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How to Know When a Pineapple Is Ripe & Ready to Be Picked From the Plant

wild pineapple image by redrex from Fotolia.com

Gardeners living in USDA zones 10 and 11 have the option of growing pineapple plants in an outdoor growing area. Because pineapple plants grow exceedingly well with little coaxing or intervention, planting a pineapple crown in a sunny location will often yield a delicious pineapple fruit. Pineapple plants grow and produce fruit slowly, often requiring between one and two years to produce a pineapple for harvest. Once your pineapple begins to mature, make sure you know when a pineapple is ripe and ready to pick from the plant to ensure the sweetest pineapple.

Watch the pineapple as it develops on the plant. Approximately four months after the plant flowers, the growing pineapple will begin maturing for harvest.

Notice the underlying green hue of the pineapple slowly begin to change at the bottom of the pineapple first. Over a period of one to two weeks, the pineapple will turn yellow at the bottom and gradually the yellow color will spread upward through the fruit.

Wait to pick the pineapple until the yellow color covers at least half of the pineapple. The more yellow the pineapple, the sweeter the flesh. Wait longer for the pineapple to turn more yellow in color, if you wish.

Clip the pineapple from the plant, using the pruning shears, when you want to harvest it.

Big Does The Pineapple Plant Grow?

Mature pineapple plants typically reach between 3 and 6 feet in height and width. The pineapple's root system is broad and shallow with roots that often extend beyond its leaves, which can reach up to 5 feet long. The size of the fruit your pineapple produces depend on the size of your plant and the variety you are growing. Smaller varieties, such as "Natal Queen" typically produce fruit that weighs 2 to 3 pounds, while larger varieties such as "Giant Kew" can produces pineapples weighing up to 6 pounds. Planting your pineapple plants in raised mounds or beds prevents water from pooling around the roots and ensures your pineapple can reach its full size. Pineapple plants grow to their full size most readily in full sun at temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Pineapple plants are relatively drought-tolerant but can suffer from decreased growth under extremely dry conditions. Larger pineapple plants typically produce proportionally larger fruit. Exposure to cold or drought can cause your pineapple to stop growing and begin flowering.

Tip

As the outer pineapple turns from green to yellow, the inner pineapple also turns yellow (from a previous white color). The more yellow a pineapple, the sweeter it will taste.

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