Cherry Picking has Begun
Sweet cherry picking has started! To encourage lots and lots of u-picking, we are rolling back our u-pick prices to 2006. Bring the whole family out to the orchards for good fun and great fruit.
The U.S. 31 Market is now open and fully stocked. We have the bakery going full blast with a new baker named Rhonda. We are right on the verge of Sweet Cherries, and the trees are loaded! John took us all on a crop tour last week to show us all the crops and how well there all doing. Everything looks wonderful, plentiful and just around the corner.
For the weekend, we'll have local strawberries and Michigan sweet cherries in both markets, along with plenty of homemade pies & cookies and our full line of Montmorency cherry products for sale.
Stop in for a cup of coffee and visit. We would love to show you the farms.
p.s. Visit our "Orchard Talk" blog for regular crop updates.
We have some amazing asparagus in the market, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. 1 lb for $2.50; 3 lbs for $6.75; 10lbs for $20.00. For a delicious (and nutritious!) addition to your holiday picnic, try brushing with a little olive oil and grilling.
The tart cherry trees are still in partial bloom, a day or two past peak but still very pretty. Apple blossoms are opening now. It is a beautiful time to visit the orchards, and Betsy will be giving golf cart tours Friday and Saturday. The view from the top of the hill by the nectarine and peaches block is nothing short of spectacular.
For more on what's happening on the farm every week, please visit our "Orchard Talk" blog.
The orchards are still dormant, but here at King Orchards, we're busy getting ready for spring! John and Jim are ordering more trees. Eric's busy in the shop prepping all the machinery & equipment for another season, and Betsy and Rose are making plans for the two markets, re-arranging and decorating, always striving to make a visit to King Orchards more enjoyable. We're staying busy in the office too, promoting and shipping our Montmorency tart cherry products (Have you tried the Nuts about Cherries yet? Yum!). We've completed the migration of our shopping cart to KingOrchards.com. I hope you like the new flat rate shipping combinations we've added, and that you find the check-out process smoother and easier to navigate.
Have any questions about our orchards or our tart cherry products? Don't hesitate to call us toll-free at 877-937-5464.
The Apple Report
It's both a colorful and plentiful time at the orchard. We're getting into peak apple season... the crew is picking beautiful, large Honeycrisp apples, McIntosh, and Galas this week (U-Pick is Open for them, too). Empires, Cortlands, Jonagolds and Mutsus should be ripe for picking within the next 7 days or so. We also have Bartlett pears and Stanley plums, as well as pumpkins, gourds, and squash for sale in the markets, and Rose has been keeping busy dipping caramel apples and baking plenty of pies.
We've also started our apple gift box shipping. Macs, Honeycrisp and Galas started shipping this past Monday. Mutsus & Empires will start going out around the 13th. Give us a call toll-free at 877-937-5464 if you'd like to place an order for yourself, or as a special Michigan treat for customers, friends and family.
Next weekend (October 10-13) is the Charlevoix Apple Festival. We'll be bringing plenty of apples, caramel apples, cherry treats, and bakery goods. Hope to see you there!
Red Haven Peaches
It's peach time! Pick your own peaches for $15 per 1/2 bushel, or pick up some already-picked for $16. We're starting with the Garnet Beauty, a juicy, flavorful semi-free stone peach. We have nectarines in the market now. Red Havens are going to be ready Thursday the 21st.
Market Full of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
The markets are full of fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables this week. We have tomatoes, white and red Michigan potatoes, sweet onions, Sugar Baby watermelons, and canteloupe (the best ever!) from Bay City, locally grown green beans and dill, plus our own zucchini, sweet cherries, Balaton cherries, apricots, yellow plums, red plums, and sweet corn. Please see our Fruitstand Page for pricing.
U-pick is closed for the season for cherries, but we still have pick-your-own apricots and raspberries. Have a great weekend!
We have sweet cherries, tart cherries and raspberries all ripe for the picking this week. I'm calling it the Trifecta of U-Picking.
Pick your own tart cherries: You can pick your own tart cherries right from the tree and we will wash them and pit them for you. This year they are $1.00 a pound. There is a flat $6 fee for washing and pitting. Pick 25 pounds or more and the pitting is free.
Still Picking Sweets: The sweet cherry picking is really great right now. You can pick dark sweet (Bing) cherries for $1.75 per pound, and light sweets (Rainier or Queen Anne) for $1.25 a pound.
Picking Raspberries: We also have raspberries ripening and turning deep red in the warm, summer sun. You can go out to the patch and pick your own for $4 a pint.
