Apple orchard in Hendersonville, NC

Apple Picking in Hendersonville, North Carolina

It’s Fall y’all! In the Carolinas, 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 a little over 2 hours from Charlotte, Hendersonville has a lot of options for getting your autumn apple supply.

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

In this post, we will answer your questions about apple picking. Plus, we’ll give you some recommendations on our favorite orchards to visit in Hendersonville.

Slushie_Donuts

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

Most orchards that do “pick your own,” grow dwarf trees to allow an easy reach for picking the fruit.

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 Mutsu, Jonagold, Stayman and Arkansas Black.

Nicole_Picking_Apples

When is Apple Picking Season in 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, 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.

Each orchard has a slightly different ripening schedule. 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.  

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?

There are several farms in Hendersonville that offer “pick your own” apples.

You’ll also find a dozen or so roadside stands selling fresh produce from their farms. In addition to produce, these stands sell a variety of fresh goods from cider, apple bread, turnovers, donuts, slushies, fritters, and even local honey and jams.

Here are some of our favorite places in the area.

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard

You can’t go wrong with Stepp’s. The prices are slightly cheaper than others in the area and it is such a beautifully maintained farm.

They have a farm bakery and store selling all the usual goodies, a 5-acre corn maze and even a pick your own sunflowers area.  In October, they open the “pick your own” pumpkin patch.

Oh, and we can’t forget the apple cannons! 

2019 Pick Your Own Apples Prices:

  • ½ Bushel Bag – $15
  • Peck Bag – $11
  • ½ Peck Bag – $7
Row of Golden Delicious apple trees at Stepp's Orchard in Hendersonville

Grandad’s Apples

Grandad’s is also a lovely farm in the area that has a real southern feel to it. It’s easy to find on the main road with the large green tractor on the silo and the cow peeping through the barn loft.

If you want fresh apples without picking them yourself, Grandads’ is a good choice. They have a very good selection of loose pre-picked apples you can choose from to make up your bag.

Like others in the area, they have a bakery, 5-acre corn maze, a 5-acre pumpkin patch, and apparently, they also have an apple cannon, though we didn’t see it on our visit.

2019 Pick Your Own Apples Prices:

  • ½ Bushel Bag – $18
  • Peck Bag – $11
  • ½ Peck Bag – $7

Justus Orchard

A bit smaller than the other farms but still a good choice is Justus Orchard. They have a nice big farm store and bakery which serves one of the best fried apple pies in the area. You can get your pumpkins and they even have a couple of apple cannons.  

2019 Pick Your Own Apples Prices:

  • ½ Bushel Bag – $18
  • Peck Bag – $12
  • ½ Peck Bag – $8
Sign in front of Justus Orchard in Henersonville

Mountain Fresh Orchard – Roadside Store

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

They tend to have a similar but slightly larger selection of various goodies than the apple picking farms. We thought 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.

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 21 pounds. To give you some context, about 4 small apples or 2 large apples make up a pound.

A few farms require pre-payment for a basket, while some ask you to pay once you return with 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, you’ll find the varieties marked at the end of the tree rows. The end of the rows tend to get picked clean first as they are the easiest to access. We find that 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.

What is Apple Picking Etiquette?

Most etiquette is common sense, but to help everyone be on the same page, here’s 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 so there’s no reason to damage these beautiful trees. I couldn’t believe I saw a woman do this on 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.

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. 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?

We recently made this mistake and headed to the orchards in our walking shoes even though it rained earlier. Oh how I wish I had my boots.  

No matter when you are going, always wear good footwear that can support you through a bit of walking in hilly terrain. Also be sure to wear something you don’t mind getting a little 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 on our recent trip to the orchards.  

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 with them in the vegetable drawer or you can lightly mist them with water each day.

You also 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

Planning on going Apple Picking in Hendersonville, North Carolina, Pin this post to Pinterest so you can find it later. 

Apple picking in Hendersonville North Carolina

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