My dad planted an etrog tree from the seeds, and this year this year gave its first fruits and Sukkoth approaches and want to know if these fruits can be used for prayer, and if we can use them how we need to cut them from the tree?
ב"ה Shalom What seems like a simple question actually entails many details, but I will do my best to make things as simple as possible. 1. Firstly, my assumption is that the original Etrog from which the seeds came from was from an approved authentic Etrog and not from an Etrog which was grafted with a lemon, which is not considered an Etrog. 2. Once that is clear we must deal with the issue of "Orlah". Orlah is the prohibition of benefitting from the fruits of a tree within the first three years of its planting. In the fourth year, the fruits are called "Neta Revai " and must be redeemed over a coin. Many siddurim have explanations of how this is done. 3. There are different calculations of the years of the tree in regard to the "Orlah" , so I will try to explain it by the following example. Let's say the seeds from the Etrog were planted sometime after Sukkkot in the Jewish year תשע"ג 5773. Any fruit in the years 5774, 5775 would be forbidden for use of the Etrog. Fruit which grew last year, 5776, would be permitted after being redeemed (as aforementioned in 2) after "Tu B'shvat " last year, which fell on January 25, 2016. This applies whether the Etrog was grown in the Eretz Yisrael or abroad. Now if the Etrog was planted in the Jewish year 5774, the Etrog will only be fit for use after "Tu "Bshvat" this year which falls on February 11, 2017, which means it wouldn't be allowed for use until next year Sukkot. 4. If the Etrog was grown in Eretz yisrael, there is the additional requirement of "Trumot and Ma'asrot" the tithing , which must be taken from the etrogim which were picked from the tree. 5. Once we have cleared the above issues, care should be taken not to pluck the Etrog from the tree, but by cutting the stem of the Etrog leaving a bit of the stem attached and of course to make sure the Etrog is as clean as possible from any blemishes. I certainly pray I've made everything clear. If you have need for further clarifications, you of course may write again. Shannah tovah