Pick oranges from a tree when they have softened slightly. Grab the orange in your hand and twist the stem until it comes loose from the tree. Pull the orange gently so the stem does not pull and damage the orange skin when it is picked. Taste the orange after picking to see if it is at the correct level of sweetness. Then harvest other oranges the same color and size.
How to hand pick oranges from a tree
Hand pick oranges from a tree by first choosing one orange that has softened slightly and has started to change color to orange. Pick oranges by twisting them off the stems with your hands.
Taste the orange to see if it has sweetened. Once you are happy with how sweet the orange is, continue to pick as many oranges as you need for the next 2-3 weeks. Bring a basket, laundry hamper or box with you to fit the oranges.
The rest of the oranges can be left on the tree to be picked later. Oranges with more green on their skin will last longer so pick the ones that have the most orange on their skin first.
How to pick oranges with secateurs from a tree
Pick oranges with secateurs from a tree by grabbing the orange with one hand on the bottom. Hold the secateurs in the other hand and snip the stem ½ inch above the top of the orange. Leaving a small amount of stem on the orange will help it to last longer.
Tips for picking oranges form a tree
The top things to remember when picking oranges from a tree is to be careful that you don’t damage the orange skin as this will let air and water in and the orange will not last.
Before picking all of your oranges, taste one first to make sure that it tastes sweet. Sometimes oranges that have turned color can take longer to develop their sugars. If you find that the orange tastes tart, leave the oranges on the tree for another 2 weeks and test one again.
Continue to test the taste of each orange every 2 weeks until they taste delicious. You can then harvest all of the oranges the same color and size or leave them on the tree for 2-3 more weeks. Oranges last well on the tree due to their thick skin and acidity.
Picking all the oranges off the tree
You do not need to pick all of the oranges off the tree at once. Oranges can last up to 4 weeks after they have turned orange on the tree. Make sure you pick the oranges off the tree if they become too soft or start to drop off the tree.
Very ripe oranges will drop to the ground and can still be eaten. Check the skin to make sure it is not bruised or damaged. These oranges can be eaten, stored in your fruit bowl or stored in the bottom of your fridge to keep them for up to 2 months.
How to tell if an orange is ripe on a tree for picking
Ripe oranges will feel slightly softer than those that are not ready to pick. Their skin will usually have started to change to an orange color but the whole fruit may not be completely the same orange color.
The best way to tell if an orange is ripe is to pick it and taste it. Picking one orange first is important so that you do not pick underripe oranges as they do not sweeten or ripen well off of the tree.
Oranges ripen and sweeten best when exposed to sunlight and will develop their sugars as they are left on the tree.
Orange sweetness and length of time on tree
The sweetness level of the oranges does not depend on how long they have been on the tree but other factors like sun exposure, soil nutrients and weather. Oranges that are grown in good soil are also delicious as healthy soils will hold moisture.
Orange trees that are given consistent water and the soil is kept moist with mulch will produce delicious, juicy oranges. Cool but bright and sunny conditions make great tasting oranges. Cool nights lead to fresh tasting fruit.
Oranges can taste sweet after 4-12 weeks depending on how much sun, water and nutrients they get. Healthy trees grow delicious oranges so feed your tree with a slow release fertilizer like pelleted chicken manure in Spring and a fruit promoting fertilizer in Fall.
How long ripe oranges can stay on the tree before picking
Ripe oranges can stay on the tree for up to 8 weeks. Once the orange skin starts to turn a darker color and softens further, oranges should be picked. You can store oranges for longer by placing them in the bottom crisper of your fridge.
How many times a year oranges can be picked from a tree
Oranges have their main season during the cooler months but you may get a second harvest at the end of winter. Pick the oranges off the tree and they can grow more flowers and fruit later in the season.
Keep watering your orange tree well and give it another dose of fruiting fertilizer in Fall.
How to pick oranges from a tree – FAQ
Oranges will not get any sweeter after picking. You will need to let the oranges get to the level of sweetness you like before picking them off the tree. The best way to know this is to taste one orange before you harvest more. Oranges will keep well in your fruit bowl due to their acidity.
Pick as many oranges as you would like to eat in the next week. Leave the rest of the oranges on the tree until they start to feel soft. When this happens pick the rest of the oranges and store them in the bottom of your fridge. These will last for weeks and taste delicious.
A ripe orange will feel slightly soft on the tree, will usually have darker skin and will smell sweet. The best way to tell if your oranges are ripe is to pick one and taste it. If it tastes delicious then other oranges on your tree which are a similar color and softness will be ready too.
Use secateurs on an extender pole to reach oranges on top of your tree. Although these will drop to the ground, mulch on the surface of the soil will help to protect them as they drop. Be careful when you trim off the oranges that they don’t drop on you as they fall.
Oranges will get sweeter the longer they are on the tree and are exposed to bright light and sun. This will develop the natural sugars in the fruit and they will taste sweeter. Not all oranges will get sweeter on the tree, particularly if they are in shade or form late in the season. Wait until the oranges have started to turn orange before picking them to taste if they are sweet.
Leave sweet oranges on the tree for up to 2 months. If the oranges start to turn soft, then it is best to pick them and store them in your fridge. Oranges last well on the tree due to their acidity and will stay fresh and delicious. Oranges are a great fruit that lasts a long time on the tree and after being picked.
Oranges can have up to 2 harvests one in the early Winter and late Spring. Picking oranges as soon as they are ripe can encourage your tree to grow more oranges later in the season and more into Spring. Orange trees can have long seasons so if you want the tree to grow more flowers and fruit, pick fruit early in the season once it is ripe and give your tree the chance to grow more oranges.
How to pick oranges from a tree – Summary
Oranges are easy to pick by hand by gently twisting them off so the stem snaps. For stems that are tougher use secateurs to cut them off. A laundry basket is a great way to collect your oranges when you are picking lots. They will last for weeks and are great gifts for neighbors and friends.
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I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.