I have five sixty-years old pear trees in sandy soil, SE Michigan.
This year I winterfed them with substantial amounts of wood ash and
some manure and wood chips and I got an overwhelming harvest (I am
guessing 1000 pounds). Yes, I should have thinned the fruits (I did
some thinning as time allowed), but I was busy this spring. I am also
aware that fruit quality decreases with tree age. But I have those
trees, I salvaged them from decades of neglect, and now they are
properly pruned (it took three years of progressive pruning) and
certainly vigorous enough to provide years of good crops.
The pears are good, certainly much better than those in years past,
smooth texture except the core, and mostly unblemished (no spray was
applied), but not yet as sweet as I would like them to be. They cook
or bake very well, and they are also good out of hand (I am eating
about five a day). My questions:
1) will thinning improve the flavor? On the two trees I thinned, I had
noticeably bigger pears, so no doubt I will keep doing it. Also, I
harvested those pears two weeks after the other two, so time of
harvest may have had something to do with it.
2) which nutrients are known to improve sugar content? The soil under
them is poor in everything, and acid.
3) this year was somewhat cool for our location. Should I have held up
my harvest until pears would start to drop? As it is, the pears took
two weeks in my garage to ripen properly.