pears don't need peeling; in fact the end-result tastes better if they aren't peeled.

The Schmitts moved to their Mabel farm in 1969. The Iowa natives drove north to Minnesota to visit a friend. He told them that a neighboring farm was for sale. Land was more expensive in Iowa, so they jumped at the opportunity to buy the farm for $300 per acre.

They raised four daughters and continue to have a Holstein steer operation.