This is when to harvest pears, plus tips on how to do it

Follow this simple advice on when to harvest pears – and the best way to do it – for the most delicious fruit

Close-up of a cluster of ripe pears hanging on a fruit tree
(Image credit: brytta / E+ / Getty Images)

Knowing exactly when to harvest pears can be a bit tricky. Pears are worth keeping an eye on once the fruits have appeared, that's because you harvest pears when they're fully formed, not when they're ripe.

A pear tree appreciates plenty of sunshine, a good amount of shelter, and a fertile soil that can hold plenty of moisture. When they're well looked after, these fruit trees will make a brilliant addition to any kitchen garden, producing beautiful blossom in the springtime and the branches are laden with pears once fall rolls around. 

To make sure you get the best from your crop, however, harvesting the fruit at the correct time is key. 

Farmer's hand in a glove picking a ripe pear

Enjoy a wealth of pears with your own pear tree

(Image credit: Lithiumphoto / Alamy Stock Photo)

Discover when to harvest pears for the juiciest fruit

Pears are some of the best fruit trees to grow in pots, and are a rather anomalous fruit when it comes to harvesting. Pears need to be picked before they're fully ripe. This is because pears continue to ripen once mature. If they're left on the tree to fully ripen, their texture starts to get mealy and gritty as it breaks down from the inside. 

So how do you know when a pear is 'almost ripe'? 

The team at Burpee Europe tell us, 'You should pick pears when the base green color starts to change and lighten. The flesh should yield slightly when pressed gently. If the pear is ready for harvesting, you should be able to pluck it easily from the tree.'

If unsure, you can always pick one and give it a taste test; the flesh should be sweet with a firmness to it. The color of the pips is another good indicator of ripeness: you'll find brown pips in a ripe pear, but green ones if it's yet to ripen. 

There's also no harm in testing the ripeness of a few individual pears before picking a full harvest's worth. You can do the same with dropped pears too.

Organic farmer harvesting williams pears

Even dropped pears can be a good test for ripeness

(Image credit: Westend61 / Getty Images)

How to harvest pears in 3 easy steps 

  1. First, look at the pear's size, shape and color. Pears go through a color change while growing, typically from green to light yellow. You're looking for a shade that's slightly lighter than usual.
  2. Now feel the pear itself. The skin should be firm to the touch, which tells you it can still  ripen when off the tree. If it's already soft then your pear is already too ripe for picking. 
  3. Cup the pear in your hand, and tilt it at a horizontal angle. If ripe, the fruit will easily come away from its branch with a snap. You can give it a gentle twist at the stem, but don't force it!

girl picking organic pears from a tree with basket

Harvesting pears on the branch is a wonderful activity  

(Image credit: Alex Potemkin / E+ / Getty Images)

How long do pears take to grow and ripen? 

Pear trees usually start fruiting in their fourth year, but they can take from 3-5 years to flower and produce fruit. These lovely fruit trees can grow to a mature height of about 8-10 feet too, even if you are growing fruit in pots

A pear's ripening window is actually pretty small. Once harvested, a pear will be ripe and ready to eat in just a few days – and will probably become overripe soon after. To avoid this, you can keep your pears chilled which delays the ripening process. 

'If you make a note of the time that your pears are ready to be picked you can always harvest them a couple of weeks before this time the following year, therefore ensuring fruits that can be stored a little longer,' say the experts at Burpee Europe.

A hand picking pear from tree

Placing freshly picked pears in cold storage will extend their lifespan

(Image credit: Oscar Wong / Moment Open / Getty Images)

How do you store pears after harvesting them?

Once picked, pears need cooling for a few days. After that, you can raise the temperature a little and they will ripen in 4-5 days. 

Cold storage will delay the ripening process, so if you've picked almost ripe pears they'll continue to stay hard while in the fridge. Keeping fruit chilled is also a good option when picking a watermelon to ensure it stays fresher for longer. 

Burpee Europe highlights that pears picked before they are quite ripe can also have the ripening process accelerated when placed with fruits such as bananas or apples in a paper bag. 'Bananas and apples give off ethylene gas, which encourages ripening.'

Flora Baker
Freelance Writer

Freelance writer and author Flora Baker is a keen amateur gardener and houseplant enthusiast. Her small garden in South London is a constant work in progress as she gets to grips with snail prevention, DIY trellises and what to plant in shady spots overrun with ivy.