You can also pick up some wonderful blueberries in the markets this week. They are $4 a pint, $7.25 a quart, or $20.00 for 3 quarts. And of course, we have real-homemade-real-fruit pies from our bakery. Sounds like the makings of a great weekend!
Black Sweet Cherries!
The black sweet cherries have been slow to ripen but we are finally there! Sweet cherries are in the markets by the quart. U-pick will open on Wed 7/9 at the M-88 farm. The picking will be much easier towards the week-end. Price for u-pick is 2.00/lb up to 25 lbs and 1.75 over. Raspberries are ripe for u-pick. Come out and enjoy the farm. Cherries will be in for about 2 weeks. Tart cherries ripe about 7/16. Happy harvesting!
Join us for "Orchard Talk" at our new King Orchards Blog!
Our King Orchards blog is now live. This week, John has been blogging about his seed and tree purchases for this year's plantings. Rose, Betsy and I have been sharing cherry recipes and new, creative uses for cherry juice and dried cherries. Frank's been perfecting his back flip on skis; you can watch the youtube video from our blog. Fox Business News did a story on the Choose Cherries campaign and the antioxidants in tart cherries. We've embedded that video, too.
We still have a lot to learn, but we're excited about the new possibilities for interaction and customer feedback that blogging allows. If you have suggestions, ideas, or testimonials you'd like to share, feel free to add your comments to our postings, or visit the "Customer Feedback" section. We look forward to hearing from you!
for your Thoughts?
February is National Cherry Month, and King Orchards wants you to help us celebrate!
During the month of February, e-mail me your favorite way to eat dried cherries and I'll send you a sample of King Orchards dried cherries as a thank you.
You say you've never tried dried cherries? That's easy to fix! Just email & tell me you want to try a sample and I'll send you one. Send your email to email@example.com with the subject Dried Cherries.
Health experts are encouraging people to learn about heart-healthy red foods during the first-ever National Eat Red Week, Feb. 4-10. The red color in tart cherries comes from a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanins. Growing evidence, including a study by the University of Michigan, shows the heart-healthy benefits of cherries. (Montmorency dried tart cherries have been certified heart-healthy by the American Heart Association.)
If you're looking for ways use cherries, we have a great cherry recipe section on our site! I just went to allrecipes.com and found a few recipes for dried cherries but I'm always looking for more. This is the time of year that I do a little extra cooking so send me your ideas.
Enjoy your red foods!
With the start of a new year and season it is always good to set some goals. I have to preface this with saying that I recently attended a great workshop about customer service. So I'm all pumped up on Customer Service. The Chinese have the Year of the Dog or Monkey, so here at King Orchards we are going to have the "Year of Customer Service".
To achieve my goal I'm going to make a video or at the very least a handout to train my employees. I have great workers and I think we have done a pretty good job but I see room for improvements. One advantage here is that I do have a couple of quiet months to rethink my last season and build on the successes and correct the errors.
Now that I have documented the "customer service" theme, I'm committed. In fact I'm going to nick name my goal "The Year of Sophie." Sophie is our Bernese Mountain dog. She gives the best customer service because she makes everyone think they (the person petting her) are the most important person on earth, and all she wants to do is make you happy.
If you would like to contribute with ideas or experiences my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the subject "The Year of Sophie" and I'll be sure to get it.
IQF Tart Cherries Shipping for the Holidays
November 14, 2007
Now that the weather is cooler, we've begun shipping both the Montmorency and Balaton IQF tart cherries. They are in 10 pound containers (I measured this morning, and 10 pounds equates to approximately 8 quarts by volume). The price is $40 plus shipping. The downside: Unless you're in Michigan or the Chicago area, they will require Next Day shipping, and that usually costs more than the cherries themselves. The upside: The IQF cherries are gorgeous and delicious, the very next best thing to fresh off the tree in July. Call us toll-free at 877-937-5464 if you'd like to place an order.
All our apple picking is done for the season, but we have plenty of apples in the fruit stand, and expect to have them until Christmas. Stop in the M-88 market for Galas, Honeycrisp, Ida Reds, Mutsus, Empires and Jonagolds. We also have Bosc pears, pie pumpkins, and squash - plenty of good fixin's to add to your Thanksgiving feast.
Here's a hint: Try tossing some dried tart cherries into your stuffing or favorite side recipe - according to John, dried cherries turn ordinary stuffing into "an event!"
