This season, hit up a local apple orchard
to pick your own fun

Pick apples from the tree, not ones that have fallen to the ground. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS — CHRIS DUNN)

York is just about perfect — in an apple pie. The York apple is best for baking; it holds its shape and is neither too tart nor sweet when cooked.

And yes, it was named after York, Pa., when it was developed in 1820 in Hellam Township, according to The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program.

Pennsylvania ranks as one of the top six apple-producing states in the nation, making it an ideal place to pick your own apples, and you can choose from more than 20 varieties.


Before heading to the local apple orchard, think about how you plan on using your apples. Applesauce? Try the Jonathan. Salads? Pick the Golden Delicious, because they don’t brown as quickly. Snacking? The Red Delicious, Fuji or Cameo.

But beware — don’t expect to find every variety as you’re picking. Some harvests, such as the McIntosh, might be over come you-pick season.

Nancy Blevins at Blevins Fruit Farm in Stewartstown says especially this year, everything is coming in early.

“Everything has been running about a week to 10 days earlier,” Blevins said. “(The apples) have to be harvested when they’re ready.”

Mary Sue Shaw, owner of Shaw Orchards in Stewartstown, agreed the orchards started with strawberries coming in about two weeks earlier than usual. Typically, it would host apple-picking through the month of October, but she doesn’t think that will be the case this year.

“Once they bloom, the clock is ticking,” Shaw said of the apple trees. She predicted the season will wrap up by mid-October this year. So start early, and bring the family with you to harvest the fruit doctors have been recommending for years.

Check out this listing for a few places that offer pick-your-own apples, plus wagon rides, mazes, picnic areas and other family-friendly fun.

Pick-your-own farms

Denatia Palmer, 26, of York picks apples at Brown’s Orchard and Farm Market. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS — CHRIS DUNN)

Blevins Fruit Farm

Where: 16222 W. Liberty Road, Hopewell Township

When: End of September into October

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

For details: 717-993-2885 or search for Blevins Fruit Farm on Facebook

Boyer Nurseries & Orchards

Where: 405 Boyer Nursery Road, Franklin Township, Adams County

When: September through October

Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays

Extras: Evergreen maze, wagon rides for school groups

For details: 717-677-8558, www.boyernurseries.com

Brown’s Orchards

Where: 8773 Yellow Church Road, Springfield Township

When: End of August through October

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

Extras: Hayrides on weekends

For details: 717-428-2036 or www.brownsorchards.com

Hollabaugh Brothers Inc. Fruit Farm and Market

Where: 545 Carlisle Road in Butler Township, Adams County

When: Labor Day through Columbus Day

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays

Extras: Wagon rides the first two weekends in October; apple-picking family photos Sept. 29 (rain date Oct. 6)

For details: 717-677-9494 or www.hollabaughbros.com

Paulus Orchards

Where: 522 E. Mount Airy Road, Monaghan Township

When: Labor Day weekend through October

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays

Extras: Wagon rides, picnic and playground

For details: 717-432-2544 or www.paulusorchards.com

Shaw Orchards

Where: 21901 Barrens Road South, Hopewell Township

When: End of August through mid-October

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays

Extras: Wagon rides by an antique tractor

For details: 717-993-2974 or www.shaworchards.com

Places to visit

Stop by the National Apple Museum, 154 W. Hanover St., Biglerville, where exhibits include early picking, packing and shipping of fruit; early orchard photographs and more. It’s open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through October. For details, visit www.nationalapplemuseum.com.

National Apple Harvest Festival, held during the first two weekends in October at the South Mountain Fairgrounds, Route 234, west of Arendtsville. At the festival, you’ll find apple cookies, apple syrup, apple cider — plus other food vendors, craft vendors, and more. For details, visit www.appleharvest.com.

Apple-picking tips

    Roll the apple upward off the branch and give a little twist. Don’t pull straight away from the tree. (You don’t want to pick the bud that will be next year’s apple.)

    Don’t shake or bend the branches, which could make apples fall or break the branch.

    Don’t pick up apples that are already on the ground.

    Never climb the trees.

    Pick all the apples that you can on your tree before going to another tree.

    Place them in your container gently or they will bruise and go bad quicker.

Brown’s Orchards and Farm Markets

Types of apples

Cameo: A modern variety similar to Red Delicious

Cortland: Great for eating raw and baking in pies; only a hint of tartness

Empire: Ideal for eating fresh

Fuji: Sweeter and crispier than most apple varieties; also have a longer shelf life; great for snacking

Gala: Great for snacking

Golden Delicious: All-purpose apple — suitable for packing, eating raw, baking, making applesauce; flesh doesn’t darken as quickly as that of other apples, making it good for salads

Honeycrisp: Crispy and juicy with a mild, sweet honey flavor; use for eating and cooking

Jonathan: Use for eating or making applesauce; not a good choice for baking because it loses its shape

Jonagold: Honey-tart flavor and crispy; good for eating raw or cooking

Pink Lady: Sweet-tart flavor; good for eating raw and baking; it’s a registered-trademark apple

Red Delicious: Most popular variety in U.S.; best eaten raw, when cooked it loses most of its flavor

Rome beauty: Best used in cooking; taste is too bland for eating raw

York: Best for baking; it holds its shape and is neither too sweet nor tart when cooked

Sources: orangepippin.com and personal-nutrition-guide.com

Smart tip

The Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program recommends storing apples in the refrigerator to slow ripening and maintain flavor.

Jess Krout

Multiplatform features copy editor at York Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter @JessKrout. Email jkrout@ydr.com or call 717-771-2002.

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2 Responses

  1. Ellen Parlee says:

    In MA we’re having an early apple season as well. Typically picking season starts the last week of August but it’s been more like mid-August due to the unusually warm month of March that we had.

  1. September 29, 2012

    […] Embrace fall with Smart this weekend Posted on September 29, 2012 by Sarah Chain TweetI made my first batch of applesauce for the year on Monday. It’s a welcome (warm!) edition to my lunch as we ease into the cooler temperatures of fall. (If you want to make your own, check out a roundup of places to pick your own apples in York and Adams counties.) […]

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