Bananas such as these may be nearly ready for harvest.
image by Rene Ehrhardt: Flickr.com; dvanhorn: Flickr.com
Bananas are a tropical fruit that are a good source of potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C. The benefits of the fruit are numerous. Bananas are relatively easy to grow, as long as you live in the right climate. The plants are virtually maintenance free and more plants will automatically spring up when their predecessors die. However, many people who grow bananas do not know how and when to harvest the fruit.
Check the calendar. While bananas are capable of producing and ripening year round, they will go dormant in more temperate climates during the winter. This is true in the southern latitudes of the United States, for example. The harvest in such locations is likely to be at the very end of summer or the beginning of the fall.
Watch the bloom. At the end of each banana stalk is a rather large bloom that's leathery in appearance. The bloom is often vibrant in color, most commonly in purple or reddish pink. As the bananas ripen, the bloom begins to fade.
Wait until the first bananas begin to turn yellow. All the bananas on the stalk will not ripen at the same time. The lower ones will start turning yellow first; when they do, it's time to harvest the entire stalk.
Check the shape of the bananas for sharp edges, especially near the ends. These edges are more pronounced in young fruit. When the centers begin to plump out, the fruit is ripening.
Be patient. While bananas in tropical areas can ripen within a couple of months, those in more temperate climates may take as long as six months after the stalk appears before the bananas are ready to eat.
Harvest the crop by cutting off the entire stalk at once. As the hands on the stalk (groups of bananas) can be quite heavy, make this a two-person job. Holding the stalk as you try to cut it off by yourself can be very difficult. Use a knife or hedge clippers to cut the stalk.