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Monday, September 17, 2012

When Do You Pick Bartlett Pear?

Bartlett pear. The pear on the left is ready for picking.
Notice the skin color change from green (right) to
yellowish green. Notice also the seeds in the pear
on the left are brown. The one on the right is still white.
Q. Just this year planted a Bartlett pear, and a Comice for a pollinator. Both have pears on them now. But I thought Bartletts were supposed to ripen in August. I picked one of my four pears, chilled it in the refrigerator for a couple days, then let it sit for about three more days before slicing it. It remained hard as a golf ball and no tastier. When are they supposed to be ripe? 
A. Bartletts are picked when the color of the pear turns from green to a yellowish green but still hard. Then you must put it at room temperature to continue ripening and turn soft and buttery. If you let them soften on the tree, which you did not do, the flesh will be gritty with all those stone cells in the flesh.
Corky spot on Comice pear
If you pick just as the outside skin turns color to light or yellowish green, the flesh has more of a buttery texture. The pear on the left is the right color for picking. Also, the seeds should be brown inside when ready to pick. We are not picking Bartlett until mid September.

Just an aside, Bartlett usually does not need a pollinator in most of the Western United States. It does in other parts of the country. Also, be aware that Comice tends to get corky spot in our alkaline soils and may require foliar calcium sprays to correct that.

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