How to tell if dragon fruits are ripe & ready for harvest?

Dragon Fruit Plants 15 May 2020

About 3 days after the fruits have turned from green to red, you can harvest them. Look for a pink red color on the skin & scales.

Try wiggling the fruits on the stem. If they are still a bit stiff, then they may not be that ripe. If they are quite loosened, then they're more ready for harvesting.

Lightly squeeze the fruits a bit. If they feel quite firm, then it may be early. If they are softer, they're good to go. You may also see some wrinkles on the skin of ripe fruits. That's another good way to tell. Some people wrap a bag around the fruits as they have just turn pinkish red to make them more sweet.

Some people like the fruits a bit sweet-tart so they pick them early. It's the best taste for them. If you like it firm, pick early. If you're selling your fruits, take into account the shipping time. Because of this, growers pick the fruits earlier so they can still be in good shape when delivered to the stores or consumers.

Also, if the weather looks like it's about to rain the next couple of days, it's better to pick your ripening fruits earlier. The high humidity spike in the rain may cause the fruits to crack. Sometimes, a tiny bite of the fruit fly + the humid environment will give birth to little maggots near the edge of the cracked skin.

If we just leave the fruits to over-ripen on the trees, maggots will appear. You can tell this by peeling the skin of fruit and see the inside layer. If we see some little dots or scars, we know which 'partners in crime' have been messing around before us. It's something interesting to try & see.

You can pick the fruits by hand. But it's easier to use a sickle or some pruners to cut them off. If you leave the flowers on, pull them off as they should be dry & brown now. Bring along some basket to put the fruits in. It's the most fun ever.

From some experience, the harvest times give different results:

Bloom Fruit Reason
November Super sweet Dragon fruits get full summer sunlight
December 2nd & 3rd pushes not so sweet The weather has cooled down

This is the observation in Australia! So the spring is from September to November. If the trees bloom in November, it will get the full summer sunlight from December to February. If it blooms later, the weather has cooled down a bit as they reach the autumn/winter season (March-May/June-August).  

Some dragon fruit varieties give you 2-4 pushes a year. If you live someplace where it's warmer & humid year-round like Florida, you may get 4 harvests a year. In Southern California where it's more temperate, you may get 2. The Asunta red-flowered variety currently gives only 1 push a year.

Dragon fruit blooming & fruiting in the US (around October):

Harvesting dragon fruits in Australia (around March):

Picking yellow dragon fruits

If you're picking yellow dragon fruits, it's a different story. These fruits are really spiky. There's about 12 spikes per petal. So you might need some clippers, gloves & a brush:

Even though a bit more time-consuming, it's really easy. Put your gloves on, brush off the thorns, then clip off the fruits. See it done here:

It's a really easy & rewarding process. And enjoy!

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