Fruits are ripening by mid-summer. Keep fruit trees and vines thoroughly watered; avoid letting plants dry out, especially newly planted fruits and fruits growing in containers.
Scavenging birds and insects will be looking for an opening as fruits ripen. Use bird netting or reflective tape to scare birds away; spray away insects with a strong stream of water; use copper or sulfur sprays when diseases appear.
Mid-Summer Checklist for Fruit Growers
• Fruit tree watering. Full-grown fruit trees need to be watered deeply once or twice a month; in very hot regions irrigate fruit trees deeply two or three times a month. Trees in sandy soil need more water as do young trees that are not yet established. Fruit trees are especially thirsty the last two weeks before harvest.
• Espaliered fruit trees pruning. New whippy growth needs to be trained into place through the course of the season–while the growth is still soft and pliable. Tie new growth into wires or trellises firmly, but gently. Wires or training poles can be removed in a season or two when the wood has hardened. Summer prune established espaliers and cordons, cutting back new laterals and side shoots.
• Pruning in general. Prune away dead, damaged, and diseased wood from fruit trees first; thin out overcrowded growth to allow the sun and air into the center of the tree. Apples, apricots, and pears bear on spurs. Cut the new growth back to two or three buds; this will stimulate fruit production. When old wood no longer bears, you will replace it with fresh growth; old wood can be cut out during winter dormancy. More at: Pruning Fruit Trees
Click on any of the following crops to see complete growing and harvesting information and tips.
• Apples and Pears. Pick early-maturing apple and pear varieties while slightly under-ripe; these will retain the best flavor once off the tree. The fruit is near-ripe when you gently lift and twist and the fruit parts easily from the spur. Protect ripening fruit again birds and wasps; use nets or cloth or paper bags over fruits.
Pick diseased and damaged fruit (look out for pears infected with scab or brown rot) out of trees and pick up fruit drop in the garden; do not allow spoil fruit to attract pests.
• Plums and damsons. Support heavily laden trees until harvest. Harvest early- and late-season fruit as soon as the fruit ripens; a ripe plum will be fully colored and slightly soft. Plums on the same tree will not ripen at the same time; harvest each tree more than once. Harvest with a short length of stalk attached to the fruit. Eat ripe plums right away; under-ripe plums will keep a couple of weeks at near-freezing temperatures.
• Cherries. Cherries should be picked from the tree fully ripe. If the skins are splitting while the fruit is still on the tree, pick and eat them right away. Use scissors or pruners to harvest cherries leaving the stems on the fruits. Avoid damaging the fruiting spurs which will bear next year’s fruit. If rain or humid weather is forecast, harvest as soon as the fruit is ripe, otherwise it will absorb moisture, and skins will crack. Eat or cook cherries soon after harvest. Washed and dried, cherries will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
Remove and destroy any fruit infected with brown rot. Feed trees after the end of harvest. Spray sour cherries with a copper to control bacterial canker.
• Apricots. Apricots come to harvest mid- to late-summer. Test for near ripeness by holding a fruit in your hand and giving it a gentle twist leaving the stalk behind. Apricots will keep for a day or two in a cool place. Apricots will not ripen further after harvest. Freeze or dry surplus fruit. Feed trees after the end of harvest; spread two inches of compost out to the drip line.
• Peaches and nectarines. Peaches and nectarines are ready to be picked when they become slightly soft at the top. Give the fruit a gentle twist; ripe fruit will come away easily. Ripening does not continue after harvest. Peaches and nectarines will store for two to four weeks at very cool temperatures. Feed trees after the end of harvest. Clean away old mulch after harvest.
• Figs. Figs are ready for harvest when they are fully colored and turn slightly soft; the fruit will bend slightly downward on the stem. Don’t harvest figs too soon; they will not ripen much off the tree. Ripe figs are soft and the skin may be starting to split. After harvest new fruits will begin to appear; these will overwinter as tiny embryo fruit. These fruits will be ready for harvest next summer. In warm climates, there is a fig harvest in early summer and again in late summer; in cooler regions, there is one fig harvest, late summer to fall.
• Blackberry, loganberry, and hybrid berries. Mid-season blackberries are ready for harvest when they are plump and shiny black. They should pull away from the vine easily. Loganberries should be picked when they are ripe and dark crimson. Unripe fruits will not ripen after picking. After harvest, cut out shoots that have fruited. Leave new growth to replace the trimmed away shoots. Bramble berries will keep no much longer than three days at temperatures just above freezing.
• Raspberry. Protect still developing raspberries against birds with netting; destroy nearby wasp nests before they begin visiting ripening fruit. Cut down and remove summer-bearing canes that have finished fruiting. These canes will die soon, so clean them out of the berry patch before disease or insects appear. Tie in new canes for next year.
• Strawberry. Trim back strawberry plants that have just finished fruiting. Plant rooted-runner of day-neutral varieties between now and mid-fall; these will fruit next summer. Root runners in pots so that you can protect them from freezing this winter.
• Gooseberry and Currant. Protect berries from birds with bird netting as fruits begin to ripe. Harvest from mid- to late-summer. Eat gooseberries and currants soon after harvest for the best flavor. Currants do not ripen all at once; so revisit the plant more than once. Gooseberries and red and white currants will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days. Black currants will keep for one a day or two in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Control leaf spot by applying a copper fungicide after fruit picking.
• Blueberries. Harvest mid- and late-season fruits a few days after they have turned blue when they have reached full sweetness and aroma. Early varieties are finished harvest now. Blueberries on the same bush do not ripen all at the same time; go over each bush several times. Ripe blueberries can be gently coaxed with your fingertips from the clusters; leave unripe berries for the next round of picking in a day or two. Blueberries will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator.
• Grapes. Place nets over vines to keep birds away from ripening fruit. Prune out excessive foliage to let sun and air reach ripening grapes. Leave the fruit on the grapevine until it is ripe–fully colored and full-flavored.
• Citrus. In warm regions, citrus may still be flowering; fruit set has started for many trees. From flower to harvest, most citrus takes about six months to come to harvest, grapefruits about 18 months. Most citrus is self-fertile. Regular water is essential in summer to avoid flower or fruit drop; citrus in pots should be thoroughly soaked. Feed citrus three times between spring and fall; use citrus or all-purpose fertilizer.
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