Harvest Pears Before They're Ripe

Don't wait to harvest pears until they've ripened on the trees because they won't be as delicious, said a horticulturist at Kansas State University.


"Pears should not be allowed to ripen on the trees. They should be picked while still firm and allowed to ripen after harvest," said Ward Upham, horticulturist with K-State Research and Extension. "Tree-ripened fruit are of poor quality because of the development of grit cells and the browning and softening of the inner flesh."

Commercial growers determine the best time to harvest pears by measuring the decrease in the fruit's firmness as it matures, Upham said. This varies with growing conditions and variety.

Upham provided tips for home gardeners to help determine pear maturity:

  • A change in the fruit ground color from a dark green to a yellowish green. The ground color is the background color of the fruit.

  • Fruit should part easily from the branch when it is lifted up and twisted.

  • Corking over of lenticels (breathing pores of the fruit). They start out as a white to greenish white color and turn brown due to corking as the fruit nears maturity.

  • Development of the characteristic pear aroma and taste of sampled fruit.

"Pears ripen in one to three weeks after harvest if held at 60 to 65 degrees (F). They can then be canned or preserved," Upham said. "If you wish to store some for ripening later, fresh-picked fruit should be placed in cold storage at 29 to 30 degrees (F) with 90 percent humidity."

Ripen small amounts as needed by moving them to a warmer location and holding them at 60 to 65 degrees F, Upham said. Storing at too high a temperature (75 degrees or higher) will result in the fruit breaking down without ripening.

By Crystal Rahe
K-State Research& Extension News


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