Fruit Harvesting Time

Friday, September 16th, 2011 by Jenny Watts
    • Impatiens will give you instant color in shady areas and continue blooming right through the fall.
    • Sow lettuce seeds now for a fall crop or set out plants. Set out broccoli and cabbage plants too.
    • Take care of your roses: feed, water, weed, mulch and remove faded blooms regularly. Spray if necessary at first sign of insect or disease problems.
    • Feed rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias with a “bloom” fertilizer to encourage flowers for next spring.
    • Wisteria trees need to be trimmed throughout the summer. Keep long tendrils trimmed back to maintain the shape of the tree.

Fruit Harvesting Time

Fruits of all kinds must be harvested on time, at the proper stage of maturity in order to maintain their nutrients, quality and freshness. Harvesting should be done early in the day, when possible, and fruits should be handled gently so as not to bruise it.

Only apples and pears are suitable for long-term storage, and some varieties of those store better than others. Other kinds of fruits, like peaches, apricots and plums, can only be stored for short periods of time. They can be preserved for winter use by canning, freezing or drying.

To decide when to harvest apples, watch for the fruit to begin to change color and then sample a fruit or two to check for characteristic flavor and smell. Yellow or golden varieties change to a golden surface color when ripening.

Some varieties of apples release easily from the tree as they begin to ripen, and should be picked right away. Other varieties mature over a long season and should be picked as they mature. Apples will continue to ripen after picking. Separate varieties in storage as some will store for several months and others for less time.

Cherry season is over for this year, but cherries should be picked when the fruit is juicy, rather soft and full-flavored. They hold their best quality if picked with the stems on. Cool the fruit immediately after harvesting and they will store for up to two weeks.

Peaches should be taste-tested for ripeness. The fruit softens and becomes juicy and luscious as it ripens. When the fruit is easily pulled off the twigs then it is probably ripe. Peaches will not ripen any further though they may get softer. If you pick it too soon, it will never develop sweetness and flavor. Handle fruit carefully to avoid bruising, and cool it immediately after harvesting.

Pears must be picked before they are tree-ripe. Test a fruit for ripeness and harvest just as the pear flavor and aroma can be detected. If harvested too soon, they will have poor flavor and shrivel in storage. If harvested too late, they will likely be rotten at the core. Fruit continues to ripen after picking and can be stored for one to three months.

Plums soften and develop their delicious flavors as they ripen. Their color is not a particularly good guide to ripeness, so sample fruit to decide when best to pick. Handle fruit gently and cool after harvesting. Fruit will continue to ripen after picking and can be stored for a week or two.

Check Asian pear trees weekly until the fruit begins to change color. Some varieties change from green to yellow and others change from yellow to brown. If the Asian pears started out green on the tree, pick them when they turn yellow, and if the unripened pears were yellow, harvest them when they turn brown. They should feel slightly soft when pressed, but taste one to be sure it’s sweet and juicy. Wait until pears are fully ripe before picking.

Learn when to harvest home-grown fruit and enjoy their sweet, delicious flavors.

Harvest Time

Friday, September 4th, 2009 by Jenny Watts
    • Pansies and snapdragons can be planted now to replace summer annuals. They will give you color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • 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.
    • Keep apples picked up from under the trees to help control the spread of coddling moths which make wormy apples.
    • 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.

When to Harvest Fruit Trees

The ripening of fruits is a complex subject. How do you determine when the grapes are ripe? Will blueberries get sweeter after you pick them?

It is important to know whether the fruits or vegetables that you are about to pick will ripen further after you pick them. There are three categories: fruits that don’t ripen after they are picked; fruits that ripen in appearance but not in sweetness; and fruits that become sweeter after picking.

Cherries will not ripen after harvest. Harvest sweet cherries when they reach the right size, color and taste and when they come off the tree readily. Lift the cherry clusters from the tree carefully to avoid damaging the fruit spurs, or cut the stems with pruning shears. They are most often harvested with stems attached, because they keep better that way. Cherries don’t keep well even with the best treatment, and bruised or cut ones go downhill fast.

Plums, pluots and plumcots should be harvested when they are still firm, but fully flavored. Prunes that are to be dried, should be left on the tree until they are fully ripe and easily knocked off the tree. Lay a sheet under the tree to gather them up easily.

Soft berries, like blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, will not ripen after picking. Either will grapes. You can trim back the foliage on grapevines to allow sunlight to reach the clusters of grapes so they are fully sweet when you pick them.

Blueberries will get softer after picking, but will not get any sweeter. Most of the summer fruits fall into the same category. Apricots, figs, nectarines and peaches will change color and appear to ripen, but will not get sweeter after they are picked. They develop the best flavor when allowed to fully ripen on the tree.

Fruits that do get sweeter after you pick them include apples, pears and kiwis. You don’t want to pick them too green, but if they are partially ripe, they will continue to ripen after harvest. Store them in a cool, dark place, not too damp or too dry, but do not refrigerate until closer to ripe. Pears should be picked while still fairly hard and green. They ripen from the inside out, so if you try to let them get nicely yellow (or red) on the tree, they will be mushy inside.

Persimmons ripen in the fall. The astringent types, like Hachiya, can be left on the tree until soft-ripe, but are usually harvested when still firm but bright orange and then allowed to become very soft and ripe at room temperature. The non-astringent types, like Fuyu, are harvested when they develop their full orange color and are eaten when firm and crisp like an apple.

Optimum ripeness will vary with individual preferences. Handle your fruits gently and enjoy the delicious flavors of home grown fruit.