Our 2023 you-pick season is over. Thank you to all our customers who helped to make it a great year. We ended up harvesting around 5,600 pounds of chestnuts and over 800 pounds of pawpaw. We hope 2024 will be an even better year. Below is information about the 2023 season:
Our you-pick is still by 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 months 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.
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. 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: (Almost all gone 9/18/23) 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: 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.
Pawpaws: Usually the season runs mid-September to the first hard freeze in October. Weather has hurt the 2023 pawpaw crop. We think we will only have 600 pounds instead of 2,000 – 4,000 pounds. Kathy has stopped taking harvest reservations for pawpaw (August 14). There may be fruit available to seed collectors at $10/pound. We may open up the culinary harvest again if our estimate is wrong. We have started a waiting list.
Pawpaws are $3.50/pound when you pick them, $6.00/pound when we pick them. Marked pawpaws (Shensus) are $10.00/pound. 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. 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: Season runs mid-September to late October. The Korean Giants will ripen around October 15. The Asian pear crop looks good this year, but Kathy has stopped taking harvest reservations for Asian pear (September 10). 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.
Heartnuts: A late, hard freeze damaged several heartnut trees and killed others. If we had any, 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 (we know you don’t want to eat the husk).
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. Kathy has stopped taking harvest reservations for chestnuts (September 10). We can put your name on a waiting list of give you the names of other farmers who allow you-pick for chestnuts.
Harvest may continue to late October or the first hard freeze (below 25 degrees) We make the best guesses we can based on weather. 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.
Reservations to harvest chestnuts for eating start 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. We provide buckets and a tool called a nut wizard. Watch a Nut Wizard in action.
We will be charging $4.25/pound for nuts harvested on Saturdays or Sundays. 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 have lots of openings for week days.
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.
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.
Be sure to bring water and snacks. It takes about one hour for one adult to gather 25 pounds of nuts.