When to pick the perfect pear.

Pears on a tree
Photo credit: Betsy Hartley
Q:

How do you tell when pears are ready to pick? i know you pick them before they are yellow and soft. 

- Umatilla County, Oregon
A:

Determining when pears are ready to harvest is tricky. If you wait too long, many fruit will become overripe and begin to break down internally. Pears ripened on the tree generally have little or no storage life. Don't wait for pears to turn yellow or soft before you pick them. Instead, pick them before they mature and place them in cold storage. Then remove the pears as you need them and allow to ripen until soft at room temperature. Don't expect pears to be palatable right off the tree. Look for these signs to help you decide when your pears are ready to harvest: 

1. Dark leaf-green skin color turns lighter green or yellowish-green

2. Small dots on the fruit change from white to brown 

3. Skin takes on a waxy feel and the pebbly surface becomes smooth

4. Fruit stem separates easily from spur or twig with an upward twist of the pear

5. Seeds have turned brown 

6. Pears that have fallen to the ground are ripening.

Handle pears carefully while harvesting and putting them in storage. Pears bruise easily, and bruised fruit does not store well. Store pears in a cool, humid location such as a refrigerator. Remember, the longer the time between picking and storing, the shorter the storage life.

Mary Corp
Extension Agronomist
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