Harvesting Apples and Pears

    • Mums are the beauties of the fall garden. Choose plants now in a wide variety of colors.
    • Pansies and snapdragons can be planted now to replace summer annuals. They will give you color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • Fall vegetables can be planted now for a fall harvest of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard and lettuce.
    • Trim foliage on grape vines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and ripen the grapes.
    • If your bearded iris blooms were sparse this year or the plants are more than four years old, now is the time to divide and replant them. Mix some bone meal into the soil, and plant the rhizomes just beneath the soil surface.

Harvesting Apples and Pears

Most of the luscious fruits of summer have been picked and enjoyed by now. But apples and pears are just coming on and will be sharing their bounty in the months to come.

Apples are one of the easiest fruit to pick and use. Once they are picked, apples stop ripening, so it is important to pick them at the peak or ripeness. Apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center, so the apples out the outside of the tree will ripen first. Apples on the sunny side, usually the southern side, of the tree ripen first.

You should know approximately when a particular variety is expected to ripen. There are charts that give you this information for a particular area, usually the Central Valley in California. In Willits, fruits ripen approximately a month later than in the Central Valley. So that’s the first thing to consider.

Color can also be an indication of maturity. With yellow apples, when the green has almost completely given way to yellow, a yellow variety is mature. The same is true of the striped apples where the base color underneath the stripes turns yellow at maturity.

Other indicators are that mature apples separate easily from the tree by twisting them upward with a rotating motion. Usually, when the seeds become brown, the fruit is ripe. But with early season apple varieties, like Gala, they may be ready to eat before the seeds turn brown. When a few good, healthy apples drop to the ground, the apples on the tree are nearly mature. And remember the taste test: when an apple becomes slightly softer and tastes sweet and juicy, it is mature.

Don’t wash apples until just before using to prevent spoilage. And keep them cool after picking to increase shelf life.

Pears are a little more complicated. Again, check to see the expected ripening dates for the variety. Pears must be picked before they are ripe. They ripen from the inside out, and if left on the tree to ripen, many varieties will become brown at the core and rotten the middle.

Pears are best picked when the fruit separates easily from the twigs. If it is hard to pull off the tree, it isn’t ready! Also feel the fruit. If it feels absolutely rock hard, it’s still not ready. You should be able to detect a slight feeling of give, but not too much. Check the color. Pears are ready to pick when there is a change in the fruit color from green to yellow, and the stem separates easily from the branch.

Pears need to be cooled after picking to ripen properly. Bartlett pears need to be cooled only a day or two in the refrigerator. Then put them in the fruit bowl to ripen. In 4 to 5 days, they should be sweet and ripe.

Anjou, Bosc and Comice require 2 to 6 weeks at near freezing temperatures for optimal effect, followed by ripening at room temperature: Bosc and Comice will ripen in 5 to 7 days; Anjou takes 7-10 days. The longer the time the pears have spent in cold storage, the shorter the time to ripen. Without this chilling process, a mature picked pear will just sit and sit and eventually decompose without ever ripening.

Handle your apples and pears correctly and enjoy your harvest this fall.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.