Michigan offers a wealth of apple picking opportunities in summer and fall. Ranking as the country's third highest apple production state, Michigan features hundreds of apple orchards around the state. The frequency of the orchards as well as the variety of apples grown give apple pickers a large choice when it comes to picking apples for fresh eating, sauces or baking.
Apple orchards may be found throughout Michigan with the southern regions of the state producing the most apples. More than 100 orchards exist in that area alone. The state's central region also offers a number of you-pick orchards.
A wide variety of apples grow in the state, including the newest arrival, the Fuji. Popular apples such as the Gala and the Red Delicious may also be found. The state's cooler weather also makes apples such as Jonagold and Jonathan good choices. Early-season picking includes varieties such as Paula Red and Ginger Gold apples. One way to find out what varieties are ripe is to call the orchard and ask what's ready for harvesting.
How to Pick
Most apple orchards feature dwarf-sized trees since apples may be picked more easily from these smaller trees. This works well for individual apple pickers, too, giving children a chance to get involved. The best apples are bruise-free with the apples on the outside of the tree ripening first. The fruit should be twisted off the tree with a flick of the wrist. Ripe apples will come off the branch with the stem intact. To avoid bruising, gently place the picked apples in the container.
What to Bring
To avoid sunburn during a few hours of picking in the hot sun, sunscreen and hats are a necessity. Water and snacks also come in handy; lunch brought in a cooler for longer picking days makes the adventure even more rewarding. Containers to hold the apples also need to be brought along.
Festivals and Farmer Markets
A variety of festivals and farmers markets keep apple enthusiasts busy during the summer and fall. Farmers markets are found in towns and cities across the state. Festivals such as the Michigan Apple Festival held in Charlotte, Michigan, offer apple-related activities including apple picking, hay rides, arts and crafts, and apple cooking.
One way to combine an autumn road trip with apple picking is to create an apple orchard tour. With orchards located in the northwest, south and central areas of Michigan, driving to a variety of orchards while admiring the changing leaves and taking time to pick apples can take a day or two, filling a long weekend.