earliest I can pick peaches / plums? (raccoon issues)

david52 Zone 6August 7, 2008

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 -

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Hi David, no easy answer if you're selling these fruits esp with raccoons as they are as nimble as cats. If you just want some fruits for yourself maybe you can concentrate your efforts on protecting just a couple of trees and "allow" the other trees to be easier for them to raid? Oddly I fought off racoons when I lived in the city but so far 5 years in the county none to be found, yet. The city racoons would strip my corn and all I could do is trap them. Maybe you could try my method of "marking" a couple of your trees, sprikling the "solution" around and on the trunk and some limbs to keep them from climbing, then they'd move on to the other sacraficial trees.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 12:55PM
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david52 Zone 6

Ah, vgkg, the raccoons here are onto that "marking with a solution" game - so far as to do this to me. Often, I'll awake, stretch, fling open the curtains to greet the new day, and as the birds chirp becomingly, the thought of a fresh peach for breakfast enters my head, and I step out the door - often to find a pile of raccoon "markings" on the door mat - a warning -

stay inside, Buster, or else....."

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:09PM
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Axel(12b/Sunset H2)

Raccoons hate water, netting and dogs.

The water solution is simple, get a motion activated sprinkler, I use the scarecrow product, works like a charm.

I put netting over the trees I really don't want critters to eat. Raccoons hate getting stuck in the netting, so they generally avoid the netted trees.

And I have a nice German Shepperd dog that will chase the raccoons when she sees them, and she marks the whole garden, which is a good reminder to the raccoons not to hang around my garden.

Finally, picking all the fruit fall on a regular basis makes a big difference. Cover your compost piles and trash cans as well.

As a rule, raccoons are attracted more to meat than fruits, so any meat or fish smells will attract them big time, they'll go for the fruit as a secondary treat, unless they're grapes, which is their favorite fruit.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 5:09PM
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david52 Zone 6

I'm now going by - "if it smells even a little bit like a peach, it'll ripen".

I've tried bird netting, they tear that to shreds. Here, in an irrigated desert, the raccoons live in the swampy areas, and so we get them constantly, while 200 yards away, they're very rare.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 10:36AM
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david52 Zone 6

Yesterday, from the one tree thats getting pestered, I picked a bushel. This morning, I see that the resident Sumo-coon, judging by the tracks, climbed up the thing and broke off one of the main branches. Didn't eat much, only 3 or 4 pits around, just broke it and left.

I'll set a trap, and pick the rest this afternoon when it cools down a bit. Ripe peaches: I dunno, but at least I may have a tree left.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 4:31PM
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david52 Zone 6

An update, 5 days later, they're beginning to ripen up nicely, and we made a pie yesterday. The interior color is still a light shade of green, the exterior color remained the same. It would seem my issue, here in the dry climate, is maintaining more moisture around the picked fruit as they do seem to shrink.

We had a commercial, organic orchard 30 miles west of here a few years back, that didn't have refrigeration. I visited several times during the harvest season to buy their culls. They picked them unripe, boxed them, and shipped them to Texas, and they ripened along the way or something.

I wish I knew more about it. Probably some high-tech way of checking brix levels, or maybe just squeezing 'em.

Anyway, I have 5 or so bushels, and we'll get something out of it. I've caught 3 raccoons in 5 days as well. They seem very well fed.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:07AM
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