Apple trees are a great, low-cost gardening option for those who are looking to grow their own fresh fruit. With a wide assortment of different varieties available, there are apple trees that will thrive in any yard or space throughout the United States. There are even fruit-bearing bonsai trees for those living in apartments or other small spaces. However, there is one struggle that many apple growers face, regardless of their location or the type of apple that they’re growing – how to clean up the apples that fall to the ground.
Sure, you could take the time to pick them all up by hand, but that would take quite a bit of time and could be problematic for those with back injuries. Instead, why not invest in a tool that will take the bending out of the process? In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the best fallen apple tools currently available and help you to decide which option is best for you.
The Backyard Boss Top Fallen Apple Tools for 2021
|Garden Weasel Large Nut Gatherer||Check The Price!|
|OBALY Garden Rolling Nut Gatherer||Check The Price!|
|Bag-A-Nut Pinecone & Magnolia Cone Push Harvester||Check The Price!|
|Holt’s Nut Wizard Large 17” Nut Wizard||Check The Price!|
|Garden Weasel Medium Nut Gatherer||Check The Price!|
Why You Can Trust Us
Growing up, I always had a love for gardening ranging from small potted flowers and flower beds, up to large vegetable gardens. I’m from a farming family and growing our own food was always a special part of day-to-day life. Of course, maintaining all our gardens meant that there was a significant amount of maintenance involved.
My first experience with a fruit tree was a crab apple tree that grew in our front yard. Those tart little apples were delicious in a variety of different baked goods, but growing them also meant cleaning up the front yard regularly after the apples had started to fall. At the time, we had no tools to help us and had to pick all the apples up by hand.
After moving out on my own, I decided that I wanted to continue growing fruit trees, but that there had to be a solution for the cleanup. This led me to do research and experiment with a variety of different tools to find the best option. Pulling on this knowledge and experience, combined with the opinions from customer reviews, I’ve put together this list to help you find the best toy for your yard cleanup.
Best Overall Fallen Apple Tool
Why We Like It: A well-known garden tool brand, Garden Weasel has created an easy-to-use and reliable product. This large apple and nut gatherer works by rolling over the fallen apples, which forces them through the wires of the cage, effectively trapping them. It’s capable of picking crab apples and other smaller apples measuring from 1 ½” to 3” in diameter.
The comfort grip on the carbon steel welded handle makes it easy on the hands and includes a storage hook for between uses. When you’re finished gathering all your apples up, you can save your fingers by spreading the wires of the holding cage with the quick-release cage spreader.
Who Should Buy It: If you’re looking for a tool that’s comfortable on your hands from start to finish without investing in a commercial unit, the Garden Weasel Large Nut Gatherer is a great option.
Best Budget Fallen Apple Tool
Why We Like It: The OBALY Garden Rolling Nut Gatherer offers a telescoping handle design that allows you to adjust the height of the tool from 18.5” to 41.5”, accommodating people of all sizes. It’s made from lightweight anti-rust aluminum. This makes it easy to carry and use. However, some customers report back that it bends or breaks over time with the pressure of use.
This low-cost tool will effectively clean an average-sized yard, easily picking up fruit with a diameter of 1 ½” to 3”. When you’re finished, simply pull the elastic wires of the basket aside manually and empty your apples into a basket or bucket.
Who Should Buy It: Gardeners that are searching for an easy-to-use solution for cleaning up their fallen apples without investing a lot of money should consider the OBALY Garden Rolling Nut Gatherer.
Best for Large Volumes of Apples
Why We Like It: With larger properties, a standard fruit and nut gatherer may not be enough. The Bag-A-Nut Pinecone & Magnolia Cone Push Harvester is a commercial fruit and nut sweeper. It uses an innovative design that traps apples and other objects in between the individual tines of the sweeper wheel, dropping them into a removable basket. However, if you’re picking up apples with the intention to use or store them, it should be noted that the tines can cause bruising throughout this process.
The tool has a pivoting adjustable handle, allowing you to set it at a comfortable push height for people of all heights. It’s available in a variety of sizes based on the size of objects that you’re looking to pick up, ranging from 1 ½” up to 4”.
Who Should Buy It: The Bag-A-Nut Pinecone & Magnolia Cone Push Harvester is a great option for anyone that is tasked with cleaning up a larger property.
Best for Larger Apple Varieties
Why We Like It: The larger width and spacing between the cage wires of the Holt’s Nut Wizard Large 17” Nut Wizard allows it to pick up larger fruits than the other options on this list, measuring up to 4” in diameter. When the large capacity cage is full, it can easily be emptied using the included dumper tool. Simply hook the tool onto a bucket and then press the spring wire of the cage against it, pulling the wires aside and dumping the apples.
This tool comes with a durable 4-foot wooden handle. However, it offers no options to adjust the handle for people of different heights. The absence of comfortable grips on the handle can also lead to pain, if you’re using the tool for an extended period of time.
Who Should Buy It: Apple growers that have larger apple varieties will find that the bigger spacing between cage wires on this tool will allow it to clean up apples that otherwise would be left behind.