What a great week-end to come out to the orchards. We have u-pick on the McIntosh and Gala apples. In the market we have McIntosh, Gala, Cortland, Bartlett pears, Stanley prune plums along with the last of the Ginger Golds. We have raspberries for u-pick. Sweet corn that is the best of the season despite the few worms on the tips. Fresh pies and donuts. All served up with a smile from our help. I think our Indian summer is this week-end so come out for a look at the orchard!
Honeycrisp, Macs, and Galas... oh My!
September 21, 2007
There's lots of good apple news to report this week. The honeycrisp is here in all its crispy glory. They are such a pretty apple, with a unique flavor that truly is reminiscent of honey. We have lots of other premium apple varieties, too. The Gala, for instance, is a wonderful snack apple, crunchy & sweet, perfect in kids' lunchboxes, and a good "cooker," too. We're also seeing our first Cortlands. These are very nice for snacks and salads, plus they have the lovely quality of not turning brown upon cutting. This translates to "goes great with peanut butter." And of course, we have the venerable McIntosh, considered by many to be the best apple ever.
Did you see John and Jésus on the front page of the Record Eagle last Sunday? We're pretty excited around here. It's not just good news for King Orchards and Michigan apples; it's darned refreshing to see a positive story make front page news for a change.
Mark Doherty, our favorite horticulturist and partner in apple growing, has been appointed Chairman of the Michigan Apple Committee. Mark was on hand, along with John and Jim King, when Dianne Stampfler of Promote Michigan picked up King Orchards apples for the "Check in to Michigan Apples" promotion, which provides hotel guests with a free apple at check-in and encourages them to explore local orchards and farm markets. Kimberly Purdy of 9and10 news covered that story, which can be viewed here.
We've finished u-picking the Red Haven peaches, nectarines and apricots. We still have them for sale in the fruitstands, hopefully for another week yet, but they are going quickly.
Red Haven peaches should be ready for this weekend, so get those kettles and jars ready! It's hard to motivate in this heat, so think winter, and how satisfying it will be to open up a bright sunny taste of summer next February when all is dark and dreary.
We have plenty of peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots now, and we're looking forward to having raspberries again soon. There are lots of berries out there, but they're slow to ripen because of the drought.
The corn is a little smaller than usual, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in great taste. We've been getting the first of our beans and pickling cucumbers in, along with summer squash and fresh eating tomatoes. Pie pumpkins are sizing up remarkably well.
If you're looking for quick summer dessert for family and guests, consider a delicious homemade pie from our King Orchards bakery. It's our final week for fresh blueberry pies; we also have apple, peach and, of course, Rose's famous tart cherry pie, as featured in Parade Magazine.
With this prolonged drought, irrigation has really helped to size up our peaches. Jim's had it running 24/7 since May 1st, but even that's not keeping up with this drought, so he's ordering more. In addition to helping size up the fruit, the extra irrigation helps to keep the trees from being stressed from lack of water.
July 16, 2007
We're right in the peak of cherry season right now. The crew is out "Shakin & Bakin," as Jim likes to call it. It really is incredible how efficient they are in getting the cherries off the trees, onto cooling pads, & off to processing, all in a matter of hours. If you're interested in learning more about the harvesting operation, check out our second King Orchards site, where you can view our interactive map and photo tour.
Our sweet cherry u-pick season is winding down, but we still have lots of good tarts available for u-picking. We also have plenty of delicious raspberries to pick.
Apricots are coming in fast. Look for a short u-pick season for them, probably starting this weekend.
Things are really hopping around here now. U-picking has started on both sweet cherries and raspberries. It is a large and gorgeous crop. We're predicting tarts will be ready around the 9th or 10th. We're busy getting the cherry pitter cleaned and set up, so we'll be sure to have it ready to pit your pie cherries.
Rose has been busily baking pies, tarts, cookies and muffins. Stop in either market for a fresh-baked, homemade cherry, blueberry, cherry-raspberry, or caramel apple pie.
The sweet cherry quality has been incredibly good. We desperately need rain (the sweet corn, pumpkins and squash are all thirsty), but we're hoping it doesn't split the sweets. Tart cherries and apricots are coming really fast, and size is good despite the drought.
It is warm for the next three days and we are getting our plans started to let people know about the big and beautiful sweet cherry crop we have ahead. First, we have trimmed the trees to let the sunshine get down to the reachable cherries, so we'll have plenty of quality fruit for the u-pickers. Next, we have the irrigation running. It's not as good as rain, but better than dry. Last but not least, I'm lining up the buckets, maps and signs to help ensure u-picking is successful. Most importantly we are getting excited for the season!
