Chateauguay Valley Photos / StormyWoods ©
The season of orchard and autumnal harvests is upon us here in the Chateauguay Valley region of Southwest Quebec.
We welcome you to peruse and share our Chateauguay Valley Apple Picking and Orchard guide 2019!
(Please note that we have not included cidreries and wineries of the region as our guide for those will be published at a later date! soon!)
Historical Facts of the Apple
Originating in the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan millions of years ago, the apple has been part of our diet for already tens of thousands of years. It's journey to North America began with seeds and cuttings being brought to France and Britain by the Romans, and eventually shipped over to North America by the Colonists and French settlers .
The first planted trees were said to have appeared in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley around 1633, where most of the apples produced in these early times were reserved for the use of making cider.
These colonists cultivated apples in order to serve this fermented cider at meals instead of water due to sanitation concerns. A diluted version of the cider would also be served to the children. By fermenting these apples into hard cider, the colonists were able to create a drink that was usable much longer than the raw fruits, and made a safer alternative to the often sketchy availability of fresh drinking water.
Our local farms and orchards have been thriving with plentiful bounty throughout the Chateauguay Valley region in recent years. The superior productivity and plethora of produce grown by local Valley farms is recognized as being largely due to the fact that the local climate allows for one of the longest growing seasons around the province - said to be about 215 days in the region. A recent CBC.ca report states that 2019 has the most recent estimates from Quebec's apple producers' association who predicted the harvest will garner 5.3 million bushels of apples. Over the last 15 years, the average harvest has been 5.8 million bushels. That's about a nine per cent drop predicted for this year, but they say a better quality of apple because a smaller crop means that they have more sugar and flavor in the apple.
By the way, 55% of all apple growers in Quebec are actually based right here in the Montérégie region. Quebec also leads the pack in Canada with it's Dairy, Maple Syrup, Fruit and Nut and Berry production.
Map of Chateauguay Valley / Southwest Quebec Apple Picking Route Chateauguay Valley.ca ©
In the early nineteenth century European immigrants were the ones who planted the first apple trees in the Southwest region, establishing orchards in Franklin, Havelock, Hemmingford, Hinchinbrooke and Saint-Antoine-Abbé.
Did you know that 95% of Chateauguay Valley farmland is still run by local farmers?
Many of them have passed down these lands through their families for generations.
Newer Configuration of Orchards : Innovative Planning / Management:
According to recent statistics, investment in a new orchard will approach near $44,000 per acre over 7 years to bring the planting into full production.
The goal is to produce a high quality crop using sustainable production techniques.
Many new orchards are using "the high density method" of cultivation as returns are sooner and the quality of product is said to be superior,
so many techniques have changed in how an orchard is planted and how the trees are managed.
New orchards are planting densities of at least 1000 trees/acre (double the average density of 5 years ago), using dwarfing root-stock that produces early crops of large apples on young trees, but requires pampering to establish, and using branch positioning instead of pruning to shape trees for optimum yields. See the video below to understand more about "the high density method".
Apples are members of Rosaceae, the Rose family, along with pears, plums, peaches, cherries, strawberries, and raspberries.
86 is the number of apples each Canadian eats, on average, per year.
Apples are low in calories and free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. They are rich in fiber, disease-fighting anti-oxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals including potassium, folate, niacin and vitamins A, B, C, E and K.
Quebec’s apple crop is estimated to be 5.7 million bushels, up 4.9 per cent from a year ago.
It takes four apples to make a glass of pure apple juice.
The McIntosh variety still dominates the mix at 57 per cent of the crop.
According to Agri-Food Canada, apples are mainly grown in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
China is the largest producer of apples, followed by US, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspin and the Black Sea.
Apples have existed as a wild fruit since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. The ancient Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Egyptians were among early cultivators.
McIntosh, Spartan and Ambrosia are said to be the only varieties that actually originated in Canada.
John McIntosh is best known to have 'discovered' the McIntosh apple. He was the son of a Scottish immigrant, and left the US to immigrate north of the border to Iroquois, Upper Canada, ( now in Dundas County) in 1796.
In 1811 he moved to the site of Dundela, where in clearing the forest it is said that he discovered about 20 established apple trees in a clearing.
He then transplanted several of the wild trees to his garden, but by the following year only one had actually survived.
The old original Macintosh tree fell over in 1910 after having been damaged by fire in 1894. It last produced fruit in 1908.
A flat headstone now marks the spot where the stump had remained for years.
So when all is said and done the McIntosh basically originated largely from simple luck via the finding of the"chance" seedlings that went on to produce this spectacular fruit.
In 1835 his son Allan also became skilled in apple tree grafting and the family went on to expand in a more commercial endeavor, successfully cultivating their most famous "Granny" and "McIntosh Reds" that were lauded throughout the land.
