You-Pick at Red Fern Farm 2024

Our 2024 you-pick will be starting soon. Information on the upcoming season: 

Our you-pick is reservation only. You can call a day ahead, 319-729-5905, to see if there is an opening or schedule your harvest-day, weeks or even a month in advance. We have lots of openings on weekdays, but weekends fill up quickly. Picking hours are 1:00 PM until sunset.

$20 minimum checkout. This $20 covers the time it takes us to show your group around the groves, train you on what and how to harvest and taste samples of fruit and nuts. If you are harvesting something like Aronia or hazels we will take the $20 ahead of time and you get to pick all you want. No weigh out or further transaction needed. If you are getting multiple items we may say $20 covers it all or take the time to weigh you out (if we suspect it would come to more than $20). Each checkout transaction has a $20 minimum. Group size is flexible but generally averages to $10/adult.

In 2024 we are trying out extra early reservations secured with a $50 deposit.

If you want to schedule a harvest date before September 1 for pawpaw or chestnuts, we ask for a $50 reservation deposit. The $50 is held as a credit for when you arrive. If you buy less than $50 worth of fruit and nuts, you get a refund. If you cancel the reservation with short notice, and we can’t schedule anyone to fill your harvest date, or you don’t show up, you lose this deposit. We are also willing to refund the deposit for dangerous weather (thunderstorm warnings, lightning or worse) but not just rain. We also refund if there is a crop failure for the crop you wanted to harvest.

New sign and Red Shed at the check-in area.

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 available to email if you need help finding us. Google Maps knows us as “Red Fern Farm You-Pick”. Call 319-729-5905 to make a reservation. We are outside a lot September – October so be ready to leave a message.

Cornelian Cherries: There is an insignificant crop of Cornelian cherries this year. We think cold, cloudy weather interfered with pollination in early spring. Cornelian cherries are usually ready around mid-August and continue to mid-September. Almost all our Cornelian cherry bushes are now grafted and provide large, tasty fruit. We sell them at $3.00/pound for you-pick. We recommend bringing a gathering cloth to spread under the bushes. The ripe berries are soft and sweet. Under ripe ones 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

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 the middle of Hazel season. There is no charge for Aronia berries (see note on $20 checkout minimum above). Call for more information.

Hazels: Hazel season usually goes from early September to late September. Hazels are  $2.00/pound for un-husked  clusters or $3.00/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.

Canopus pawpaw
Ripe and ripening pawpaws

Pawpaws:  It looks like we have an excellent crop for 2024. Usually the season runs mid-September to the first hard freeze in October.

Unmarked pawpaws ($4/lb.) and Marked pawpaws ($10/lb.)

Pawpaws are $4.00/pound when you pick them, $6.00/pound when we pick them. Marked pawpaws (Shensus, Regulus, and other superstars) are $10.00/pound (these fruits are collected for their valuable seeds). Bring buckets, boxes or crates to carry your fruit home. 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 (about 10 to 20 pieces of fruit). 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. Warning, toddlers get excited about the fruit and can harvest $20 worth of pawpaw while your back is turned.
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.  Price is $2.50/pound when you pick them, $3.50/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.

Asian Pears: The Asian pear crop looks normal this year. The season runs mid-September to late October. The Korean Giants will ripen around October 15. However, our groves are often picked clean of ripe and unripe fruit by the end of September.  Feel free to taste sample any fallen fruit to find a tree whose flavor you enjoy. Asian pears are available at $3.00/pound when you pick them, $4.00/pound when we pick.

KimK heartnuts, all cleaned up and ready to eat.

Heartnuts:  We love heartnuts, but so do the squirrels. We have a good nut set but we will need to harvest many squirrels to be sure there are heartnuts for people to harvest. We will have KimK and Grimo heartnut trees dropping nuts this year. These delicious, high-fat nuts would be available at two different rates. If you husk the nut so that you have mostly just the heartnut, they are $5/pound. If you leave the green, moist husk on, they are $3/pound.

Tom evaluating ripening chestnuts
Chestnuts

Chestnut: The season usually runs about mid-September to mid-October, but the trees are in charge and they decide when they will start dropping their nuts. Harvest may continue to late October or the first hard freeze (below 25 degrees). Hot, windy days make lots of chestnuts fall to the ground, cool weather slows things down. We make the best guesses we can about how many pounds of chestnuts will be available for harvesting each day. Chestnuts start dropping each day around 1:00 pm and hit their peak around 3:00 pm.

Harvesting chestnuts for eating starts at 1:00 pm each day. 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. Your group does need to stay in its assigned area. We provide buckets and a tool called a nut wizard. Watch a Nut Wizard in action.

Chestnuts harvested Monday – Friday only cost $3.75/pound. We have a waiting list of 150 families and groups who can only come on weekends. We will be charging $4.25/pound for nuts harvested on Saturdays or Sundays. We have lots of openings for week days. If you don’t want all the nuts, we will pay you $1.00 for each pound of chestnuts you gather and don’t take home. If your group harvests more than 100 pounds of chestnuts, everyone in the group gets a 25¢ discount on each pound of chestnuts.  Be sure to bring water and snacks. It takes about one hour for an average adult to gather 25 pounds of nuts.

Bagged seed chestnuts.

Chestnut Seed nut harvest starts at dawn each day and goes up to noon. Chestnuts harvested at this time are $10.00/pound and are used to grow more trees. Harvesters of seed nuts can harvest from any area, any grafted or seedling tree. Maps will be provided showing location of named trees.

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