Apple picking and fall go hand in hand. Most of the time. If you ever feel like you come late to the party when it comes to prime apple-picking season, baystateparent.com has gone to the best sources of when and where you can get in on New England’s favorite autumn tradition.
“When to pick apples can be different year to year and it depends largely on the weather,” says Russell Powell, senior writer at New England Apple Association. “It can vary as little as a few days or as it can be as much as a week late.”
General rule of thumb: Labor Day (Sept. 5-7) is your weekend to find all your favorite varieties of apples.
“This year, we’re pretty much not anticipating any delays or early starts,” he said. Some early varieties are available now and New England’s favorite, the MacIntosh, blossoms around Labor Day. Ginger Gold and PaulaRed are also available early in the season.
Overall, most Massachusetts growers dodged poor weather during fertilization time and avoided any damaging frost. Plus, Powell says there was adequate rainfall through the summer months. The only exception is there has been scattered hail damage that sometimes results in surface dents but “as long as consumers are forgiving, those apples are fine,” he says.
“A few years ago, we had a heat wave in April and that caused a lot of apples to blossom early,” he explained.
Some insider tips:
Call before you go to confirm apple picking hours and check what type of varieties they offer
Generally speaking, plan to leave your dogs at home
Try out new apple varieties, you may be pleasantly surprised. “A recent newcomer is honey crisp, it’s light and crisp, very juicy. Another one is Jonagold that not many supermarkets carry but some orchards do.”
“Our orchards represent a public private partnership,” says Russell. “Orchard owners are responsible for caring for the crop and the land but the public is allowed the experience of being in a natural setting and seeing how food grows. It’s a great experience for all ages. It’s fragrant, beautiful and quiet.”
Aces Wild Breeding Farm. 59 Parsonage Rd., Plympton. Horse, sheep and vegetable farm. 781-585-3243.
Autumn Hills Orchards. 495 Chicopee Row, Groton. Apples, peaches. 978-448-8388. autumnhillsorchard.com.
Back Acres Farms. 194 South Main St., Middleborough. Pumpkins. Corn maze, hayrides. 508-947-6789. backacrefarms.com.
Barker’s Farmstand. 1267 Osgood St., North Andover. PYO apples and flowers. Hayrides, farm stand, greenhouse. 978-683-0785.
Beaver Brook Farm. 645 Summer St., East Bridgewater. Pumpkins. 508-583-0502.
Belkin Family Lookout Farm. 89 Pleasant St. Natick. PYO peaches, apples, pumpkins. Train rides, play area. 508-651-1539. lookoutfarm.com.
Berlin Orchards. 310 Sawyer Hill Rd., Berlin. Apples. 978-838-2400. berlinorchards.com.
Billingsgate Farm. 6 County Rd., Plympton. Pumpkins. Vegetables, flowers, greenhouses, farm stand. 781-293-6144. billingsgatefarm.com.
Boston Hill Farm. 1370 Turnpike St., North Andover. Apples and pumpkins. 978-681-8556. bostonhillfarm.com.
Breezelands Orchards. 1791 Southbridge Rd., Warren. Apples. 413-436-7100. breezelandsorchards.com.
Breezy Gardens. 1872 West Main St., Leicester. Pumpkins. Flowers, hayrides, corn maze, animals. breezygardens.com.
Brookfield Orchards, Inc. 12 Lincoln Rd., North Brookfield. Apples. Bakery, stores, food, playground, wagon rides. 508-867-6858. brookfieldorchardsonline.com.
Brooksby Farm. 38 Felton St. Peabody. PYO apples. Hayrides, retail store, pumpkins. 978-531-7456. brooksbyfarm.org.
C.N. Smith Farm, Inc. 325 South St., East Bridgewater. Fruits, vegetables. Hayrides, garden center. 508-378-2270. cnsmithfarminc.com.
Carlson Orchards Inc. 115 Oak Hill Rd., Harvard. Apples, peaches, nectarines, pumpkins. 978-456-3916. carlsonorchards.com.
Carter and Stevens Farm. 500 West St., Barre. Pumpkins, dairy, wine. 978-355-4940. carterandstevensfarm.com.
Carver Hill Orchards. 101 Brookside Ave., Stow. Fruits, vegetables. Ice cream, farmstand. 978-897-6117. carverhillorchard.com.
Cider Hill Farm. 45 Fern Ave., Amesbury. PYO peaches, apples. Retail farm store. 978-388-5525. ciderhill.com.
Clearview Farm. 4 Kendall Hill Rd., Sterling. PYO apples, peaches, pumpkins. Hayrides, picnic area, baked goods. 978-422-6442. clearviewfarmstand.com.
Connemara House Farm. 252 Rowley Bridge Rd., Topsfield. Apples, pumpkins. 978-777-5682.
Connors Farm. 30 Valley Rd., Danvers. PYO fruits, vegetables. Bakery, ice cream, corn maze. 978-777-1245. connorsfarm.com.
