Local apple harvesting starts in the Tennessee Valley
Children are back in school, and even though we still have summertime heat, you may be getting into the fall spirit.
One thing that screams fall are fresh, local apples.
At Apple Valley Orchards in Cleveland, Tennessee, the apple season has officially begun, and it will be peaking in about a month or so.
Right now, they have two varieties of apples for you to enjoy: Gala and Ginger Gold.
In a few more weeks, they'll have more varieties that will be ready to be harvested.
"We currently have about 13,000 trees on about 32 acres. This year, we will harvest 28 different varieties. We have another 5 varieties coming on that aren't bearing yet," Chuck McSpadden, Owner of Apple Valley Orchards, said.
Some of their most popular are Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady.
They start harvesting around July 20th with the highest months in September and October, wrapping up in November.
"Most of your early varieties are a little more tart. I mean gala is really the first sweet apple that gets ripe. Everything before that is usually a little more tart. And then, you get the later varieties like Golden Delicious and Jonagold that has the more sugar content," explained McSpadden.
As the apples ripen with greater sugar content, the background color changes indicating it's ready to be harvested.
"Where it's mainly red, but around the base of the apple, you know, it's turning green. It'll gradually turn white or yellow. And, I have that real hard job of figuring out when an apple gets ripe, and I have to go through and taste them," McSpadden stated with a smile.
McSpadden told Channel 3 that this year will probably be their biggest crop in 15 or 20 years.
To finish up the season, he is hoping for some consistent rain.
"Apples actually, they need roughly an inch of rain a week would be really good for them growing. Especially the last 30 days before an apple gets ripe, it's growing at 1% per day," said McSpadden.
Apple Valley Orchards does not have a pick your own orchard. Instead, they have a retail shop where you can purchase their apples, freshly made cider, apple fritters, fried pies, apple butter, and more.
In September and October, they'll add trailer rides through the apple orchard on Saturdays and Sundays.
Their storefront is open now Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Since it is back to school season, McSpadden added that Apple Valley Orchards is happy to host school field trips this fall. You can contact them at 423-472-3044 to schedule one.
For additional apple variety information, visit their website. Their address is 351 Weese Road SE, Cleveland, TN 37323.