The onset of autumn always brings to mind colorful leaves, cooler temperatures and the bliss of a fresh, crisp apple picked right off the tree. Give it a quick polish, sink your teeth in and let all that deliciousness explode in your mouth.
Missouri has apple orchards throughout the state that feature different varieties, from sweet to tart and everything in between. Here's just a sampler platter of u-pick options in the Show-Me State:
169 SE Route FF, St. Joseph, MO 64507; 816-232-3999
U-pick apple season starts by the middle of August at Schweizer Orchard, continues to first fall freeze and offers a wide range of apple varieties from sweet to tart to spicy. The family-owned orchard also offers prepicked produce, a gift shop, snack- and-refreshment stand, picnic area, birthday parties and school tours. Apple picking overlaps the pumpkin patch, which opens in September. They're open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
2621 Route P, New Franklin, MO 65274; 660-848-2320
A small, independent orchard just 25 miles from Columbia, Huffstutter Orchards grows apples and peaches and features a u-pick orchard of apples. Not only is it a fun outing for the whole family to stock up on apples, their website includes amazing recipes for your harvest, as well as the hours you can come pick-your-own in late September-October (while the fruit lasts).
Sunshine Valley Farm
8125 E. Route AD, Rogersville, MO 65742; 417-743-2698
Sunshine Valley Farm grows their own blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches, but this time of year, it's the u-pick apples that bring visitors flocking to their location in Southwest Missouri. Check their Facebook page for exactly what produce is available when you're ready to visit. The farm also offers prepicked produce, snacks and a refreshment stand, and school tours. If you're coming to pick apples, they recommend you bring sunscreen and bug spray; they provide the bag you purchase to pick your apples, water and fruit. Sunshine Valley is open Tuesday - Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and is located less than a half-hour from Springfield.
4455 W. Farm Road 2, Brighton, MO 65617; 417-742-3093
Nothing beats an autumn visit to Gardener's Orchard & Bakery, just 15 miles north of Springfield. Their apple cider – pressed weekly – is all-natural, fresh, 100-percent cider with no added sugar, water or preservatives. And the sweet treats from the bakery are to die for. Take a farm tour and stay to pick your own apples; they grow varieties from Red Delicious and Jonathans to Romes and Braeburns and more. Their hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Thierbach Orchards and Berry Farm
18427 State Highway 47, Marthasville, MO 63357; 636-433-2757
Just an hour west of St. Louis and four miles north of Marthasville, Thierbach Orchards and Berry Farmis your place in the country for fresh fruit and family fun. They feature all the spring berries you can imagine as well as peaches in the summer, but fall is when kids of all ages can pick their own apples on Saturdays and Sundays in September and early October. They even offer mazes and a bounce house. Check their "What's Ripe?" pagefor picking dates and times.
199 Jackson St., Augusta, MO 63332; 636-228-4338
Starting the first weekend in September, most of the 16 varieties of apples grown at Centennial Farms are available for pick-your-own. They usually have at least 10 different varieties available in the market for sale by the pound or in five-pound bags. They turn some of their apples into fresh cider. If you wait until late September, the whole family can enjoy the Centennial Farms Pumpkin Fantasyland, decorated with farm folks, storybook and movie characters. They are open daily for picking, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Knowlan Family Farm
3243 Route 34, Burfordville, MO 63739; 573-204-3831
A fairly new arrival on the u-pick scene, Knowlan Family Farm (which opened in 2016) is getting fantastic reviews from visitors for their friendly, knowledgeable staff and fun for the whole family. Fall is a great time to visit -with u-pick apples, cider, pumpkins, hayrides and more. Visit their Facebook page to stay up-to-date on what's going on down on the farm. They're open Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The farm is slightly more than a 30-minute drive from Cape Girardeau.
Written by Barb Brueggeman