Authored by Jennifer Nicotero in Gardening
Published on 01-03-2009
The harvesting of your fruit trees is both rewarding and gratifying. Some fruits will continue to ripen after picking and some will not. Harvesting tips for the more popular fruit trees are listed below.
Apples need to be picked carefully to avoid bruising. You will want to pick summer apples when they are ripe, but winter apples should be picked when they are not fully ripe, as they will continue to ripen in storage. Keep them cold in the refrigerator, an unheated garage or a root cellar.
Apricots need harvested frequently when the fruit is ripe and firm. This fruit can bruise easily. Don’t drop apricots onto one another when picking or when pouring from container to container. Handle them gently and place them in a shallow container or box to protect them.
Cherries need to be picked at their full ripeness. These fruits do not continue to ripen after picking. However, if you wait to long cherries will rot quickly. You’ll need to pay special attention to their appearance. Once cherries have good color, taste them for ripeness. They also must be picked carefully as they bruise easily. Leaving the stems on them will help them last longer. You can store cherries in the refrigerator for approximately a week. Sweet cherries that are firm-fleshed can be stored up to three weeks.
Peaches do not continue to ripen after harvest so you will need to pick these at their peak. Ripe peaches are slightly soft and will bruise easily. Peaches do not keep well and rot easily. You will need to eat or can your peach harvest promptly.
Pears should be picked before they are ripe. This fruit continues to ripen after it is picked. Pears are best harvested when they are full-sized and there green color starts to slightly turn yellow and the green color lightens. Pears are stored well in a cold environment like a basement or refrigerator. Ripen them at room temperature. To ripen pears quickly, place them with a ripe banana or apple in a closed paper bag. The ripe fruits release ethylene gas, which induces ripening of pears more quickly.
Plum harvesting can be done from mid-June to September depending on what you are using them for. For cooking plums for jellies or jam, pick this fruit when they are fully colored and firm. Plums for eating should remain on the tree until fully ripe and picked carefully to avoid bruising.
Some harvesting tips that basically apply to all fruit trees are:
- Twist fruit from the tree when picking, do not to pull straight down.
- Try not to drop your fruit that has been freshly picked into a bucket. Handle your fruit gently and place them in containers with care.
- When harvesting fruit on large trees, fruit on the top and on outer limbs will often ripen before fruit on the interior of the tree. You will usually need to harvest at least twice.
- Place harvested fruit out of the sun, especially cherries, as soon as possible to avoid spoiling.
Remember to clean up the ground thoroughly after harvesting of any bruised or fallen unusable fruit and dispose of properly. Rotting fruit at the base of a tree attracts and invites insects and other unwelcome critters.