Apple Pickin’ Time

By on October 1, 2014

Apple Picking Time

Behind the Scenes at Your Favorite Orchards

Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards is a family owned and operated apple orchard now in it’s 4th generation. Started back in 1943 by Bill & Adele Mercier, Mercier Orchards is now celebrating 70 years of fruitful harvest! The combination of our U-PICK events, Bakery & Deli, Market Store, and now our Farm Winery makes us a great choice for a day trip by yourself or with the family! Spend the day experiencing what makes us unique! We’re constantly improving our products and our store to give you the best experience that we can possibly offer.

  1. When did you plant your first trees, and how many? What made you decide to plant apple trees?
    Mercier Orchard’s first trees were planted in 1943 starting with around 200 trees.
  2. What year did your apple house open for business?
    We opened for business in 1943
  3. How many producing trees do you have now? And how many of each varieties?
    We currently have 100,000 trees and we grow 50+ varieties of apples here. Mutzu, Pink Lady, Cameo, Granny Smith, Rome, and Arkansas Black to name a few.
  4. Explain your process for managing the trees/fruit throughout the season.
    As far as fertilizing, pesticides and pruning: we follow integrated pest management in all of our production practices. Here at Mercier we believe in monitoring the pest and only use specific materials to control the bad pests. This is true also with our fertilization process using primarily lime and calcium nitrate, which are both naturally occurring. All of our pruning is done by hand throughout the year by 8-10 people that work in the orchards.
  5. How many apples do you pick each year and how are they picked?
    Each year we pick 100,000 bushels of apples by hand. Our crew of 8-10 people hand pick all the apples from the orchards.
  6. What percentage of your apples go to different things- such as apples for sale to individuals, sales to grocers or corporate, cider, canned goods, baked goods, charity, animal feed and etc.?
    About 50% of our apples are sold thru our market as fresh apples and cider. The other 50% is shipped out to various customers.
  7. Tell us a secret about your apple house.
    We have no secrets, we are an open book. We believe in giving the best customer service you can give. Quality products, good service and a family friendly atmosphere are what keep us going year after year.

Mercier Orchards
8660 Blue Ridge Drive
PO Box 425
Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513
706-632-3411 or toll free 800-361-7731
www.mercier-orchards.com

Hours
Open 7 days a week from 7:00am – 7:00pm.
Closed New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Hillcrest Orchards

One of the most popular apple orchards and farm market in the north Georgia Mountains. fall day trip to Hillcrest Orchards only 1 1/2 hours from downtown Atlanta, Georgia or Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hillcrest Orchards is family owned and operated offering loads of fun for kids, adults and seniors. Pick your fun at the annual “Apple Pickin’ Jubilee” where you can pick your own apples, milk a cow, watch live pig races, visit the petting farm, take a wagon ride through the orchard, visit the Moonshine Museum and watch live bands and cloggers on the Hillcrest Stage.

  1. When did you plant your first trees, and how many? What made you decide to plant apple trees?
    At the helm of Hillcrest Orchards is Janice Hale. Hale grew up in the apple orchards as her father started growing apples in 1946. After college, Janice came back to the farm and has worked there ever since.
  2. What year did your apple house open for business?
    Hillcrest Apple House was built and opened in 1979. “We have practiced agritourism since 1993, and that was before agritourism was even a word,” says Hale.
  3. How many producing trees do you have now? And how many varieties?
    “We have about 4500 trees. Our varieties include Red & Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Gala, Granny Smith, Mutsu, Cameo, Rome Beauty, Candy Crisp, Pinata, Ambrosia, Fuji, Pink Lady, Winesap, Arkansas Black, Gold Rush and Yates.
  4. Explain your process for managing the trees/fruit throughout the season.
Every tree is fertilized in the spring and we only spray as necessary.
    Hillcrest Orchards practices integrated pest management meaning that they trap for specific bugs. By counting degree days they can know when the pest eggs will hatch and spray accordingly. “We are able to skip several sprays by doing this, says Hale. We prune every tree in the winter.”
  5. How many apples do you pick each year? And how are they picked?
    When the season comes, we hand pick all our apples.”
  6. What percentage of your apples go to different things- such as apples for sale to individuals, sales to grocers or corporate, cider, canned goods, baked goods, charity, animal feed and etc.?
    100% of our apples are sold directly to individuals who visit our farm market.
  7. Tell us a secret about your apple house.
    We are most famous for our homemade apple fritters. We bring thousands of visitors to Ellijay each fall by offering many farm related fun activities including u-pic apples, wagon rides, pig races, mini golf, museums, jumping pillow, pony rides, petting farm and much more.

