When to pick a peach and best way to store or ripen?

My first real stone harvest from a 5 season tree home orchard. 60 trees, half stone, half pome. I have been a bit overzealous in picking too early, but was hoping to hear what your picking strategy might be. I eat and share, don’t sell. Thanks, Chad

Blackrag hi

I am not good people to answer your question as I have trouble growing peaches myself , but I may try to say something. You are better to wait someone else answer. You seem use some kind of abbreviation in your message. You said this is your first stone harvest which you mean peaches, apricots, plums and cherries? From a 5 season tree home orchard? What do you mean by that? This is your 5th growing season/year that you said? You have 60 trees that is a lot of trees, which half is those above mentioned and half is apple and pear trees as they are pome fruit. I think many fruit do not ripen after you have picked them, so picking before they are ripe is not so good idea if you want good flavor. Is this normal people growing them without commercial pressure to make money, so you want fruit for you and your family and something like that? You said you eat and share not sell make that kind of impression. Your message is short, nothing in message about peaches which you wrote in subject. Can you give me more details what fruit trees you have and/or varieties? Peaches should be I think ripe before picked, I think skin should give little give up when you gently push it. Also I think ripe peach might easily come off tree if you gently try to take it out, if is ripe at least so it is for pear. Where are you living? Another way is trying to calculate based on your location and peach varieties how long it takes to peach ripen. I meant looking internet ripening dates and convert it to your location. What kind of thing you are going to with your peaches or fruits? You eat them, do you want make some pie of fruit, jelly, jam, do you want mix some fruit? You forgot to say exactly what fruit trees you have. Tell us something more about your fruit trees so we can better help you.

Welcome to the forum, Chad, and congratulations on a very special harvest. What’s your growing area?

I do grow peaches, but I’m going to leave it to those who grow more than I do to answer your questions in more detail. For me, when to pick varies with the type. I do my best to store them in a single layer without touching each other because they rot so easily and quickly here. It’s not always possible to give them that much space, though. Sometimes I even have to store them 2 layers deep for the night.

Hi Blackrag & Friends,
I am no expert either, usually, I feel and smell the peaches, and of course-the color and size as well. Yes, the smell is really a good indication that the peaches are ready to be harvested or close to it and the feel. They won’t be too hard, they will have a little “spring” to them when you lightly touch them. Not all, but most fruit will swell to let you know that they are about ready. This year, I had my trees that “did” survive that last freeze here in Georgia, netted up around harvest time but now this one baby squirrel has taken a liking to my backyard and is experimenting with finding ways to get my peaches off the tree although they are securely double netted. I caught him shaking the tree (2-5 yea old dwarf trees-1 elberta, 1 halehaven) and some of the peaches that were ready, easily fell off the tree. I watched the little pest eat through the netting and that’s when I had had enough! I found my grandson and told him that he and I were going to pick all of those peaches off the tree before the little pest go and get the rest of his family to help him shake all the peaches off! Here are pics…

Thanks for the response. My Methley, Plumcots & Johnson Plums are done, waiting on Pluots and a Santa Rosa. Have been picking for 2 weeks off of a couple “Starking Delicious” peach trees (which I believe are similar to July Elberta), just started picking Red Haven, but I think they are still a week away. Artic Snow & Emeraude White Nectarines are almost finished, Sunglos are still showing alot of green. Waiting on Carolina Belles, Burbank Elbertas. I’m in SE Pennsylvania. 6A.

I guess as far as picking goes, I suppose the answer is “experience”. Being impatient, I’ve picked “hopefully”, then once in the house, need to sit on towels covered for a few days before eating. I’ve eaten alot of unripe, sour peaches and plums trying to figure it out and the reason for the original question. However, the animals have it down to the day of ripeness…they know exactly when to hit.

They are ripe when they begin to soften. Some can be picked earlier and ripened inside. I do that sometimes when the first fruits soften. Mine usually soften up over a 7-10 day period. So if you pick all when the first soften up most are tree ripe and can be ripened fine on the counter.

Here are my thoughts on picking peaches:

We pick mostly by background color. Some varieties color better than others, but for most varieties (especially newer varieties which color well) the background color should be yellow. If you look carefully where the peach attaches to the shoot, you can move the shoot a little bit and see what the background color looks like.

Some older varieties will have some green in the background color where the stem is and still be soft. You can always put some light thumb pressure on the peach to see if it makes an indentation if you want a peach ready to eat off the tree. Peaches picked firm ripe taste as good, and sometimes better, than peaches picked soft ripe off the tree, if the firm ripe are allowed to soften on the counter for a day or two.

Large peaches high in the canopy are the first to ripen. Typically these are ready a couple days before the bulk of the tree is ready to pick. Most of the time there are just a few of these ready to pick, but if you don’t pick them, they will be over-ripe by the time the rest of the tree is ready to pick.

