Aug. 23, 2019
For home use, as dessert, the fruits are picked when fully ripe. For processing or preserving, they can be harvested when slightly immature, when they are turning from yellow to red. As there is continuous fruiting over long periods, picking is done every day, every other day, or every 3 days to avoid loss by falling.
The fruits are usually picked manually in the cool of the early morning, and must be handled with care. For immediate processing, some growers shake the tree and allow the ripe fruits to fall onto sheets spread on the ground. Harvested fruits should be kept in the shade until transferred from the field, which ought to be done within 3 hours, and collecting lugs are best covered with heavy canvas to retard loss of ascorbic acid.
YieldThere is great variation in productivity. Individual trees may yield 30 to 62 lbs (13.5-28 kg) in Puerto Rico. In Jamaica, maximum yield in the 6th year is about 80 lbs (36 kg) per tree; 24,000 lbs/acre (24,000 kg/ha). Venezuelan growers have reported 10 to 15 tons/ha; the average in Puerto Rico is 25 tons/ha/yr. 'Florida Sweet' in Florida has yielded 65 tons/ha. A plot of 300 trees of 'Florida Sweet' has borne crops of 6,300 to 51,300 lbs (2,858-23,270 kg) of fruit from March to November, in Homestead, Florida.
In Puerto Rico, a planting of 200 trees may be expected to produce 3,600 to 5,400 lbs (1,636-2,455 kg) of juice. From the juice there can be extracted at least 120 lbs (54.5 kg) of vitamin C expressed as dehydroascorbic and ascorbic acid, providing the content is determined to be 2%. In Puerto Rico, it is calculated that 10 tons of fruit should yield 435 lbs (197 kg) ascorbic acid. In a commercial operation using ion-exchange resins, the yield of ascorbic acid from Barbados cherry juice is expected to be about 88%.