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After a bad year, apple orchards are on the rebound

In this 2005 file phoAlexis Matell(left) 6 BarringtKatelyn Gast8 Huntley pick fruit Pine Apple Acres Huntley.  |  File

In this 2005 file photo, Alexis Matella (left), 6, of Barrington, and Katelyn Gaston, 8, of Huntley, pick fruit at Pine Apple Acres in Huntley. | File photo

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Updated: August 9, 2013 11:14AM



After many farmers lost their entire crop in 2012 thanks to some freaky spring weather, the big story this year is how well most trees have rebounded.

Some orchards even have some Lodi apples ready for picking, just in time to take to the teacher on the first day of school. Others won’t open until Labor Day or shortly thereafter, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about apples.

Here’s a list of apple orchards. It’s a good idea to call ahead to check on crop supply and ripening dates; plus rules on pets, strollers and wagons, and payment policies.

All Seasons Orchard

14510 Illinois Route 176, Woodstock. (815) 338-5637. Allseasonsorchard.com.

“We’re happy to report that the outlook for the 2013 fall season looks to be better than ever and we are expecting an abundant apple crop,” the orchard’s web site boasts. That’s good news for fans of this family-run orchard that offers more than 11,000 trees and 12 of the most popular varieties of apples and pears, including the popular Honey crisp variety. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The orchard opens Aug. 31, as does the corn maze and barnyard activities. Parking is free; credit cards accepted. Call or check web site for admission prices. No pets.

Apples on Oak

16146 W. Oak Ave., Joliet. (815) 726-0386. Applesonoak.com.

This cozy family-run orchard has more than 700 trees comprised of 90 to 100 different varieties. It’s a popular Will County destination that is open August through the second week of October — or until the last apple is picked, which usually happens before Columbus Day. New this year are holistically grown tomatoes and peppers.

Garden Patch Farms and Orchard

14154 W. 159th St., Homer Glen. (708) 301-7720. Gardenpatchfarms.com.

Apples will be available beginning in late August at this farm and orchard. There are 64 varieties of apples to choose from, and picking runs through October — weather and supply depending. The peak picking time is the third week of September. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through December. The cost is $5 per person to pick; plus priced per pound of whatever you pick. There is lots of other fruit and vegetables for you-pick or purchase, plus jams and jellies in the farm store. Credit cards accepted.

Gould Cider Mill

2S230 Green Road, Elburn. (630) 365-2233.

This mill doesn’t offer you-pick, but you can watch as cider is made from a 110-year-old mill. Apples will be for sale beginning Sept. 7. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends only. They also have fresh cider, honey, gourds, squash and crafts.

Heinz Orchard

1050 Crest Road, Green Oaks. (847) 770-3449. Heinzorchard.com.

Orchard owners are shooting for a mid-September opening date, and encourage people to check the web site or call for exact ripening times and more information. The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Strollers and wagons welcome. No admission or parking fees. Cash only.

Homestead Orchard

11802 Charles Road, Woodstock. (815) 338-7443. Homesteadorchard.net.

This orchard is open now from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday through the last week of October. They offer 23 varieties of apples available for you-pick; plus sell honey made from beehives on the property, Amish jams, jellies, salsa and more. Check the ripening chart on the web site to see if your favorite variety is ready to pick. Cash only. No dogs.

Honey Hill Orchard

11747 Waterman Road, Waterman. (815) 264-3337. Honeyhillorchard.com.

This family-owned and run orchard was started as a hobby in 1965. Today, the original orchard location has 2,100 apple trees, with an additional 500 trees at a second farm location. Picking will be available at the end of August. The hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. In addition to several varieties of you-pick apples there is a country store, bakery, snack shop, petting zoo and straw pyramid. No dogs, smoking or food allowed. Cash or check only for you-pick.

