A Fruitful Harvest: Picking Season for Fruit

When to harvest fruit and fall care tips for your plants.

There's something so rewarding about nurturing fruit-bearing plants in your garden – maybe it’s the anticipation of the eventual delicious rewards of your efforts. As warm summer days transition to the crisp air of autumn, it's time to get ready for harvest season.

Find instructional tips for harvesting fruit, with a focus on popular varieties including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, kiwi, and honeyberries. We'll also touch upon how to care for your plants as they head into the fall and winter months.

Timing Your Harvest

One of the keys to enjoying the best flavors from your garden is knowing when to harvest. Different fruit varieties have their own optimal harvesting windows based on your USDA Hardiness Zone. Here are some common fruits and when they're ready to be picked:


  • Strawberries: Strawberries are typically ready for harvest in late spring to early summer. The ideal time is when they've fully turned red and are slightly soft to the touch. In colder climates (Zones 1-5), this could be around June, while warmer regions (Zones 6-10) might see ripe strawberries as early as May. Strawberries are perennials in Zones 4 to 9. Check the growing details as it can vary by type.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are ready for picking when they're plump, fully blue, and easily come off the stem. Harvest times range from late spring to late summer. In colder zones, this might be in July, while warmer zones can have ripe blueberries as early as June. Growing zones for blueberries vary based on the type, from Zone 3 to 10. Check the details for the variety you want to grow.
  • Raspberries: Raspberries are typically ready for harvest in the summer months. They should be deep in color and easily detach from the plant. In Zones 4-8, this could be anywhere from June to August.
  • Apples: Apple harvesting usually takes place in the fall, when they've developed their characteristic color and are easy to twist off the branch. The exact timing varies by the apple variety and your location. Confirm the type of apple you want to grow is recommended for your Zone. Some are hardy in zones 3-5 while long-season apples are best grown in Zones 5 to 8.
  • Kiwi: Kiwi harvesting generally occurs in the fall after the first frost has occurred. The fruit should feel slightly soft when gently squeezed. Zones 7-9 may enjoy harvests around October.
  • Honeyberries: Honeyberries are usually ready for picking in late spring to early summer. The berries should be plump and have a sweet aroma. In Zones 3-7, harvesting might begin in May.


Preparing Your Fruit Plants for Fall and Winter

As the harvest season winds down, it's crucial to prepare your fruit-bearing plants for the upcoming fall and winter months. Here are some tips:

  • Pruning: After harvesting, give your plants a light pruning to remove any dead or diseased branches. This encourages new growth and helps the plant direct energy toward fruit production for the next season.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of your plants to help regulate soil temperature and moisture. This is especially important in colder climates to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
  • Watering: As the temperature drops, adjust your watering routine to ensure your plants receive adequate moisture without overwatering. Be mindful of the specific water requirements of each fruit variety.
  • Fertilizing: Depending on the needs of your plants, you may want to apply a balanced fertilizer in the fall. This will provide essential nutrients for root development during the dormant months.
  • Covering: For plants that are susceptible to frost damage, consider using frost blankets or covers to shield them from extreme weather conditions.

Harvesting the fruits from your garden is a delicious and satisfying experience. By understanding the optimal harvesting times for different fruit varieties based on your USDA Hardiness Zone, you can ensure that you enjoy the best flavors and textures each plant has to offer. Additionally, caring for your plants as they transition into fall and winter will set the stage for a successful growing season the following year.