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Apple picking season set to begin this weekend

  • Apple picking season is just around the corner. FILE PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/30/2018 10:31:41 AM

With the calendar set to switch to September and the final weekend of summer just days away, that can only mean one thing: apple picking season.

While the crisp fall air is nowhere to be found this week and it feels more like the dog days of summer then the unofficial beginning of fall, local orchards are gearing up for what is expected to be a busy pick-your-own season.

The weather this summer had its up and downs with hot and dry weather to start, labeling the area as abnormally dry in the early stages of July, followed up by weeks of rain fall in August that officially took the state out of the drought it was heading for.

But with all that in the rearview mirror and apples ready to be picked, the orchards are gearing up for the season  – one they’ve been working toward since last year’s ended.

Washburn's Windy Hill Orchard

Despite what co-owner Tim Anderson called a poor pollination week and a couple of stressful moments with hail storms around the Mason area, the orchards seven-acre crop survived the summer months and is ready for apple lovers to wander around in search of the best ones of the year.

Windy Hill officially opens for the pick-your-own season on Saturday and will be open seven days a week through the end of October (weather permitting) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The orchard features about 650 trees that include four varieties that will be ready for picking at various times in the season. The McIntosh will be available to begin the season, followed by Cortlands, Macouns and Red Delicious. Apple pickers can choose from two sized bags: a peck or half bushel.

“It’s a small variety, but it works out that we always have something available throughout the season,” Anderson said.

But Windy Hill offers much more than just the opportunity to pick apples. On the weekends, they have hayrides into the orchard, as well as pull wagons for the kids to either ride in or for the large quantity of apples needed for baking and cooking. There’s a five-acre corn maze for a cost of $5 per person and they will have pumpkins later in the fall.

After introducing their own apple cider doughnuts last year, Anderson said people have already been asking about them for this fall. They’ll have other baked goods available at the farmstand and soft serve ice cream during the hot weekend days.

For more, find Windy Hill on Facebook.

Birchwood Orchard

Things went really well at the Mason orchard this summer, starting with a good week of pollination and a sturdy crop that stood up to the drastic changes in weather between July and August.

“All the rain in August helped size the apple,” said co-owner Mary Pierce. “I wouldn't say its a huge crop, but its good sized.”

Birchwood has about a dozen varieties over its seven acres, including the more popular ones like McIntosh, Cortland, Honey Crisp and Golden Delicious, as well as a few that are less known like Freedom and Gravenstein, which “makes a good pie,” Pierce said. 

“It’s a good group to pick from,” Pierce said.

The orchard is set to open Sept. 7 and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – weather permitting – through the end of October. They also have multiple cider apple flavors. The apples are sold by the pound at Birchwood.

They don’t do anything in the form of hayrides or entertainment. Rather, Pierce said they like to focus on the apple picking itself.

“What’s nice about our orchard is that we’re quiet,” she said. “It’s easy to walk and has a nice view.”

For more information, directions and questions, call 878-0542.

Paradise Farm

The Lyndeborough farm has multiple varieties of apples, but the orchard was hit with a bout of secondary apple scab – a fungal disease – this season, leaving the size and health of the crop in limbo.

“We definitely have enough to pick for our farmers markets,” said owner Wayne Colsia. “And we might have enough for pick-your-own; the jury is still out.”

With so many other crops (they’re currently doing pick-your-own raspberries), apples are just a small portion of Colsia’s operation.

“We’ve very diverse here,” he said.

To see if Paradise Farm is doing pick-your-own apples this fall, check for up to date information.

“If we open (for apples), we always open the weekend after Labor Day,” Colsia said.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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