Niagara Gazette

Features

September 24, 2013

HARVEST: When and where to pick your own apples in the Niagara region

Niagara Gazette — As local apple growers settle into the autumn season — and what some call “the best apple crop ever” — the image of heading to the orchard, bag or bushel basket in hand, to harvest piles of crisp, juicy fruit seems like the ultimate in fall family fun.

But first, there’s a few things the people who own those orchards would like you to know.

“This year is probably the best apple crop ever, for us, anyway,” said Melinda Vizcarra of Becker Farms in Gasport. “We had basically no crop last year. But the trees had a chance to rest, they grew a lot of leaves and got healthy. They were all rested up and had lots of flowers and had good pollination. And then through the summer we’ve had good rains, timely rains.

“Lots of times when you have a big crop, you have a lot of tiny apples. But this year, the apples are not only plentiful, but they’re a good size. They’re beautiful. ... The branches were bending to the ground, they’re so full. Last year was awful and this year, there’s so many, you just can’t stop picking them.”

Barbara Baker of Peter Baker Farm of Ransomville also called the season “excellent.”

“We had a lot of rain, which means we have good-sized fruit this year,” she said. “Everything is big and juicy and we had a lot of heat this year, so everything is nice and sweet. It’s a very good year this year for apples.”

The ins and outs of apple season

While local, ripe apples begin becoming available in mid to late August (and Murphy Orchard’s season actually started in July with Red Astrachan apples), by mid-September, the season is hitting its stride. Most local farms that offer you-pick apples have a season that lasts until late October or very early November.

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