THE BLUE MOUNTAINS, ONT. -- The ‘open’ signs are out at orchard gates in Southern Georgian Bay with the first apples of the season ready to eat.

Apples are a big driver for Southern Georgian Bay’s fruit markets and tourism in general, with people visiting to experience the harvest.

That harvest is underway with early varieties like Zestar and sunrise already in the bins and Macintoshes being picked now.

Galas and Honey Crisp will be ripe soon. The trees are heavy with fruit at T and K Orchards near Thornbury, with fruit ready to be picked in about a week.

“Cool nights into single digits even some frost, to get the colour and it will turn them like a switch,” says Tom Ferri from T and K.

Apple growers expect an excellent crop thanks to hot weather in June and July and rain in August.

“Each individual apple is going to be a large size, and overall the size of the harvest it would appear to be above average, “says Kyle Oakley at Goldsmith’s Orchard Market in Thornbury. “But we will wait until it’s in the bin before we decide that.”

Many local orchards are keeping the public out over COVID-19 concerns. But a few pick-your-own operations will welcome people over the coming weeks.