The opening of Pulford’s Appletree Orchard on Wednesday, Sept. 8, signaled the beginning of Tehachapi’s apple season. And although there are fewer growers selling apples directly to the public, farmer John Pulford reports that this year’s crop appears larger than last year’s, despite some loss to squirrels and deer.

Pulford and his wife, Becky, began growing apples in Tehachapi in 1981 and planted at their current location in 1994 with the first harvest in 1996. They now grow 19 different varieties and this year expect to have apples at least through October and perhaps into November. Operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Pies will be available Thursdays through Sundays, as long as they last.

The harvest began with Galas and picking of Jonathan, Jonagold and Braeburn varieties began later in the week. Unfortunately, squirrels and deer wiped out the Honeycrisp, Winesap and Arkansas Black varieties.

Other varieties at Pulford’s, as they ripen, include Ruby Jon, Melrose, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Empire, Spur Gold Blush, Mutsu, Granny Smith, Little Lady, Rome Beauty, Fuji and Red Cameo.

Pulford’s is not a u-pick orchard. Instead, apples are picked when they are ready and stored in a cooler to be sold to customers. However, one acre of the orchard is opened for picking by visiting schoolchildren. Field trips to the orchard are popular and include a tour, a chance to pick apples to take home and education about farming.

A shop at the orchard offers a number of apple products, including syrup, cookbooks and other apple-themed products.

Good advice for visiting Pulford’s and the other farms is to bring cash for purchases and because of continued concerns about COVID-19, watch for signs providing direction regarding masks and be prepared to maintain your distance.

More information about Pulford’s is available online at http://www.pulfordappletreeorchard.com/.

Knaus Apple Ranch

Perhaps the oldest currently operating apple operations in Tehachapi is Knaus Apple Ranch. It has been family-owned and operated since 1970. Red and Golden Delicious apples are grown.

Located at 19042 Cherry Lane (corner of Cherry Lane and Tucker Road), Alice Knaus and family offer u-pick or “we pick” apples. She said this year’s crop will be smaller than in years past because there are fewer trees.

Knaus opens when the apples are ready and this year that will be on Sept. 23. The orchard will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. More information is available online at https://knausappleranch.wordpress.com/.

Kolesar’s Orchard

Another long-time apple grower is John Kolesar, who offers u-pick of Empire, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Jonathan, Fujis and Rome apples. The orchard is located on Highline Road just west of Robin Lane.

Kolesar’s has opened and operates Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the apples are gone. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fujis and Rome apples are expected to be ready about two weeks after other varieties. Updates are available online at https://www.facebook.com/kolesarsorchard.

Other farms

Other Tehachapi area farms growing apples — or offering fresh produce direct to consumers — include:

• Brite Creek Farm, corner of Highline and Banducci, is a farmers market open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Dries Farms, 22455 Lumas Lane, offerings include pumpkins and lavender. More information: https://www.facebook.com/DriesFarms/

• Ha’s Apple Farm, sells jams, jellies and dried apples online at farmers’ markets but according to its website is not selling at its farm this year. More information: http://hasapplefarm.com/

• Moessner Farms, 25000 Bear Valley Road, sells fresh produce, jams, jellies, pastries and more at the farm and at farmers markets. More information: https://moessnerfarm.com/

• Tangleweed Farms, 21192 Old Town Road, current offerings include succulents and pumpkins. A pumpkin patch will open on Oct. 1. More information: https://www.facebook.com/tangleweedfarms/

Tehachapi Apple Festival

Although some local growers may not offer apples directly to consumers at their farms, they may participate in farmer’s markets. The City of Tehachapi’s Farmers Market continues downtown from 4 to 7 p.m. each Thursday through the end of September.

And the Tehachapi Apple Festival, a victim of the pandemic last year, will have apples and apple products — including apple pie, turnovers and even apple nachos.

The festival this year will be held Oct. 16-17 and will include an apple pie eating contest on Saturday and an apple pie baking contest on Sunday. In cooperation with the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, this year’s festival will include a carnival.

For more information visit http://www.tehachapiapplefestival.com/.

Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: claudia@claudiaelliott.net.