Fruit matures from February to April in Western Australia. Immature fruits have green skin and will not ripen if picked. Fruit picked later will continue to ripen after harvest. The fruit can be left on the tree to be picked when dried. At full production, a tree can produce 30–40kg of fresh fruit with an estimated yield of 20–30 tonnes per hectare.
Fruit maturation of Chinese jujube can be divided into three phases:
- White mature: The fruit is near full size and shape; the skin of the fruit is thin and changes from green to greenish white colour.
- Crisp mature: The fruit is half to fully red; the skin becomes thicker, harder and easily separated from the flesh which becomes crisp, juicy and sweet and contains more sugar and acid.
- Fully mature: Sugar content of the flesh increases rapidly and water content begins to decrease. The flesh near the stone and fruit stalk becomes yellow and soft. The skin changes to a dark red and fruit becomes wrinkled.
The proper harvesting time depends on the end use of the fruit (fresh consumption, dried or processed). For fresh consumption jujubes should be picked at the crisp mature stage to prolong storage life. Fruits to be dried should be picked when fully mature and fruits for candying should be picked at the white mature stage.
In China, fruit for fresh consumption is usually hand-picked. Fruit that is dried can be left on the tree until it drops or harvested by shaking the tree or branches.