1 Like

Also, I forgot to finish answering your question about ripening peaches. I use paper bags to help ripen the peaches. I don’t leave them in the bag too long because they can get mushy. This past Sunday, I peeled the skin, sliced the peaches and vacuum sealed 213.00 peaches, Gonna be a lot of peach desserts going on! I was forced to harvest them all or take my chances on the squirrels…NO way


I like to ripen my peaches on the tree, so I never pick the whole tree at one time.
To me, picking peaches is an every day thing, so I’ll pick a tree over a 2-3 week period. That lessens the chance of picking an unripe peach. I like my peaches firm ripe, so I feel every peach before I pick it. But it’s a personal thing based strictly upon your tastes and preferences. Over time you’ll learn the peculiararities
of each one of your trees. They’re kind of like children. Each one is different.

When raccoons brings his whole family over to help picking the peach :angry: , indicates the peaches is done :smirk: .


Thank You for all the descriptive responses. I appreciate all the experienced opinions. I will need to train my fingertips. I also understand that probably each variety has it’s differences and the individual eater has their preference. I have discovered different preferences even in my own household.

I usually smell it and give a gentle pull. If they are smell good and pull off the branch easy then they are ready to harvest. At this stage, the juices will run down your neck. Yum.


Blackrag hi

You got some good answer there. Ahgrower gave some information, also fruitnut and Olpea gave some useful information to you. Let’s try to give you some ripening time information about your varieties if we can found something, as other haven’t answered them yet. I have feeling you are (much) more experienced grower because you say you have had those trees 5 growing season, assuming you meant it has 5 years since you planted those and want just some verification for fruit ripeness. If this is your first message, you would probably begin message like how to grow peaches if you were beginner. Your message how you began it tells about experience.

You say you are from southeast Pennsylvania. We might try Adams county nursery internet site to get some information about ripening time. Santa Rosa is Asian plum it says 10.8 is ripening time, but think now how your growing season has progressed to normal. Date was written day.month way. Are you in schedule or behind schedule? Think it relatively and about, you might want to check your fruit nearer to that date how the fruit develops as you were told in this thread.

You just started picking Red Heaven variety, which is peach tree. It ripens 1.8. in Adams county internet site, so is Santa Rosa then about 10 days from now? Approximately, don’t count it exactly look fruit instead for exact timing. You said they are still week away, you mean santa rosa as you picked Red Heaven now? So you think you are little warmer than adams county? Sorry you probably didn’t meant that, as you probably didn’t think this thing that way.

Sunglo is nectarine, seems to ripen mid august according nature hills. According Mississippi nectarine variety evaluation it has vivid red color skin when mature i think. They have ripening dates too but, you may need to adjust it to your area. Here is the link if you want to watch it :


Carolina Belle is peach and found ripening time of mid august, 15 days after Red Heaven. Burbank Elberta, do you mean July Elberta peach? That is late july, one site says early august ripening time.

Yes i think you are right picking picking is thing you need to learn from experience as you said. You said you picked little early, maybe you didn’t want rabbit or bird to get them so you picked them. I think they may little bit soften inside if they are hard. Looks like you said your reason to your post, no problem with it ask if you have to. I have heard animals do eat fruits, but i don’t know much of advice this regard. I don’t know much about growing peaches, so maybe this gives some idea about your varieties ripening time, but i think you could found this yourself as well. I just gave you some information about ripening time of those as you asked about them.

Ahgrower hi

Georgia hi

Is those peaches in image Hale Heaven or Elberta peaches which you mentioned? Or are they both, i don’t see in image that way i can separate those trees. You said going to take all peaches off the tree? Did you took them? Are they ripe yet? Well i guess peaches is better than no peaches. Hopefully you have tasty peaches there.

Blackrag hi

Forgot to say, you said this is your first real stone harvest so i would think you could say something like this yourself you have managed to get your peach tree and other trees to bearing age and got them through flowering. Not all get fruit tree through flowering successfully, as there is frost concern. So it would some kind of success to get peaches and other fruits to fruiting age and then to get ripe fruits. Don’t know how much effort this has taken from you, if it has been worth for you but not all have managed to get there. That is up to you what you think about that, Hopefully you can get some ripe fruits, at least you tried. And if not there is year after this year too. Just to give you some relative thoughts on this, so don’t be too critical for you if everyone doesn’t the way you wanted it to be.

Ahgrower hi

Ops you picked them, as in your second image i see. Was them ripe? What is this number you gave, has it has . on it? What you plan to do with those peach as you said dessert? O.K. you take them from the tree, i think it is better take them if other choice was no peaches.

Fruitnut hi

Good answer to original question.

