How to give citrus fruits their 'colour'?

ourarkaFebruary 28, 2012

Hi everyone,

Just wondering what conditions it is that makes lemons 'yellow' and oranges etc 'orange'?

I am in the south of the UK and have a healthy Lemon, Tahiti Lime and Mandarin Orange. They flowered well last summer and fruited well .... and have had a reasonable winter in a conservatory. The Mandarin especially is full of fruit but, despite being quite large, remain almost completely green .... as do the lemons. This is always something I ahve struggled with. What can I do to make sure the fruit actually ripens properly?

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Color is not an indication of ripeness, Ouraka. Divergences in day/evening temperatures is what is responsible for causing citrus skin to develop their respective color for the most part. That as well as crop load and age of the tree. The night time temps need to drop below 55 degrees F for at least several days to allow citrus to color up properly. The more cool weather that the fruit is exposed to, the quicker it will turn color. However, that does NOT mean the fruit isn't ripe. In the tropics, citrus is routinely eaten with green skins :-) And, younger trees will not green up fruits as well as more mature trees, especially those trees carrying a large load.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Thanks Patty,

So at this stage of the year, what is better for the plants? Popping them outside so they stay fairly cool, especially at night, even though there are many, many flower buds .... or giving them a head start in Spring by keeping them in the conservatory with the higher day/night temps that they will get in there, but perhaps sacrificing the colour of the fruit?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 1:14PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I always suggest putting your citrus out as soon as all danger of significant frost is over in your area. Especially if you've got a nice, sunny day going. They benefit from the sunshine, the gentle rains, and the divergent temps :-) Leave them outside as long as you possibly can into the Fall, then bring them into the greenhouse/conservatory when you must :-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Thanks Patty - rain and sunshine both at a complete premium here, but will put them out nonetheless!!! Still a chance of a mild frost, though nothing in the forecast for the coming weeks. Will bring them in for the night if it happens.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:55PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Ourarka, a premium for rain in the UK?? Where would that be? I was under the assumption the UK has a fair amount of precipitation. Premium of sunshine I know, but I thought the UK received a good amount of rainfall.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:26PM
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In fact, if you compare the rainfall of England (not including Scotland & Wales) with the rainfall in USA, you find that both countries have about 30% by area with more than 30" rain. In USA the dry areas are much drier, and the wet areas much wetter. And the rain in England tends to be gentler but longer lasting.
However, currently, to quote from UK government sources:
"Cumulative rainfall over the five month period ending January 2012 was provisionally the driest in our Anglian Region since records began in 1910. Rainfall over the 16 months ending January 2012 was the driest on record in our Midlands Region and the third driest in our Anglian Region since 1995-97. Over the same period, rainfall in our South West and South East Regions was provisionally the fourth and fifth lowest since records began and the driest on record since 1974-76 and 2004-6 respectively. England and Wales received the lowest rainfall since 1995-97 over the same period and the ninth lowest since records began."

Regarding citrus in the UK, unless you are permanently maintaining tropical temperatures (over 80F), the fruits will eventually turn colour. Be patient - from one year's spring flowering in the UK, it can well be the next summer that fruits mature. Sadly, that doesn't mean they will be as sweet as commercially grown citrus. Just not enough summer sun for that.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 4:11PM
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It is not the amount of rain that makes Seattle and London so gloomy in the winter. It is the persistence of the rain, fog,and low grey clouds like every day for months and very short days.

I somehow managed to survive the Seattle weather with only winter seasonal affective disorder for 14 years from the gloomy winter weather before moving to a warmy and not so rainy climate(SE Texas.) Haven't lived in London so just going on what I've heard about it's weather being close to Seattle's. Chime right in citrange if I've got it wrong.

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 8:51PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Yes, I know :-) I grew up for many years as a kid in Vancouver, BC. My family is very accustomed to "permacloud", being from Canada by way of Scotland. Vancouver, BC makes Seattle look like San Diego.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 9:27PM
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