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Apple Picking in Hendersonville, North Carolina

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It’s fall y’all! In North Carolina, that means it’s apple picking season. Though there are a smattering of pick your own apple orchards across the state, Hendersonville is the home of apple picking in these parts.

Located less than an hour’s drive from Asheville, or around 2 hours from Charlotte, Hendersonville has a lot of options for getting your autumn apple supply.

Even if you are not keen on heading into the orchards, most farms have pre-picked apples to choose from, at great prices. They even sell various apple products like fresh cider, pies, fritters, and apple cider donuts. Get a pack of apple cider donuts while they are hot, and you won’t be disappointed.

With all the ooey gooey apple sweets and family entertainment, apple picking in Hendersonville, makes a fun outdoor day for couples and families.

Here we answer all your questions about apple picking, including the right way to store your apples. Plus, we include a short list of our favorite apple orchards to visit in Hendersonville, NC.

Apple picking in Hendersonville North Carolina
Apple Slushie and Apple Donuts. Apple Picking in Hendersonville, North Carolina

Just as it sounds, this is your opportunity to pick fresh apples straight off the trees while they are in season.

Most orchards with pick your own apples, grow dwarf trees to allow an easy reach for picking the fruit. Some farms also have grabbing sticks available for the harder to reach apples.

Typically, the prices are better than the grocery store and you can’t beat the freshness of the apples. We also love that the orchards have varieties of apples not typically found in the grocery store, such as Shizuka, Mutsu, Jonagold, Stayman, and Arkansas Black.

Picking Apples in Hendersonville North Carolina

When is Apple Picking Season in Hendersonville, North Carolina?

Apple picking in North Carolina runs from early August to late October, with the peak in September.

This is pretty much the timeline for most orchards in the US, though some states will go as late as mid-November.

Different apple varieties ripen at different times. If you have a favorite type of apple, you should time your visit with the ripening of that variety. For example, we really like Golden Delicious and Jonagold, so early to mid-September works well for us.

Apple Tree, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Each orchard also has a slightly different ripening schedule. Just because a certain apple variety is ready at one orchard, doesn’t mean the farm down the street is ready. If getting a specific variety is important to you, check the orchard’s website you plan to visit. Many farms are kind enough to include their typical ripening schedule on their website or Facebook page.

Here’s a general schedule for some of Hendersonville’s most popular apple varieties. Keep in mind, this may vary by orchard and by the year’s weather conditions.

Apple VarietyRipens
GalaMid-August
Honey CrispLate August
JonagoldEarly September
Golden DeliciousEarly to Mid-September
Red DeliciousEarly to Mid-September
FujiEarly to Late September
JonathanMid-September
CameoLate September
Granny Smith Early to Late October
Pink LadyMid to Late October

Where to go Apple Picking in Hendersonville, NC?

Corn Maze, Grandads Apple Orchard, Hendersonville

Several farms in Hendersonville offer pick your own apples. With train rides, apple cannons, jump pillows, corn mazes, and farm animals most orchards are set up for a full day of family fun. Many even have other pickings available at the same time, such as grapes, sunflowers, pumpkins, and squash.

In Hendersonville, you’ll also find a dozen or so roadside stands selling fresh produce from their farms. These stands often sell a variety of fresh goods from cider, apple bread, turnovers, donuts, slushies, fritters, and even local honey and jams. Nowadays, most orchards also have a farm shop with similar fresh products for sale.

Prices vary slightly, but most orchards have similar pick your own prices for 2022. Expect roughly:

  • Bushel – $40
  • ½ Bushel – $20
  • Peck – $14
  • ½ Peck – $10

Here’s our favorite orchards in the area.

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard

Sunflowers, Stepps Apple Orchard, Hendersonville, NC

Stepp’s Hillcrest is a beautifully maintained farm with a ton of variety in their apples. As it’s such a large farm, you can drive into the orchards on the weekdays, but you’ll need to walk it on the weekends.

Though it’s a bit of an uphill walk, our favorite is orchard four. From the back of the orchard is a lovely view.

Since the farm is so big, it never feels crowded and there’s always plenty to pick on the trees. Carts are available to help you get around with your pickings.

In the large barn, you’ll find a bakery and store selling all the usual goodies. They also have a 5-acre corn maze, a pick your own sunflowers area, and pick your own grapes in September. In October, they also open a pick your own pumpkin patch. Oh, and we can’t forget the apple cannons!

Row of Golden Delicious apple trees at Stepp's Orchard in Hendersonville, North Carolina
Taking aim with the Apple Cannon at Stepps Orchard, Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Grandad’s Apples

Sign showing the various activities on offer and where to find them at Grandads Orchard, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Grandad’s Apples is the easiest to find, with the large green tractor on the silo and the cow peeping through the barn loft, just off the main road.

If you want fresh apples at a good price without actually picking them yourself, Grandads’ is a good choice. They have an excellent selection of loose pre-picked apples you can choose from for a mix-and-match, plus ready to go bags.

In 2022, Grandad’s had the cheapest overall prices out of the farms on our list. Though, the cheapest tends to change each year.

Like other farms in the area, they have a bakery, 5-acre corn maze, a 5-acre pumpkin patch, apple cannons, and a kid play area. Giving the farm a real southern feel, there’s also a shaded rocking chair seating area.

Justus Orchard

Apple desserts, Justus Apple Orchard, Hendersonville, NC
Sign in front of Justus Orchard in Hendersonville, North Carolina

Though, a bit smaller than the other farms, Justus Orchard is always a family favorite for their jump pillow and play area.

