Appalachia Gardening

How do You Pick Your Apples?

Homemade apple picker

As I told you yesterday this is the largest apple crop we’ve ever harvested. Our trees are several years old and are supposed to stay on the small side. As you can see from the photo-the trees really took off this year and grew bigger than I thought they were supposed to.

I know apple trees are supposed to be pruned, since we have no experience pruning apple trees we asked Uncle Henry to help us. He was going to prune the trees late last winter, but one thing and another came up and then Pap passed away so the trees never got pruned.

As we pondered on how to reach the highest apples The Deer Hunter came up with a plan.

Easy to make apple picker

In about 5 minutes he made an apple picker from things he found around the house: a piece of pvc pipe, an empty 2 liter bottle, a dry wall screw, and some gorilla tape.

While he managed to get all the apples, the picker could have been better. It was very hard to get clusters of apples and the pvc pipe was a little flimsy when trying to reach the highest apple. The Deer Hunter wondered if a hook would have worked better?

Hope you’ll leave a comment and tell us what you use to pick the highest apples!



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  • Reply
    Ronny Smith
    September 7, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Maybe add a piece of coat hanger, shaped into a hook, to the tip of the pvc pole?

  • Reply
    September 7, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Dolores-thank you for the great comments! My apple trees are heirloom varieties but I can’t remember exactly what! One is like a golden delicious and the other is a reddish color.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I talked to Donna Lynn today and told her about The Pressley Girls gonna be at the Old Valley Town Cemetery Building at 6 pm on the 17th of September. She said they usually don’t go anywhere on Saturday, but since it was them she’d make an exception. Someone called her earlier and hung up. So, she said in the voice of an old woman “well, I was trying to get there, call me back.” (Tickeled the mud out of me.) Anyway, she announced The Pressley Girls and to mark your Calendars…Ken

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Growing up in a yard with nine apple trees, I had plenty of experience picking apples by climbing or picking up windfalls (a disliked chore as a child–wasps!). In fall, friends of my parents came and helped harvest. The men picked and the women polished. It was sort of like a quilting bee and became a tradition. Most of the men used step ladders but my dad had a special picker–a pole with something that pulled off the apple which then dropped into a canvas bag (less bruising). I don’t think he made it but, being a clever engineer, he did make the sprayer he used to keep worms out off the apples. Your post brought back many good memories.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Several years ago I made an Apple or Pear Grabber kinda like The Deer Hunter did, only mine is made with electrical conduit and a fishing net. The conduit is 10′ long and can be used in two sections with a barrel connector. I used one of my fishing nets that I’d never used and it had a Nylon Net. It’s still around. It’s pretty light, not as light as PVC, but won’t bend. My trouble now is I can’t look up, I had to quit squirrel hunting because of this. Dog-gone neck and back problems!!! …Ken

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    In answer to Ron Stephens. I had never seen Quince as a child growing up. When I moved here I had a pretty little bush with bright colored flowers located right at the dryer vent. Most folks tried to identify it as an Azalia. It grew speedily and became a problem, so I trimmed it back to nothing regularly. One year when I had not had time to massacre it, there started growing these amazing little apple appearing fruit. On closer inspection I noticed the fruit had no stem as would a regular apple. I go online and found I had been growing a Quince bush/tree. I thought it was an amazing discovery that somebody years ago had planted a little Quince. I have not figured out how anyone could get enough Quince to make jelly, as they are small. Due to its location I still have to prune it way back constantly, so rarely much fruit.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    September 6, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Hi Tipper,
    When I set out my apple trees I knew that would be a problem for me because I am unsteady on a ladder, so I found a product for this sold by Starks (I think). It was more than 20 years ago and it has worked really well ever since. It is a small steel basket (holds about 10 apples) with something like teeth around the top so you can get under a cluster of apples and push up and it will hold them while you pull them off. It has a little steel sleeve that slips over the handle of your choice, depending on how high you want to reach. My daddy put the basket on a long bamboo pole, one that was very strong and rigid, and then we store it on some nail-like things he put under the eve of the garage. It is out of the rain, handy and out of the way. Your husband sounds a lot like my daddy. Daddy could always come up with really useful ideas.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    September 6, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I use to climb.No more I use the hook on a telescoping pruner,but some apples get bruised if you don’t catch them.
    Does anyone eat fried apples for breakfast? I ate them often when growing up.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 10:14 am

