earliest I can pick peaches / plums? (raccoon issues)
I have a 30 assorted fruit tree orchard, and live at the head of a long, swampy draw that harbors umpty-gazillion raccoons. I trap them, shoot them, and generally fight a war with them, but it just never stops. They break off the branches, and last year probably nailed 7/8 th of the total harvest.
The trees are located in several areas around the place, and it would be difficult, to say the least, and certainly expensive to put electric fence around the various groupings of trees.
So, I try to pick the under-ripe fruit before they get it. Some years this works - the result isn't a tree-ripened peach or plum, but not bad at all. And some years, picked at the same, visual stage of ripeness, I get some kind of shrunken, rock-hard tasteless fruit.
Is there a better way to judge this? Particularly for peaches? They're in them already -