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When Are Grapefruits Ready To Pick: How To Tell If A Grapefruit Is Ripe

When Are Grapefruits Ready To Pick: How To Tell If A Grapefruit Is Ripe


By: Amy Grant

If you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 9b-11 or any tropical to subtropical region, you may very well be lucky enough to have a grapefruit tree. Grapefruit, either white or red, starts out green and gradually changes hues, which is somewhat an indicator of when grapefruits are ready to pick. However, other factors should be considered when trying to decide when to pick a grapefruit. So, how to tell if a grapefruit is ripe and ready for harvest? Read on to learn more.

When to Harvest Grapefruit

Grapefruit most probably originated as a natural hybridization between the orange and the pummelo (pomelo) or Citrus maximus. It was first described in 1750 in Barbados and the first record of the word “grapefruit” used in Jamaica in 1814. It was introduced into the United States in 1823 and is now a major commercial export of the state of Texas, which has designated the red grapefruit as its state fruit.

As heat lovers, grapefruit is cold sensitive. Therefore, temperature fluxes affect grapefruit harvest time. Grapefruit harvest time may take place in seven to eight months in one area and up to 13 months in another area due to temperature differences. Grapefruit is sweeter in regions of hot days and warm to hot nights and more acidic in cooler areas.

Generally speaking however, late autumn is when grapefruits are ready to pick. Mature fruit may be left on the tree and, in fact, will sweeten throughout the winter. This method enables you to “store” the fruit for a longer period of time than if you picked it all at once. The downside is that storing on the tree reduces the yield the succeeding year. So, late fall into the winter or early spring is when to harvest grapefruit.

How to Tell if a Grapefruit is Ripe

We know when to pick grapefruit, but not all of the fruit will be ripe at exactly the same moment. This is where color is another indicator of ripeness. Grapefruit should be harvested when at least half of the peel has started to turn yellow or pink. Mature grapefruit may still be green in color, but a better bet is to wait until the fruit turns hue. Remember, the longer the fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it becomes; so be patient.

Lastly, the absolute best way to know when to pick grapefruit is to taste one, you’ve been dying to anyway!

When ready to pick, simply grasp the ripe fruit in your hand and gently give it a twist until the stem detaches from the tree.

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Read more about Grapefruit Trees


A green peel in the early months is not an indication of whether the inner fruit is good to eat taste one at a time over this period to see if the grapefruits are mature. A grapefruit that feels heavy for its size has a lot of juice, and one that is overly ripe has wrinkled skin.

Ruby red grapefruits will remain edible for two to three weeks if they are refrigerated. Unlike some fruits, grapefruits will not continue to ripen after they are harvested from the tree.

  • Ruby red grapefruits do not have a set ripeness stage they gradually improve in taste and increase in size as they mature on the tree.
  • A green peel in the early months is not an indication of whether the inner fruit is good to eat taste one at a time over this period to see if the grapefruits are mature.

Learn How Growing Grapefruit Can Be Very Easy

Growing Grapefruits From Seeds

One of the questions when growing fruit from seed is whether it will grow true to a fruit. While it cannot be said when growing apples and peaches from seeds, most fruits from the citrus family will grow true from seed. What’s even better, is that grapefruit trees grown from seeds can live longer and are more disease-resistant.

Learn How to Grow Grapefruit

Have you tried slicing through a succulent and juicy grapefruit before and wondered if you can grow the seeds? Why, yes you can! In fact, you can enjoy a grapefruit tree in your backyard in these five easy steps!

Step 1. Extracting Grapefruit Seeds

It would be best for you to grow grapefruits from seeds of fruits grown locally. This ensures that the fruits you will grow are well adapted in your area.

Pick a fruit clean and free of blemishes. Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the middle part of the fruit.

Collect the viable, undamaged grapefruit seeds.

Step 2. Preparing Grapefruit Seeds

Soak the seeds in a glass of water and pat dry the seeds to take off the slime from the coat. This will make it easier to take off the seed coating. Using a small knife or tweezers, gently peel off the coating from the seeds and careful not to damage the tip.

Step 3. Germinating Grapefruit Seeds

Set the seeds on a paper towel then fold it to wrap the seeds. Spray the seeds and the paper towel to thoroughly moisten it.

You can either place the seeds in a ziplock bag or in a plastic container with a cover. Label the bag or plastic container and place it in a warm and dark place.

Step 4. Planting Germinated Grapefruit Seeds

Check your seeds in about 10 to 15 days to see if the seeds have germinated.

