Pineapple Harvesting: Tips For Picking Pineapple Fruits

Pineapple Harvesting: Tips For Picking Pineapple Fruits

By: Amy Grant

I love pineapple but have a devil of a time picking the ripest fruit when I’m at the grocers. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of sage advice regarding picking the best fruit; some of it is ridiculous, some sounds sane enough and some actually works. How about picking pineapple fruits from homegrown plants? How do you know when to pick a pineapple and how to harvest a pineapple plant?

When to Pick a Pineapple

Pineapple is a most amazing, seedless fruit called a syncarp. This basically means that the fruit is produced from the fusion of several flowers into one large fruit. These herbaceous perennials are easy to grow and only get to between 2 ½ and 5 feet (76 cm.-1-1/2 m.) tall, making them a perfect size for most gardens or as a potted plant. When the plant produces flowers, it is considered to be mature and you can expect (barring unseen complications) fruit in about six months.

Although they are simple enough to grow, figuring out peak pineapple harvest time can be a challenge. Basically, when the pineapple is mature, the individual “fruitlets” flatten and the peel begins to change color from green to yellow, starting at the bottom and moving to the top of the fruit.

Color is not the only indicator for picking pineapple fruits. Imminent pineapple harvesting is heralded by this change in color, and also in size. Mature pineapples weigh between 5-10 pounds (2-4-1/2 k.).

There are two other things to consider before harvesting pineapple. Smell is a good indicator of ripeness. It should emit a distinct sweet and tangy aroma. Also, tap the fruit. If it sounds hollow, allow the fruit to remain on the plant to ripen further. If it sounds solid, it’s likely pineapple harvest time.

How to Harvest a Pineapple Plant

When the fruit is one-third or more yellow, you can go ahead and harvest it. You can also harvest pineapple when it is in the late mature green phase, or when it is full sized. You can then ripen the pineapple at room temp. Don’t refrigerate it until it is completely ripe! Refrigerating an unripe pineapple can ruin the fruit.

To harvest the pineapple, simply cut it from the plant with a sharp kitchen knife where the pineapple joins the stalk. Then either leave it to further ripen at room temp if need be, refrigerate the fruit if completely ripe or, ideally, devour immediately!

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How to Take Care of a Pineapple Plant

Growing pineapple is very easy as the plant requires a few maintenance. For better plant growth and good harvest, you should take care of certain factors like soil, light, temperature, irrigation, nutrients and diseases.

Growing pineapple is very easy as the plant requires a few maintenance. For better plant growth and good harvest, you should take care of certain factors like soil, light, temperature, irrigation, nutrients and diseases.

Pineapple, represented scientifically as Ananas comosus, is a fruit-bearing, herbaceous, perennial plant. Belonging to the family Bromeliaceae, it is native to the tropical and subtropical regions, but pineapple plant can be grown in temperate climates too, under controlled conditions. In modern pineapple cultivation, asphalt-impregnated mulch paper is used by laying over the well-drained soil. The pineapple propagating pieces are then introduced into the soil through the paper. More than 15,000 plants can be fitted per acre of land.

From the gardening point of view, pineapple plants require very low maintenance as compared to other fruit plants. Hence, growing them is very easy. All you need to do is, cut of the upper leafy portion (crown) of the fruit along with 1 – 2 inches of the juicy part and place it in soil. To induce rooting, you can place the crown in water for some days without dipping the leaves. When the roots develop, place it in the garden soil or containers, as per your convenience. You can consider growing pineapple in containers if the climate in your area is cold.

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Pineapple plant can grow in any type of soil, provided that it is well-drained and rich in organic nutrients. For early and good harvest, plant it in sandy loam soil with good drainage. The pH of the soil should be between 4.5 – 6.5. In case of soil or potting mixture with higher pH value, you can mix sulfur (appropriate amount) in order to achieve the desired acidity. Supplement the soil with farmyard compost or organic fertilizers.


If you are growing pineapple plants in pots or containers, you can choose a small one (about 8 – 12 inch diameter) as pineapple have a shallow root system. Heavy pots like ceramic ones are the best option, as the foliage may cause leaning of the plants in lighter containers.


Native to the tropical regions, pineapple plants grow best in optimum light conditions. In order to ensure that the plants receive maximum sunlight, you can plant them in the sunny area of the garden or south direction of the house. They require sunlight exposure for at least for 6 hours a day for better growth.


Pineapple plants grow well in tropical and subtropical climatic condition. The favorable temperature range is between 60 – 75 degrees F. For the tropical climatic condition, the plants can be left outdoors throughout the year. Otherwise, protect the plants from frost.


Once pineapple plants are well-established, irrigate them once in a week. Over watering should be strictly avoided, otherwise it can lead to root rotting problem. Along with watering the planting soil, mist the leaves occasionally. Doing so helps in maintaining adequate humidity for the plants.

Winter Care

Protecting pineapple plants from extreme low temperature and frosting is imperative to avoid unwanted damage. So, if your area is subjected to extreme cold in winter, ensure that you make arrangements for protection. Those planted outside can be covered with plastic sheets, while the potted ones should be brought inside.