Cook’s Valley Farm. 2200 West St., Wrentham. Fruit, vegetables. 508-883-6709. cooksvalleyfarm.com.
Crystal Brook Farm.192 Tuttle Rd., Sterling. Goat cheese, local goods. 978-422-6646. crystalbrookfarm.com.
Davis Family Farm Adventures. 145 Redstone Hill, Sterling. Apples, pumpkins. 978-422-6666. davisfarmland.com.
Derby Ridge Farms. 438 Great Rd., Stow. PYO apples. Peaches, pears, pumpkins. 978-897-7507.
Doe Orchards. 327 Ayer Rd., Harvard. PYO apples. 978-772-4139. doeorchards.com.
Douglas Orchard. 36 Locust St., Douglas. PYO apples. 508-476-2198.
Dowse Orchards. 98 North Main St., Sherborn. PYO apples, pumpkins. 508-653-2639. dowseorchards.com.
Drew Farm Country Store. 31 Tadmuck Rd., Westford. Apples. On the weekends, tractors drawn trailer rides. Pumpkins, mums. 978-807-0719. drewfarm.com.
Fairmount Fruit Farm. 887 Lincoln St., Franklin. PYO apples. Hayrides, pumpkins, crafts, pies. 508-533-8737. fairmountfruit.com.
Farmer Dave’s CSA. 437 Parker Rd., Dracut. Apples, pumpkins. 978-349-1952. farmerdaves.net.
Fat Moon at Meadowbrook Farm. 5 Gould Rd., Westford. Pumpkins. 978-496-9606. thefatmoon.com.
Fay Farm. Amesbury Line Rd., Haverhill. PYO apples, peaches. Pumpkins. 978-373-4874.
Flynn’s Family Farm and Nursery. 492 Bay Rd., Easton. Pumpkins. 508-219-0304. flynnsfarm.com.
Four Town Farm. 90 George St., Seekonk. Pumpkins. 508-336-5587. fourtownfarm.com.
George Hill Orchards. 582 George Hill Rd., Lancaster. PYO peaches, apples, pumpkins. Hayrides, pony rides. 800-699-4331. yourfavoritefarm.com.
Hamilton Orchards. 25 West St., New Salem. Apples, trails, hayrides, bakery, animals. 978-544-6867. hamiltonorchards.com.
Hanson Farm. 20 Nixon Rd., Framingham. Pumpkins. Flowers, fruits, vegetables, corn maze. 508-877-1658. hansonsfarm.50webs.com.
Hawk Hill Orchards. 83 Carleton Rd., Millbury. PYO apples. Country store, pumpkins. 508-865-4037.
Hill Orchard. 2 Hunt Rd., Westford. PYO apples, pears, peaches. Farm stand, hay wagon rides. 978-692-9894. westfordhillorchard.com.
Honey Pot Hill Orchard. 144 Sudbury Rd., Stow. Apples. Farm stand, maze. 978-562-5666. honeypothill.com.
Hyland Orchard & Brewery. 195 Arnold Rd., Sturbridge. PYO apples, pumpkins. Orchards, ice cream, bakery, retail shop, trails. 508-347-7500. hylandorchard.com.
Ingaldsby Farm. 14 Washington St., Boxford. Fruits, vegetables, bakery. 978-352-2813.
Jane and Paul’s Farm, Inc. 33 Fruit St., Norfolk. PYO pumpkins and apples. Hayrides, petting zoo. 508-528-0812.
Keith’s Farm. 1149 Main St., Acushnet. PYO apples and pumpkins. Farm stand. 508-763-2622. keithsfarm.com.
Keown Orchards. 9 McClellan Rd., Sutton. PYO apples, pumpkins. Wagon rides, orchards, picnic areas. 508-865-6706. keownorchards.com.
Kimball Fruit Farm. 184 Hollis St., Pepperell. PYO apples, strawberries. 978-433-9751. kimballfruitfarm.com.
Langwater Farm. 209 Washington St., Easton. Pumpkins. Hayrides, farm stand. 508-205-9665. langwaterfarm.com.
Lanni Orchards. 294 Chase Rd., Lunenburg. PYO apples, pumpkins. Farm stand. 978-582-6246. lanniorchards.com.
Lawndale Farm. 91 Frost Rd., Tyngsborough. Pumpkins. Hayrides. 978-649-7629.
Long Hill Orchard. 520 Main St., West Newbury. PYO Apples, peaches, pears. Greenhouse, goats. 978-363-2170. longhillorchard.com.
Marini Farm. 259 Linebrook Rd., Ipswich. Vegetable and fruit farm stand, corn maze. 978-356-0430. marinifarm.com
Meadowbrook Orchards. 209 Chace Hill Rd., Sterling. Apples, pumpkins, nectarines. meadowbrookorchards.com.
