Want to Go  Apple Picking?

Want to Go Apple Picking?

Is there anything more delightful than biting into an apple picked fresh from the tree? Crisp and juicy, tart or sweet, apples are one of the joys of the fall season. Luckily for us, we’re near the heart of apple country in Virginia, surrounded by pick-your-own orchards.

Fun at the Farms

Apple picking season is rife with fun activities for the entire family. Orchards and farms include attractions like corn mazes, petting zoos, wagon hayrides, apple butter and cider making, play areas, music, apple pies and other foods to help you create a memorable experience. And many orchards offer stunning views of farm landscapes and the nearby mountains. Make a day of it!

Be aware that some you-pick-it orchards may charge an admission fee in addition to a price per pound of whatever apples you pick to purchase. Most offer farm markets as well, where you can select harvested apples from large bins, as well as purchase a number of apple-and-otherwise products, foods and drinks.

How to Pick the Best Apples

Many of today’s modern apple varieties grown on dwarf trees so that the apples are well within reach of even the smallest member of your family. Others require special picking baskets on poles to reach apples high up in trees, available from the orchard you visit.

Apples on trees ripen from the outside of the tree inward toward the trunk, so the apples along the outside branches of the tree ripen first. But once they are picked, they do not continue ripening, so choose those that are already ripe. A ripe apple is crisp and firm while an unripe apple is quite sour, but the color depends on the varietal. Trust the farmer to direct you to the ripest ones.

Once you select your apple, grab hold of it and roll it upwards with a twist along the branch to remove it. Don’t pull the apple downward from the tree. This can disturb the attaching spur which is where next year’s apple will grow. A ripe apple will easily give way. Place it gently into a basket trying not to bruise it. Once bruised or cut, apples go bad quickly. If it falls on the ground, you can still pick it up and use it.

Store apples in a cool place after picking. A basement or the fruit drawer in your refrigerator are ideal. The length of time an apple keeps depends on the variety. Rome apples keep well, but Red and Golden Delicious do not and are best eaten fresh. Don’t wash apples until you are ready to eat them.

When Are Apples Ready to Pick?

It can take three to five years for a dwarf apple tree to mature to crop, and 5-8 years for a standard-sized tree, and an apple tree should produce fruit for about 15-30 years or longer.

Apple varieties ripen at different times. Those that mature early, like Honeycrisp, Jonagold and Paula Red, are called “summer apples” and are at peak ripeness in early August through early September. Gala and Golden Delicious ripen mid-fall, and Fuji, Rome, Granny Smith and Braeburn ripen late fall. Some of the most popular apples are: Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Fuji, Jonagold and Gala.


Virginia’s Apple Economy

Virginia is the 5th-largest apple producing state, with 15 flourishing varieties, and growers sell apples domestically and internationally, reports the Virginia Apple Growers Association. Most are sold for processing into products like apple juice, applesauce, apple cider, and apple cider vinegar, with Winchester’s White House Foods being one of the largest manufacturers. The industry adds more than $235 million annually to the state’s economy, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In addition, Virginia is home to a growing hard cider industry, with more than 20 producers in the state.

Many of these orchards were established long ago. For example, Marker-Miller Orchards is now in its 5th generation, with 110 years in the same family. Richard’s Fruit Market features an apple storage building erected in the 1930s.

Other Apple-Related Things to Do

In the mid-1800s, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was a rich apple-growing region. Today, Winchester is home to the world-famous Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival that spans 10 days and encompasses more than 40 events each spring. For a fun day, follow the Shenandoah Apple Trail, a 45-mile-long tour, with an accompanying audiotape and companion brochure that takes visitors via highways and backcountry roads to attractions and farm markets in Virginia’s Apple Capital.

It’s always best to eat foods in season at the peak of their freshness. So get out there and pick some apples!

Fun Apple Facts

  • More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the U.S., but only the crabapple is native to North America.
  • Apples ripen 6-10x faster at room temperature than when refrigerated.
  • Apples are a member of the rose family.
  • The top apple producers in the world are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

Where to Pick Your Own Apples

Fauquier County

Hartland Orchard

3064 Hartland Lnn
Markham VA 22643

Hollin Farms

1524 Snowden Rd.
Delaplane, VA 20144

Stribling Orchard

11587 Poverty Hollow Ln.
Markham VA 22643

Valley View Farm

1550 Leeds Manor Rd.
Delaplane VA 20144

Frederick County

Hill High Farm

933 Barley Ln.
Winchester, VA 22602
(540) 667-7377

Marker-Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery

3035 Cedar Creek Grade
Winchester, VA 22602

Richard’s Fruit Market

6410 Middle Rd.
Middletown VA 22645

Rinker Orchards

1156 Marlboro Rd.
Stephens City, VA 22655

Loudoun County

Crooked Run Orchard

337883 E. Main St.
Purcellville, VA 20132

Great Country Farms

18780 Foggy Bottom Rd.
Bluemont, VA 20135

Rappahannock County

High Places Orchards

121 Winesap Ln.
Flint Hill-Huntly, VA 22640
(540) 635-5537

Jenkins’ Orchards

355 Yancey Rd.
Woodville, VA 22749
Find us on Facebook

Lee’s Orchard

65 Orchard Ln.
Washington, VA 22747
Find us on Facebook

Muskrat Haven

20 Cedarbreak Ln.
Amissville, VA 20106
(540) 937-5191

2018 Apple Festivals

Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival

Sept. 15-16
Frederick County Fairgrounds

Apple Harvest Festival

Oct. 6-7
Marker-Miller Orchards

Apple Harvest Festival

Oct. 20
Richard’s Fruit Market

Open House

Oct 20-21
Hill High Farm
(540) 667-7377

All photos credit: Linda Barrett

Share this Post!

Related post