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Apple season can be confusing. Here's how it breaks down.

Noah Kaufman
September 20, 2017

According to the most recently available stats, apples are the most popular fruit in America—between fresh, frozen, canned and juice we’re each consuming close to 30 pounds a year. And this time of year there is no better way to consume them than out of a big bag you picked yourself. Apple picking is one of those activities that defines fall for many people—the sort of thing you nostalgically long for from childhood and enjoy just as much as an adult. Fortunately, the window to go picking is big, and with apples growing somewhere in all 50 states, chances are good you’ll be able to find a place to go grab some off a tree somewhere near you. But apple season is not just one big amorphous blob of picking time in the fall. Different apple varieties are ready at different times of the year. According to the New York Apple Association (NYAA) there are over 2,500 different apple varieties in the United States alone and more than 7,500 around the world, but we got them to fill us in on when to pick some of the most popular. As Julia Stewart of the NYAA points out, apple season is actually three mini seasons—early (beginning well before Labor Day), middle (running through September) and late (all the way until the end of October), with totally different crops during each.

She also offered up a tip for people looking to make the most of their apple picking experience: Apples that are at their peak early in the season are sweeter, but apples that are at their peak later in the season last much longer. So if you’re planning to pick a whole bushel, you’re better off looking for a variety that’s ready later in October.  Those can keep for months in the fridge, leaving plenty of time to make pies, sauce or any number of other apple dishes.

Here’s when you can find your favorite varieties ready to pick.

Early Season Apples

Ginger Gold – August
Jersey Mac – August
Paula Red – Late August

Mid-Season Apples

Cortland – September
Empire – September
Gala – September
Golden Delicious – September
Honeycrisp – September
Jonamac – September
McIntosh – September
SnapDragon – Late September

Late Season Apples

Braeburn – October
Crispin – October
Fortune – October
Fuji – October
Idared- October
Jonagold – October
Macoun – October
Red Delicious – October
Cameo – Late October
Rome – Late October