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Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruits…and so much more!

It’s Citrus season here in the Desert! Citrus trees are everywhere you look and they are bursting with fresh citrus. We have bags and bags of delicious oranges, grapefruits, & lemons. They are incredibly sweet and juicy and worth it.

While California is known for their produce, these citrus trees are really something special. They are the first indication of spring here in the desert and they give this town such a wonderful smell! If you don’t have any citrus trees of your own then we strongly recommend making a friend because the is plenty to go around!!

Aptly named the “backyard orchard” these citrus trees come in many varieties. Here are some tips for harvesting your trees, fun facts and what to expect:

  • Citrus harvest may continue for long periods, with some varieties holding on trees for months.
  • Valencia oranges and Meyer Lemons are harvested throughout summer and into fall. Various citrus varieties are harvested year-round in California (Meyers Lemons are my favorite!!!).
  • How do you know when citrus is ready to pick? The only way for you to know if your fruit is ripe is for you to actually taste it! The fruit you taste early in the ripening cycle may be somewhat sour, but will become sweeter as the sugar content rises.
Citrus Picking tips:
  1. Look for firm, bruise-free skin.
  2. Look for a heavy, solid feel to the fruit. …
  3. The dimples should have small, fine dimples on the peels.
  4. Watch out for soft, tender spots or wrinkled, folds in the rind.
  5. The smell of the the fruit should be a strong, sweet citrusy smell.

When are Citrus in season?

Keep in mind that these are typical, general dates.  It can vary considerably upon weather, location, orchard and variety.

  • Navel oranges – November to June.

  • Valencia oranges – March to October.

  • Cara Cara oranges December to May.

  • Clementine oranges  -October to December

  • Satsuma – October to January.

  • Pineapple sweet oranges – November to February.

More Tips

  • Once picked, don’t throw the citrus into the baskets, place them in gently, or they will bruise and go bad more quickly.
  • Don’t wash citrus until just before using to prevent spoilage.
  • Keep citrus cool after picking to increase shelf life.  A cool basement is ideal, but the fruit/vegetable drawer of a refrigerator will work, too. Kept cool, fresh-picked citrus will generally keep weeks, but it DOES depend on the variety.  Red and Yellow Delicious citrus do not keep well, for example; but Rome, do! High humidity helps to to keep the citrus from shriveling, but don’t let them get actually wet. A wet towel placed nearby helps to keep the humidity up. A refrigerator is fine for small quantities of citrus. Boxed citrus need to be kept in a cool, dark spot where they won’t freeze. Prevent contact between citrus stored for the winter by wrapping them individually in sheets of newspaper. The easiest way to do this is to unfold a section of newspaper all the way and tear it into quarters. Then stack the wrapped citrus.
  • In a refrigerator, citrus can last 2 or3 weeks.. Keep them in a bag that has holes for airflow, ie. they have a few holes in them . The airflow is important to prevent buildup of moisture or condensation which causes mold growth. At room temperature, Citrus will keep for about a week.

Happy Harvesting!!!!