How to Tell When an Orange is Ripe and Ready to Eat

Depending on the variety of orange you're growing, harvest season may be as early as March and as late as December. Learn when to pick oranges below!

Oranges are often associated with summer, with their bright colors and sweet tangy flavors. But did you know that orange harvests happen throughout almost the entire year?

If you're a beginner orange farmer, it's hard to know when your specific species of orange is ripe enough and ready to eat. With all those delicious flavors waiting for you, sometimes it's hard to wait for the right time.

That's why we're here to help you learn when to pick oranges. Keep reading to learn all you need to know to have the best orange harvest possible!

Color is Not The Only Factor

While that iconic bright orange color does make it seem as though the orange should be ripe, that's not always true. Some oranges, such as satsumas, keep a little green on their peel while still being ripe and juicy.  

Oranges turn from green to orange due to the change in temperature. The chlorophyll leaves the peel, changing its color from one to the other. This means the fruits can be orange in color while still needing more time to ripen.

Wait for the Right Season

As you grow your oranges, it's a good idea to know the specific time to start looking for ripeness. For example, pineapple oranges go ripe anywhere between November and February. Navel oranges, on the other hand, go from November into June.

Each variety has a wide span of months in which they ripen, so make sure to look up your specific variety in preparation for harvesting. If it's not the right month for your orange species, chances are good that they're not ready.

Look for Sweet Smells

Ripe oranges have a sweet and fragrant smell to them. As you go through your orange tree looking for the best ones, only pick the ones that have a strong fragrance.

Avoid anything that smells moldy or sharp, as these scents indicate that the orange is not at peak ripeness. Not all oranges ripen at the same rate, so it's good to be a little extra picky to get the best ones.

Taste Test is Key

The best and most fool-proof method of orange picking is by picking the one you think is good and eating it. It's an easy test that tells you in an instant whether or not your oranges are right for picking.

If you're looking to harvest the entire tree, test one for its flavor before taking all of the oranges. Otherwise, only pick the oranges with the same quality as the one you tasted to ensure that you're getting a similar ripeness!

Knowing When to Pick Oranges Comes With Experience

If you still feel a little unsure about when to pick oranges, that's okay. Time and experience with your fruit tree make the whole process a lot easier over the years.

When dealing with orange trees, it's not an exact science and each harvest is different than the next. But after you have a few harvests under your belt, you'll have a better understanding of how your specific orange tree grows. Harvests will be a breeze after that!

Try our seasonal citrus box while its available...the Craft Citrus Club!

Our Rio box is a 15-lb curated box of our fresh-harvested citrus from South Texas. The fruit is NOT gassed, rather it is tree-ripened. Our season runs from Nov-May for  oranges, grapefruit and mandarins.

Our Grande box is a 30-lb box of either fresh-harvested Rio Red Grapefruit or Sweet Oranges from South Texas.

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