Jonamac Orchard

19412 Shabbona Road, Malta. (815) 825-2158. Jonamacorchard.com.

The orchard will open for you-pick Labor Day Weekend, which is also when the corn maze opens. There are other activities for kids too, like a barnyard, petting zoo, pedal trikes, apple train, jumping pillow and apple launcher. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through October. Wheelchairs, wagons and strollers are allowed. No pets. Cash, check, Visa and MasterCard accepted.

Knutson’s Country Harvest

13550 Townhouse Road, Newark. (815) 695-5905. Knutsonsharvest.com.

Apples are ready for picking and the season runs through October. Check the web site for ripening dates and other events on the farm. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Cash, check, debit cards, Visa/MasterCard accepted.

Kuipers Family Farm

1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park. (815) 827-5200. Kuipersfamilyfarm.com.

The you-pick season opens Aug. 24 this year, with more than 20 varieties of apples available. The hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. You-pick apple picking weekends only. Admission costs $9 per person for you-pick and includes a hayride and 1/4 peck bag of apples. Purchase an additional peck bag of apples for $15. The you-pick season generally runs through early October. Check the web site for coupons to the orchard shop and information on other activities and promotions. Strollers, wagons and backpacks are not permitted in the orchard. Cash and credit cards accepted. No pets.

Lang’s Orchard

17411 Secor Road, Woodstock. (815) 568-7547. Langsorchard.com.

“After last season’s total crop loss, our trees have made up for it this year,” states the web site. The orchard opens Sept. 7 for you-pick with Gala, McIntosh, Ruby Jon (a Jonathan). Honey crisp will be pre-picked. More varieties will mature as the season progresses, culminating Oct. 5 with Braeburn, Blushing Gold, Winesap and Granny Smith. They also sell natural fruit spreads and salsa in the store.

Meadowmoor Orchard

1517 N Route 47, Woodstock. (847) 848-2847. Meadowmoororchard.com.

This pick-your-own orchard, once the site of the Meadowmoor Hunt Club, is open weekends until Labor Day, and then from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Admission and parking is free; pay for what you pick. They let customers pick Honey crisp apples as well.

More Than Delicious

9905 Thompson Road, Woodstock. (815) 575-9650. Morethandelicious.com.

“After taking a year off due to the freezes and drought, the orchard is back and looking great!” states the web site. They plan an early September opening this year, and apples will be available for purchase be the bushel, half-bushel or peck. Windfall apples are also available, which are apples that have been picked off the ground and are generally clean with a few bruises. These are good for applesauce, juice or cider. New for 2013: they are moving to primarily credit card transactions. Check the web site for recipes and frequently asked questions.

Prairie Sky Orchard

4914 N. Union Road, Union. (815) 923-4834. Prairieskyorchard.com.

The orchard has more than 1,000 trees, with varieties such as Honey Crisp, which ripens in early September, to Golden Delicious, which ripens in early October. In between there are Gala, Cortlands and Jonagolds. They will be open Aug. 31 through October. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Wagons and strollers allowed; some wagons are available onsite. Cash, check, Discover, Visa and MasterCard accepted.

Pine Apple Acres

41W651 Powers Road, Huntley. (847) 669-3251. Pineapple-acres.com.

Apple picking starts Sept. 6. They grow Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Empire, Red Delicious and Granny Smiths. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission costs $5 per car; buy $35 worth of apples of more and get a $5 credit. Cash or check only.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard

15908 Hebron Road, Harvard. (815) 648-4141. Royaloakfarmorchard.com.

The orchard opens Aug. 9 for you-pick; Jonathan apples will be ready at that time. There is also pre-picked produce, a gift shop, refreshment stand, train rides, carousel, country market, petting zoo and farm animals. Orchard tours are also available. Check the web site or call for exact ripening dates and hours. Entertainment tokens cost $2.50 per token. Applefest runs Sept. 22 through Oct. 8. Cash, check, Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted.

Woodstock Country Orchard

17015 Garden Valley Road, Woodstock. (815) 923-4359. Woodstockcountryorchard.com.

Several varieties of apples will be available for you-pick beginning in September. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends. Cash or check only, no credit cards.



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