Johnston Fruit Farms prepares for apple picking season

This time of year, crews at Johnston Fruit Farms are hand picking apples off the trees. (WNWO)

SWANTON, Ohio (WNWO) - Prime apple picking time typically begins in mid-September. However, before you get that perfect red apple in your hands, there’s a process. A lot of it depends on the weather throughout the year.

“It is a yearlong, full time adventure," said Martha Mora, Co-owner of Johnston Fruit Farms. “You have to plan far in advance.”

Life at an orchard is a 24/7 operation.

"Some of the trees you plant don't start producing for three, four, five…even 10 years," said Mora.

Johnston's has been bringing some of the best apples to Northwest, Ohio since the 50s. Their secret? Well, it all depends on when you start.

"If you start in January, you're busy pruning and planting,” said Mora.

First, you must take care of the soil. Mora said you make sure it’s free of weeds, the pH is correct, and other nutrient levels in the soil are right as well. You also want to avoid planting in those hot, sticky summer months.

"You want to plant early in the spring so the ground still has some moisture in it," said Mora.

Next up comes the fun part...picking!

"Summer comes and you're trying to thin the apples off the tree if there are too many," said Mora.

Staff at Johnston’s circles more than 10,000 trees and 50 acres of apples.

"Sometimes we have to go through by hand, and hand thin apples off the trees," said Mora.

Johnston's also relies heavily on some good rain throughout the year. This summer, we didn’t have any rain in July. Mora said this didn’t throw off this year’s apples too much, but they were a bit smaller going into August.

Now, we are in the home stretch.

"You're hoping for bright, sunny days, but not hot temperatures,” said Mora. “You want 70s and cool nights."

These ideal conditions will make that apple just right by mid-September.

"That's going to put the finishing touch of that red blush on the apples the last couple of weeks,” said Mora.

Johnston Fruit Farms said picking typically lasts a few weeks, and then it’s time for the pumpkins.

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