When To Pick Plums

When to pick a plum is a question that can be difficult to answer.

When To Pick Plums

There are different opinions on when the best time is to pick plums. Some people believe that plums should be picked when they are slightly under-ripe and have slightly tough skin. 

Others believe that the best time to pick plums is when they are completely ripe and have a soft, melting flesh.

When Exactly Should I Pick Plums?

Harvesting plums at the right time is essential to getting the best quality from your tree.

The timelines vary depending on the variety of plum you are growing, but generally speaking, they will develop over a period of 3 – 4 months from blossoms and ripen over 2 weeks. 

  • Santa Rosa plums and small Cherry plums tend to ripen late in June, 
  • Satsuma, Mariposa, and Green Gage plums ripen in July. 
  • Prune plum varieties usually ripen in August. 
  • You may find a mix of both hard green fruit that isn’t quite ready yet, along with fully ripe fruit on the same tree at once. 

It’s important to remember that plums don’t improve much after being picked from the tree, so it’s best to harvest them multiple times during their 2-week season for optimal quality.

What Is The Best Way To Pick Plums?

Harvesting plums is a delicate process as the fruits are easily damaged when not picked correctly. 

  • The best way to ensure both the health of your tree and the integrity of the fruits is to pick them regularly and consistently throughout the season. 
  • This will help encourage plant vigor and productivity. Additionally, it is important to remove any excess fruit, so the tree does not waste its energy on over-producing.
  • When harvesting your plums, it is important to be gentle and patient so as not to bruise or damage them in any way. 
  • You should use sharp scissors or pruning shears for larger branches, which prevents breakage and allows you to get into hard-to-reach places on the tree. 
  • If you need additional support when picking plums from taller branches, use a sturdy ladder or stepladder for safety. 
  • Lastly, make sure you give each plum a good visual inspection before picking it; if there is any sign of rot or mildew, then discard them immediately – they may pose a threat to other nearby fruit trees.

How Can I Tell If Plums Are Actually Ripe?

As the long-awaited blossoms of a plum tree arrive in the early spring, those wanting to sample the ripe fruits have only to wait 3 – 4 months until plums are ready for harvesting. 

For precise timing of when the plums are ripe, paying attention to taste, smell, feel, and color is usually my best bet.

For instance, smell and touch go hand in hand when it comes to knowing when plums are ripe; fragrant aromas will signal that plums should be harvested soon. 


When To Pick Plums (1)

The sniff test is a tried and true method of determining whether a fruit is ripe and ready to pick or not.

This method works especially well with plums, as the aroma of a perfectly ripe plum is unmistakable. 

When a plum is ready to be picked, it emits a pleasant, sweet, fruity scent that encourages me to savor its flavor.

While an unripe plum may appear visually similar to its ripe counterpart, cracking open the fruit will reveal its less-than-appealing scent – pungent and acrid.

The main benefit of performing this sniff test when harvesting plums is that it can be done without damaging or degrading the taste of the fruit. Moreover, I can determine if my plums are ripe before they spoil. 

Therefore, even if I forget to pick up my plums at exactly the right time, I’ll know if they’re edible based simply on smell, saving me from wasting perfectly good fruits! 


It’s always a good idea to find out if plums are ripe by tasting them. There are three main indicators of ripeness: sweetness, firmness, and juiciness. 

Ripe plums are juicy and sweet, whereas plums that are unripe lack a certain sweetness and have much firmer flesh. When you give a plum a bite, it should yield sweet juice.

If the plum is unripe, you won’t be able to taste any sugar or juice; it will be harder and slightly soupy in texture.

Gentle Pressure

The simplest way to gauge if your plum is ripe is to apply gentle pressure at the stem area.

This technique will give you an idea about the firmness and ripeness of the fruit without damaging the skin or bruising it. 

When you feel that the flesh of the fruit gives slightly, then this indicates that it is ripe and ready for picking. 

Conversely, a heavier feeling usually means that it is older, thus making it an ideal option for better flavor.

However, when applying gentle finger pressure on a plum’s surface results in overly soft skin, this means that it has been left too long on the tree and has since over-ripened.


Color cues can act as an important marker of ripeness when it comes to plums. By recognizing the desired color hue, I can more accurately predict when the fruit is ready for harvest. 

Depending on the type of plum that is being grown, the mature color will range from green to yellow to a bright violet-style blue. 

Final Thoughts

Smell, taste, gentle finger pressure, and color cues can all be used as reference points in order to determine the perfect time for picking succulent plum fruits. 

Keep in mind that each variety of plum may require a slightly different approach when it comes to ripeness; don’t be afraid to experiment in order to find the perfect sweet spot.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Preserve Plums After Harvesting Them?

It is a great feeling to go out into the garden and pick fresh plums off the tree.

But once they have been harvested, you will need to act quickly if you wish to preserve them for longer than a week. 

Plums can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week but at room temperature for no more than 3 days.

Therefore, it is best to store them in some form that will maintain their goodness for as long as possible.

This can range from making jams and marmalade or using them in recipes right away.

Valentina Hernandez
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