Supplement the soil with farmyard compost in spring and summer season, when the pineapple plants are performing at their best. You can add solid or liquid fertilizer once in a month. On the contrary, do not fertilize in fall and winter, as they remain inactive during these seasons.


Talking about diseases reported in pineapple plants, pink disease, heart rot, root rot, black rot, yellow spot virus, and fruitlet core rot are some examples. Basically, they are caused by bacteria and fungi, while a few of them are viral diseases. Based on the causal organism and severity, fungicide and pesticide can be used for controlling diseases.


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The most common pest problem with pineapple plants is attack by mealybugs. Usually, they are spread to the plants by the ants. Hence, controlling the ants is a better option in order to get rid of these destructive bugs. Other damaging pineapple pests include scales, symphilids, mites, thrips, beetles, and nematodes. Using soapy water is an effective and reliable approach to remove these pests.

In a nutshell, growing pineapple requires a lot of patience as the plant bears fruit after 2 – 3 years of plantation. In the first year, the plant produces green healthy foliage. The leaves are serrated and grow about 20 – 70 inch length. In the second year of plantation, the plant produces a flowering stalk that bears fruits later. A pineapple fruit (after emergence) requires about six months to mature. These sequence of events and/or fruit bearing duration may vary depending upon the variety and the growing conditions.

Garden Q&A: How do I know when to harvest pineapple?


Of my four camellia plants, one — the one that gets the least sun — has pale and blotchy leaves. There are plenty of tender new leaves coming on, but I’m concerned because the other plants seem to be doing fine. All of them had lots of flowers last season. Should I worry about this one?

There are several things that can cause camellia leaves to become pale and blotchy.

Fungal diseases can cause leaf spots in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on the species of fungi present. But typically, they do little damage and can be managed by amping up your general maintenance routine.

Since there’s no sign of insect infestations, and the plant is otherwise healthy and producing new growth, it’s a good possibility that a dose of fertilizer is in order. We gardeners often forget that low-maintenance is not the same as no-maintenance and that our stalwart camellias need periodic attention.

Use a fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen and potassium (the first and third numbers on the fertilizer tag) and low phosphorus (the middle number). Or, look for an acid-forming fertilizer that contains micronutrients such as iron, manganese and zinc. If your camellia is growing in an alkaline pH soil, the leaves can yellow because of a lack of these particular micronutrients.

The first application should be in spring after blooming but before new growth begins. Use about half a pound per 100 square feet of planting area. A second application should be given right about now in mid-June through early July. Fertilizing later than July may encourage tender new growth that will be susceptible to damage from an early freeze.

There are several tips about caring for your camellias in the UF publication, "Camellias at a Glance" (edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP00200.pdf).

We have a 20-year-old Satsuma tree and for the first time I’ve noticed that here and there new leaves are coming out all misshapen. They twist and literally curl into a cigar-shape. Is this going to spread to the rest of the tree? Is this the precursor of some lethal disease?

Not necessarily. Uncurl the leaves. Are there tiny dots inside the cigar on the underside of the leaf? Then it’s likely aphids.

Aphids are very small, pear shaped sap-sucking insects that feed on new plant growth. There are about 4,000 species around the world that come in many colors with or without wings. So it’s hard to determine which species without seeing them.

The spirea aphid, however, is a common citrus pest and is almost identical to the color of a young citrus leaf, making it hard to see. Their sap-sucking on young growth causes leaves to become curled and twisted. Distorted leaves don’t do their job of producing food for the plant well. Aphids are also able to transmit viral diseases. When coupled with how quickly their colonies grow, it is obvious that aphids can pose a real danger to citrus, particularly young trees.

Your 20-year-old tree should be large enough to sustain losing a few leaves. Because they appear only "here and there," why not take a soft approach to pest management. Simply pick off and remove the infected leaves. Or, you can introduce the aphids’ mortal enemy, the ladybug, and let them take care of it for you.

Of course, there are soaps, oils and insecticides you can use to get rid of the problem if it becomes more wide-spread. Read the labels on all products to be sure it’s effective on aphids, and follow the instructions carefully.

Just for fun, I planted the green top of a pineapple, as I’ve seen done on the internet. What do you know – it grew! How do you know if it’s time to harvest it? And can a pineapple plant have more than one fruit at a time?

A quick factoid with which to impress friends and family: Pineapple is a seedless fruit produced from the "fusion" of 50 to over 200 individual, bisexual flowers into one large fruit. Google "syncarp" for a more complete explanation of the fruit. Pineapples are related to bromiliads and Spanish moss, by the way.

Back to your question: While growing a pineapple by planting the green top is easy, deciding when to harvest is a bit tricky.

From the time the plant first flowers to the time you have fruit is generally around six months. As the fruit matures, the peel, or shell, changes color from green to yellow starting at its base and moving up. In the process, it grows to a hefty 5 or more pound size.

When the fruit’s shell is two-thirds yellow, it’s considered mature (ready to pick) but not necessarily ripe. Check the aroma at the base of the pineapple where it is most fragrant. Does it have that distinctive pineapple smell yet? The aroma develops as the fruit’s sugar does and no aroma means insufficient sugar. Rap the side of the fruit. A pineapple that sounds solid isn’t ripe enough to enjoy.

