By: Amy Grant
Oranges are easy to pluck from the tree; the trick is to know when to harvest an orange. If you have ever purchased oranges from the local grocer, you are well aware that uniform orange color is not necessarily an indicator of a delicious, juicy orange; the fruit is sometimes dyed, which makes things confusing. The same rule of thumb applies when harvesting oranges; color is not always a determining factor.
Times for harvesting oranges vary depending upon the variety. Picking oranges may occur any time from as early as March to as late as December or January. It’s helpful to know what variety of orange you have to determine the right time for picking oranges.
To be more specific, these tips should help:
As you can see, determining which type of orange you have gives you a hint as to when the fruit is ready. In general, most orange harvest takes place between late September and onward into early spring.
Knowing how to pick an orange that is ripe can be tricky. As mentioned above, color is not always an indicator of an orange’s ripeness. That said, you don’t want to pick green fruit. In many cases, the ripe fruit will simply drop from the tree. Check the fruit for mold, fungus, or blemishes. Choose an orange to harvest that smells sweet, fresh and citrusy, not moldy. The surest way to check to see if an orange tree is ready to be picked is to taste one or two fruits before you harvest the entire tree. Remember, citrus does not continue to ripen once removed from the tree.
To harvest your oranges, simply grasp the ripe fruit in your hand and gently twist it until the stem detaches from the tree. If the fruit is too high, use a ladder to climb as far up as you can and shake the branches to loosen the fruit. Hopefully, the fruit will fall to the ground like citrus manna from heaven.
If the skins of your oranges tend to be very thin and, thus, easily torn, it is best to use clippers to cut the stems. Some varieties of oranges do well to just leave the ripe fruit on the tree for a few months longer instead of harvesting the entire tree at once. It’s a great storage method and often the fruit just gets sweeter.
Go ahead and gather fruit that has dropped from the tree to the ground. Inspect it for broken skin. Discard any that have open wounds, but the rest of them should be just fine to eat.
And that, citrus growers, is how to pick an orange.
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A great practice in harvesting vegetables is taking a basket out to the garden every day to see what has ripened. Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to produce even more.
Most vegetables are at their peak of tenderness and flavor when they are relatively small. Zucchini, for example, are best when they are no more than six or seven inches long, and then they get tough and woody. (If you discover an overlooked whopper, grate it and make zucchini cookies or zucchini bread.)
It's crucial to keep track of what you planted and when it was planted. Keep the seed packet so you know what to expect in terms of when it is ready for harvest. There are many cultivars of vegetables today, bred for different characteristics such as size and flavor. For example, it would be a shame to pick yardlong beans (which actually are best when they are 15 to 18 inches long) at the five to six inches that would be normal for pole beans. You can plant a watermelon variety that ripens at eight inches across (see here) or one that's not ready until the fruit weighs 30 pounds.
When you harvest, look out for signs of trouble, such as yellowing leaves or rotting fruit, and remove the problem parts. Even if it's something you can do little about -- such as blossom end rot or cracking from too much rain -- there's no point in letting the plant put energy into fruit you won't be able to eat.
Tomato plants are the most commonly found vegetable growing in American backyards. These are some of the signs of trouble to look for when growing tomatoes:
When planting in a pot, choose a dwarf orange variety, such as Dwarf Valencia or Dwarf Navel.
Follow our full guide below to a bumper crop of homegrown citrus.
Citrus trees laden with juicy lemons, oranges, limes and mandarins ready to be plucked from the branch are a quintessentially Kiwi addition to many home gardens. Plant in your garden or in pots.
Before you get started, choose a variety suited to your garden and cooking needs. Below are some popular orange, lime, lemon, mandarin and grapefruit varieties to plant.
Orange: Best Seedless, Harwoods Late, Ruby Blood, Seville.
Lime: Bearss lime, Kaffir lime, Tahitian lime.
Lemon: Eureka, Meyer, Lemonade.
Mandarin: Burgess Scarlet, Clementine, Satsuma.
Grapefruit: Golden Special, Orlando, Wheeny.
Choose a suitable spot: citrus trees are frost tender and they do best in a consistently sunny environment with adequate rainfall, in an area sheltered from cold winds.
The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix. This mix contains potassium, magnesium and iron necessary for flower and fruit development and healthy green growth. SaturAid soil wetter channels water directly to the roots and added seaweed extract stimulates root development whilst improving overall plant health. If planting in pots or containers, plant in Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix.
Clear the area before planting, removing any weeds.
Planting citrus in the garden:
Planting citrus in pots and containers:
Replenishing nutrients used by your citrus plants ensures they will grow to their full potential, producing abundant and juicy crops. Feed your citrus in spring and summer to encourage maximum fruiting and flowering.
Citrus require higher levels of potassium and magnesium, and Tui Citrus Food is specially blended with all the nutrients needed for citrus planted in gardens. Feed citrus planted in containers with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.
Magnesium deficiencies can be common in citrus, shown by yellowing leaves. Apply Tui Epsom Salts around the drip line of the tree (where the leaves extend to), to correct the deficiency.
Citrus require more watering over the summer months - and well watered, well nourished citrus will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.
The weather, weeds, pest insects and diseases can all impact on the success of your citrus. Protect your plants from the elements with layers of Tui Mulch & Feed, to help keep their roots moist.
Keep the area around your citrus weed free.
If you have lemons that are ready to be harvested, try Christine's Lemon Brownie recipe to enjoy your bumper crop.
After harvesting, fresh, whole oranges may be kept on the counter at room temperature for up to a week before they begin to degrade. Moisture may cause mold to develop on the orange skin, which can penetrate the fruit to the inside, ruining it. If you live in a humid area, consider refrigerating your oranges for longer storage or wrapping them in wax paper to protect the fruit from mold. If you have cut open an orange, leave it at room temperature for no more than two hours, or one hour in hot weather.
Refrigerated oranges last longer than those kept on the counter because the lower temperatures in the refrigerator slow the growth of molds. It should be two to four weeks in the vegetable crisper drawer before you notice any decrease in fruit quality or mold formation. At the first signs of mold, discard the fruit, regardless of how long it has been stored. Pre-sliced oranges will last up to two days in the refrigerator in a covered container.