How do I tell when my citrus is ripe?

alaskadiver(z8 China Spring)November 4, 2005

OK, probably a dumb question, but this is my first attempt at growing citrus and I'm wondering how I know when they are ripe. I have 3 potted citrus plants, a Meyer's lemon, a Satsuma mandarin, and a Mexican lime. Here are pics of my first year's meager production. The lemons and limes look ready to pick but I was wondering more about the Satsuma mandarines. Do I wait until they are entirely orange? Or are the perfectly orange colored fruits in the groceries the result of dye as I thought was the case?


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AnotherAlterEgo(8)

Kent - I'm particularly fond of the aqua-colored container. The terra-cota one looks good against the limestone as well. That said, I've posted a link which may be helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Is it ripe?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:33PM
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AnotherAlterEgo(8)

Kent - A picture is worth a thousand words. Here's another link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of Ripe

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:35PM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

alaska, your lemons are ready,the satsumas are NOT and the limes you can also pick:)Beautiful plants by the way,very healthy.You can have a lemon pie now & Margerita.***Suzanne

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:38PM
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alaskadiver(z8 China Spring)

Thanks everyone!

I probably did everything wrong with these but somehow they survived the summer in my care.

The containers are all from Costco. The aqua colored ones are big glazed stoneware containers that were sold for about $40 each last year during the spring. The Costco stores around Texas had their garden sections piled high with them. The terra cotta container is also an imported Italian one from Costco. They were selling for around $11 last year. I also use them for potted tomatos.

I potted my citrus in a mix of equal parts peat, pinebark mulch, composted cow manure, and sand with gravel in the bottom covered by landscape cloth to provide better drainage. I have them on the same drip irrigation line as my tomatos and they get about 15 minutes of drippage every morning. I bought some citrus stakes (the hard fertilizer stakes) and pounded one in each each container for fertilizer. And then I haven't bothered to pay any attention to them since May.

Before the first frost I'll probably roll them into the garage and set them in a row along the south wall of the garage which has windows. Last year we only had two frosts here in the Waco area, one in January and one in March. But you just never know.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:52PM
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malcolm_manners

Satsuma peel color and degree of ripeness are completely unrelated and independent. In Florida, they are usually at their best eating quality while still deep green. In climates with chilly nights, they may be quite orange, but still too sour to eat. It just depends on the climate.

In any case, mandarins (in the USA anyway) are never dyed for the grocery store. Some Florida oranges are, but that's all.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 5:59PM
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AnotherAlterEgo(8)

Kent - I'm about three hours north of you and on my front porch (unprotected) I have an Improved Meyer Lemon, Kaffir Lime, Satsuma 'Owari,' Calamondin, Kumquat 'Nagami,' and a Buddha's Hand Citron. By my count, we've had four frosts to date, this fall, without any damage whatsoever. If at all possible, wait it out before you stash them in the garage. Your Satsuma will easily survive temperatures in the low-20s (overnight) without problems. Your Meyer Lemon would come out of sub-freezing temperatures (28-30F) relatively unscathed as well. Your Mexican Lime is the first one you'll need to protect. Also, keep in mind that the older your trees are, the hardier they become.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 6:00PM
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alaskadiver(z8 China Spring)

Alterego

If that's the case then I'll never need to bring them in unless an unusually heavy frost hits. Since I moved here 3 years ago I haven't seen a severe frost, just the occasional snap down to 28-30 or so.

I was planning to wait until weatherunderground calls for a real frost.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 7:22PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

MM says "In any case, mandarins (in the USA anyway) are never dyed for the grocery store. Some Florida oranges are, but that's all."
Not dyed, but gassed. I see California mandarins right now in the stores that are gassed yet I have a hard time selling my fruit, which tastes better than what's in the store, becuse I don't gas it and it's still a little bit green in color. Sugar and acid content are excelent but people only see the color.
Ahh for the days when your produce man really knew what was good and could tell you so you didn't have to guess buy aperences.
Arthur the Date Palm Guy

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 2:59AM
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malcolm_manners

Interesting that y'all gas satsumas. We've tried that in Fla., and one ends up with a burned pile of mush. So it is not done. We do degreen various other, tougher-peeled mandarins. Of course degreening (gassing) has no affect at all on flavor or other aspects of internal quality; it only affects the surface color (and in the case of some mandarins, may cause the peel to break down).

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 8:11AM
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AnotherAlterEgo(8)

Interesting points. Even though degreening with ethylene may not, in itself, affect the flavor of the fruit, the timing of such practice can certainly have a profound affect. If Sastumas, or any other sweet citrus, are 'gassed' prior to an appropriate decrease in titratable acidity and subsequent increase in total soluble solids, I would think their flavor would be 'immature.' I'm trying to learn more about the art and science of maturation and 'ripening' of citrus. So, if I'm missing the boat here, please feel free to bring it to my attention.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 9:18AM
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malcolm_manners

Certainly true, AAE. While ethylene doesn't harm internal qualtiy, it also does not improve it. However it tasted when it came off the tree is how it will still taste, with a brighter, oranger peel color. In other fruits (bananas, apples, tomatoes) ethylene stimulates "ripening." But the internal parts of a citrus fruit don't undergo that process. OTOH the outer peel (flavedo) does.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 1:50PM
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