The weather is getting cooler, but that doesn’t mean the time to go apple picking is over. Some apples love the colder air, and those varieties are often sweeter (like the popular Honeycrisp). Several farms have of course changed how apples are picked this year due to COVID-19, but this fall pastime is still taking place despite the pandemic.
Here’s what you need to know before heading to the apple orchards. Because trees get picked quickly, it’s best to call the farm you want to visit ahead of time. You’ll also want to check the COVID-19 protocols put in place by each farm — some farms require reservations and pre-purchased tickets. Almost all apple orchards are selling apples by the bag this year (instead of by weight), and no orchard that we came across will allow you to bring your own apple bag.
Here are the top 10 places to pick apples near the GTA this fall:
Apple season is still in full swing at Albion Orchards with Empire apples on deck. Since it’s the end of apple season, you can grab a pound of apples for $2. Albion is located in Caledon, so it’s the perfect quick trip for a lazy weekend. More details about Albion’s current varieties can be found on their website, but the farm updates their Facebook page more frequently, so make sure to check that page before you go.
Applewood Farm Winery
Applewood in Stouffville is currently picking Honeycrisp, Cortland, Royal Gala, Red Delicious, Spartan, Empire, Ambrosia, and Spencer varieties from the end of September to the middle of October. The farm keeps crowds to a minimum, and once the farm is full, it’s full, so we suggest going early. Applewood is also picking pumpkins.
Country Apple Orchard Farm
King City’s Country Apple Orchard Farm sold out of Honeycrisp and Gala apples, but the farm is still picking McIntosh, Spartan, and Cortland varieties. Apples are $8.25 for five pounds, $16.50 for 10 pounds, and $30 for 20 pounds. It’s best to check the farm’s website before you arrive to ensure that the apples you want are still available. COVID-19 protocols include distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, and sanitizing stations, and all visitors must drive into the orchard (no walk-ins allowed).
Organics Family Farm
Organics Family Farm in Markham is a small organic farm that’s currently picking a few varieties of apples. The farm does get picked out frequently and closes while awaiting new crops. It’s best to check the farm’s Facebook page (updated regularly) for details before you go. Masks are mandatory while picking (no sampling), and distancing measures are in place.
Pingle’s Farm Market
The sought after Honeycrisp apple likes the colder weather, so you’re in luck if that’s the apple you’re after. Pingle’s has Honeycrisp apples ready to be picked (but are sold out of most other varieties). Admission to the farm is $5, and the price of apples is $24 for 10 pounds and $39 for 20 pounds. Tickets must be purchased online before visiting the farm.
Downey’s Strawberry and Apple Farm
Downey’s is still picking apples at its Caledon and Breslau locations. Downey’s still has plenty of varieties available, and no reservations are required to visit the farm. Apples are $20 per 10-pound bag and $35 for 20 pounds. Check out the farm’s picking list to see which varieties are still in season.
Dixie Orchards is currently picking Empire apples and has the famed Honeycrisp for purchase inside the farm’s market (pre-picked). You have to pre-purchase a bag and make a store reservation before visiting the farm.
Watson Farms still has different apples to choose from, including Honeycrisp, Cortland, Empire, Fuji, and Gala. Red and Golden Delicious varieties will be available to pick starting Oct. 3. Apples are priced at $40 per 20-pound bag, and no reservations are required. Tractor and wagon rides are also available on weekends. Watson Farm keeps its website frequently updated, so check before you go.
Honeycrisp, Gala, Cortland, Empire, and a few other varieties await you at Chudleigh’s in Halton Hills. The farm also has play areas, farm animals, and nature trails to explore. Tickets and reservations must be purchased and made before visiting the farm, so book ahead.
Carl Laidlaw Orchards
Empire, Fuji, Ambrosia, Red, and Golden Delicious and many other varieties are available at Carl Laidlaw Orchards in Brampton. Reservations are not required, but it is first-come-first-serve at the farm. Apples are $30 per 20 pounds and $20 per 10-pound bag. All COVID-19 protocols and apple varieties are listed on the farm’s website.