A Few Top Tips for Orchard Harvest Season

It’s August, and here in the U.K. that means it’s very nearly the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas! what do you take me for? I’m talking about Orchard Harvest Season, of course.

Cheap cherries are already in the shops, plentiful plums should hopefully soon follow, and then we can look forward to picking the first early apples towards the end of the month, with a bounty of fresh orchard produce – lots more apples, plums, damsons, pears, medlars, quinces and more – to follow right up until the end of the year1All being well. Weather – and squirrels – allowing, of course.. Which means it’s time to dust off our collecting baskets, maybe – if you’re lucky enough to have one – get the tripod ladder out of storage, and get ready for picking, packing and processing all that lovely, lovely fruit!

With all that in mind, I thought it might be a good time to dust off a few harvest-related advice pieces that I’ve previously posted here on Orchard Notes, on the off-chance they might be helpful and/or generally informative. Click through if any of the following sound like something you might like to brush up on.

How To: Pick Apples and Pears

It might seem like a no-brainer, but there’s definitely a wrong way to pick your apples and pears, and of course that means there’s a right way to do it too, without damaging the tree and reducing next year’s crop in the process.

This article will show you how to deploy the “Cup, Lift, Detach” method to maximum effect.

How To: Identify Apple and Pear Varieties

If you’ve got a mystery apple or pear tree that you’d like to identify, then you’ll need to know how to match the key characteristics of the fruit to the bewildering array of varieties and cultivars available, and where to look for good information on the subject.

This article sets out the best way to build a fruit type profile, and includes links to numerous info sources that will help you achieve a positive identification.

How To: Check for a Maggot in Your Apple

Nobody likes the sort of surprise that involves finding extra protein in your fresh fruit. Especially if you only realise there’s a maggot in your apple after you’ve bitten into it…

This article will help you spot the tell-tale warning signs of maggot infestation, before you take that bite.

How To: Turn Windfall Apples Into Spiced Apple Compote

Not every apple will make it off the tree in picture-perfect, storable condition. Some will be bumped and bruised; some will be maggot-holed, pigeon-pecked or squirrel-nibbled; some will have a touch of scab or bitter-pit. But all is not lost! If a decent part of the apple is undamaged then it can still be put to good use.

This article shows you how to clean, peel, chop and cook up your knocked-about apples into a delicious spiced apple compote, for eating right away, or storing in the freezer for months.

There you have it, a few top tips for getting the best from your apple and pear harvests. I do hope these articles helpful, or at least somewhat informative. If there are any other topics on a similar theme that you’d like me to write about, please do drop me a suggestion, via the comments, or by email if you prefer.

How about you? Do you have any top tips to add? Any fruit harvest stories to share? Again, please do feel free, via the comments.


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    All being well. Weather – and squirrels – allowing, of course.


  1. Thanks Darren , I though I knew how to pick an apple ….
    It would be great to see pictures of your fruit laden trees before the harvest. Did the damp weather impact the crop ?

    Btw I came across the (Thomas) Rivers Heritage site and Orchard website (http://www.rhso.co.uk/archives.php) and noticed you helped them with reference material. Looks really interesting. Have you visited ?

    1. Hi Kanwal – Good idea, I’ll see if I can put together a gallery of the cordons before I pick them. I think the rather extreme temperatures we had in June had more of an impact than the damp – we had a lot of premature reddening of fruit, and a lot of leaf scorch, which has probably had a knock-on effect when the rain came in July.

      And no, sadly I haven’t had a chance to visit the Rivers Heritage site and orchard yet. It’s a couple of hundred miles from where I live and I haven’t been to that part of the country for a few years now. I really must plan a trip down to the south east again at some point though, so maybe one day.

  2. That’s interesting to know , I think the 2023 apple harvest was good despite the hot dry summer. Look forward to pictures of your cordons and what varieties have fared better.
    I’m not so far from the Rivers orchard and hope to visit on their apple day which I think is early October. A whopping 80 plus varieties !

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