This is a huge question! There are innumerable varieties of pears, and each
one is different. I've been looking, without much success, for clear and
reliable information on this for many years.
Some suggested ways to tell when they are ready to pick:
Just after the "last run-up in size."
When, if you lift them gently, they detach from the tree (or, when they
begin to fall).
When the seeds are hardened and mature (cut some open to check).
Just to keep things interesting, on some varieties all the fruit on the tree
will not be ready to pick at the same time. And I've been told that
Bartletts will ripen on the tree.
If you pick them too soon they will never ripen. If you leave them too long,
some will just go straight from inedible to mush, some will just seem
That's the first tricky part, when to pick them. The second tricky part is
what to do next. Some will ripen over a period of days or weeks sitting
around at room temperature, some need a particular stretch of refrigeration.
And some, once they are ripe, pass very quickly (just a very few days) into
Actually, I guess the first tricky part is to know what kind of pear you
have. If it is a tree you "inherited," this can be very difficult. If you
know what kind it is, you can search for information on that particular
variety. If not, do some meticulous experimenting and keep track of your
results, until you hit on the right timing and ripening routine for your
tree. Keep track of the bloom time, too, so you will eventually be able to
predict when they are getting ready to pick (i.e., xxx days from bloom to
picking). It can take years, so be stubborn.
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