For us, we love them best for their bakery. They churn through their goods so quickly; everything is always fresh and hot. Plus, you can get almost any apple product you want. I’m a huge sucker for their fried apple pie, while Jeremy’s obsessed with their slushy and apple cider donuts. We look forward to it every year.

They also have a pumpkin patch, and apple cannons.

Sky Top Orchard

Still in Henderson County, but a little further towards the mountains in Flat Rock, is Sky Top Orchard. Popular for good reason, Sky Top offers gorgeous views, and a variety of activities, especially for the kids. Plus, their cider donuts are amazing.

Mountain Fresh Orchard – Roadside Store

Mountain Fresh Orchards Farm Shop, Hendersonville, North Carolina

As you make your way into Hendersonville, just before you reach Grandad’s Apples, is a sweet little roadside farm store.

Compared with the pick your own farms, this little shop tends to have a similar, but slightly larger selection of various goodies. We felt they deserved an honorable mention in our list for their super yummy apple fritters and their selection of local honey.

What to Expect When Going Apple Picking?

During the busy season, most farms have someone directing traffic on where to park. Once you’re parked, find your way to the main barn or farmhouse to pick up your basket, box, or bag.

The baskets help you know roughly how much to pick for how many apples you want to purchase. A peck is roughly 10 pounds of apples, while a ½ bushel is about 18-21 pounds. To give you some context, about 4 small apples or 2 large apples make up a pound.

Since Covid, most farms require pre-payment, though a few still allow you to pay once you have your apples.

When you grab your basket, staff should provide you with a map of the farm. Maps typically mark-out where to find the varieties of apples in season.

If you’re not sure what apple varieties you’re after, most farms provide samples in their shops. Have a taste of what varieties are in season before heading into the orchard. 

In the orchard, the varieties are marked at the ends of the tree rows. The row ends tend to get picked clean first as they are the easiest to access. We find, if you get away from the crowds, such as the middle of the rows or the fields furthest out, you’ll find the best apples.

Most ripe apples will come away from the tree easily. Just lift, twist about a half turn, then pluck.

Once you return with your full basket, you’ll bag them and pay for what you picked.

Green Apple hanging on tree in Hendersonville, North Carolina

What is Apple Picking Etiquette?

Most etiquette is common sense, but to help everyone be on the same page, here are the big ones to keep in mind. 

  1. Be picky when picking. Make sure it’s the apple you want before plucking it from the tree. Look underneath the apple and on the backside. Once you pick it off the tree it is yours.
  2. Sample the fruit in the store not in the orchard. Most farms allow plenty of free samples so there is no reason to try the unwashed apples in the orchard. 
  3. Stay off the trees. Most apples are well within reach, there’s no reason to damage these beautiful trees. Most orchards will give you a fruit picker to get higher apples. I couldn’t believe I saw a woman climb on a tree during our last trip. She knocked about half of the apples out of the tree trying to get one from the top. Such a waste, all those apples that fell to the ground and left to rot.
  4. Bring back your baskets before you leave.
Fruit Picker, Grandads Apple Orchard, Hendersonville, NC

What to Wear Apple Picking?

What to wear really comes down to the weather. Here are some things to consider when dressing for a day in the orchard.

Are you going in the morning?

Early mornings can be quite cool in Hendersonville, and mornings leave dew on the fields. Consider jeans with boots and a light layered top, such as a tank top under a flannel, or a light jacket. This way you can take off your top layer as the day gets warmer.

Are you going on a hot day?

Short sleeves work just fine for apple picking. Though you may want to resist shorts. Some of the orchards have longer grasses which you may find uncomfortable. Consider a light pair of tactical pants.

Has it been raining?

This year we went picking just after a big rainstorm and luckily, we remembered our boots. Normally, a pair of walking shoes work just fine for the hilly terrain, but when there’s been rain, the orchards get muddy. Just consider your shoes will likely get dirty.  

How Do I Store My Picked Apples?

I learned some interesting things when figuring out how to store my 42 pounds of apples I came back with after our first trip.  

Apples are best stored in the fridge; however, refrigerators tend to dry out fruit like apples. An easy way to combat this is to keep a few wet paper towels, or a damp tea towel, with them in the vegetable drawer. Or you can lightly mist them with water each day.

Also, you must store apples separately from other fruits and vegetables. They emit a safe ethylene gas which can cause other produce to ripen much quicker. It’s no fun if your apples are fine but your broccoli goes bad the next day.  

If you keep them cold and humidified, they can last months. 

Basket full of apples, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Spending more time in or around Hendersonville, North Carolina? Check out our other posts on the area.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I have never been to an apple orchard before to pluck apples, but it sounds like such a fun thing to do. I know it’s not the season right now but if it was (and if we were allowed to leave the house), I would so love to go apple picking! I’m not even sure if that’s possible where I live (Germany). I did a quick google search to find apple picking places and came up with nothing. However, I did find a farm that offers a candlelight walk through the orchard, followed by apple raclette, and I quickly bookmarked their website. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Also, I found it interesting that you mention Jonagold as one of the apples you can’t typically find in grocery stores. This is one of the few kinds of apples I actually know. I guess every country has their own types of apples that are on sale in supermarkets.

    1. Nicole

      I’m so glad we were able to give you inspiration for a new experience. I look forward to apple picking season every year, fingers crossed the farms are able to open up this year. It’s funny they don’t have exactly the same experience in Germany, but sounds like you found a nice alternative. The apple raclette sounds delicious and gives me a new recipe for this years pickings.

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