How Long Does an Orange’s Picking Season Last?
All sweet orange trees (Citrus sinensis) bloom in early to mid-spring, usually from April to mid-May. But after that, it takes their fruit between seven and 15 months to ripen. Wherever they’re growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, the weather may shorten or extend their picking season for up to a month.
Peak Orange Season by Variety
Navel, Valencia and blood oranges account for most of the commercial orange crop. Navel and blood oranges have extended seasons, but blood oranges fans aren’t so lucky.
Prized for their sweet flavor and usually seedless pulp, navel oranges are in season from October through June. That time frame covers several cultivars, including:
- ‘Fukumoto’ navels with strikingly red-orange rinds: October to December
- ‘Riverside’ navels that started California’s navel orange industry: November to December
- ‘Dream’ navels with smooth rinds and soft, sweet pulp: December and January
- ‘Cara Cara’ navels with pinkish-red pulp: December to May.
- ‘Late Lane’ navels from Australia: February to June
Expert gardener’s tip: Some navel orange cultivars, including ‘Dream’ and ‘Riverside,’ keep on the tree for months after ripening.
Thin-skinned, nearly seedless and loaded with juice, Valencia oranges are grown primarily for the processing market. Because their season typically runs from March through September, they’re sometimes called “summer oranges.”
Green Valencia Oranges
Summer sun striking ripe Valencia orange peels sometimes triggers a release of green chlorophyll. Despite the green tinge, the pulp remains juicy and sweet.
At least one of the three commercially grown blood oranges (named for their colorful pulp) is in season from December to May:
- ‘Moro’ ripens from December to mid-March. It sweet, dark reddish-purple pulp has a slight hint of raspberry.
- ‘Tarocco’ has teardrop-shaped fruit prized for its extremely sweet, red-blushed pulp. It’s in season from mid-December into May.
- ‘Sanguinello’ fruit ripens from February through May. It pairs a red-orange peel red-streaked orange pulp.
Expert gardener’s tip: Blood orange pulp develops its trademark color only after being exposed to enough cold. In a warm-winter climate, the change may not happen.