Welcome to the fall season. This time of year is chock-full of enjoyable features like cooler weather, changing foliage, and an abundance of seasonal food crops.

In fact, at this point in September, we are solidly in the middle of the apple harvest.

So, come journey through the orchard, and find out more about our yummy seasonal fruit. 

What You Need To Know

  • The apple was named the official New York State fruit in 1976

  • Apple picking season begins in August and runs through October

  • New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country, trailing only Washington

According to the U.S. Apple Association, over 30 different states grow apples in this country. New York, though, is quite close to the top for apple production, sandwiched between Washington and Michigan.

The apple industry is an established and important part of our traditional Northeast culture. The vitamin-packed fruit not only provides us added health benefits, but it's also a shot in the economic arm here in New York State.

Apple growers not only have a passion for the fruit as hard-working farmers but they also happen to be savvy business people. Apple farmers not only produce crops, they are responsible for harvesting, packing, and market distribution.

Apples are sent to facilities where they are canned or frozen, and some are put in storage for later use. That's also not to overlook how apple wine and hard cider mills have become hugely popular around here in recent years

We obviously live in an apple-rich part of the country, but have you ever wondered why our area is one of the best? Let's check out what kind of conditions our area provides that contributes to such sweet success.

Apples love New York weather

The perennial apple tree does best in temperate climate zones. These fruit trees are found to succeed in areas where winters trend cold yet summer temperatures are more moderate with bouts of humidity. While considered a hardy tree, an early-season frost or freeze can kill blossoms in spring and impact their fruit in the fall.

Apple trees do best when they are planted in full sun and avoid strong, persistent breezes and low-lying cold areas. Despite a couple of cold snaps in late April and May followed by an unusually hot and dry summer, this year's apple crops have been successful. 

There are dozens of apple breeds on the menu that are grown right here in New York. So, we have a lot to choose from, and believe it or not, new apple varieties are created regularly.

Apples at Riverview Orchards in Rexford, New York. Courtesy: Heather Morrison

Are you a fan of sweet or tart apples? Apple varieties differ in appearance and taste. The New York State Apple Grower's Association provides a spectrum of flavors provided by each apple breed

Check out some other new apple breeds this year.

Since we are more focused on our health and eating at home these days, why not bite into some new apple recipes? You may be surprised at how many dishes can include the addition of apples.

Also, have you ever wondered about which apples are best for making apple pie or apple sauce? You can find some answers here.

How to navigate the crowds...during a pandemic

Picking apples at Riverview Orchards in Rexford, New York. Courtesy: Heather Morrison

Being a popular fall activity, some apple orchards can get crowded quickly. Fortunately, I happened upon a local orchard that was not crowded and one that provided outdoor pay and pick-your-own bag retrieval.

Fellow apple pickers observed social distancing and wore masks as we strolled through the rows of apples. Some orchards are doing a drive-through apple picking method, so it's best to call ahead. Here you can check growers' websites for schedules, Covid-19 procedures and to find out what apple variety is ready for the picking.  

With all the ways apples enhance our lives, why not make it a point to support your local apple orchard today? And, once you get home it might be fun to find new ways to incorporate apples into your home menu.