Orange Fruits Ripening – When and how to harvest Oranges
Oranges reach acceptable ripening about 6-12 or even 14 months after flowering and may be harvested within a period of 2-3 months prior to over ripening. The perfect time to harvest oranges greatly depends on the variety and the region. In US, navel oranges are often harvested from October to June, while Valencia oranges are often harvested from March to October. Florida citrus growers report that they can harvest orange fruits all year round except for the summer. You can tell that it’s time to harvest oranges when you can see a couple of mature oranges falling off the tree.
The average healthy and mature orange tree produces 200-350 oranges. However, experienced orange farmers after years of practice can harvest between 400 to 600 oranges per tree. Under a dense planting system, in which there are 400 trees per hectare, the expected yield of an experienced farmer would be 45 ton per hectare.
Generally citrus fruits are harvested by hand, with a combined movement of twisting and pulling the wrist. Some growers use clippers or shears and cut the stem. This is very common when harvesting fruits with very thin crust.
However, during the last decade, there is a strong trend introducing mechanical harvesting, especially in Florida, US. In an effort to minimize costs through labor-saving technology, growers use giant shakers that are attached to tractors. “In under 15 minutes, the machines shake loose 36,000 pounds of oranges from 100 trees, catch the fruit and drop it into a large storage car. This would have taken four pickers all day long”, an orange farmer reported. However, according to New York Times, these sophisticated machines work best only on the big, regularly spaced, groomed young groves in the southwest, and some do not work at all on the smaller, older, more irregular acreage in central Florida. Machines are hard to use on Valencia orange trees, because shaking them risks prematurely dislodging much of the following year's harvest.
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Harvesting Orange Fruits
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