How do I know when to pick pears?

willow81July 28, 2010

A friend has graciously given me the opportunity to have as many pears as I want from her 6 trees. She is out of town for an extended period and cannot use them. How do I know when they are ready to pick? Some had already fallen on the ground, but were still hard. We had a rain storm the other night, so they could have fallen as a result of that. Thanks!

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As a rule pears don't ripen on the tree at all well- they tend to spoil from the inside out. They are -again as a rule- best picked when firm, before they start to fall from the tree, and when the neck is slightly softened.

Then, "the rule" says, they should be refrigerated for at least a couple of weeks. When they're removed from the 'frige they will ripen and soften quickly on the countertop.

Different varieties seem to violate this rule to some extent, and where they are growing has to have something to do with it. You might have pears that are nearly ripe just before the weather turns cold, and after a couple of weeks on the tree are ready to bring in and allow to ripen, or maybe it's hot where you are and you have to provide the cold snap yourself. So the answer is "It depends." My Gold Spice don't seem to need too much fussing, and Flemish Beauty ripens well here too, but Bartlett wants the chill.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 5:35PM
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I have a Bartlett pear tree. As rule of thump I pick the large one in Mid to late August.I don't allow them to drop from the tree unless they are out of 15 feet ladder reach. I live in zone 7. As for refrigeration I never do that, leaving the bears on the kitchen counter for 7 to 10 days it gets ripen and delicious. Don't get fooled with the outside of the pear. My Grandmother used to say Pears ripen from inside out.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 10:00PM
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    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:46PM
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A friend of mine, who operated a successful midwestern orchard/fruit tree nursery for decades offered this:
"Most all European pears (exception is the new Green Jade), require post picking chill to properly mature. Or, when fruit exhibit slight color changes, begin to test pressure (using your thumb) near the stem. When there is a slight "give", pick all the fruit, store at or near 35 degrees for 7 or more days. Then you can remove them as needed, allow them to sit at room temps for 2-4 days which allows them to ripen to peak flavor.
Years ago, I got a letter from an older NAFEX fellow who told me that European types were very difficult to ripen due to varietal quirks or requirements in post harvest handling. He said "If you live long enough to learn how to properly ripen 10 varieties, you'll be lucky". I'm still working on it!!!"

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:58PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I pick mine when the green background starts to get a bit of yellowish tint to it. Don't wait until the pears are yellow, as that is too late.

I never refrigerate mine. Who has a refrigerator that big, to hold crates of pears? Just let them sit around the kitchen until they are ripe.

The late pears get placed in flat boxes and stored in the garage where it is quite cool. Those store for a decent amount of time to spread out the fresh fruit season.

Pears will be hard when you pick them.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:53PM
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Lucky, I saved that set of instructions a couple of years ago, I guess, when you posted it before! But I'd lost track of it and didn't know whom to thank. So, Thank you.



    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 3:55PM
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alan haigh

Most of the pears I grow aren't that fussy here in southeastern NY although I always read otherwise. I've picked ripe Boscs from the tree that were perfect- same for Bartletts and Seckels.

With Seckels when a few start to soften I pick what I want for storage while they are still hard but green has almost changed completely to yellow. Bartletts are nice to pick when they are already a great tasting crisp pear- you wouldn't want them to begin changing color before picking them or they are probably rotten at the core.

Boscs should also be picked here when the hard pear has pretty good sugar but this is so you can store them for a while. As I said, I've found that they ripen perfectly well on the tree. So I'm thinking Scott may have it right- depends on location.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 5:19PM
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