Here comes the 2016 apple and Pear harvest!

Crop is fairly rough but getting a crop is better than not getting one. The harvest is sparse. I picked just over 30 gallons and wound up with 10 gallons of waste apples I worked into the garden. The harvest came off 4 production trees. Typically those trees yield 1-2 bushels each. The small white bowl is a seedling apple I grew from seed…

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Nice harvest to start, Clark. I’m surprised you have so much so soon. So, what varieties are we looking at? I saw your post about how much fruit y’all eat, so how long will these last? Or, will some of these get canned?

Those on the lower left look like Lady Alice fruit that I had bought from a local Kroger’s. They were very good for a store apple. I think they’re grown in the NW, but I’d imagine yours aren’t LA’s.


Those on the bottom left are prairie spy and harlson. The others are honeycrisp. The yellow ones are one I grew from seed. They all are not as ripe as I like them but as ripe as they can get this year. The sun was scorching and ripened them all about a month early. Storms with rain and wind after 100 degree temps causes splits and drops. The deer , Japanese beetles, raccoons etc all want them but I’ve got these and the next harvest of apples for me is not until the snow flys. Bring on the pears! We dry them, can them, whatever we can do to use them.


Why would get apples now, and then not again until winter? Unless “until the snow flys” means October, which I doubt happens where you live (E KS?). You don’t have any varieties to bridge the gap?

Aren’t all three of those varieties from the UMinn program? How do the HC do in the heat there?

What kind of pears do you have? We planted 3 Euro types this year, and I was maybe considering adding some Asian versions for next year.

How do you keep the deer at bay?

The apples that I have all ripened at once except my crabapple which won’t get ripe until much later in the year ( I hope). Typically it’s snowing when I pick the crabapple. It is very cold here typically in October but usually does not snow that early. I added more varieties of apples this year and for several years to spread things out. The pear crop will start soon and it will keep us busy. The Aronia crop which typically don’t ripen before September are ripening right now as well. We were very warm last year and it’s throwing off our fruit seasons. Deer are always a problem but usually they can be fenced out. They are bold this year and hard to keep at bay. Right now I have mature trees of clapps, duchess, Clara frijs, improved Kieffer, Bartlett, old fashioned Kieffer, drippen honey. They are not all carrying a crop but most are. I have several more types that will mature soon but not this year. I have up to 5 trees of some mature types. It’s usually enough to set us for winter but this year we may get all of our fruit long before winter. If we get the fruit to early I still have hundreds of pounds of fish I’m supposed to remove from the ponds before winter. They are starting to runt out.

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I’m assuming the blemishes are codling moth holes. Are you an “eat around the worm” kind of apple eater or are you pressing those or are those the waste apples you’re referencing?

We cut out the bad spots on all of them and then process them. Surprisingly I have only a few coddling moth holes. Most are surface damage only or black rot. I was shocked when we started opening them up because they looked rough on the outside. Japanese beetles were using the cracks from the weather to open up apples and that was 1/2 the waste and black rot of course ruins most of the apple. We are having to work fast to save what we can. Some holes were made by feeding PC by what I’m seeing. I’m not sure what made the black surface only holes. I was wondering myself because there were a large number of them.

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The red blushing Bartlett’s are next to ripen. They are still in the semi firm stage. Picked a few tonight and the sugar content is high but the fruits are small this year. No real damage, the skins have a few scars but no deep punctures. Flesh inside is perfect with no damage. I will hedge my bets and pick the lower fruits soon and ripen the higher up fruits to full ripeness on the tree. Bartletts are one of the few you can tree ripen. I know I will lose some doing that. The tree is loaded and will bear bushels if I make wise decisions on how I handle the crop. Everyone gives me a hard time about growing a few standard trees until the deer decide they like pears and then it makes more sense :0)



They look perfect. Once they soften, you’ll be in heaven.


How is your orchard doing this year? I’m really hoping to do a good job with Worden pears. Hopefully I can show pictures of those in a few years. That’s an interesting pear and I’m trying to keep it happy.

Have another pear that ripens close to the same time as Bartlett so I thought I would check it. They are already ripe and I was starting to lose some fruit. They are about 1/3 of their normal size. The taste on these pears is excellent but they are hard to work with because they go from green to ripe in a day literally. Like clapps favorite they ripen from the inside out so you need to work fast. Normally they are right behind Bartlett but this year they are right in front of Bartlett. Don’t ask me what they are because I bought them as old fashioned Kieffer from the Arbor Day society. They don’t appear to be a Kieffer. They are completely free of grit, sugary, with a true pear flavor that is indescribable but common with good quality type of pear.


I think your right. They don’t look like my Kieffer which I believe is the original old one. I might be the only one that appreciates the hard pears like Kieffer and Orient.