The McIntosh apple the most popular with Quebec consumers, and is known to be also the most cultivated variety in Quebec: it represents 57% of the total production. More favorites are the Spartan, Cortland and the Empire.
Quebecers actually consume more apples than the quantities grown in our orchards, so we have to depend on imports to meet the demand.
Tips for Orchard Visits:
Remember that different apple types ripen all the way from late August to October.
Plan your visit to accommodate your personal taste whether sweet or tart..Take in account your ptojected baking or cooking plans - perhaps recipes of Grandma's baked delights , or your own innovative creations. Once decided, ask your chosen Orchard which varieties are available to feature in your recipe.
Dress in layers and wear shoes (no sandals), and bring some boots in case of rain..
Discuss safety tips, especially for the children if the orchard has ladders for picking. Same goes for wagon rides and play areas.
Hey! When picking the apples, don't shake the trees! Remember that you should not shake trees to get apples as it wastes lots of ripe fruit that can bruise or be left on the ground to rot needlessly.
Cover up and tuck in to avoid mosquito or potential tick bites, use bug repellent to minimize risk.
Some orchards allow dogs on leashes but call ahead and ask first!
When picking apples twist to the left, and avoid pulling off the branches and leaves. It is said that a good counter-clockwise twisting motion will help give your apple stems the cleanest break!
If apples are wet, it’s best to dry them as soon as you can after picking.
Keep them cool like in the fridge crisper for optimal freshness and longer lasting flavor.
If the Orchard doesn’t offer food items, see if they have a picnic area and bring something to nibble on, whether it’s just snacks or a nice little lunch…
Resist the urge to snack while in the Orchard unless you have the ability to wash your fruit first.
Take family photos, memories are made of them!
Here is our comprehensive listing of Apple Picking Orchards in the Chateauguay Valley!
We hope you enjoy your Chateauguay Valley Apple Picking Guide 2019 and support our local orchards!
Stay tuned for our upcoming Cidrerie and Winery Guide of the Valley!
Just the thought of biting into a crisp freshly picked Jersey Mac, Paula Red, Lobo, McIntosh, Gala, Cortland, Red Cort, Spartan, Empire, Delicious, Honey Crisp or Ginger Gold apple picked from our area orchards here in the Chateauguay Valley stirs up memories of autumns in the past, with visions of vivid hues of fire colored leaves, and the gentle bounce of hay wagon rides on a cool day…
Visit the fertile soils of the Chateauguay Valley and discover the delicious bounty that the local growers/cultivators have to offer.
VISIT AND PICK! SEE THE LIST BELOW FOR LOCAL CHATEAUGUAY VALLEY/ SOUTHWEST QUEBEC ORCHARDS
Verger Petch / Cidrerie Pomi Verde: Petch Family Orchard/Hemmingford http://www.vergerspetchorchards.com/home.html 431 route 202, Hemmingford, J0L 1H0 450 247-3414
“Our orchards are run by the third generation of our family to produce apples, pears and plums in the idyllic Hemmingford region. 24 varieties of apples, including many heritage apples, are produced with special attention to detail to ensure our fruits are of the highest quality.” Bring the family and pick your own apples, pears, plums and pumpkins. Their store offers fresh-picked apples, donuts ( they were sooo yummy), pies, cakes, jellies, fresh-pressed juice (which was fantastic by the way, we stopped in last week) and much more. Visit their website and fine orchard located in Hemmingford.
Blair Orchards boasts 4 generations of farmers since 1889! “For many citizens of Franklin, apple harvesting is a passion. For the Blair family, it is a labor of love, running from generation to generation.” says their website. Enjoy a wagon ride in the Blair orchard, or perhaps visit the petting zoo after grabbing a slice of their homemade pies and other baked goods like apple crisp, wild blueberry, and scrumptious maple cream! Enjoy Live Music as well..
Blair Orchards welcomes schools and organized groups, and offer a wide range of family activities. Guests have access to a picnic area and a large parking lot.
45 acres of Orchards! See their website for picking dates for specific varieties.
Open 7 days a week, from September to November. Free admission. Available products at the Blair Orchard: Pies Apple donuts Jams, jellies and pickles Apple crisps muffins homemade breads Maple spread, sugar cones, maple candy, pure maple syrup and maple sugar pies. They also offer dancing on their terrace with live country music every weekend! The kids may be able to hunt for treasure through their maple bush, or visit the playground They have also been producing maple syrup from their maple groves for over 100 years! Live Music: September 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 October 5, 6, 12 and 13 1421 Road 202 Franklin Centre Quebec J0S 1E0 http://blairorchards.com 450 827-2677
Pick-your-own blueberries, apples and pears, tractor rides, farm animals, playground and picnic area. Their bistro offers light fare like homemade soups, sandwiches and pastries.