Olpea hi

You wrote long good answer to original message, if i remember right you were earlier wrote good long answer my peach flower question as well. I think original message people writer liked your message, although he did specifically said so, he said he appreciate all opinions he got.

Hi Dennis 1983,
Yes, they are both. When I plated those 2 trees, I used the Dave Wilson planting method. I planted them 5 feet apart. I know it is very close, but it works for me as long as I keep them pruned accordingly. However, on the left side of the image (of those 2 trees) is the Elberta and on the right side-where the brown steel chair is holding up branches-is the Hale haven tree. In the image of the 4 bowls of fruit, the larger peaches are all Elberta. The smaller ones are Hale havens. Yes, most of them, except about 15 peaches out of the 213, were ripe and juicy. And yes, I took all the peaches off the tree with the help of my young adult grandson. LOL. It was either leave the peaches (that needed time) on the tree and run the risk of a very active squirrel grocery shopping in my yard taking them, or simply picking them and allowing then to ripen in my brown paper bag so I could share with family and friends. I chose the latter. I had thrown at least 50 over the fence that he had half eaten (when he shook them to the ground) so I feel that he had an adequate portion already. LOL. And If you wish, (its time to prune the hale haven) I would be happy to upload a couple more pics this weekend to show you where the Elberta and Hale haven separate. I had about 8 trees 5 feet apart going uphill from the Elberta but because of late freezes and such, I have rearranged and transplanted those trees in other areas of the yard. Altogether, I have an assortment of trees just totally 28. And like Rayrose said, they are my babies. And they all do have different peculiararities and I am always taking care of them. I love it, I am happily obsessed!!! Hope I have answered your questions.

Dennis, Thanks for your time and advice. Sorry to lump all my stone fruit discussion into one post. I didn’t mean to confuse anyone. Perhaps I should have been descriptive in my original post. I haven’t really allowed the trees bear much in the 1st 4 seasons because I didn’t feel they were strong enough to bear a full set. This year I thinned, although not enough and have baskets of peaches, nectarines and plums. While early to predict, it looks like the apples will produce a fair harvest as well. My main query to the folk here was what led them to decide to pull an individual piece of fruit and I think I got that answer. I realize that every location is different by region and variety of tree as well as weather leading up to it, determining the schedule of projected ripeness.

Most of the harvest this year will go to family, friends and surrounding property owners for putting up with, without complaint, the sound of a 2-stroke mist blower, my beast of a dog, a diesel tractor, dirtbikes, shotgun blasts and a couple loud hot-rods doing burn outs.

What started out as a simple task of a few apple trees for my mother’s applesauce turned into a 2nd or 3rd full time job. I am thankful to the people on this forum that have contributed here and another forum that helped me over the last 4 years. The practical experience from the people here (and archived searches) provide substantially better information for me over every book I’ve read and 100’s of internet searches. Thanks, Chad

If the purpose of picking is for cooking then picking just before peak ripeness is desirable as the fruit is firmer. This improves texture in the cooked product.

If for fresh eating then others have answered.

For storage, store the most perfect blemish free and eat/process the others. Separate so the do not touch; air circulation. If any stem remains (hopefully not the spur = unripe) do not remove it. Rot starts at blemishes or removed stem end. Keep accurate temps around 32F+/-1F (don’t let it get 30F or fruit will freeze), and high humidity. The sugars present prevent freezing at 32-31F. This is usually not possible for most people so refrigerate as best as possible, with open container of water to humidify the interior.

For ripening not quite ripe I like a brown paper bag and a couple of apples. 2-4 days check daily. I find if after 4 days the peach is still supermarket ripe it was picked too soon and never ripens worth eating.

Ahgrower hi

Georgia hi So both Hale Heaven and Elberta variety was in image. Don’t know this planting method you said, but you said it is dwarf peach tree. So the number was how many peaches you got, the dot on that number confused me what that numbers was. That was quite a lot peaches, but I would say like it is quality not quantity what matters I think. It is better to get few good quality peaches rather than a lot bad quality peaches. You said already said this your situation and I said better to pick them then than let squirrels to get them. Did you removed your peach trees in dormant in winter or during growing season? You didn’t answer my question about what are you going to do with those peaches as you said dessert?

Blackrag hi

You are welcome of information as you seemed to found it useful to you. Yes it was little bit confusing as your text didn’t talk much about subject you wrote about. Yes there was need for more information, but you added later it to your message. I guess that was goo idea not to let bear too much fruit in early years to avoid branched to be broken. Yes I think there is local difference for ripening time, I think many things affect ripening of fruit. I think you already said thank you earlier, but no problem to say it again.

Hi Dennis 1983,
I just wrote you a very long message and I lost it.
I am going to try to find it before I rewrite another long response answering and trying to make things as plain as possible .
I am so sorry for not making things plain.