Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Can I Pick My Apples (or Pears) by Joyce D'Agostino

Apples ready to harvest photo by Joyce D'Agostino
This time of year, some of us are fortunate to have fruit trees that are bearing fruit and are even overabundant. The question is, when do I know when my fruit really is ready to pick because often just judging by the color does not often mean that the fruit is ripe.
One good way is to first determine which variety of fruit you have and research when it typically is ready to harvest. Apples for example, have very early, early, mid-season and late season varieties and harvesting at the right time will result in the best results for canning or eating fresh.
Also, you may find that keeping up with a large harvest can be challenging,  Fruit may begin to drop from the tree or falls from windstorms and the cleanup can be considerable. Proper pruning of your trees not only helps the tree become more healthy but helps control better harvests.
Sweet Sixteen apple photo by Joyce D'Agostino
If you plan on adding an apple tree to your landscape, do a little research as to which types are best adapted to our climate or the color, flavor or purpose that you need. For example in our yard, we have a Sweet Sixteen apple which was developed by the University of Minnesota and has proven to be hardy for our front range climate and produces great tasting apples.
If you want to store your apples and have extra refrigerator space, some tips include keeping your apples cool (around 32-34 degrees F) as well as eating or using the largest first. It also has been recommended that putting a damp sponge or damp cloth in an open plastic bag helps keep the quality of the apples longer when you are doing “cold storage”.  Some apples that were a bit tart when you pick them can even improve in flavor after storage. 
Imagine picking some of your tree ripened fruit and storing now to use for eating fresh tree ripened fruit for weeks, for Halloween candy apples or holiday pies. These fact sheets and websites provide good advice and recipes for your fruit.

Applesauce photo by Joyce D'Agostino