When Should I Harvest My Apples?

When Should I Harvest My Apples?

You no doubt have been staring at those green round nuggets swaying in a canopy of green leaves all summer, just itching to try one as soon as it develops that first sign of a blush! While a few types of Apples are ready early in the season others are in no hurry! Check out this list of favorite Apple trees for all regions and their expected ripening months!

How to Know Apples Are Ripe?

So how do you know it’s time to start your Apple tree harvest? Short answer - Use your 5-senses! 

Nature Hills does our best to give you average dates or general seasons when your Apple tree’s fruit will typically be ripe! Also, follow your nose and let your fingers do the walking! Generally, if it smells good, has good color, and looks ripe, then go ahead and try one or two from different parts of the tree. This will let you know for sure!

Look, Smell, Taste & Touch & Sometimes Sound       infographic                                                                                                                                                                 

  • Is it the peak color?
  • Is it the same color all over? (other than a ripe blush)
  • Does it feel firm yet give slightly under gentle pressure?
  • Does it smell robust, fruity, or sweet?
  • Does it feel “heavy in hand”?
  • Does a thump to the skin sound hard as a rock or a tiny bit hollow?
  • Does it taste good?

Remember that weather, climate and your tree determine when the fruit is ripe! Knowing what variety of Apple trees it is and its expected harvest dates are the other half of the battle.

Typical Apple Harvest By Month!

While climate and weather can slow down or speed things up - specific plant varieties have pretty regular timing when their fruit can be expected to be ready! Again your weather and climate will alter these dates, so staying in contact with your County Extension Office, learning about your region and talking with other gardeners will help immensely!

Early Season Apple Harvest

While Apples are often a late summer to fall harvest crop, these varieties are quick ripeners! Especially in warmer climates and mild winters where the trees get a jumpstart on the growing season, some dessert-style Apples can ripen as early as June in the hottest climates of USDA 8 through 10.

  • Anna 
  • Dorsett Golden   
  • Yellow Transparent

Likewise, only a few Apples ripen in July, though many are hot growing zone trees that ripen this early in the growing season. Summer ripening varieties are not the best for keeping and long-term storage so most July-ripening Summer Apples are great for fresh eating, desserts and sauces.

dorsett golden

Mid-Season Apples

August is the start of Apple season for many parts of the country. August-ripening Apples are great for fresh eating, desserts, preserves, baking and sauces! 

  • Gala Apples and Buckeye Gala
  • Cameo
  • Cox Orange Pippin - Mid-Late August to Early September
  • Empire - Try a Teeple Red Royal Empire!
  • Ginger Gold
  • cox orange pippin Honeycrisp
  • Pink Pearl
  • State Fair
  • Summerred
  • Hudson's Golden Gem - Mid-September to Early October
  • Jonagold Mid Sept- Early Oct
  • KinderKrisp
  • Pink Pearl
  • Winter Banana - Starts in August to September                                                                                         

No room? Try a North Pole Columnar Apple or the Tangy Green Urban and Tasty Red Urban!                                             

September is prime Apple month! The temperatures at night are cooling off and the fruit has developed fully! Apple picking, harvest festivals and fairs featuring pick-your-own Apple opportunities are usually going on this month! Get ready for loads of juicy Apples ripening for many growing zones! 

  • Blushing Delight/Golden Treat Columnar Urban Combo
  • Cameo
  • Chehalis - Mid-Late September zestar!
  • Crunch-A-Bunch
  • Empire - Finishing Their Season
  • Garden Delicious 
  • Ghost
  • Golden Delicious
  • Golden Sentinel Columnar
  • Macoun
  • McIntosh and RubyMac McIntosh
  • Mutsu (AKA Crispin)
  • Pixie Crunch
  • Red Delicious
  • Red Jonathan
  • Scarlet Sentinel Columnar
  • Wealthy
  • Yellow Delicious
  • Zestar!                       

Late Season Winter Apples

October for many growing zones may see some frost and cool days as well as nights, but also the time for late ripening Apples, mostly those that are great for storage and that need that chill to fully develop their flavor! Also known as Winter Apples, these shrug off the chill and even develop better flavor or texture after a slight frost!

  • Arkansas Black - October to November
  • Braeburn 
  • Fireside
  • rome beauty apple treeGibson Yellow Delicious
  • GoldRush
  • Granny Smith
  • Liberty
  • Melrose
  • Newtown Pippin 
  • Rome Beauty 
  • Snowsweet - Late October into November
  • Winecrisp
  • Winesap

November still has Apples ripening, or at least hanging on the tree ready to harvest! Growing zones with mild winters and that won’t get a hard freeze yet will still have a wonderful selection of varieties to plant for a late-season harvest!

  • Pink Lady (Cripps Pink Variety) 
  • Sundowner 

December believe it or not has a few Apple tree varieties, like Tydeman’s Late Orange, that are hanging in there! While most growing zones are locked in the dead of winter, hot climates are finally cooling off for late-season harvest. 

Some trees, like Granny Smith, have long hang times, and are still beckoning for you to go outside and pluck a tasty morsel from the branches despite the chill!

Want Apples throughout the entire growing season but don’t have room for more than one tree? Try an Espalier Edible Grafted Apple Tree that is a 6-in-1 grafted selection with Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Rome and Red Fuji! All on one tree!

Harvesting 101: Getting Started

  • Be gentle and never rip or tear the fruit from the branch. If it doesn’t come off easily, it may not be ripe and you’ll hurt the plant. Preventing tearing or breaking limbs. Use scissors or pruners to make a clean cut on stubborn, fully ripe fruit stems. You may also rip the fruit itself, causing it to decay faster.
  • Also, be careful with yourself! Don’t climb too high in tall trees or overreach trying to get that last juicy gem hanging from the highest bough.
  • Unless you know you’ll be cleaning them thoroughly (as you always should anyway) don’t eat fruit that was on the ground for too long, or covered in mud. And maybe pass-over fruit that has obvious open holes and gouges. This can allow bacteria and germs in, and a few things with legs that we’re sure you don’t want to see the other half of after taking a bite.
  • Don’t leave any fruit rotting on the ground either, compost it or dispose of it so it doesn’t draw insects and harbor disease or fungus that can spread back up into the plant next year.
  • Typical Equipment: 
    • Multiple baskets/trays/or bags
    • Gloves and long sleeves
    • Sanitized and sharpened scissors or pruning shears
    • A step ladder or taller ladder
    • A helper on the ground
    • A drop cloth to catch fruit 
    • A fruit picker (a claw or basket at the end of a pole) for higher, larger fruit 

Apple A Day - Through The Growing Seasons!

Summer Apples are best for fresh eating, sauces and jam, while Winter Apples are fantastic crisp baking and dessert fruits.

Long storage fruit, like the Arkansas Black, Winesap, Mutsu, Orange Pippin, Enterprise, Gold Rush and Red Rome, are great for long-term storage! Some even last through early summer without becoming mealy when stored properly!

Nature Hills Nursery makes it easy for you to plan out your orchard so that you have a steady harvest all growing season with early, mid, and late-season fruit combined with long-term storing varieties of Apples for you and your family!

Get growing your very own easy-to-grow Apple tree today to enjoy these healthy fruits and portable snacks sooner! Nature Hills ships mature trees and 3-4-year-old root systems so that you’ll get fruit a year or two after you’ve planted your trees! 

Find Pruning & Trimming Apple Trees and Planting info in our handy and informative Garden Blog!

Jump on the edible landscaping bandwagon and boost your family's food sustainability with quality fruit trees and plants! All conveniently delivered directly to your doorstep from the expert growers at Nature Hills!

Happy Planting!

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