Our new thought is to have walking tours offered thoughout the summer. Just 15 minute talks about whats happening on the farm. For those who wonder what we do all day, check out our tour. This week we have our first meeting the the National Cherry Festial. This year the festival runs July 7-14th. This is great timing since our sweet cherries will be ripe!!!!!
Gosh - all this talking makes me think I better quit and get to work. Remember July for sweet cherry picking.
June 20, 2006
The strawberries are delicious this year, and we'll have them available in both markets through the Fourth of July. It looks like we'll have some Michigan sweet cherries for sale by this weekend (June 24). Our own sweets will be ready around the 6th of July, with U-picking in full swing by the 10th. The sweets are lookin' large, and incredibly sweet. Jim says the tart cherries are also progressing nicely, and should be ready in mid-July. We'll keep you posted. Congratulations to our 2006 high school graduates. Courtney (Central Lake Valedictorian), Samantha, Lexi, Jesus, and Vanessa (Central High School, Burlington, IL Salutatorian) all graduated with honors - must be all that good fruit! We'll be open every day from now through Labor Day, from 9am until 7pm. Stop in the Creswell Market to pick up a fresh-baked pie and meet our new baker, Samantha Mason. Sam is a student at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, and will be creating lots of yummy new treats this summer. Come visit us at the 80th annual National Cherry Festival from July 1-8. We're excited to be first-time vendors at the Farmers' Market. Look for us at the Open Space, near the entertainment stage.
May 12, 2006
We are open everyday. The orchards got hit by a frost May 5th. There is some damage in the sweet cherries, pears and apples. It is always a bit hard to tell this early what damage has been done but we try none the less. Today it finally rained and we needed it. The apple blossoms are out but it has been cold so I don't think the bees are around today. Saturday in my recipe group and we will be sharing asparagus recipes of course. Well, I better get cooking!
April 25, 2006
April 18, 2006
It is a beautiful day here in northern Michigan. Spring is a favorite time of year for the farmer. The orchard looks great and we always feel that this upcoming year will be the best ever. It is also fun to get back to thinking about our fruitstands. Rose and I are have outlined a few improvements we would like to see around the buildings. Just today Jim said he needed to get with the bee guys to get the hives into the orchards. The blossoms on the apricots should start to pop by the week-end and we should see some white cherry blossoms around the 10th of May. I think we should have a orchard cam like they have at the ski resorts that way you could check on the progress. I'll put it on my "wants" list for next year. I'm off to a baseball game!
Cresswell MarketApril 19, 2006
Hey! This is Rose and I really know it is Spring because Mark Doherty our Integrated Pest Management man just stepped in with our first report! Its been great egg laying weather according to Mark. Because of our great past practices with Mark he couldn't find any eggs. Yahoooo! NO SPRAYING! I'm getting the bug to start cleaning up and stocking my shelves!
Around the FarmApril 19, 2006
We are about 15-20 days away from bloom and we are still at 100% potential. For the first time in several years we did not have 70 degree weather in January and February. Unseasonably warm weather in the winter brings the trees out of hibernation too soon and makes them more vulnerable to Spring freezes. This year the trees are coming along at just the right pace, and barring some catastrophic weather event in the next three weeks we should be fine. The trees are loaded with buds and we are anticipating big crops, especially Montmorency cherries and Honeycrisp apples. Apricots, nectarines and peaches are all looking good, as well. Jim and Casey and the crew have been busy planting trees and clearing brush and plowing. We added a new piece of property, 16 acres just south of the home farm. It is beautiful rolling country, looking down on Torch Lake, with deep rich soil and good water and air drainage - perfect for fruit trees. We planted 10,000 new trees the last couple of weeks, mostly Montmorency cherries and Honeycrisp apples, but also a few sweet cherries. Pedro and Jesus have been supervising the tree management crew and pruning and shaping the trees. We feel that we have the healthiest and best maintained trees anywhere and this is thanks to their great skill and work. Developing a strong frame, then encouraging vegetative growth and getting sun into the fruit are the goals of good tree management. This time of year when you can see the new growth and the shape of the trees, it is satisfying to compare our orchards to others in the area. The shop has been a hub of activity the last two weeks as Vern gets the equipment ready for the season and repairs the inevitable broken machinery. We managed to tear up a couple of plow blades already. Our expert cherry pitter repairman, Gerry, has been here this week fixing up the pitters. He has an interesting career in a niche industry - he has been traveling around the state for decades maintaining and repairing everyone's pitters. I see the bee boxes by the hundreds out being readied at our neighbors, the Dekornes. It won't be long before they will be putting the bees out in the orchards for pollination.