One of the most relaxing activities to enjoy in Michigan is picking fresh fruit with your family and friends. Throughout the growing season, there are so many places where you can wander through orchards or meander over vines while participating in U-pick fruit activities.
Whether you’re looking to make memories with your little ones or hoping to grab a haul of fruit to create fresh baked goods for the best possible price, there are endless opportunities to pick your own fruit throughout the summer and early fall in Michigan.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Fruit Picking in Michigan
When it comes to U-pick fruit in Michigan, you should be prepared with the best way to get high-quality fruit. These are the do’s and don’ts of fruit picking that you need to know:
- DO look for local orchards and wild patches that have fresh fruit for you to pick during the peak growing season.
- DO NOT pick fruit in an area that hasn’t been designated for fruit picking. You may inadvertently pick berries or fruit that aren’t suitable to eat and could make you ill.
- DO work with the local farmers to find out the best ways to pick the available fruit.
- DO NOT choose fruit that’s not quite ripe in the hopes of it ripening within a few days. Fruit needs to ripen on the vine or tree where it’s growing, and you should only pick fruit when it’s ripe and ready.
- DO place the fruit that you pick in the refrigerator to keep it longer.
- DO NOT eat the fruit until you have washed it thoroughly.
When & Where to Pick Strawberries in Michigan
Berry lovers in Michigan rejoice when June rolls around because they know that juicy, red strawberries are in their future. The strawberry season in Michigan is fleeting, typically beginning mid-June and lasting for about two weeks until early July.
The exact dates of the season, however, greatly depend on the weather throughout the late spring and early summer. A cold, wet season can delay strawberry season, while a dry, unseasonably warm season can ripen strawberries early.
If you’re interested in picking your own strawberries, be ready to move when the season begins. Many of the best U-pick fruit farms in Michigan are inundated with berry-pickers who are interested in collecting strawberries to eat fresh, make jam with, or bake with, so the supply doesn’t last long.
Rowe’s Produce Farm
Located in Ypsilanti, Rowe’s Produce Farm is one of the largest U-pick strawberry farms in the state. It specializes in strawberries, so it attracts visitors from not only Southeast Michigan but also across the entire state.
Anyone interested in picking at the farm is advised to contact the farmers in advance to get the latest information about growing conditions and the availability of strawberries on the farm.
AJ’s Berry Farm
In Northern Michigan, one of the best places to go strawberry picking is AJ’s Berry Farm, which is located in Lachine. At this farm, there’s an organized system that guarantees success for those who visit.
You get an assigned area of the orchard for picking. When you’re done, that space is marked with a flag to indicate that berries have been picked in that area.
Established in 1929, Lehman’s Orchard has offered strawberry picking for decades. It’s located in Niles, and people come from all over West Michigan and Mid-Michigan to pick sweet strawberries.
When & Where to Pick Blueberries in Michigan
Shortly after strawberry season, blueberry season arrives in Michigan. Like their sweet red counterparts, blueberries are only ripe and available for picking for a few wonderful weeks in the Great Lakes State.
For the most part, blueberry season begins in early July and lasts for about three weeks. In some parts of the state, blueberry picking may be available until the middle of August, but that’s largely dependent on the location of the farm and the weather during that particular season.
More than 30 varieties of blueberries are grown in Michigan, ranging from sweet and juicy blueberries to tart berries that are better for baking. No matter what kind of berries you hope to pick, below are some of the best blueberry farms in Michigan.
Rondeau’s Ruff Acres
For the freshest blueberries in the Upper Peninsula, the best place to go is Rondeau’s Ruff Acres. This berry farm offers U-pick blueberries later than farms in the Lower Peninsula. So, you can go fruit picking in July, August, and sometimes even September!
Blueberry Lane Farms
In Mid-Michigan, Blueberry Lane Farms has long been considered the best place to get the most delicious blueberries in the summer. This farm exclusively grows blueberries, and typically opens for the summer season on July 1.
In addition to picking your own berries, you can get a variety of fresh-made blueberry products at the farm’s general store.
