Apple orchards dot the New England landscape and many that are located nearby offer "pick-your-own." Local orchards recommend picking apples now, as the warm spell of last spring resulted in an earlier and smaller harvest.
There are many varieties to choose from, ranging from sweet to tart, but availability varies and not all varieties are harvested at the same time. Call ahead or visit the websites listed below to find out what can be gotten when. Some orchards also sell local honey and fresh pressed cider, such as Phil's in Harvard, and Carlson Orchard is offering apple cider doughnuts along with their apple crisp.
How to pick: Select bruise-free apples that are crisp and firm. When picking, roll the apple upwards off the branch giving it a little twist, being careful not to pull it away from the tree. Store picked apples in a cool, dark place.
Pick-you-own apple orchards
U-Pick Phil's Apples
24 Prospect Hill Road, Harvard
Open September through November; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Directions: Route 2 West, Exit 38A, Route 110/111 Harvard exit. Take first right. Old Shirley Road leads to Prospect Hill Road, one mile before Fruitlands Museum.
Children are welcome to pick apples and turn the cider press.
Offered: 12 varieties of apples, including McIntosh, Macoun, Cortland, Red Delicious, Enterprise, Gold Rush; Peaches; honey
115 Oak Hill Road, Harvard
Open: Pick-your-own hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week
Directions: From Ayer rotary, take Route 110N, turn left at Poor Farm Road, follow signs, 2.5 miles. From Route 495, take exit 28 to Route 111 towards Harvard. 1/4 mile, follow signs.
Offered: 14 varieties of apples, peaches, nectarines, cider, honey, apple pies, apple crisp, cider doughnuts
178 Mass Ave., Harvard
Open: Through October; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Monday
Directions: Route 2 east, exit 38A, Route 110/111 Harvard exit. Follow Route 111, after the public schools stay left on Route 111, big red barn on the right.
Offered: Apples, apple-cider donuts, caramel apples and pies, pumpkins
327 Ayer Road, Harvard
Open: Through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week
Directions: Route 2 West to Route 110/111, exit 38B. Go 1/5 miles north of exit on left. Watch for signs.
Offered: McIntosh, Cortland, Delicious, Empire and Macoun apples; cider, honey, pumpkins
Autumn Hill Orchards
495 Chicopee Row, Groton
Open: Through October; weekends and holidays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekdays by appointment.
Directions: From Groton Center, right on Hollis Street and continue straight past the cemetery on your right. Note: Hollis Street changes name to Chicopee Row. When you pass Watson Way on left, look for Autumn Hills sign on left.
Offered: 20 varieties of apples; pears; plums; raspberries; gourmet picnic lunches; apple tastings; tours, by reservation
Kimball Fruit Farms
184 Hollis St., Pepperell
Open: seven days, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., pick-your-own September through October
Directions: Exit 5 West off Route 3, North to Route 111 into Pepperell, take a right at yellow blinking light, farm is 3 miles on left.
Offered: 38 varieties of apples; peaches; raspberries; herbs; and a variety of vegetables.