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12 great spots to go apple picking

Fall is almost here, where our thoughts turn to apples and all the good stuff we can do with them, like bringing a sweet-tart “SweeTango” in our lunch to making and freezing unbaked apple pies to pull out in the dead of winter.

And lest we forget, Halloween is right around the corner. Homemade caramel apples really are the best.

For all of the above we need apples. Lucky for us New York State is the second biggest apple producer in the country behind Washington State. Niagara and Orleans county are among the Top 10 counties in New York. (Thank you nyapplecountry.com.)

Apple season is late kicking into gear this year. Sandy Tuck of Sanger Farms & Bakery notes the warm weather is the reason. “Apples need cool nights to ripen and it hasn’t happened yet,” she said, noting the peach crop benefited from the hot weather. And so it goes for fruit farmers this unusual year.

Different apple varieties are ready at different times. If you want a specific apple, call or go online to make sure it’s available. Picking runs through mid- to late October, depending on availability. Some places accept credit cards. Call to be sure before heading out.

Picking apples is a great way to get the little ones involved (and tired out). The process is easy, bags fill up fast and there is plenty of open spaces for them to run around.

Here are some apple picking places around Western New York. Many are located north and east in the great fruit growing region. A bit of a drive, but worth it.

Baker Farm Market & U-Pick
2100 Youngstown Lockport Road, Ransomville (791-3440, Facebook)

Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cash only.

Becker Farms
3724 Quaker Road, Gasport (772-2211, beckerfarms.com).
In addition to the farm and bakery, Becker Brewing/Vizcarra Vineyards has wine, beer and hard cider to drink and for sale. The family friendly Pumpkin Fiesta runs every Saturday and Sunday through the end of October. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Blackman Homestead Farms
4472 Thrall Road, Lockport (434-7116, blackmanhomesteadfarm.com)
In addition to apples, you’ll find pears, squash and locally produced items like maple syrup, honey, fruit butters, apple sauces and Concord grape pie filling. Jeff Blackman tells us that a hard cider operation is in the works, but for now we’ll make due with apples. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hurd Orchards
17260 Ridge Road, Holley (585-638-8838, hurdorchards.com)
Not only can you pick interesting apples here, on Saturdays and Sundays, Hurd visitors can buy a slice of delicious apple pie and chicken pot pie. The market store is filled with jams, jellies and preserved fruits too, along with gift items. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

LynOaken Farms
10609 Ridge Road, Medina (585-798-1060, lynoakenfarms.com).
Find classic and heritage apples here, along with a darling market and Leonard Oakes Winery, where you can buy Steampunk hard cider along with wines. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Murphy Orchards
2402 McClew Road, Burt (778-7926, murphyorchards.com)

Along with the barn store and tea room, the location was part of the Underground Railroad. Visitors can “see the entrance to a secret room where people escaping from slavery between 1850 and 1861 were sheltered by the McClew family before going on to the safety of their next stop.” Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Roberts Farm Market

11170 Maple Ridge Road (Route 31), Medina (585-798-4247, robertsfarmmarket.com)

In addition to U-pick apples, there is a cider operation. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Roanoke Apple Farm

6370 E Bethany Leroy Road, Stafford (585-768-2042, Facebook).

Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Thursdays.

Sanger Farms & Bakery

852 Youngstown Lockport Road, Youngstown (745-7297, sangerfarmsandbakery.com)

We are excited to learn about a new “Back Barn Café” that serves breakfast, sandwiches and pizzas at Sanger Farms. A hiking trail to the pond lets you work off your meal. Be sure to bring home one of the home-baked pies and butter tarts that Sanger Farms offers at the bakery shop. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Smith’s Orchard & Cider Mill

4960 Maple Road, Pendleton (625-4316, smithsorchard.blogspot.com)

Apple picking is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Stone Hill Orchards

2356 Shirley Road, North Collins (337-2380).

Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Cash only.

Watt Farms
3121 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98), Albion (585-589-8000, wattfarms.com).
In addition to apple picking, special apple harvest brunches are offered from 9:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9. Market is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Apple picking is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday only.

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