Mid-summer means the arrival of peach season. When to pick peaches depends on the kind of peach you have. Pick your tree-ripened peaches at the right time to enjoy the most flavor. Check out this guide and video to help you learn when to pick peaches.
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When to Pick Your Peaches
I love August! All of the summer garden bounties really start to kick in and there is so much good stuff to eat from the garden! My favorite is fresh peaches!
The taste of a juicy peach is so yummy! Peaches are great snacks and I can’t wait for amazing peach cobblers. Of course, you can go to your local farmers market and buy some peaches but they just don’t taste as sweet as tree-ripened peaches.
The arrival of mid-August signals the start of peach season in our area. The earliest varieties are usually ready beginning around the 10th to 15th.
When I first started growing peaches I always struggled with how to know when to pick peaches. Did you know that the sugar content in peaches increases the longer it stays on the tree? So you want to make sure the peach is at its flavor peak before picking peaches but you don’t want them to get overripe either. So it can be hard to know when peaches are at that perfect ripe stage and ready to be picked.
It can still be so confusing to figure out the right time to pick peaches but keep reading and I will help you learn in this article how to know when your peaches are ripe and ready to be picked. You can also watch the video below to help you as well.
Know your Peach Cultivar
The time varies for when peaches are ready depending on your cultivar and your location where you live. It helps to know what type of peach cultivar you have. Some varieties of peaches could be ready in mid-July, August or mid-September. If you don’t know the peach cultivar you have, do some research to find out what you have.
When you know which peach cultivars you have it can help you determine when your peaches will most likely start to ripen. Then you can start watching for the signs that your peaches are ready to be picked.
7 signs to know when to pick your peaches
I have listed below 7 ways to help you know when to pick your peaches. As you learn to watch for these signs in your peaches it will get easier each year to know when your peaches are ready to be picked.
For most of their growing life peaches have a green undertone to their color. In the last few weeks before your peaches are ready you will start to see some drastic changes in the color of your peaches (along with a big increase in size). You will start to see the color change from green to yellow and then to orange-red color.
Depending on the variety you are growing that orange color will deepen and maybe even redden as the peach gets ready to pick.
If your peach has any hints of green left in its color then it is not ready to harvest and should be left on the tree for a few more days. As you start to see these color changes it is the first sign of when to pick your peaches.
The sweet aroma of peaches on a warm sunny day is actually a sign that it is time to pick peaches. You will start to notice a nice peach smell around your tree. This is very variety-dependent, some trees will get a very strong peach smell, while for others you may need to put your nose right up to the fruit to smell the peach flavor! But that sweet peach smell is a big indication that your peaches are ready to harvest.
Another indicator of when to pick your peaches is touch. Before your peaches have started to ripen be sure to take a minute and feel the unripe fruit. It will be almost rock hard with no give at all to the flesh.
As peaches approach their final ripeness you will start to notice the flesh “gives” to gentle pressure. Squeeze the fruit gently with your fingers and if the flesh gives and feels soft under that pressure the fruit is ready to pick.
Please be very careful with this method of checking to see if your peaches are ripe. Peaches bruise easily so be very gentle. Pay particular attention to the top of the peach where it attaches to the tree. If this area is soft the peach is ready.
Birds love ripe fruit, so if you see the birds becoming interested in your tree you know the fruit is about ready. Be sure to get some Bird Netting on your tree right away to protect your fruit and start checking daily for ripeness!
5. Time of year
Baring some major weird weather in the spring (think extra early or extra late spring). The fruit on your peach tree should be ready about the same time each year! Our tree is ready between August 4th to at the latest the 15th, like clockwork every year! So keep track of your picking date from year to year and that will give you a big indication of when to pick your peaches.
If you are still not sure if your peach is ready to harvest then give one a taste. Pick one peach off of your tree that you think is ripe and give it a taste. A ripe peach will be soft and juicy. If your harvested peach still feels firm, lacks juiciness, or isn’t sweet then the others aren’t ready for picking. If the sweetness of the peach isn’t what you expect from a ripe peach then leave the rest on the tree for a few more days.
This one may sound a little funny to you, but if you have been watching your tree closely you will notice a change in the shape of the peaches as they get ready to harvest. A ripe peach will be rounder and plumper as it reaches maturity.
When you feel like a peach is ready to harvest lift upward and pull gently on the fruit. If the fruit requires a hard pull to get it to come off the tree then it isn’t ready and should be given a few days.
All of the peaches on your tree will not be ready to pick at the same time. Harvest time for peaches can extend over a week or more. So you will need to check the fruit on your tree daily and harvest the ripe fruit, leaving the others to finish ripening.
When you have harvested your peaches bring them inside and set them on the counter in a single layer but keep them away from bananas and apples since they emit ethylene gas which may cause your peaches to become overripe too soon.
If your peaches start to ripen too quickly while sitting on the counter you can put them in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process. However, only leave them in the fridge for 5 days as the flavor or texture of your peaches may change.
What if I pick the peaches too soon?
Peaches are very forgiving! If you pick them too soon and once you eat the first one it is still firm and not sweet then you can simply set your fruit out on the counter at room temperature in a single layer and let them ripen! They may not be quite as sweet as they could be if allowed to ripen on the tree, but they will still turn out great!
Emma @ Misfit Gardening
Great information on when to pick peaches! My tree is almost ready, by the end of the week we should be picking bushels of peaches!
Thank you! I’ve figured this out thru trial & error with my 2nd year tree. It went crazy this year & has been loaded down with fruit. Love it!
What zone are you in?
We’re in Maine.
Utah Zone 6
Some of my peaches that were somewhat green feel to the ground during a storm. They are on my counter hoping they will ripen. Am I wasting my time?
If they were getting close to ripening they might still make it. But they won’t taste as sweet as the might have.
Hello! Thank you for this helpful website. I’ve got a little peach tree that planted itself! – several years ago. It usually grows about 40 peaches on it. The only problem is, if we don’t pluck the peaches off in time, the bears and/or deer get the peaches – and we get none!! So the peaches look beautiful now – getting a nice color – but I know that we’ve got to get them off there in a day or two or we’ll lose them! Any thoughts or suggestions? I hate to see them go to the bear and the deer!! I wanna eat them myself!!! Many thanks for any thoughts.
That’s a tough one. You might be able to keep the deer our with a tall fence. I’m not sure that will help with the bear as I don’t have any experience with them.
If they have changed color you could try picking them now and letting them ripen inside. They may not be quite as sweet as they would be if there were tree-ripened but at least you would get to eat them.
I forgot to say, the peaches are rock hard at the moment – not edible! So that’s the catch – Gotta get ’em off the tree ASAP – to keep them from the bear and deer – but they’re not ready!! What to do?!…
P.P.S. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I am in “Upstate” New York – 80 miles from The City. New Jersey peaches are ready now but my tree isn’t!
I’m with you Jonella. I’m in upstate VT and it is Sept 15. My trees are loaded with fruit, but still not ripe. Same thing last year, didn’t ripen until late Sept. Luckily the deer don’t seem to come around until the snow flies, so hope to have a good harvest this year.
How to store peaches?
Fresh peaches do not store for long. They will last about a week on the counter, maybe a few more days in the fridge. If you want them to last longer you will need to can or freeze them.
Thanks for the advice for picking peaches. Very good.
Are peaches ready earlier in the south?
They are ready sooner in warmer climates, for sure.