Best for Crab Apples
Why We Like It: Another great option from the company Garden Weasel, this tool is a smaller and more basic model than the first option we shared. While the smaller size prevents it from picking up some of the larger apples, it’s the perfect sizing for small apples like crab apples. It’s recommended for picking up items that measure from ¾” to 1 ½” in diameter and has a total capacity of approximately 1 gallon.
The durable carbon steel welded handle is strong, weather-resistant, and rust-resistant. This model does include a comfortable grip with the built-in storage hook However, it doesn’t include the quick-release cage spreader, requiring you to empty it manually. This model is also backed by the Garden Weasel lifetime warranty.
Who Should Buy It: If you’re searching for a simple solution to clean up crab apples and other smaller fruit varieties, the Garden Weasel Medium Nut Gatherer is a great option to consider.
Are Fallen Apples Safe to Eat?
Apples that have dropped from the ground can be safe to eat, however, there are a few factors to consider before you pick up and bite into the next apple that you see. The first, and most obvious, factor is whether the apple is showing signs of rot or bug infestation. Some of these apples will go bad while still hanging from the tree, leading to them dropping. Others will attract bugs or start the decomposition process after sitting on the ground.
During apple season, when you’re in the process of harvesting the fruit, you may accidentally knock some apples down. These are more likely to be in a good condition than those that have been sitting on the ground for any length of time.
If an apple has just started to attract bugs, you may still be able to salvage the apple if you’re comfortable eating it. You will need to cut out the damaged area, being sure to remove any part of the apple that has been exposed. This is relatively common in organic apples where no pesticides are used.
Another important factor to consider is what the apple may have come in contact with while on the ground. If you have dogs, this might be a factor that you’re already considering. For those that don’t have outdoor pets, there is a chance that your apple has come in contact with animal waste from wild animals in the area. If this isn’t addressed, it can make you very sick.
Before eating an apple that has fallen on the ground, it should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to remove any surface germs. This involves a little more effort than just wiping the apple on your shirt or running it under water. Research shows that one of the best ways to clean your fruits and vegetables is to soak them in a mixture of baking soda and water before wiping them clean.
While you can eat an apple that has fallen from the tree, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Unless you’ve just witnessed the apple falling from the tree, it’s safer to stick with the apples that are still on your tree for your next snack.
How to Pick Up Fallen Apples Quickly
The answer to this question is going to depend on what you intend on doing with the apples after they’ve been picked up. If you’re simply looking to dispose of the apples, you can rake them up to create a pile and then move that pile into a garbage bag or bin with the assistance of a shovel. This will likely bruise or damage your apples, so it isn’t recommended for apples that you plan on eating.
If you plan on using your apples after collecting them, a fallen apple tool like those listed may be your best choice. These tools are able to pick up the apples quickly with as little damage to the fruit as possible.
For those gardeners that know that they intend on collecting and using the fallen apples later in the season, there are also ways to make the collection easier for you. Some gardeners will set up a tarp or net around the trunk of the tree for the purpose of collecting fruit that falls and preventing it from sitting on the ground.
What Happens to Fallen Apples?
Apples that are left on the ground around your trees will either rot, eventually acting as a fertilizer, or they will serve as food for wild animals in the area. This can be seen as both a positive and negative for fruit growers. The additional nutrients being added back to the soil will be beneficial for the health of the fruit trees in the future. However, these apples will attract wildlife and bugs, and these pests often don’t stick to just feasting on the apples that are laying on the ground.
When the fallen apples break down and compost, this doesn’t destroy bugs like the codling moth that may live within them. Many will crawl out and return to the tree once again. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to remove the apples from the ground around your tree as quickly as possible.
If you’re interested in allowing the apples to compost around the tree as a source of additional nutrients, you may wish to run over the fallen apples with a lawnmower. This will break up the apples into smaller pieces that will compost quicker and are less likely to attract unwanted pests.
Many larger orchards have found uses for their fallen apples. While apples are a cheaper fruit to grow, fallen apples that are tossed aside are lost revenue. Instead, these apples are often collected and turned into products like apple cider. This allows them to effectively use the apples and make a profit without having to worry about the fact that they may be blemished or undesirable for sale.
How We Picked
A quick search of fruit and nut gatherers will return hundreds of different options available. How could we possibly narrow that list down to just five stand-out products? It wasn’t an easy task as many of these tools are very similar, so we had to look at the finer details of each product.
We started by narrowing our list down to options that were a good value for the buyer. This means comparing the purchase price and the overall quality of the tool. From here, we also considered how comfortable they would be to use, whether they could be adjusted for a better experience and how easy it was to empty the gatherer out after use. Finally, looking at the additional features and the intended use for each option, we were able to identify five products that we believe are the best available.
How to Pick the Right Fallen Apple Tool for Your Yard
The first step that you need to take when selecting the best fallen apple tool for your yard is to take note of the specific fruit that you’re looking to clean up and the size of this fruit. A tool that is designed for smaller fruit will roll right over your apples without being able to pick them up. Meanwhile, a tool that is designed for larger fruit will allow your apples to fall right back out again, if it manages to pick them up.
From there, consider the different features that are available, and which would make your job easier and more comfortable. The combination of the comfort grip handle and the quick release cage spreader on the Garden Weasel Large Nut Gatherer has earned this tool the best overall spot, in our opinion. However, any of the tools on this list would be a great choice to clean up your yard quickly and easily.