People can expect a healthy crop of Berkshire apples this fall, as locals, tourists and growers get ready for the pick-your-own season.

But to enjoy this popular outdoor outing in 2020, safety Protocols have been put in place. wearing a mask, keeping your distance from other apple pickers and only sample the juicy red-skinned fruit after you leave the orchard.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that Pick-your-own fruit growers are preparing for a COVID-19-style activity by following state guidelines and adopting their own protocols to handle the thousands of apple pickers during the peak period of Labor Day weekend to Columbus Day.

Windy Hill Farm in Great Barrington is among the 80-plus pick-your-own orchards across the commonwealth. Co-owner Judy Mareb said a pick-your-own pandemic protocol was put into place in early July at the nursery and orchard for the blueberry picking season. A separate check-in tent greets pick-your-own customers ready to fill a prepaid container with succulent fruit.

People will pay ahead of time so they don't have to go into the store, which cuts down on contact with the staff.

That same system will be in place for apple picking: people will prepay for the bag size they want to fill, wear a mask and keep six feet apart from others in the orchard. Apples can only be eaten after you've left the orchard.

Based on spring plant sales at Jaeschke's Orchard in Adams, owner Henry Jaeschke is ready for the pick-your-own onslaught in September and October. They had a large volume of people in May and sold everything.

"We had a large volume of people in May and sold everything," he said.

The 55-acre orchard is teaming with a "big crop" of apples that Jaeschke said will be able to accommodate the crowds. But they will still have to social distance

Social distancing, even on busy weekends this fall, should not pose a problem at Bartlett's Orchard in Richmond, according to manager Trevor Bartlett.

Bartlett's has 24 acres of apple trees, 10 for the public to pick clean. Except for adding hand-washing stations and other sanitizing measures due to the coronavirus, Bartlett said they've always had apple pickers go to a separate shed to be checked-in and prepay for the picked apples.

The concern is more with indoor customers during apple picking from early September through Columbus Day weekend or later.

Matt Cardy
Enter your number to get our free mobile app