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Star fruit, also known as Carambola, is a sweet, tart-tasting fruit native to Southeast Asian countries. Carambola trees grow well in the climates of such countries but also thrive in US territories, particularly in Florida and Hawaii. These areas have the ideal climates for growing carambola trees. Without having to import star fruit from too far away, you can taste the exotic fruit for yourself when it’s most fresh. So, when is star fruit season?
Star fruit is most fresh during the two main carambola blooming seasons, which are generally from June through September and November through February. You may still find star fruit throughout the year, although it might not be as fresh as in-season star fruit. In this article, we’ll discuss the carambola season according to different states and countries.
When Is Star Fruit Season Around the World?
Local star fruit and carambola imports are available throughout the US all year-round, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA AMS). However, fresh star fruit, when it is in season, it usually tastes better and provides more benefits.
Generally, in-season fruits taste better when they have naturally ripened before harvesting because they are fresher and retain more flavor and nutrients than when they undergo preservation processes. Here are the star fruit seasons of the places where Carambola is bountiful.
Star Fruit Season in Florida
In South Florida, star fruit season is from April-May and September-October. Carambola harvest season usually occurs from June-February. Fruit production is at its peak during August through September and from December to February. Despite this timeline, Carambola is still available year-round, with the excess fruits making rounds throughout the year.
The places in Florida that usually grow carambola trees for commercial purposes are Broward, Dade, Lee, and Palm Beach counties. A study also suggested that the environmental conditions of the southeastern (Merritt Island) and southwestern (Tampa Bay area) coasts of Florida and protected areas in Brevard, Pinellas, Highlands, and Polk Counties are ideal for growing carambola trees.
Carambola trees need significant protection from the wind to produce fruit within 10 to 14 months of their planting. These areas provide the ideal climate for growing star fruit. Apart from significant wind protection, an ideal area for carambola production requires warm to hot temperatures, well-drained soil, and immediate access to soil moisture.
South Florida star fruit trees generally produce between 10lbs to 40lbs (4.5kg to 18kg) of star fruit annually. Producers expect fruit during the first two or three years of planting the carambola trees. Naturally, fruit production will increase as the star fruit trees mature. Five to six years after planting, these trees can produce fruit that weighs between 100lbs and 150lbs (45kg and 68kg).
Star Fruit Season in Hawaii
Hawaiian Carambola is available between September through April. Star fruit from Hawaii comes in Kajang and Kary varieties. A study looking into the compatibility of different star fruit tree varieties to propagate in Florida labeled both Hawaiian carambola varieties as compatible and recommendable for their good quality and flavored fruits.
Hawaii is another top producer of star fruit in the US. Since Carambola is a tropical specialty fruit, the Hawaiian climate is ideal for growing star fruit trees. Data from 1992 states that 40 acres of local land produced Carambola. Out of 3,680 carambola trees, 3,500 trees bore a collective of 58,400lbs (26,490kg) of star fruit.
By 2020, the total number of star fruit trees in Hawaii was down to 1,100, with only 950 harvested. Star fruit production likewise decreased to 31,500lbs (14,288kg) according to the annual USDA Hawaii Tropical Fruit and Crops Report. However, the price per pound of star fruit has increased since 1992.
Star Fruit Season in Taiwan
Taiwanese star fruit is available all year. Still, peak harvest seasons are between autumn and winter. Taiwan is among the main exporters of Carambola to the US market. With Carambola’s year-round availability, Taiwan can ideally export 374,660 pieces of star fruit in a year. Earlier reports show that the country has exported over 2,500 tons annually throughout the past decade.
Taiwanese Carambola comes in either tart or sweet varieties. Manufacturers usually process tart carambola varieties for star fruit-flavored drinks. Sweet carambolas are ready to eat as they are. The US would have to import these Taiwanese varieties because they do not fare well in the country’s climate.
A 2020 study assessed how well different carambola varieties fare under South Florida conditions. All Taiwanese carambola varieties (Cheng Chui, Dah Pon, Erlin, Miss, Pasi, Tean Ma, Waiwei, and Wubentou) that the researchers examined ended up having poor quality fruits that lacked in flavor.
Star Fruit Season in Thailand
The main carambola season in Thailand is the second growing season during October through December. Star fruit dominates the local markets during this time. Meanwhile, the main fruit harvest season in Thailand occurs from April through July. Carambola is only one of the many exotic fruits that bloom in Thailand during this time.
Thailand is another country that exports star fruit to the US market. The country ranked 25th in 2020 with a 1.14% share in export and a total export value of over $30.72 million. US markets in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles usually sell fresh carambola imports from the main carambola exporters.
Although the US exports star fruit from Thailand, researchers have found that the Fwang Tung variety of Carambola grows well in South Florida conditions. Fwang Tung star fruit trees produced medium to large-sized fruits with sweet flavors.
When Is Star Fruit Season?
Carambola or star fruit season is generally between June through September and November through February. Star fruits are the freshest during these times, but you can still find excess carambola fruits all year round. However, in-season fruits usually taste better as they are fresh.