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.
Things You Will Need
- Knife or clippers
- The tree will die once it has produced one crop, though new shoots usually spring up around the tree very quickly.
- Bananas are a fragile fruit and bruise easily, so take care to make sure the hands do not fall to the ground once the stalk is cut.
- Harvesting bananas too early can lead to an inferior quality product. Both taste and size will likely be sacrificed.
- Harvesting too late will lead to fruit that rots very quickly.
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