The question ‘when should I pick my apples’ is genuinely easy to answer. The answer is ‘don’t pick your apples, pick them up’.
Wait until the apples are falling from the trees. When they fall naturally they should be perfect for use. Don’t worry if an apple has been sitting on the ground for a day or so either. In fact, many cider makers leave their apples in a pile for a week to let them start to break down before scatting and pressing. You get more juice out that way.
Obviously we don’t want mouldy rotten apples in the mix, but a little damage or fresh holes where wasps have been munching are no problem and will not affect the quality of your cider.