I like those hard old hard kieffers a lot Bill. My other tree which is called an improved kieffer will ripen soon and I will add some pictures on here. We grow 5 of them because they are excellent for canning. We cant handle more than 5 trees of those because they produce heavily. The true original kieffer is a great pear. There are a few pears that taste more like potatoes than pears and are not good for canning either. They grow some of those types around here but I don’t know the name.

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If you can 5 trees-worth of pears, do you have any clever secrets for peeling them?

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A corer and potato peeler are as fast a way as any I’ve found. I can get through a five gallon bucket in a couple of hours. I sometimes juice several gallons of apples and boil the juice. Can my pears in the juice. My mom uses water and sugar to can hers. She adds cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon etc. to her pears. If you make a big day of it you can put up a lot of pears in a day. If I get into trouble and I’m behind I wash them good and throw peel and all in the blender and make pear sauce. You can core them with the tool in the picture in a second or less. If I’m staring at 5 full buckets of pears that are ripe that’s how I get out from under them. I make sure the skin on them is pristine and cut off any blemishes. Don’t try juicing the pears by themselves it will bog down the juicer and make a slurry. When I can pear juice I mix it with apples. The apples should be 3-1 with the pears to make the juice. Apple juice is fortunately pretty thin. Make sure i cook everything especially good when I add the peels in. This is Kansas and let’s face it the harvest won’t be big enough this year to worry about it. Those 100 degree days and lack of water are making for slim pickings this year. We will have plenty but don’t think we will have any to give away.



This year has been a disappointment for my orchard. The late spring freezes really set me back.

Peaches and plums were a bust, and two of my apricot trees died this year for no apparent reason (the late freeze probably did them in).

I got a pair of Gingergold apples which were flawless. I also have one Gravenstein apple hanging like a Christmas ornament. It’s a real looker and should be ready to eat in about a week.

I’ve also grafted in several new varieties of apples and pears this year. And all of the trees have grown larger.

I got a few cherries, strawberries, blackberries, and rasps. I got a single mulb off my Illinois Everbearing, but it was mega-tasty! I have several bunches of Concord grapes that should ripen in about a week, too.

I’m most excited about the figs. I have a single Ronde de Bordeaux coming on. I was also recently gifted a Malta Black, Takoma Violet, and Marseilles Black (one potted plant of each) from @SteveMD. There are a few more figs growing on these plants. Some of these figs might ripen before the first frost. All Steve wanted in return was a tour of my orchard. What a generous gift!

All great things come from humble beginnings. I keep telling myself: Next year, my orchard will be a rock-star…


I keep falling for miraculous devices that claim to peel pears automatically - and don’t

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Those tools I use work great. Sometimes I improvise like last year I cored the pears and sliced them up and dehydrated them. They were like candy they were so sweet. We all need to peel some but just remember the peel is good for you anyway and why kill yourself? That little pear tree wound up producing two 5 gallon buckets. Hope the turtles, deer, coons, possums and everything else enjoy what I knocked off and left on the ground. They got to eat to and as long as they are not eating my food there is peace in the orchard. The windfalls and what I knock off is theirs. Was not expecting this much from this tree. The other trees are the ones that always produce the larger number of pears!


I’m sorry to hear you did not get a lot of fruit this year. It can happen to anyone. When I saw that snow on my blossoms and it was 25 degrees this spring I did not have much hope for any plums, cherries, apples, and pears at all. Just goes to show me when I’m sure I wont have fruit I do and when I’m sure I will I likely won’t. Sounds like you have some great plants going in the orchard! Glad to hear your diversifying your orchard! Sounds like the fruit you got was very high quality! While I was picking pears a friend is cutting and bailing my fields for me. I don’t make a ton of money off the deal but I’m not doing a lot for it either. In Kansas farmers all just work towards getting the crops in because when the opportunity is passed it’s to late. The diversification in hay, honey, fruit, etc. is wise because one crop does fail once in awhile. He’s got the petal to the metal those are rain clouds in that sky! It’s rained all around us today within a few miles but not here. He’s likely hoping nothing is going to break right now and will not even stop to use the bathroom. I’ve been in that seat before. Dirt crops are worse because they tie up thousands of dollars. You need to be willing to gamble to farm and it’s stressful because occasionally we lose. All in all a lot of people will eat indirectly from what we did today and the decisions we made years ago. That hay will raise a lot of beef, milk etc… I remember when we planted that brome years ago. I drug a box spring over that field for 14 hours a day for a week to get that field smoothed out. The seed was $130 per bag and I planted 16 bags of brome on that field. Today he will likely bale up 65-100 900 pound bales. I know that hay has nothing to do with fruit I’m growing. I like to share once in awhile what’s going on here in Kansas and how we survive here.


I’m very fortunate to be blessed with pears that will grow better than many fruits in this climate. The Red Blushing Bartlett finished ripening today so I’ve been working hard trying to get them picked before the storms arrive and blow the harvest out of the trees.