Nashoba Valley Winery, Orchard & J’s Restaurant. 100 Wattaquadoc Hill Rd., Bolton. Apple orchards, winery, restaurant, retail shop. 978-779-5521. nashobawinery.com.
Nourse Farm. 80 Nourse St., Westborough. Pumpkins. Fruits, vegetables, farm store. 508-366-2644. oldnoursefarmgourmet.com.
Oakdale Farms Country Barn & Garden Shop. 59 Wheaton Ave., Rehoboth. Pumpkins. Greenhouses, vegetables, corn maze, hay maze, farm store. 508-336-7681. oakdalefarms.com.
Obadiah McIntyre Farm Winery & Charlton Orchards. 44 Old Worcester Rd., Charleton. PYO pumpkins, apples, peaches, pears. Store, winery. 508-248-7820. charltonorchard.com.
Parlee Farms. 95 Farwell Rd., Tyngsborough. PYO peaches, pumpkins, apples. Farmstand, ice cream, animals. 978-649-3854. parleefarms.com.
Peters Family Orchard & Cider Mill. 537 North Main St., Acushnet. Apples. 508-995-6533.
Phil’s Apples. 24 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard. PYO apples, peaches. 978-456-3361.
Pickard Farm. 160 Great Rd., Littleton. Pumpkins. 978-486-4141. pickardfarm.com.
Pineo Family Farm. 41 Tuttle Rd., Sterling. 978-422-7350. pineofamilyfarm.com
Pine Ridge Farm. 1158 Main St. Boylston. Hay, apples, pumpkins. 508-864-8829.
Pocasset Orchards. 1427 Old Fall River Rd., Dartmouth. Apples, pears and plums.
Ragged Hill Orchard. 94 John Gilbert Rd., West Brookfield. Peaches, apples. 508-867-2187.
Red Apple Farm. 455 Highland Ave., Phillipston. PYO apples, pumpkins, peaches, pears. Hayrides, trails, baked goods. 978-249-6763. redapplefarm.com.
Rota Spring Farm. Chace Hill Rd., Sterling. Pumpkins. Farm stand, vegetables. 978-365-9710. rotaspringfarm.com.
Schartner Farm. 211 West Berlin Rd., Bolton. PYO apples, pumpkins. Hayrides. 978-779-5588. schartnerfarm.com.
Shelburne Farm. 106 West Acton Rd., Stow. PYO apples, peaches, pumpkins. Country store. 978-897-9287. shelburnefarm.com.
Smolak Farms. 315 South Bradford St., North Andover. PYO peaches, plums, apples, pumpkins. 978-682-6332. smolakfarms.com.
Sholan Farm. 1125 Pleasant St., Leominster. PYO apples. 978-840-3276. sholanfarms.com.
Stowe Farm Orchards. 15 Stowe Rd., Millbury. Apples, pumpkins. Ice cream, country store, family activities. 508-865-9860. stowefarm.com.
Sunshine Farm. 41 Kendall Ave., Sherborn. Pumpkins. Ice cream. 508-655-5022. sunshinefarmma.com.
Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm. 139 Spring Street, Millis. Pumpkins. Hayrides, farm stand, fruits, vegetable, hay maze. 508-376-5024. tangerinisfarm.com.
Tougas Family Farm. 234 Ball St., Northborough. PYO apples, fruits. pumpkins. Ice cream, retail store. 508-393-6406. tougasfarm.com.
Trombetta’s Farm. Farm stand vegetables and pumpkins. 655 Farm Rd., Marlboro, 508-485-6429 and 277 Main St., Northboro. 508-393-3560. trombettasfarm.com.
Verrill Farms. 11 Wheeler Rd., Concord. Pumpkins. Farm stand. 978-369-4494. verrillfarm.com.
Ward’s Berry Farm. 614 South Main St., Sharon. Pumpkins. Hayrides, market, corn maze, hay pyramid. 781-784-3600. wardsberryfarm.com.
West End Creamery and Family Farm. 481 Purgatory Rd., Northbridge. Pumpkins. Ice cream stand, miniature golf. 508-234-2022 westendcreamery.com.
Westview Farms. 631 Stow Rd., Boxborough. Pumpkins. Farm stand. 978-264-4168.
Westward Orchards Farm Store. Massachusetts Ave., Harvard. PYO apples. Peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, farm store, food. 978-456-8363. westwardorchards.com.
Wildwood Farm. 50 Woods Rd., Westminster. Pumpkins. Hay and pony rides. 978-827-4551. wildwoodfarm.net.
Wojcik Farm. 65 Milk St., Blackstone. PYO apples, pumpkins. Hayrides, corn maze, concessions. 508-883-9220. wojcikfarm.com.
Wright-Locke Farm. 78 Ridge St., Winchester. Pumpkins. Farm stand. 781-721-7128. wlfarm.org.
For a listing of Massachusetts orchards, visit newenglandapples.org