Its a banner year for apple picking on Colorados Front Range. Heres where to pick them.

A banner apple harvest like the one happening now across Northern Colorado is exactly what brought Mike Biwer and Will Perez out West.

In the summer of 2019, the new farmers purchased 15 cultivated acres in Ault that were covered in some 2,000 fruit trees and just starting to grow 149 different apple varieties, plus a handful each of pears and plums.

They bought their plot, now Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store, from Walt Rosenberg of Masonville Orchards, who had always planned for a U-pick operation onsite.

That first autumn, the trees were young and the harvest small, according to Biwer. By the next year, all of the apple trees had succumbed to a late-season freeze.

Finally, this growing season, the apples are “bountiful,” Biwer said. “Last year we had no fruit; this year the volume and turnout have been spectacular. … We’re kind of coming into our sweet spot, no pun intended. McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan; some of the more popular apples are coming in.”

And while the apples are plentiful, Front Rangers looking to pick them for snacking, baking and more should get out to harvest while they still can.

The three-year boom-to-bust apple cycle that Biwer and Perez experienced in their first few growing seasons is a near-sure thing along the Front Range, according to Sharon Perdue, an 18-year apple grower and owner of Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont.

“The problem we have here is we get the April storms, so one in three years I have like no crop, two in three, I have like half a crop,” Perdue said. “This year’s is the best crop I’ve had since 2012.”

“There’s just so many apples, but maybe we’ll have a freeze by (October).”

In 2014, Perdue experienced the kind of “freak” fall storm that “literally froze the trees in half. I lost 600 trees alone that year, 15 years (of work) in one night,” she explained. “That’s partly why people don’t have orchards out here.”

After buying her 8-acre farm and restoring the land to grow 118 apple varieties, primarily heirloom, Perdue began taking fruit to local farmers markets, where she encountered Midwest and East Coast transplants who were looking to pick fruit themselves.

“People were telling me how they used to pick apples as kids,” she said of her market customers. “And I thought, ‘Well, why am I (picking apples) then?”

Ya Ya’s apple harvests have since become a community affair, with Perdue getting more requests for picking than she can fill. Now U-pick reservations for the following season start coming in around the first of each year.

Customers send email requests for U-pick appointments that Perdue starts responding to, in order, by July.

If she has more availability, she’ll open appointments to walk-ins. This year, she expects to have enough apples to do just that. Unless a cold snap comes.

Biwer and Perez are excited to open Adam’s Apple to anyone who makes the drive to Ault on the weekends, and by appointment Wednesdays through Fridays while the fruit lasts. So far, they’ve been amazed by the response.

“People want to come out and hang out in the country and be around trees,” Biwer said. “They’ll drive two to three hours just to pick apples … and it’s just overwhelming. It’s pretty cool.”

When they left the Midwest — and their careers in corporate sales and interior design, respectively — Biwer and Perez had no real agriculture experience, let alone experience living in a town of 2,000.

They say the reception to Adam’s Apple has been amazing, though. And this first fruitful season will help determine their U-pick business for years to come.

“To see this reaction and feedback from people, I think we can figure out a way to capitalize,” Biwer said. “To have it be a nice community space, but also to make us a nice living, too.”

If you go

Adam’s Apple is at 42135 Weld County Road 43 in Ault. The U-pick orchard is open to all on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment Wednesdays through Fridays. The orchard also hosts weddings, reunions and school groups. The country store sells apple butter, cider, local honey and more.

Ya Ya is at 6914 Ute Highway in Longmont. While U-pick reservations are sold out for 2021, owner Sharon Perdue runs a farm stand onsite, open to all, and she expects to open up picking during the week to last-minute reservations and walk-ins. Check the orchard’s social media feeds and website for that information.

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