NJ farmer explains all you need to know about apple picking season
🍎 New Jersey's apple picking season is under way through October
🍎 There are more than 30 varieties of apples grown in New Jersey
🍎If you're not picking apples, be sure to shop Jersey Fresh
MEDFORD — September is here and that means apple-picking season is in full swing in New Jersey.
Apple picking season usually begins around Sept. 9 and lasts about six to eight weeks, well into October, depending on how the apple growing conditions have been in the spring and summer, said Gilbert Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford.
What is the ideal climate for growing apples in New Jersey?
It starts in the spring, Johnson said. Avoiding a late spring frost is critical for a vibrant apple-growing crop.
Apples bloom when the weather starts warming up usually in April and early May. The weather, when the apples are blooming, is very important.
“If we get nice sunny dry days and they allow the bees and other pollinators to work in the orchard, then we’ll have a good apple crop,” Johnson said.
Luckily, there was no late spring frost this year so he said it should be an awesome apple picking season ahead.
What variety of apples are grown in New Jersey?
Apples ripen at different times depending on the variety, starting in early September, Johnson said.
There are more than 30 different types of apple varieties grown in New Jersey, according to FindJerseyFresh.com, including Fuji, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Pink Lady, and Stayman Winesap.
On Johnson’s Corner Farm’s seven-acre orchard, there are 10 varieties of apples grown, he said.
They have traditional classics such as Red Delicious and Golden Delicious.
Then there are newer varieties like Pink Lady, Cameo, and Gold Rush.
The farm starts picking with a variety of Fuji apples, which are available now.
Cameo apple is the last variety typically picked. “It’s considered a snacking apple. It’s not a baking apple, although if you really wanted to bake a pie with it, you could,” Johnson said.
It’s a cross between Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples.
Cameo apples are sweet and crisp. “It’s my favorite variety that we grow,” he added.
What’s the rule of thumb for picking apples?
There really is no science to it, Johnson said. Simply look for firm, shiny, smoothed-skin fruit with nice, consistent color all around the apple, preferably with the stem intact. Also, avoid picking apples with any soft, brown, rotting spots.
It is possible that when you pick an apple off the tree, other apples may come tumbling down, as well. He said that happens and it’s okay.
How do you store freshly picked apples at home?
It’s very easy to get caught up in the art of apple picking while in the orchard. The next thing you know, you’re taking home bags of apples.
Johnson suggested storing them in the refrigerator. You can keep the apples on the kitchen countertop for a couple of days if you plan on eating them soon.
But if that’s not the case, store them in the fridge and they should stay fresh and crisp for another week or so, he said.
What makes a Jersey apple different from other apples?
Besides the fact that there are so many orchards in the state to go apple picking, Johnson credited the great climate for growing sweet, crisp, juicy apples.
As long as the weather stays nice and dry through the fall, it’s going to be a great apple-picking season.
There are more than 60 orchards in the Garden State that offer pick-your-own apples, according to FindJerseyFresh.com.
If picking apples is not your thing, be sure to shop for Jersey Fresh apples at supermarkets, farmer's markets, and local farm stands.