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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why Are My Limes So Hard?

Q. Please tell me why our 12 year old lime tree only ever gets hard limes. They have never softened up. We grow them in the desert.

A. I don’t know which lime you have and there is no reason that would be obvious why limes would not ripen in a desert climate. The biggest problems with lime is its sensitivity to cold or freeze damage. If that doesn’t happen, then it should be fine as it is grown in warm desert spots throughout the desert Southwest.

The Mexican lime does not ripen until September or possibly early October. The Bearss or Persian lime ripens in June or possibly early July. 

Usually when we talk about limes it is the smaller Mexican lime we refer to in home yards. The limes in the grocery store are a larger lime, oftentimes nearly seedless, and it is the Bearss, Persian or Tahiti lime. The Key lime is more tart than the Bearss lime. Persian lime is a bit easier to grow and pick because it is relatively thornless compared to other limes.

Commercially limes are picked when their background color turns from dark green to a lighter green. The Persian lime will turn yellow when ripe, so yellow they can be confused with a lemon because of their larger size and yellow color. Pick them before they fall off the tree but when they soften a bit when you squeeze them.

So I am thinking you are picking too early. Wait until they start to fall from the tree this time, mark your calendar and next year work backwards from that date and pick them about two weeks prior.

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