How To Harvest Lemons

Harvesting lemons from your backyard is very rewarding but it’s important to make sure you harvest them at the right time and in the correct way.

In this article I’ll tell you when lemons are ready to pick, the best way to harvest them, and give you tips for using and storing your freshly picked lemons.

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harvesting lemons

Lemon trees usually start producing fruit 3 to 5 years after planting.

It takes between 4 to 6 months from flowering to fruiting and the harvest season usually lasts about 3 months, depending on the variety. [1]

When to harvest lemons

Lemons are ready to pick when the skin turns from green to yellow and glossy.

The fruit should be 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm) in width and the fruit will be easy to squeeze.

Lemons can also be picked while they’re still slightly green, and left at room temperature to ripen.

Avoid harvesting lemons when they are still dark green, hard, or have a thick skin.

If you harvest them while they’re immature the fruits may not ripen properly.

Although it might be tempting to pick lemons before they’re ready, you’ll get a much larger crop if you allow them to ripen properly.

picking lemons

How to pick lemons

Lemons are best picked by hand so you won’t need clippers or pruning shears.

Hold the fruit in your hand and gently twist it to remove it from the tree.

The lemon should come off easily without much effort.

If you have a large lemon tree you’ll need a sturdy ladder to reach the highest fruits.

Avoid shaking the branches to harvest lemons as this can damage the tree.

How many lemons do you get per tree?

The number of lemons you will get per tree depends on the size and age of the tree and how much sunlight and water the tree has received.

A small backyard lemon tree will easily produce 50 to 100 lemons each year, while a large tree can produce up to 1500 lemons.

lemon tree

Pruning lemon trees

Lemon trees can be pruned after harvesting to encourage new growth and increased fruit production.

Lemon trees usually flower in spring, so prune your lemon trees before they flower to ensure you get a large yield.

Use clippers or pruning shears to remove branches on the inside and outside of the canopy, as well as any suckers that grow from below the graft.

Avoid pruning off more than a third of the tree at once.

How to use fresh lemons

Fresh lemons can be used in a number of different ways including lemon water, lemonade, salad dressings and marmalade.

You can also use lemon in many different recipes like lemon chicken, lemon meringue pie or lemon cheesecake.

You can even use lemon juice as a natural cleaning agent in your kitchen and bathroom.

How to store homegrown lemons

If you picked lemons that were slightly green they’ll continue to ripen after you pick them, so store them at room temperature until they’re yellow and juicy.

Lemons can also be stored in the refrigerator crisper section for up to three weeks.

storing lemons


So there are my tips for picking and storing lemons.

The steps for harvesting lemons are simple and straightforward and over time, you’ll develop a good sense of when your lemons are ready to harvest.

Have you harvested homegrown lemons from your garden? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Fruit Gardens and Gardening Tips that you may find helpful. You can also find me on Facebook.

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Loretta

    I moved to AZ 3 yrs ago and bought 2 small citrus trees 2.5 yrs ago. The lemon tree is only about 3 ft tall and it produced 38 lemons that I just harvested. So excited! the other citrus not doing nearly as well. but still hanging in there. My question is should I prune now or wait until early spring, in a couple of months. I live in zone 9A.

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