a guide, the earliest varieties of apples are ready for picking in late July to early August. Apples A good test for ripeness is to lift the fruit in the palm of the hand and if it leaves the spur easily with its stalk intact, it is ready. Another sign is the first windfalls (discounting drops from strong winds and codling moth attack). With the later ripening varieties, the color of the pips is an indication. They should be beginning to change color from white to straw-coloured and eventually to brown. With dessert apples in particular the skin of the fruits becomes more brightly colored.
Early varieties are best picked when slightly immature because they soon go mealy. Pick those apples that have colored rather than clearing all the apples in one go. Usually those apples in full sun are ready first and those in the middle of the tree last. Handle the fruits very gently because bruised fruits do not keep. Put the fruits carefully into a picking container lined with soft material and transfer them just as gently into their final container.
Late apples reach maturity in storage
4 In mid-June, thin the fruits using sharp scissors or press the fruitlets off with the thumb and finger, leaving the stalk behind
In mid-July, thin again to leave one or two dessert apples per cluster 4-6 in apart, cooking apples 6-9 in apart. Pears need less thinning; leave two fruits per cluster.
sometime after pic king, depending upon the variety. Most should be off the tree by about the third week of October, but there are a few varieties which keep better and acquire more flavor if left on as long as possible, birds and winter gales permitting. These include 'Granny Smith'.
Store only sound fruits (see page 90 for details of storage).
Pears The correct time for picking pears is harder to assess than it is for apples. The best test of readiness is to lift the pear in the palm of the hand and with a slight twist and tug, it should leave the spur with its stalk intact. There is also an almost imperceptible change in the ground color of the skin from dark green to lighter green.
Early and early mid-season pears (August to September) must not be left on the tree until they are fully ripe otherwise they may go "sleepy", that is very soft, mealy and brown at the center. Pick them when they are almost ready but still firm, and then let them mellow in storage. Their storage life can be extended considerably by keeping them
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