Citrus trees (Citrus spp.) may be found growing in the plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 over the whole of the United States. Citrus fruits, in contrast to several other kinds of berries and fruit, do not continue to mature or get sweeter after they have been picked from the tree. It is recommended that the fruit be left on the tree until it has reached its full maturity. Even if the particular ripening features of citrus vary considerably depending on the specific sort of citrus you’re cultivating, it is still possible to detect whether or not the citrus fruit is ready to be picked and ripe for consumption.
Citrus is Tricky
The citrus family consists of fruits that mature more obviously than most other families of tree fruits. The colour of many kinds of citrus fruit, but not all, changes as the fruit ripens, although the hue of different citrus varieties might seem quite different. For instance, oranges may come in a variety of colours, such as yellow, green, or even purple. Because of their rather thick rind, it is difficult to determine whether they are ripe based on how much they soften. Because the rind contains forceful volatile oils, the same ones that give citrus fruits their enticing perfume, it is not possible to “sniff test” for a ripe aroma in the same way that you can with peaches and other types of tree fruits. You will, rather, be required to depend on a wide array of additional direct and indirect exams.
Timing the Harvest
Every variety of citrus has its own unique window of opportunity throughout the year for harvesting ripe fruit. Even within a single citrus species, hybrids and various cultivars may have widely differing window of opportunity. Take, for instance, the citrus fruit known as oranges (Citrus sinensis), which may be grown in USDA zones 8 through 10. Oranges known as Valencia begin to ripen in the summer, whereas navel oranges often mature during the winter months. If you have a good idea of the season, you should be able to predict when you should start completing further ripeness tests.
The simplest method to determine whether or not the fruits on your citrus tree are ripe and ready to be picked is to give them a taste. To taste the fruit, choose two distinct fruits from your citrus tree, each of which is located in a different area of the tree, and cut them open with a knife. If the fruit that you chose has the flavour that is typical for the variety, then it is reasonable to conclude that all of the fruit that is still on the tree is ready to be picked and may be harvested. Wait seven days and then conduct the taste test again if the citrus fruits that you collected do not have the appropriate flavour for the kind that you are producing.
Fruit Skin Color
When they are still immature, citrus fruits are all green in colour, but as they grow and get ripe, they begin to take on a yellow or orange hue. Citrus fruits are the only fruits that start off green. Keeping an eye on this as it changes colour might assist indicate when it is time to do ripeness testing. Remember that certain citrus kinds and hybrids never develop a totally orange or yellow colour even when they are fully ripe. This is something to keep in mind. When they are ready, Valencia oranges, for instance, have a yellow-green coloration. On the other hand, by the time they are ready to be picked, lemons (Citrus limon), which may be grown in USDA zones 8 through 10, have become an entirely yellow colour.
Pulling and tugging on a citrus fruit that is ready to be picked should result in very little resistance from the fruit while it is being pulled or yanked off of the tree. If the fruit is difficult to remove off the branch and you find yourself battling to do so, it is probable that the fruit is not yet completely ripe. You should wait a week before making another attempt at removing the fruit. Keep in mind that grapefruit and oranges won’t mature any more after they’ve been picked, so just be patient. To harvest the fruit, take the fruit in the palm of your hand and twist it while simultaneously pulling it away from the tree. This will allow you to collect the fruit.