Hillcrest Orchards
9696 Hwy. 52 E.,
Ellijay, Georgia 30536
706-273-3838
www.hillcrestorchards.net

Daily: 9:00am – 6:00pm (Sept. & Oct.)
9:00am – 5:00pm (Nov.)
No Pets Allowed

Red Apple Barn

It’s apple picking season in Ellijay! Come enjoy the north Georgia mountains and beauty of the area. It’s apple picking time in Ellijay! Family owned since 1965, the Red Apple Barn is old-time apple-pickin’ fun. You can pick apples, pumpkins and flowers. Take a wagon ride behind the tractor. You can play Cornhole, Horse shoes, have a picnic, or take a walk in the hay field. Come out and enjoy the farm and have a great time!

  1. When did you plant your first trees, and how many? What made you decide to plant apple trees?
    We started in 1965-66 and planted 1000 trees. Marvin Pritchett states that he decided to plant apple trees because, “It had been a childhood dream to grow pretty red apples one day!”
  2. What year did your apple house open for business?
    We opened the Red Apple Barn doors in 1971.
  3. How many producing trees do you have now? And how many varieties?
    We have around 10 acres with 3-4 acres not in production. There are around 1600 apple trees.
    Our primary varieties are Cameo, Mutsu, Gala, Honeycrisp, Staymen Winesap, Granny Smith, Fuji, Pritchett Golden, Jonagold, Suncrisp, Golden Supreme, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Yates, Rome Beauty, Arkansas Black, Detroit Red and PinkLadys.
  4. Explain your process for managing the trees/fruit throughout the season.
    Maintenance is year-round. Starting in the late winter, we perform soil tests to see what the tree needs. Then apply proper lime, fertilize to maintain the right soil ph. When the trees began to bloom we monitor, check the temperature to see the best time to put bees in the orchard. After the bloom, we see how many apples have hopefully set and see if we need to thin them. We are also looking at the leaves on the tree to see how they are doing and have them tested if there are problems. As the grass starts to grow it needs to be mowed 2-3 times through the summer. Traps are set to see how many bugs and types are present in the orchard. If the apples are too heavy, we thin more off. When they begin to ripen, we check the sugar level to find the right time to pick. After they are picked, they are brought to the apple barn and graded for customers to purchase. Some are placed in our cooler to sell later in the year. After the season is over, we begin to prune the trees. That takes 2-3 months. After the trees are pruned, the brush is pushed out and burned. Then it starts all over again.
  5. How many apples do you pick each year? And how are they picked?
    The quantity varies from year to year, but generally several thousand bushels are picked. All of our apples are hand picked by U-Pick customers, family and staff.
  6. How many or what percentage of those apples go to different things- such as apples for sale to individuals, sales to grocers or corporate, cider, canned goods, baked goods, charity, animal feed and etc.
    Ninety-five percent of our apples are sold to customers who come to the Red Apple Barn. The remaining 5 percent is used for cider, apple chips, caramel & candied apples.
  7. Tell us a secret about your apple house.
    My Grandma Evans was the one who started running Red Apple Barn in 1971, and the rest is history.

Red Apple Barn
3379 Tails Creek Road
Ellijay, Georgia 30540
706-635-5898
www.redapplebarn.com

Apple House Hours
Mon-Sat. 9-6pm, Sunday 12-5:30pm