Green’s Dictionary of Slang

apple-knocker n.

[SAmeE apple-knocker, a fruit-picker; ult. origin may be in New York City, referring to the up-state, rural areas with their many apple orchards]

1. (US) a rural, unsophisticated person.

[US]Paducah Sun (KY) 8 Nov. 2/2: Any guy wot’s got a good knot can work up there, stranger, ’cause taint no job for yokels and apple knockers.
[US]Dly Press (Newport News, VA) 19 Apr. 12/3: Only some apple-knocker [...] would attempt such a thing.
[US]Railway Carmen’s Journal XVIII 428: An apple-knocker came to town In answer to an ad. Although he knew a strike was on This jay-bird’s heart was glad.
[US]O.O. McIntyre White Light Nights 1: In New York, Reuben does not come to town. He lives here. Remove the spats and monocle and behold the apple-knocker.
[UK](con. WWI) J.B. Wharton Squad 287: Can it, you apple-knocker.
[US]Hecht & Fowler Great Magoo 120: That’s the death rattle circuit. They play the cornfields [...] Barking at a lot of apple-knockers.
[US]A. Hynd We Are the Public Enemies 88: Even in good clothes, Floyd looked like an apple-knocker.
[US]H.B. Allen ‘Pejorative Terms for Midwest Farmers’ in AS XXXIII:4 265: [...] appleknocker.
[US]A. Green in Journal of Amer. Folklore [Internet] My personal vocabulary of such catch-names was enriched [...] to include ridge-runner, appleknocker, cherrypicker, and turdkicker.
[US]E. Grogan Ringolevio 222: The group of pink-faced appleknockers from upstate New York [etc.].
[US] (ref. to 1917–18) H. Berry Make the Kaiser Dance 205: We called the [...] Middletown men the ‘apple knockers’.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 20: An apple-knocker is a farmer, or hick, to a city slicker, who thinks that apples are harvested by knocking them off trees.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]W.R. Kuhn Company A 8: The ‘apple-knocker’ contingent was mustered into the National Guard of the State of New York on April 16, 1912.
[US]E. Hoffman Price ‘Revolt of the Damned’ in Double-Action Gang [Internet] June He needed no bodyguard in this apple knocker section, where people had cotton and dates and rice on the brain.
[US]R. Stone Bay of Souls 61: There was no excuse for it, even if down on the lake, in apple-knocker country.

3. (US tramp) an apple picker.

[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 290: I was invited to a long table crowded with jovial apple-knockers.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 35: Hobos are known for what they do, or do not do [...] Among the various harvest hands are the ‘apple knockers,’ the ‘berry glaumers,’ the ‘bundle tossers,’ the ‘potato rooters,’ and so on.

4. a fool.

[US] ‘Und. “Lingo” Brought Up-to-Date’ L.A. Times 8 Nov. K3: APPLE-KNOCKER: [...] a blunderer.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 55: He was an open apple knocker from the West Side wearing plain Monkey Ward jeans rather than Levi’s and high-top horsehide shit kickers.