Avoiding 'stones' in pears

emorems0(PA - 6a)September 10, 2013

One more question from this novice... we have a couple of mature pear trees in our back yard, we've been here for three years and this is the first year we've harvested any pears. The first year, we went on vacation for two weeks in October and when we came back the trees were empty, apparently the forest animals had a smorgasbord while we were away and didn't leave a single pear on the tree or on the ground. Last year, we had a early warm spring and a hard, late frost that killed most of the flower buds. There were only a handful of pears total and I didn't really put in any effort to notice when they ripened. This year, they must have ripened early because I noticed the trees by the woodline were looking really bare last week. The animals took a lot of them already, but I got quite a few and there are still many out there on the upper tree.

Anyway, the point of this post is that there were a few nice looking pears, but most had dimples/looked a little deformed/mangled. I don't really care about looks, but under each 'dimple' was a really hard 'stone' that makes eating the pears (or slicing them up for canning) really difficult and annoying. What causes them? Is it from being chewed on by bugs? What can I do to avoid them for next year? I would like to keep the trees organic, I don't want to deal with toxic pesticides around my kids.

Also, anyone know what kind of pears these are? They were firm and crunchy when I picked them, and then softened up to a soft pear texture after sitting on the counter for a week or so. They make great pear sauce and are good fresh, but the skin is a little thick and bitter.

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"I would like to keep the trees organic, I don't want to deal with toxic pesticides around my kids. "

Many organics are toxic. I wish it was that easy.The stuff in treated wood is also used in organic pesticides. Just letting you know your statement is most certainly false. Organic and toxic can certainly be the case in some organic products.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 11:39PM
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emorems0(PA - 6a)

Sorry for the terminology... just ignore the first part of the sentence then. I don't want to deal with toxic pesticides around my kids. Is there a way to avoid this problem without toxic chemicals? I am willing to put in work to make it happen... it's only 3 trees.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 1:01AM
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Your pears may be Keiffers. They have the tough bitter skin and a stony flesh. They do develop stone spots wherever blemished. Those stings may be from codling moths.

If you really want to do a lot of work to get pears, you can bag them. Fasten a plastic ziplock sandwhich bag around each fruitlet you want to keep. This will help keep off the insect pests and involves nothing toxic.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 7:59AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Another way is to use a kaolin clay spray. It coats the fruit.
Surround is one brand name. Kaolin is very safe, even used in foods as an anti-caking agent. Toothpaste etc.
Organic too! :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 8:37AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Those pears don't look like Keiffer, the neck is too pronounced.

My pears get those bumps and stony spots and they are caused by stinkbugs. Since you are in the same part of the country my guess would be you are also getting stinkbug damage. Some years there is a little, some years there is a lot.

Step one is get out into the fruit at different times of year and look for stinkbugs. If you see them, put down a coat of Surround and keep it refreshed several times in the summer. It doesn't solve the problem completely but it helps a lot and its completely non-toxic.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 9:07AM
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They look like Kieffer pears to me. If they are they are great canned or if you peel them eating them fresh. THey will keep for months if you keep them in the refrig.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 1:31PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

They are almost surely not the original Keiffer. It is sort of diamond shaped with no pronounced neck.

Given the ubiquity of the name Keiffer there could well be varieties circulating under that name that are really something else. Its like the Brown Turkey fig, there are dozens of different varieties with that name on it since its the most well-known fig in the US.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 4:13PM
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emorems0(PA - 6a)

Thanks all! After looking up the kieffer pear, I think that may be what I have... while some of them do have a little bit of a neck, most of them are more rounded/diamond shaped. The Google images look pretty similar. And YES, stinkbugs are a problem here... never noticed them outside, but they attack my house (yuck). Does the kaolin spray have any other useful applications in the garden? My apples didn't seem to be as bothered by the bugs, but if I am doing the three pear trees I may as well do the one apple too, right?

Question about bagging the fruit... is this a bad idea for wildlife? Will they try to eat the bags off? Seems like a great way to protect the fruit, but I don't want to hurt the deer when they come to eat my pears (and they will, lol).

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Squirrels and raccoons will rip off the bags if they want the fruit inside. Don't know about deer.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 6:02AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Surround can keep bugs off plants in general, many bugs don't like walking on the stuff. It doesn't help for caterpillars but most other kinds of pesky bugs don't like it, including Japanese beetles.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:30AM
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I'm with Scott - they don't look like Keiffer. Neck much more prominent than is typical for K; look more uniformly 'pyriform' than is the norm for that variety.

It's just a fact of life that if you have stinkbugs, etc. feeding on 'em, you're gonna have that hard stony tissue at that 'dimple'. I just cut 'em out or eat around 'em.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 8:45AM
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