Bluebell Orchard with Pete Henkels

How did your orchard get started?
Even as a young boy I was interested in orchards and apples. My grandfather had an orchard and most of what I know I learned from him. I planted my first apple trees in 1972 and started selling them in 1980. I was a tool & die maker at John Deere at the time, but retired in 1992. I sell my produce at the summer and winter markets, plus we have a roadside stand at the orchard.

What is your best seller?
Probably the Idared apples. I also have squash, potatoes, “German Giant” radishes, and some other produce.

What is the secret to growing good apples?
You have to start with good-quality root stock. Then it’s important to control the fungus and pests. It takes a lot of experience to know when to time your applications to be most effective.

Was it a good year for apples?
Yes, I got a good harvest. Some of the varieties of apples only produce heavily every other year, but that can be managed in different ways. I have cold storage at the orchard for about 500 bushels of apples, and I expect I’ll be at Winter Market for almost the whole season.

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