Even though Maryland is one of the smallest states geographically, it ranks 20th in apple production in the United States. Many commercial apple orchards throughout the state have roadside stands that sell fresh Maryland apples, and some have pick-your-own farms for even fresher apples. If however, you have your own apple tree in your landscape, for a couple months out of the year, you can simply walk outside and pick the apples you want when you want them.
Know what kind of apple tree you have growing. In Maryland, some of the most common apple varieties are Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, Fuji and Rome and McIntosh. Compare your ripening fruit and leaves with pictures from a gardening book or online. You can also take an apple and a couple leaves to your county extension office or to an apple orchard to ask them to help you identify your apple tree. Keep in mind that through the process of grafting, one apple tree can produce more than one apple variety.
Watch for your apples to mature before picking them. Typically, apples start off green and will slowly change to yellow and then to the skin color of the variety. The flesh inside also begins as a greenish color and then matures to a yellow or white color.
Taste an apple before picking. If it is juicy and crisp and it has the sweet and possibly tart taste you expect that variety to taste like, then it’s ripe. In Maryland, apples can be ripe for picking as early as July or as late as November, although most apples are ripe in September and October.
Pick your apples. Look for apples that do not have any bruises or evidence of insects. Pull them right off the tree. Take only what you need and let the rest of fruit stay on the tree. However, if you start to notice some of the apples begin to rot, bruise or become susceptible to insect damages, harvest the rest of your crop as soon as possible.