Our Orchards & Fruit
Back in the early 1900’s Anders Seaquist planted his first cherry trees and discovered that Door County has a unique way to nurture and grow these particular trees. In the 1960’s, they expanded acreage to 100 acres of cherries and apples. In 1983 Dale and Jim formed a partnership and doubled the acreage to 200 acres. At that time the focus became more on the tart cherries, less on other fruit. From the 1990’s to present day has brought the largest changes with planting new orchards every year since then.
Today the farm consists of approximately 1,000 acres of tart cherries and over 50 acres of apples and sweet cherries. In an average year the farm can produce about 6 million pounds of cherries.
Although we have a small acreage of sweet cherries, we grow mostly Montmorency Tart cherries. These cherries pack some great health benefits, including improving sleep, easing soreness post work-out or for arthritis and gout, and it also reduces risk of heart disease. These are the cherries that you typically see in cherry pie filling, dried and in juices.
One of our most asked questions is how do we harvest them?
Cherries were hand-picked. We now use machine harvesters to shake the trees. Cherry season lasts only a few weeks and it is extremely important to remove the fruit at its peak ripeness. This is where Jim and Zach are experts at knowing exactly which order to shake each orchard. The fruit is shaken off the tree in about 3 seconds, caught in a “catching frame”, and stored in a tank of cold water. These tanks get delivered to the processing plant.
We have about 30 varieties of apples that we sell at our farm market and press into apple cider. Our largest acreage and number one variety is the Honeycrisp. These trees, unlike cherry trees, are dwarf trees and are planted “high density”. Unlike cherries which can be machine harvested, apples need to be gently handpicked. We have an excellent crew who spend all fall picking apples!
Different varieties are grown for many different uses. This is a question we most frequently get asked, so we have created a table that helps you know when each of our fruits are ripe and their best uses.
Seaquist Orchards is operating in a multi-generation family business. We give the praise to God for not only growing our business, but growing our family, allowing many family members to be a part of this business.
Currently Dale (4th generation) and Jim (5th generation) are partners. Jim’s wife Robin manages the business office and Dale’s wife Kristin manages the Farm Market. They have both been busy over the years, raising families and helping to grow the business. Dale, a true farmer, at 83 years old still does much for each part of the business. Jim is the general manager over all the entities. Both Dale and Jim have a passion for farming!
We are hoping to move to the new generation.
Zach heads up the equipment and farm shop and oversees the harvest crew. He is very gifted mechanically, and helps repair anything and everything. He is the son of Dale and Kristin.
Cole works at both Seaquist Canning Co. and works on the farm. Cole is Jim and Robin’s son.
Justin is more involved at Seaquist Processing Inc. every season. He is responsible for the Food Safety Program, and for getting our SQF certification, and has developed our quality assurance programs. He is excellent with policies, inspections and developing systems, and is also the son of Jim and Robin.
Other family members include Laura who oversees the bakery at the Farm Market, Heather who assists Kristin, Laura and the rest of the family with everything and anything, Lisa who heads up Seaquist Canning Co. , Ann who is instrumental in the kitchen at Seaquist Canning Co., Allen who still comes each cherry season to help, and Bonnie who works both in the bakery and at the Farm Market.
Yes, that is a lot of family, but we have a new crop coming. Our little ones who keep us smiling each day are in training!
We need more than family members to keep everything running smoothly, however, and we have wonderful employees in each of the entities both year around and seasonal. We could not do these jobs without all these faithful people!