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Harvesting & Storing Pears

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There are more questions about harvesting pears than any other fruit. Pears often go to waste or are poor quality because they are not harvested at the right time or are not stored properly. Pears should be picked when they are fully grown, still firm, and before any visible ripening occurs. Unlike most other fruits that we grow where we try to leave them on the tree until they reach the peak of perfection, pears are picked when they are still hard and green. If you leave your pears on the tree too long and they start to turn color, they become mushy and spoil without ripening. They also develop gritty stone cells in the flesh of the fruit. This makes them taste like they have been sprinkled with sand before you eat them. Needless to say such pears are less than appetizing. Check your fruit every few days to determine when it needs to be picked. Do not pick them before they are mature because they will stay hard and green without every turning color and developing sugar. They then will spoil and become unusable. Harvest pears when the skin changes from a dark-green to a light-green color. The skin on immature pears is a solid green color while the skin of mature pears has small visible spots call lenticels that are visible on the skin. Theses are very tiny being smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. They are a slightly darker color when they first develop. Mature fruit should separate easily from the twig with an upward twist of the fruit. Pears infested by worms drop prematurely but dropping pears indicates that the other pears are near ripening. Cut through the fruit and look at the seeds. Seeds should be dark brown or black. Once pears are harvested, handle them carefully. Place Bartlett pears in a cool, dry place and allow them to ripen on their own. Winter pears must be chilled at near 32oF. For several weeks before they ripen. After they are removed from storage, leave them at room temperature for several days and they will ripen. Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticulturist Utah State University Extension Thanksgiving Point Office

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