    What a great invention! Do you know what kind of Apple you have? They look like they are a nice size. Are they eating apples or best baked? I sometimes make spiced in my crock pot. I like them with just about any type of meat.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I used the neighbor’s apple picker and put my grandson to work. I have tried to teach him many things besides Xbox. This year my little apple tree had fallen over and still growing apples up a storm. When we were children with so many apples we could not take care of them, we would just climb up into the limbs and shake the fire out of them. You can damage the fruit, but mostly they were then speedily cut up and processed.
    That Deerhunter is just really handy to have around.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    September 6, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I had to pick mine from the apple orchard store. ha
    The deer and squirrels do a great job with that chore before we got a chance this year. I have actually witnessed the “boogers” standing on their back legs and hopping along, stretching out a front hoof to weigh down a branch and chomp them right off the branches. The squirrels run along the tops of the trees, pick out one chew off the stem, drop it to the ground, run along another branch and drop some more before actually deciding to sit on a branch and take bites out of a favorite choice. The raccoons and deer get the dropped ones or one of the squirrels get them that are too lazy to chase along the branches for their own!
    I had to “pick” my apples from the varieties at the Apple Barn this year, due to a lower crop than we usually had and the drought. Even the apple growers we go to, had problems with the terrible weather and low crops this year.
    I “picked”, however some Honey Crisp, Gala and a wonderful little green June apple. Only have a few of the June apples left. The Fall apples should be coming in soon.
    Roy made a device similar to Deer Hunters a few years ago to get the higher apples in the tree. Worked pretty good. Only a few apples managed to “clonk” him on the head! ha
    Since that time we were at a big farm estate sale and was lucky enough to purchase a long nifty antique apple picker and pruner! I also inherited one, not good condition! Doubt we will ever use them as our trees like yours were supposed to be the smaller dwarf variety.
    Thanks Tipper,
    Loved this post!

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    September 6, 2016 at 9:51 am

    We used a tool like these to harvest citrus at my parent’s house.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 9:29 am

    At my old property I had the same issue with my apple trees. I knew to thin out the center to make a bowl shape, but never realized they would get so tall! On the one tree I could pick a lot of them from the second story porch 🙂 Wish I’d had the Deer Hunter’s picker back then!
    Really enjoyed the music last Sunday! The girls get better and better! Love the humor as well as the singing and playing. I do wish they would tell us the title of the songs they’re getting ready to play though…
    Thank you for a wonderful afternoon of enjoyment 🙂

  • Reply
    September 6, 2016 at 9:25 am

    My trees have stayed relatively small so far. I use a step ladder to get the high ones. We had a cherry tree in Utah that was about 35-40 feet tall. We picked what we could from the ground, shook as much of it as we could and climbed on the house top for a lot more. I used a telescoping paint pole with a spaghetti spoon taped to the end for the higher ones. The birds got the ones above 25 feet.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 6, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Our squirrel pick them for us–and eat them too! I love the squirrels but I wish they would leave us just a few apples. They don’t seem to care for our pears and I canned a lot of them this year.
    The deer hunter reminds me of my husband who is always able to figure out a way to do things. I just use the clothes line prop to shake the pear tree till the pears fall.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    September 6, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Your trees look great! A very ingenious idea the Deer Hinter had. It my not have been perfect but you got the apples! Maybe a straight rake with the bottle attached below, that way the rake would pull the apples off?

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    September 6, 2016 at 8:32 am

    GREAT IDEA! At least that is what Jim Wike says. Of course he just got up and and is still trying to think! Now he suggested that you could get a DRONE and see how that would work! He has other ideas but he thinks they are kind of dumb! Can you imagine?
    Back in the Cove, we would climb the apple trees and pick the June apples. Bet that would work – if you could get someone to climb!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 6, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Well, I’m no help as I have never dealt with picking the high branches except as a kid. Then we just climbed for them. Of course the best (?) Apples are in the most inaccessible locations but I think “best” is influenced by the difficulty.
    My wife, Sharon, said to tell you she made the potato-corn chowder. It is good, though I wish we had used half and half. It is a great dish to innovate with by adding, for example, ham, bacon bits, green chilis, cilantro or whatever. I have a feeling we will be having this again and again.
    My one apple tree had no apples at all this year as far as I know. Any of you all grow quinces? Wish I could find some.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 6, 2016 at 7:04 am

    One of the things I love about the Deer Hunter is how he gets things done. He quietly stops and studies the problem. Then he comes back from his moment of silence with an idea. From there he proceeds to construct whatever came to him in the silence that will get the job done.
    I just love a man that can think!

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