You-pick at Red Fern Farm is underway for 2021. Masks are not needed while harvesting in our sun-sanitized, outdoor groves, but are appreciated during your weigh-out in our Red Shed. Our you-pick is still by reservation only. This helps to guarantee lots of social distancing while you harvest. You can call a day ahead to see if there is an opening or schedule your harvest-day weeks in advance. We have lots of openings on weekdays, but weekends fill up quickly. Picking hours are 1:00 PM until sunset.
We are continuing the $15 minimum. This $15 covers the time it takes us to show you around the groves, train you on what and how to harvest and taste samples of fruit and nuts. After paying the $15, you don’t have to buy anything at our farm. If you do make a purchase, the first $15 is already paid for. How cool is that? The $15 is per car load.
What to Expect: You can usually drive up and park close to the spot you will be harvesting. We have clean latrines, hand washing stations and picnic tables at the main parking areas. This is a safe area for children, but no dogs or cats are allowed (food security issues).
The grass will be mowed, but not as fine as a lawn. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, prickly chestnut burs are scattered on the ground. Our orchards are in a rural setting, close to “wild” timber. Bring bug repellent. Your children are welcome to observe and catch the frogs, insects, spiders and snakes they encounter. Please ask your children to be gentle and release all creatures before you leave the groves.
We have maps and directions are available to email or call if you need help finding us. Call 319-729-5905 to make a reservation. We are outside a lot September – October so be ready to leave a message.
Cornelian Cherries: Cornelian cherries are usually ready around mid-August and continue to mid-September. We sell them at $2.00/pound for you-pick. We recommend bringing a gathering cloth to spread under the bushes. The ripe berries are soft and sweet. Under ripe they are firmer and very tart. They will continue to ripen after picking. We have none available already picked (the family eats them up too fast).
Aronia Berries: Our Aronia bushes continue to be more and more shaded out by the surrounding canopy trees. The Aronia season is usually short and in early September; about in he middle of Hazel season. There is no charge for Aronia berries (see note on $15 visitation minimum above). Call for more information.
Hazels: Hazel season usually goes from early September to late September. It is pretty much over for 2021. Hazels are/were $1.00/pound for un-husked clusters or $2.00/pound husked nuts for you-pick. Bring bags, buckets or boxes to collect into. It can take 30 minutes for one adult to pick clean one 10 foot tall bush and gather about 1-3 gallons of hazel clusters. One gallon of un-husked nuts (an ice cream bucket full) will yield about one pound of husked nuts. If you are interested in saving hazels for seed nuts, check out our Hazel Seed Nut Planting Instructions sheet.
Pawpaws: We are looking at a huge crop this year and we have more trees bearing fruit. The cooler weather of early August may delay the ripening. Usually the season runs mid-September to the first hard freeze in October.
Pawpaws are $3.00/pound when you pick them, $5.00/pound when we pick them. Bring buckets, boxes or crates. Ripe pawpaws are very soft and should be stacked only 2 deep or less. Weekends are very popular, so call early to reserve a time slot. Tuesday – Thursday is an excellent time to have the pawpaw patch to yourself. It only takes about 15 minutes to get 5 – 10 pounds of pawpaws. Late afternoon is the best time to pick, but ripe pawpaws will be available all day (after 1:00 pm). Recipes are available. There is no minimum or maximum for the amount of pawpaws you pick. We do ask you only pick what you plan to take home.
We have many grafted trees. If you want to see what grafted variety you like the flavor of best, bring a black sharpie with you. You can write on the outside of the pawpaw what the variety it is. When you eat it later, you can compare it with other varieties.
American Persimmon: Season usually runs mid-September to the end of October. The season started late this year due to late flowering. Price is $2.00/pound when you pick them, $3.00/pound when we pick them. The Persimmons are very soft when ripe. They should not be piled deeply in your gathering container. Bring bags, buckets or boxes to collect into.
They can be gathered from the ground or picked from the tree. Orange but slightly under ripe persimmons are very astringent, but will ripen off the tree. We will offer advice on judging ripeness of persimmons.
Heartnuts: Surprise, Surprise. There are some heartnuts available this year. These delicious, high-fat nuts are available at two different rates. If you husk the nut so that you have mostly just the heartnut, they are $4/pound. If you leave the green, moist husk on, they are $2/pound (we know you don’t want to eat the husk).
Asian Pears: Season runs mid-September to late October. The Asian pear crop looks good this year. Apprentices from the Savanna Institute helped to thin the fruit on the lower branches so the flavor should be improved this year. Feel free to taste sample any fallen fruit to find a tree whose flavor you enjoy. Wholesome Asian pears are available at $2.00/pound when you pick them, $3.00/pound when we pick.
Chestnut: The season has been very slow to start. From September 13 to 23 we had 10 to 60 pounds of nuts dropping each day. Suddenly on 9/26/21 we had 270 pounds drop. We feel our chestnut season has finally started in earnest.
Hot, windy days make more chestnuts fall to the ground. Chestnuts start dropping each day around 1:00 pm and hit their peak around 3:00 pm. We take reservations for people to start picking at 1:00 pm. We will set you up in a grove of trees depending on how many pounds of chestnuts you hope to harvest and how many people are in your group. We provide buckets and a neat tool called a nut wizard. Watch a Nut Wizard in action.
For 2021 we will be charging $3.00/pound for nuts harvested on Saturdays or Sundays. Chestnuts harvested Monday – Friday only cost $2.75/pound. We have a waiting list of 150 families and groups who can only come on weekends. We have lots of openings for week days
If you don’t want all the nuts, we will pay you 50¢ for each pound of chestnuts you gather and don’t take home.
Be sure to bring water and snacks. It takes about one hour for one adult to gather 25 pounds of nuts.