Harvesting Pears

    • Choose chrysanthemums in a variety of colors now. They are hardy perennials which will brighten your garden each fall.
    • Cover newly planted vegetable starts to protect them from birds. Spray cabbage and broccoli plants with BT to control cabbage worms which make holes in the leaves.
    • Plant snapdragons, pansies and violas for color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • Michaelmas daisies have bright flowers in purples and dark reds. These perennials come back every year to brighten the fall garden.
    • Lettuce can be planted from starts for a quick fall crop.

The Secret to Harvesting Pears

One advantage to growing your own fruit trees is that you can get tree-ripened fruit, a real rarity in the grocery store. But, unlike other fruits, pears will reach their best quality when ripened off the tree.

When left to ripen on the tree, most European cultivars of pears leave something to be desired in terms of texture and flavor. Tree-ripened pears often turn soft and brown at the core and have an excessively grainy texture.

Pears should be harvested when they are mature, but still hard, and ripened off the tree for the best eating and canning quality. The early varieties will take a few days to a week to ripen after harvest; later ripening varieties often require several weeks or more to reach best quality.

There are several indicators to know when to begin harvesting pears. The most obvious sign is a color change. Pick pears when their color changes from dark to light or yellowish-green but before they are fully yellow. The fruit should be relatively firm. The small dots on the skin should turn from whitish to corky brown. Fruit on heavily loaded trees usually matures a little slower.

Mature fruit of Bartlett and D’Anjou pears will separate easily from their spurs by lifting and twisting. Bosc pears are always difficult to separate from the tree and stems may have to be clipped with pruners.

Pears then have to be ripened indoors. Some pears such as D’Anjou require cold storage before ripening. Bartlett does not require chilling to ripen but D’Anjou and Bosc should be chilled for 2 weeks in the refrigerator away from other fruits and vegetables. Bring them out to room temperature for a week or so to fully ripen before eating them.

Bartlett pears generally ripen in 5 days, Bosc in 7 days and D’Anjou in 7 to 10 days. The longer pears are chilled, the shorter the ripening time when removed from cold storage. Pears are ready to eat when the flesh just below the stem yields evenly to gentle pressure.

If longer-term storage is desired, pick them when they are full size but still quite hard and chill the pears to 32° to 35° F as soon as possible after harvesting. Perforated plastic bags can be used to keep the relative humidity high. Be careful not to bruise or puncture the fruit as injuries provide an entry for decay organisms.

Although different cultivars of pears vary in their maximum storage time, most can be held from two to four months under ideal conditions.

Asian pears, unlike European pears, should be allowed to ripen on the tree. They need no after-ripening storage period. They are ready for harvest when they come away easily from the spur or branch when they are lifted and twisted slightly. Sample the fruit regularly and harvest them when they taste good. Asian pears should be crisp and crunchy when eaten.

Learn how to harvest home-grown pears and enjoy the sweet, juicy fruit this fall.

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