If you’re pleased with your germinated seeds, you can now prepare your planters or containers to plant your germinated seeds. You can use purchased containers or you can recycle old containers for starting the seeds of grapefruits in.

If you plan to recycle containers, make sure to drill holes in the bottom of the container for drainage. Use rich potting soil or a garden soil improved with organic compost.

Poke four 1-inch holes in the container with equal distance to each other then drop the seeds with the roots down. Water the container and wait.

Step 5. Transplanting Grapefruit Seedlings

Transplant your seedlings into individual pots once they’ve grown two to four true leaves. This will give the seeds more breathing space and the roots more room to grow.

Once you see the roots growing at the bottom of the container, the seedlings are now ready to be transferred.

Whether you plan to grow grapefruit in containers indoors or directly in the ground out in your garden, you can use these smart tips:

Tips for Growing Grapefruits Outdoors

  • As with most of the fruits of the citrus family, grapefruits are sun-loving and grow best where they are sun-kissed.
  • Site your location in an area where the soil is a sandy loam with lots of organic matter.
  • Transplant the seedlings in the site you selected and water the seedling until moist but not soggy.
  • Water daily in the first week through to the second week and weekly after a few months when the plant has been established.

Tips for Growing Grapefruit In Containers

Growing grapefruit in containers is possible as with some other citrus fruits like lemon and oranges. However, they won’t grow grapefruit bunches like they would in wider spaces.

Nevertheless, they will still bear fruits and become a lovely ornamental plant. Lastly, it is important to note grapefruits grow better indoors in colder climates.

Watch the full tutorial from Jessie Jackowski for germinating grapefruit seeds here:

Though growing your own grapefruit from seed can be a lengthy process, it’s all worth it when you can look forward to a heavy-laden grapefruit tree in a few years. So stop throwing those seeds away and begin your grapefruit garden today!

Thinking of giving grapefruits a try in your garden. I’d be delighted to hear all about it in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.


Pruning the grapefruit tree

No pruning is really needed for the grapefruit tree, but if you don’t prune your pomelo tree, it will quickly grow very large.

To support fruit formation, reduce each new shoot by about half its length, taking great care to cut just above a pair of leaves, an eye, a bud.

  • This will help your citrus keep a nice, compact shape.
  • You might need to do this several times a year.

Cut off dead wood as you notice it, and if possible clear the center of the grapefruit tree to let light penetrate to the center.


When To Pick Grapefruit

Grapefruits are mainly grown in California and Florida. There are many varieties of the fruit, such as flame, ruby red, star rubies and whites. White grapefruits are less common and most of them are red in color at the time of harvest. Depending on the variety of fruit, the harvest times also vary by a slight margin. Usually, for most varieties the ideal time to pick the fruit is from September to October. However, the trees will continue producing fruit until April and sometimes even until May.

Grapefruits are harvested based on their color and maturity. They grow throughout the year. That is why it is available in all seasons. Most growers spray the trees with arsenate and they leave it on the tree until April and sometime till May. Some growers aim at size more than the texture, but this could decrease the corp. for the following year. While harvesting, aim at picking the largest fruits first.

When grapefruits are left for too long on the tree, they start developing seeds and then fall to the ground. It damages their rind. Fruits have to be harvested before they are completely mature and ready to fall off from the tree.

In areas in the US where grapefruit is grown commercially, there are certain state specified rules for maturity. Different states follow different rules for maturity of the fruit. The term maturity refers to the total number of soluble in the juice to the ratio of citric acid found in it. Also, there are standards pertaining to the peel color. For this, some growers dye the skin, but they have to mention the quantity of dye used in the labeling.

In Florida, grapefruits have to be harvested in the month of September and in Texas, it is October. Harvesting takes place in the United States from winter to spring. Spring is considered to be the later months when fruits are ripe and ready for juicing. Sometimes growers leave them on the tree for three months so that the season can be extended.

While harvesting, the lowest hanging fruits should be gathered first. You can just collect them by pulling or snapping it off. Use clippers to cut them off the branches. Grapefruits tree ahs small thorns so usage of gloves is advisable. Store the harvested grapefruit in containers and these fruits should be stored in cool and dry places. Sometimes you may have to pluck of fruits that are perched high on the tree and for this get a convenient ladder that is safe.

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Grapefruit was introduced to Florida by Count Odet Philippe in the year 1806. He was a native of France and was exploring the New World. He brought grapefruits along with him and planted the first tree in Tampa of Florida in a grove. During the first harvest, the fruits and seeds were circulated in the neighboring areas. However, grapefruit was not vied as a commercial fruit until the early part of the 1800s. More..


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