Hiawatha National Forest
Alongside blueberry farms, Michiganders can scour the woodlands in hopes of finding patches of wild berries. This has become somewhat of a pastime in the Upper Peninsula, where patches of wild blueberries thrive in late July and early August.
Hiawatha National Forest is a haven for wild blueberries, with many blueberry patches growing underneath pine trees and in open areas where controlled burns have taken place.
When & Where to Pick Cherries in Michigan
Given that the Cherry Capital of the World is located in Northern Michigan, it’s no surprise that cherries are a favorite U-pick fruit. Traverse City is home to the annual Cherry Festival, which celebrates the bounty of cherries ready for picking and pays homage to the fruit that has made the community famous.
However, there are many ways to enjoy cherries in Michigan beyond this quintessential summer festival. Cherry season begins in mid-July, and the sweet cherries are available first. By the end of the month, the tart cherries — which are better for baking — are ready to be picked. Here are the best U-pick cherry farms.
This family-owned farm is located on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City. The conditions are nearly always perfect for growing in this region of the state, which is why this farm has been able to produce locally-grown cherries for generations.
Specializing in cherries and cherries alone, this is one of the best places for U-pick fruit in Michigan. The farm opens in early July and allows picking until the end of the month, or until all the cherries are gone.
Rasch Cherries is a small and simple U-pick fruit farm in Conklin, which is on the west side of the state. It may be easy to pass by this hidden gem, but you won’t want to miss the opportunity to grab some sweet cherries when they’re ready in July. As an added perk, free pitting is available on-site.
Located in the rural community of Ellsworth, Friske Farm is another place to get perfect Michigan cherries in July. This farm specializes in sweet cherry varieties, which are typically ready for picking in early or mid-July.
When & Where to Pick Raspberries in Michigan
Unlike many of the other fruits that grow in Michigan, you have two opportunities to enjoy raspberry picking. There are both summer and fall raspberry varieties, but you may have to travel to different farms throughout the state to enjoy them both.
Summer raspberries are ripe for picking by early July and are usually available through the middle of August. Fall raspberries aren’t ready until late August and are typically available until early October or the first frost of the year.
Throughout Michigan, you’ll find farms that offer red and black raspberry varieties — both of which are sweet and delicious. These are the best farms for U-pick raspberries in Michigan.
Slow Farm Organic
While many U-pick fruit farms rest along the coast of West Michigan and in the northern reaches of the state, Slow Farm Organic is located in the heart of Southeast Michigan, just north of Ann Arbor.
This organic farm has a variety of U-pick crops throughout the growing season, including raspberries in the summer months.
Coon’s Berry Farm
In Mid-Michigan, Coon’s Berry Farm is the best place to pick your own raspberries. This farm specializes in all types of berries, including raspberries, gooseberries, and black and red currants. The workers are experts when it comes to picking fresh berries for snacking, baking, or making berry-flavored beverages.
Harvey’s Farm is another excellent option for U-pick raspberries. Located in Southern Michigan, it has an avid local following. While many other farms specialize in summer raspberries, Harvey’s Farm offers fall raspberry picking later in August and throughout September.
In addition to finding fresh raspberries at a U-pick fruit farm, it’s possible to go foraging for raspberries in Michigan. They grow in brambles in forested areas throughout the state, so if you keep your eye out during the summer, you could find a few fresh snacks on your hike through the woods.
When & Where to Pick Peaches in Michigan
When most people think of Michigan crops, they think of berries and apples — peaches rarely come to mind. This may be because peaches seem synonymous with Southern life, and with four distinct seasons, Michigan is completely different from states in the South.
Thanks to Lake Michigan, though, some farms on the west side of the state can grow fresh peaches. The peach varieties are limited, though.
Most farms have Red Haven, Stellar, or Flamin’ Fury peaches, and you’ll want to choose the variety based on what you want to do with your peaches. Some varieties are better for eating fresh, while others are better for baking or canning.
