Chris Eckert>LPL Walk & Talk Interviews>Eckert, Section 1


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As part of the Pick Your Own Operation, they ride wagons to the orchards. Most of their customers have never been on a wagon because they're coming from St. Louis. Though they get a good crowd for peaches, apples are more popular because of the weather, it is slower it's hotter. They have around 5,000 people on weekends to pick their own. The farm is a multi-generational business. They're geared towards family fun and their mission is to create family memories. They come for an experience with their kids, to experience a day on the farm, see how fruit is harvested. It's a connection to the land and where things came from. It's not a bargain on the fruit. Pick your own apples started in 1965. One of the first farms in the United States to do pick your own. Today, Eckert's is the largest pick your own fruit operation in North America.
Also on the farm is a small vineyard that is growing wine grapes. They have squash and gourds they sell in the fall and there are apple orchards. All the apples are grown for the pick your own operation and none are sold whole sale. They have Christmas trees you cut down yourself and peach orchard. Also have
Apples have to be cross pollinated, unlike peaches. The apple orchards are planted in blocks in alternating varieties, such as fuji apples alternate with jonathan and honey crisp apples. Use bees to pollinate. You have to use different varieties in order to have a productive orchard. high density production. They have dwarf size tree. They changed the root stalk of apple trees to change the size. Unlike peach trees. To change the root stalk they fuse the top half with a root stalk, which controls the height, while top controls the variety. The small trees are better in a pick your own business because they're closer to the ground it allows better access. Also easier to control insects and disease.