ChateauguayValley.ca photos/StormyWoods ©
Héritage Saint-Bernard : Chateauguay
https://www.ilesaintbernard.com/ CONTACT INFORMATION 480, boul. D'Youville, Châteauguay, J6J 5T9 450 698-3133 #233 OPENING SEASON Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Schedule may vary call - ahead
Les Vergers Hillspring:
Wow! They boast having as many as 10,000 apple trees, and 13 varieties! (end of August to end of October) Kiosk will be open from Saturday to Sunday from 9:30 to 17h and by reservation only if during the week. Mini-farm with a dozen species of animals Recreational Park for children with inflatable games Tractor ride Walking trails Guided tours and activities for groups Boutique of ‘gourmet ‘products Apple donuts, pies, muffins, breads, marinades and more! They offer a Light lunch style Bistro: Soup, hot dog, hamburger, poutine and homemade fries.
Les Vergers Ivanhoë Faille
Ivanhoë Faille Orchards: maple products, blueberries, pears and apples The Orchards Ivanhoe Faille, Pavilion Verger 2232 Mount Brooks Franklin Center (Quebec) J0S 1E0 T 450 827-2742
Au Cœur de Mon Verger:
https://www.aucoeurdemonverger.com/ Justin and Marie-France Dallaire are brother and sister and Guillaume Laberge is the spouse of Marie-France. Their bio says that they were looking for agricultural land and in the winter of 2017, and were introduced to this already existing orchard of about 4000 apple trees, a maple grove, a 50-hectare forest in Havelock. In the spring of 2017, they were able to acquire the land and make it their own. Upon visiting you can also enjoy a light meal! Soups, homemade apple muffins, grilled meats and sandwiches and desserts are waiting for you to enjoy as you take in their panoramic views of the Covey Hill area. 551, Chemin de Covey Hill, Havelock, QC J0S 2C0 Tel : 450-247-2785
Vergers Écologiques Philion.
Open every day from 10am to 4pm. Currently available : Paula Red and Ginger Gold apples, Clapp's Favourite and Harrow Gold pears Picnic tables,wagon rides, apple and pear picking, ciders etc.. http://vergersphilion.com/home.html
Les Vergers Dulude : (No website available) Apples, Heirloom squash, Pumpkins OPENING SEASON Open 7 days in season (August, September, October ) and 4 days, the rest of the year. CONTACT INFORMATION 383 Rue Notre Dame Saint-Rémi, J0L 2L0 514-572-6945
2910, route 202 Franklin J0S 1E0
Pick-your-own blueberries, apples and pears, tractor rides, farm, playground, picnic area.
A bistro is available and offers homemade soups, sandwiches and pastries.
Le Verger Au Petit Ruisseau : Franklin Centre
2278, Route 202 Ouest, Franklin Centre (Quebec) J0S 1E0
Cidrerie La Pommeraie du Suroît 1385 route 202, Franklin, QC J0S 1E0
No available website
The Hemmingford Orchard: Hemmingford
617 Route 202 East, Hemmingford, Quebec, J0L 1H0 Phone: 450-247-2899
Maniadakis Organic Orchard : Franklin Center 1150 Route 209 Franklin Center, Quebec J0S 1E0 Phone: 514-946-3414
Ferme des Petits Cailloux
Pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and apples. 2635, rte 202, Franklin, Québec, Canada, J0S 1E0 450 827-2456
Vergers Rockburn Orchards
https://www.facebook.com/rockburnorchards 2644 QC-202,
Hinchinbrooke, QC, J0S 1E0 Téléphone: 450 827-2500
Verger Suzanne Vincent-Machabée Blueberry and apple picking in season. Mini farm, ride. Call before you leave to check fruit availability. 2721, rte 209,
Franklin , Québec, Canada, J0S 1N0 450 827-2148
Verger du pirate (les Vergers bonhomme pomme)
Ahoy! There's even a Pirate ship wagon!
2319, route 209 Saint-Antoine-Abbé (Franklin) (Québec) J0S 1N0
Verger Stevenson Orchard
Franklin Centre,Qc Canada J0S 1E0
7 days a week from 9am - 5pm until December 23.
December 24 they are open from 9am - 12pm and we are then closed for the season.
Telephone: 450.264.2003 Address: 2365 route 202 Hinchinbrooke (Québec) J0S 1A0
Web site: www.rockburn.ca
For other provincial orchard maps and directory kindly follow the link to the comprehensive lapommeduquebec website:
*Take note that the original photos in this article are not reflective of the individual orchards mentioned here*
Nor do we recommend one orchard over another.
All activity remains at your own risk: Whether visitation, dégustations, health issues, or anything related to such types of agrotourism or other activities detailed or encountered.
It remains up to you to inquire accordingly with individual proprietors for any and all relevant information.
If we have missed anyone for the list kindly let us know!
Have A Great Day!