Fall is favored for many reasons, one of the best being fall fruit harvesting. Autumn is the peak season for harvesting and enjoying many favorite, flavorful fruits and vegetables. Read on to learn about which produce is ripe and ready for picking this time of year and how to harvest it!
First, let’s take a look at different types of fruits and vegetables and their respective harvest seasons. If you want to eat the best fruits and veggies and pay lower prices for them, it’s important to know their harvest seasons. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually more affordable, healthier, and have the most flavor.
Here’s some of the most popular agricultural products produced in each season:
Winter: Grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons, kale, rutabagas, radishes, turnips, chestnuts, and leeks.
Spring: Avocados, morels, asparagus, collards, mustard greens, chives, mangoes, rhubarb, strawberries, pineapple, fennel, fava beans, artichokes, and apricots.
Summer: Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, plums, watermelons, nectarines, peaches, tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans.
Fall: Apples, citrus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, quince, garlic, cranberries, cauliflower, pumpkins, butternut squash, carrots, figs, ginger, mushrooms, grapes, pomegranates, swiss chards, and pears.
Fruits for Fall & Winter Harvest
Now, let’s take a closer look at fruit trees that are particularly great for fall and winter harvest.
Apples are an obvious choice for fall harvest. They’re nutritious and delicious, packed with vitamins and fiber, as well as crisp, juicy flavor. It’s no wonder “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Apples are ready for picking during late summer to early fall.
You’ll want to pick ones with hard flesh that are free of bruises and blemishes, and always try to leave the stems intact as you remove apples from their branches. You’ll know they’re ready to be picked if they come loose with a slight tug. If you have to pull hard for the apple to come off the tree, it’s too soon to harvest. Apples will not ripen all at the same time, so try other fruits on the tree, as they might be ready for picking. To help get the timing down, look at your variety of apple to determine the peak harvest dates.
To store your apples, do so in a dry, cool place. To get the longest shelf life of your apples, make sure to store them in a cool dry place away from fruits like bananas and avocados that have quick shelf lives.
Try out these fan favorite Apple Trees:
- Gala Apple Tree (pictured above)
- Golden Delicious Apple Tree
- Pink Lady Apple Tree
- Winesap Apple Tree
- Arkansas Black Apple Tree
Next up? Citrus. Citrus plants are believed to come from South Asia, and their varieties include lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, kumquats, and grapefruits, all of which are also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
Although some citrus fruits like lemons and limes can be harvested throughout the year, the best season to do so is between November and May. Citrus fruits will not continue to ripen once off of the tree, so be sure to pick your fruits when they’ve turned their final color.
In the end, the flavor of each citrus is what determines whether it’s ripe or not. Be sure to pick your citrus before a freeze and before it begins to dry out and decay. Once picked, keep citrus in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.
Check out some of these top citrus varieties:
- Meyer Lemon Tree
- Meyer Lemon and Key Lime Bush Pack
- Limequat Citrus Tree
- Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree (pictured above)
- Calamondin Orange Tree
- Cara Cara Orange Tree
- Pixie Mandarin Tree
Pumpkins are also a no-brainer for fall harvest. Today, it would be unthinkable to celebrate Halloween without jack-o-lanterns, but pumpkins, in addition to being fun, are also good for our health. They provide vitamins and minerals and are low in carbohydrates and calories.
A pumpkin that's ready for harvest should be fully colored, and its rind should be firm. If the skin is still soft to the tough and your fingernail easily pierces it, the pumpkin isn't ready to harvest. If you pick a pumpkin that’s too soft, it’ll shrivel within a few days.
To harvest pumpkins, simply remove the stem from its vine and brush the dirt off. It’s recommended to cut the vine with pruners or a sharp knife, leaving between 3 and 4 inches of stem to increase each pumpkin’s lifespan.
We can’t forget to mention figs. These fruits are both nutritious and tasty, providing unique flavor and rich, deep colors. They’re one of the most rewarding fruits for harvesting in late summer into fall.