Peach season in Michigan usually begins in late July, depending on the weather conditions that season. While peach season can extend until September, the best time to pick peaches in Michigan is in mid-August. These are the two best U-pick fruit farms in Michigan for peaches.
On the west side of the state, Stover’s Farm is one of the best places to get U-pick peaches. Located in Berrien Springs, it has been offering U-pick experiences for more than three decades.
From July until September, there are several varieties of peaches available, including Red Haven, Glo Haven, and Baby Gold peaches.
Those who are searching for U-pick peaches in the northern reaches of the state will love visiting Jacob’s Farm. This Traverse City farm has peaches for picking beginning in August, and the season usually extends until early September.
When & Where to Pick Apples in Michigan
Throughout the summer and into the early fall, Michigan weaves in and out of various fruit-growing seasons, but there’s nothing quite like apple season. In the Great Lakes State, more than 15 different apple varieties are grown. These range from tart and tangy apples to sweet, juicy varieties.
The best apple picking usually takes place in September, but it can begin as early as August and extend into early October. Apple picking is an experience that nearly every Michigander has enjoyed at some point in their lives because there are so many apple orchards throughout the state.
Additionally, many of these Michigan orchards have cider mills attached to their operations, allowing them to press the apples into sweet, thick cider that’s enjoyed by thousands of people every fall. Here are some of the best places for apple picking in Michigan.
Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill
Another infamous orchard in Michigan is Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill. While the original location is located in Armada, Blake’s is a brand that has expanded throughout Michigan.
For the most authentic experience, head to this orchard in the fall to pick your own Blake’s apples. Of course, there are plenty of other activities and events to enjoy while you’re here, making this the perfect place to spend a family day in the fall.
Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill
Located just outside of the suburban community of Plymouth, Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill is a small, family-owned farm that has been offering apple picking for more than 30 years.
The organic orchards extend for acres, giving people plenty of opportunities to pick their own apples. Plus, it has some of the best cider and doughnuts in town!
Knaebe’s Apple Farm & Ciderworks
In Northern Michigan, Knaebe’s Apple Farm & Ciderworks is the premier apple-picking destination. Admission to the orchard is free, allowing you to get the apples you need for the best possible price. There are farm animals and other activities to enjoy too.
Tips for Visiting a Michigan U-Pick Fruit Farm
Visiting a U-pick fruit farm is about more than collecting fresh fruit to enjoy — it’s about savoring the experience. Here are some tips to ensure that you and your family have a great time while picking your own fruit:
- Call the farm before you head out for the day. The farmers can provide the best information about current crop conditions and availability.
- Dress for the occasion. Fruit picking isn’t a time to wear your Sunday best. Fruit farms and orchards are notoriously muddy, and you’re likely to meet insects along the way.
- Remember that the early bird gets the fruit. Fruit picking is best done in the early morning hours before the crowds arrive for the day.
Tips for Picking Wild Fruit in Michigan
Foraging for wild fruit is a favorite activity among many Michiganders, but it’s important to be aware of where and when it’s safe to pick wild raspberries, blueberries, and cherries. These tips can help you find delicious wild fruit that’s safe to consume:
- Research the types of wild fruit in Michigan that are safe to eat. Become familiar with the plants, where they’re located, and what ripe fruits look like.
- Take time to identify the fruit you find before you consume it.
- Always wash the fruit in fresh water before you eat it.
- When you’re foraging fruit, don’t take all of the berries off the plant. Always leave a few so that the plant will continue to grow and reproduce in the future.
Plan Your Next Michigan U-Pick Fruit Trip This Summer
From early June and extending into early October, the fruit-growing season in Michigan is full of potential. There are moments when you can pluck ripe, red strawberries straight off the vine, or you can twist a crunchy, delicious apple right off the tree.
No matter when you go fruit picking in Michigan, you’re sure to get a bounty of fruit that you can enjoy in a variety of ways. If you miss the opportunity for U-pick fruit, though, you can always find fresh fruit at your local Michigan farmer’s market.