Why do pear orchards leave some trees unpicked? Thanks!

Why do pear orchards leave some trees unpicked? Thanks!

— Don, Central Point

It does seem like a few trees get skipped here and there, huh, Don?

You're not imagining things, but there's method to the madness.

Orchardist Keith Emerson tells us some of the pears you're seeing were left because they weren't planted to be sold in the first place, but for pollination purposes, because planting a mix of trees makes for a better crop, in terms of size and quality.

"When you have different varieties of trees all growing together, the set is better when you've got some other varieties around to pollinate them," Emerson said.

So, the trees were planted for their pollen, not their pears.

"There's been a lot of research done as far as the patterns of bees, so you can plant your trees in a more strategic pattern," Emerson said.

Different types of trees are set close together depending on the time of year they bloom. Bosc and comice pears, for example, have coincidental blooms.

In a year when the commercial market is great, a pollinator's fruit might be picked, but it's usually skipped.

There are other, less common reasons to skip over those trees, too. Damage from hail storms can damage the fruit's quality. Sometimes pickers will come across a yellow jacket nest hanging from the branches.

"We'll pretty much just walk away and not pick it," Emerson said.