You’ll know your figs are ready for harvesting when the necks of the fruit wilt and the fruits hang down. You’ll also want to pay attention to the coloring of your figs. Each variety has a different color that it ripens to, so once you know which color to look for, you’ll be able to harvest at the proper time. Ripe fruit is sweet and delicious, but unripe fruit won't have a pleasant taste.
To harvest, gently pull or cut the fruit from its stem, leaving part of the stem attached to the fig and handling it as little as possible to avoid bruising. Store figs in a shallow container, and be sure not to stack them or pack them tightly. For optimal freshness and taste, it’s best to eat, dry or freeze figs as soon as possible after harvesting them.
You’ll want to try out these flavorful figs:
Persimmons are another great fall fruit tree option. With sweet, honey-like flavor and texture that’s similar to apricots with skin that’s a little tougher than apples, persimmon fruit is unmatched.
To harvest persimmons, you’ll want to begin picking them in early fall when the temperatures are still slightly warm and the fruit is hard yet fully colored. Simply, cut the fruit from the tree with either hand pruners or a sharp knife, leaving some of the stem attached.
Then, let them ripen at room temperature in a cool, dry area until they’re soft to the touch. Be sure not to stack them in a container since they bruise easily. Instead, lay them gently in a shallow container in a single layer. Store them in the refrigerator for up to a month or in the freezer for up to eight months.
View these persimmon suggestions:
Other fall harvest fruits to consider:
Fruit Trees for Fall Foliage Color
Not only do many fall trees provide delicious bounties of fruit, but they also provide stunning foliage. From yellows, oranges and reds to browns and purples, the color display is unparalleled.
If you’re looking for fruit trees that are particularly great for fall color, depending on your area, we’d recommend the following:
Pomegranate Trees can grow to 20-30 feet and have bright yellow leaves. The Wonderful Pomegranate Tree (pictured above) and Ambrosia Pomegranate Tree, in particular, produce delicious fruit and gorgeous foliage during the fall.
The flowers on Pomegranate Trees are separated into male and female. Only the female flowers will produce fruit, and they tend to be larger in size than the male flowers. For best fruit production, consider hand pollinating your pomegranate flowers by using a small paint brush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from one flower to the next.
In addition to producing exquisite berries in summer, blueberry tree leaves turn wine red, orange, or yellow in the fall. These trees can measure from 1-10 feet, depending on the species. Try the Toro Blueberry Bush or Peach Sorbet Blueberry Bush (pictured below) for stellar fall foliage!
Other trees for fall color are the following:
- Sugar Maple
- Red Dogwood
- Bitternut Hickory
- Bloodgood Japanese Maple
- Washington Hawthorn
- Franklin Tree
- Sassafras Tree
Next, let’s talk about caring for your fruit trees in the fall. Above all, you should water your trees well after the leaves have fallen. This helps to ensure they have strong roots and enough water to withstand winter. Be sure to saturate the soil at least two feet deep when watering.
Clearing & Mulching
In addition, make sure to keep the area below your tree clear of fallen leaves and branches. Keeping this area clean improves airflow for your tree and decreases future fungal, bacterial and pest issues. Once clear of debris, apply a fresh layer of mulch around 2-3 inches thick, making sure to keep a couple of inches around the trunk free to help with root insulation, water retention and overall soil health.
Additionally, remember to prune your trees, as this improves their overall health and provides a more pleasing appearance. Winter is a great time to prune your trees since you can clearly see the structure of the branches with the absence of leaves and make structural changes to achieve your desired look. Start by removing any dead or damaged branches. Then, prune to increase balance and airflow. When pruning, be sure not to make too many harsh cuts on a single side of a tree, and never remove more than ⅓ of a tree at one time.
From delicious, flavorful fruit to beautiful, colorful foliage, fall fruit trees are the way to go! Enjoy both their aesthetic appeal and abundant bounties in your landscape year after year. Happy fruit harvesting and eating!
For more fall fruit inspo, check out these helpful resources: