The Reeves family is opening their u-pick apple farm for business this weekend, giving people a chance to keep the doctor away with an apple a day grown right here in Owego! Apple Gate Orchards is located off of McLean Road, on the first dirt road on the right about a third of a mile up McLean from Route 38.
Owner Ray Reeves said that they have four blocks of trees in a high density orchard, around 1,500 trees per acre. “It’s become quite a gig,” Reeves laughed, remarking that he started the orchard for his retirement. “I’m quite humbled with how the Lord has blessed the trees. We have an incredible crop this year.” That despite a frost which Reeves said thinned out the crop. “You wouldn’t know it,” he added.
The Reeves family, Ray and wife Sabrina with children Aaron, Sam, Emily and Chrystal had to go through the orchard to thin the swelling apples – two full truckloads, which Reeves pressed into 130 gallons of cider in one afternoon.
“The trees were breaking limbs,” Reeves said, “imagine a limb the size of your finger with twenty or thirty apples on it!” The short orchard trees are tied to metal poles for stability, and a in some cases a weak root system.
Reeves described how one of the most popular varieties of apples he grows, the Honey Crisp, is notoriously hard to grow. His trees were grafted onto root systems adapted to the soil conditions on his picturesque farm nestled in the hills of Tioga County. There are around 2,500 Honey Crisp trees at Apple Gate Orchards. The rest of the trees are made up of Gala, early season Ginger Golds, Macintosh, Crimson Crisp and Red Delicious. All varieties of apples will be sold for $1.50 a pound, Reeves said.
Church and school functions are gladly hosted at Apple Gate Orchards, Reeves said. The groves are easily accessible by car; you’re able to drive right out to the trees. It’s all ground picking too, you don’t need a ladder to reach that perfect apple at the top of the tree. There will also be picked apples available in the barn along with a selection of Sabrina’s country comforts – from canned jellies and jams, pie fillings, apple sauce to scented candles.
Apple Gate Orchards’ hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Reeves family asks that if you have any questions please call them at (607) 687-1222.
“Just stop at the apple barn and grab a pickin’ bag,” Reeves said. Ray Reeves and his family also operate Lock-N-Load Sporting Goods at 161 Erie St. in Owego.