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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Pear Fruit Hard as Rocks

Q. We have a mature pear tree standing about 14' tall that produces about 100 pears each year. These pears are always rock hard when harvested regardless of how long we leave them on the tree. We have attempted ripening them indoors, in brown bags, all to no avail.

A. Do you know what kind of pear it is? There are two groups of pears; the European and Asian pears. The Asian pears are normally round or roundish and crunchy, much like a crisp apple. They are not rock hard, but they aren’t soft, either. They are “crunchy” in texture.
Most people are familiar with Bartlett pear, a European dessert pear that is picked hard but ripens and softens after harvest. All pears pictured were grown by me in the Mojave Desert.

            Most of the European pears are dessert pears, but a few are cooking pears. The dessert pears will soften after harvesting but the cooking pears do not. They stay firm, some might say “rock hard” when compared to dessert pear like a fully ripe Bartlett. Some of the European pears used fresh (aka dessert pear) are Bartlett, Comice, d’Anjou, Bosc and Seckel. The stores in the US carry a lot of Bartlett but there are some excellent other dessert pears out there to try.
Comice pear, a European dessert pear, also does well in the Mojave Desert.

            Most dessert pears are picked when still hard but after the background color of the fruit has begun to lighten. This is true of Bartlett because its flesh will have a “buttery” texture when picked before they are fully mature and allowed to ripen at room temperature for three or four days.

Sensation Red Bartlett, another dessert pear, also does well here.

            I'm thinking yours is a European type cooking pear. A popular variety is Kieffer. They don’t soften much at all when ripe because they are used for cooking and making pear sauce, compote, jams, jellies, pickling and used in stuffing. 

Kieffer pear is a European pear but it is a cooking pear.

They are called cooking pears because their flesh stays firm after cooking. They can be left on the tree longer because they stay very firm when ripe. If I am right, there is nothing you can do to soften them and you either enjoy them for their cooking attributes or replace the tree.

Canary Island Date Palm with Yellow Fronds in Need of Water?

Q. This tree in my front yard is turning yellow. It is 20 years old. Is it because of lack of water? Should I have it trimmed?

This is the canary island date palm talked about. Notice the lower fronds scorching on the edges and turning yellow. Water could be an issue.
A.

Lack of water can have two meanings. 

Not enough water applied or not watered often enough. Sometimes it can be both…too little water applied and the water that is applied is not applied often enough. 

Hard to judge but my guess is that water may be part of the problem. When water is applied to palms, a lot should be applied all at once and then hold off on the next watering for about the same time as other nondesert trees, like fruit trees, need water. For date palms in Las Vegas this is about one week, maybe twice a week at the most in the middle of summer.

 
See that cluster of new growth going straight up in the center top? Good sign. It had enough water to push spring growth. But what about summer growth?
The browning on leaves seen in your pictures is on older leaves at the bottom. That is normal for it to happen that way. It is NOT normal if leaf fronds are turning brown along the edges on newer fronds higher up. 
The palm to the right is getting water. The palm on the left is not. Look at the grass at the base.


Palm Drought

Water should be applied to a distance of about three to four feet from the trunk all around the tree. In many soils about two inches of water in the basin around the tree is enough to get it down to about 24 inches. This would be about 50 gallons. So the palm tree roots have to have access to about 50 gallons of water at least once a week to 100 gallons if it is watered twice a week in summer. But the important part is giving the soil a chance to drain and start to dry out after an irrigation.

This is date palm, not canary island date palm, but the roots will be similar. This date palm was removed from the farm, harvested, so the roots are cut.
It is pushing new growth from the center so that tells me If underwatering is severe the fronds will be smaller and scorched. From the picture
 
Palms pruned with enough canopy remaining to provide some protection to the central bud.


As far as pruning, remove the lower fronds so that the remaining fronds are in a half circle