You can ripen a mature green fruit at room temperature, but never refrigerate an unripe pineapple. It will quickly rot.

As for your second question – yes. A pineapple plant can set more than one fruit at a time, though it’s not common.

How to Divide a Pineapple Bromeliad Plant

Many bromeliads are grown as attractive, tropical houseplants, and one variety, the pineapple, is grown for its fruit too. Pineapples need warm temperatures year-round, but gardeners in cooler climates can still grow pineapple by planting it in a 5-gallon container and bring the container indoors when the weather gets cold. You can divide bromeliads like pineapples by removing the "pups"—shoots or suckers from the base of the plant—and repotting them to grow a new pineapple plant.

Locate the pups on your pineapple plant. The pups look like miniature pineapple trees growing at the base of the mother pineapple plant, and they usually sprout either just before or just after the mother plant flowers. Wait to divide a pineapple bromeliad plant until the pups are about one-third the height of the mother plant.

Prepare a container for transplanting the pups. Depending on the size of the pups, a 6- or 12-inch-diameter pot is usually sufficient, since you can transfer each plant to its own larger pot as it grows. If you live in a tropical climate, you can grow pineapples outside and can plant the pups directly into the ground. Pineapple plants like well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. If you'll be growing your pineapples in containers, look for a potting mix that designed for other acid-loving plants, like blueberries or rhododendrons.

  • Many bromeliads are grown as attractive, tropical houseplants, and one variety, the pineapple, is grown for its fruit too.
  • You can divide bromeliads like pineapples by removing the "pups"—shoots or suckers from the base of the plant—and repotting them to grow a new pineapple plant.

Use a sharp knife to slice the pineapple pups off of the mother plant. If there are any roots attached to the pups, be careful not to break or damage them. Don't worry if there are no visible roots they'll form later.

Transfer the pups into the previously prepared container, and bury them to approximately the same depth they were growing before. If the pups haven't formed any roots, you need to provide some kind of support to hold them upright. A stick, metal rod or piece of bamboo will work fine. Loosely attach the pups to the support with wire or string.

  • Use a sharp knife to slice the pineapple pups off of the mother plant.
  • If the pups haven't formed any roots, you need to provide some kind of support to hold them upright.

Water the new pineapple plants well immediately after transplanting. Thereafter, keep the soil lightly moist.

Keep the new pineapple plants out of direct sunlight for the first week to give them some time to recover from transplanting, and then slowly introduce them to brighter light. Like most bromeliads, pineapples like as much sun as they can get.

Feed your pineapple plants with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month after the pups have established themselves and put out roots and fresh leaves.

If kept healthy, a pineapple bromeliad plant may produce edible fruit two to three years after transplanting.

Pineapple Harvest

Growing a ripe pineapple is the pinnacle of delayed gratification. The fruits may take up to 18 months to mature depending on climate. Not to mention each plant produces one fruit. In the tropics, you can start a pineapple garden. Once you've got plenty in the ground, it's possible to have fresh pineapples all year long.

About Pineapples

The pineapple is the world’s most favorite bromeliad. This sweet fruit grows in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and South America. Pineapples are native to South America, Costa Rica and Brazil are still the leading producers.

Unfortunately, most of the production in these countries is heavily industrialized. Biodiversity is discouraged, and pesticide use is very high. Chemicals affect the wellbeing of residents, water sources, and employees in the area. These are great reasons to grow pineapples for yourself.

When To Pick

Use several methods to determine if your pineapple is ripe and ready for picking.

  • Shape: Pineapple has taken an overall shape, good size, and fruitlets have flattened.
  • Color: Fruit has turned from green to yellow starting at the bottom and working upward.
  • Smell: Smells strongly of sweet citrus and floral, ripe pineapple smell.
  • Sound: A ripe pineapple will sound hollow when tapped with a finger.

Pineapples grown in the warm season will mature and ripen faster than pineapples grown in the cool season. The final size of the pineapple depends on the cultivar, quality of growing conditions, and method of original propagation. Typically, pineapples gain significant weight in their days leading up to maturity.

Overripe or rotting pineapples will have a fermenting smell. They will be bronze or red in color, and the skin will be thin and mushy.

How To Pick A Pineapple

Some gardeners claim that you can twist a pineapple off of its base. It may work sometimes but is not recommended because it risks damaging the plant. Pineapples are perennial producers that will grow fruits year after year so avoid damaging the plant.

Use a sharp knife to cut the pineapple off at the base where it connects to the plant. It’s a good idea to sanitize the knife first. This prevents the spread of fungus, bacteria, or pest eggs.

Picking A Pineapple At The Grocery Store

It’s similar to picking a ripe pineapple in the field. Use your senses and smell the fruit for sweet floral notes. Listen to it when you tap for a hollow sound. Choose pineapples that are yellow, not green although green fruits will ripen on the counter.


Store ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to a week. Unripe fruits should be left on the counter to ripen.