How & When To Pick Pears

In my corner of the world, this year has been a good year for pears. I have only two pear trees in my small orchard but they are among my personal favorites. The trees are fairly young trees and were planted within the last 7 years or so.

One tree is a red Anjou and the other is a Bartlett (sometimes known as a Williams’s pear). The red Anjou tree is still immature and has only begun to set fruit within the last 2 years. The Bartlett tree matured more quickly and has been producing fruit dependably for the last 3 or 4 years. Both trees were set back by heavy deer damage when they were 1 year whips and 2 year olds.  After we finally put a deer proof fence around the orchard they grew much better.

Bartlett Pears On Tree

Bartlett Pears On Tree

This year the Bartlett tree was so loaded with pears that the top leader limb of the tree snapped from the weight of fruit. I regret that I wasn’t paying enough attention to the pear trees and should have thinned some of the fruit off the Bartlett tree in June to help relieve the weight. No permanent damage was done to the tree, but next spring special care will be taken when pruning it.

Pears unlike apples are best picked while they are still slightly immature. The finest quality pears for fresh eating or for home canning are pears that are ripen off the tree.

A pear that is allowed to ripen on a tree often has a mealy texture and a soft or mushy core. That’s because pears tend to ripen from the inside out. Often when a pear looks soft, ripe and ready on the tree, the interior is usually on its way to rotten.

A pear is ready to be picked when it will snap away from the tree while being lifted up towards the sky.

Pear Ready For Harvest

Bartlett Pear Ready For Harvest

To ripen fresh picked pears, place them in a cool dark location like a cellar.

If you don’t have a root cellar and only need to ripen a few pears, place the pears in a brown paper bag with a ripe apple or banana. The ripening apple or banana gives off ethylene gas which will stimulate the  ripening of the pears. Pears are ready for canning and for fresh eating when the flesh around the stem area gives slightly under firm pressure.



  7 comments for “How & When To Pick Pears

  1. September 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    This is a timely post! I have baskets of pears sitting on my kitchen floor, begging to be canned. We haven’t had trouble with deer since we moved onto the property with our dog. He has even chased away a bear a couple of times. I’m glad that your deer fencing is doing the job for you!


    • KMG
      September 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      Brenda –
      Enjoy canning… and then eating those pears :-)

  2. CQ
    September 13, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    That is one fruit that I do not grow. As a child my mother made the best pear preserves, we had 2 big trees in our backyard. For some reason they just do not seem to like the soil on my farm. I have apples, peaches and plums but can’t get a pear or cherry to live for anything! They say that the soil has too much clay for cherries so I have to wonder if pears are the same way. Enjoy those pears : )

    • KMG
      September 14, 2013 at 9:05 am

      CQ –
      Pears are a lot like apples. Why not give them a try again? You’ll need 2 different varieties and if you can find a couple of 1 year-old whips…fall is the best time for planting! :-)

  3. Kay
    September 16, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Great information. I love your site!

    • KMG
      September 16, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Thank you :-)

  4. Wzrd1
    September 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Didn’t know about pears getting funky if they ripen on the tree.
    A note for future reference, as our pear tree died some years back.
    But, my father loves pears, so I may well get a pear tree and replace it.

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