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Question: 448-3510
My Bartlett pears are doing fine except that there is a tough brown skin on the fruit of one of the trees. I have a spray program and there is not any sign of fungus or insects. Could it be the dry soil? Wayne, Mussel Shoals, AL

Mort's Answer:
I understand that you also had a rainy late spring. These sudden changes in water content will toughen skins on many fruits. If you have pruned too heavily, you may also have some sunscald. I would suggest that you till the soil and add organic matter to increase the cation exchange capability of your soil.

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Question: 1006-3613
How do I know when my pears are ready to pick? Jim, Salem, CT

Mort's Answer:
I have eaten many hard pears this time of year to test the sweetness. They can survive the first frost but you should pick them shortly after and before the next frost. They will ripen slower in storage than on the tree. Usually they will be more golden when they are ready. If you see little holes in a pear that means that the wasps or hornets think they are sweet enough.

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