Picking under the apple tree
Orchard offers opportunity to pick apples, pears
It's mid-morning when Ken Krause winds his golf cart through one row of apple trees into another, stopping near one tree loaded with red Jonathan apples.
Krause picks one of the apples hanging near him, pulls a small knife out of his pocket, slices off the top of the apple and holds it to his nose.
"When you cut an apple, you should smell it," he says. "If it smells starchy, it's not ready because the starch hasn't turned to sugar."
Krause makes his golf cart trip through his orchard daily smelling and taste testing his variety of apples and Asian pears, deciding which ones are ready to be picked.
"I bring them down to my wife," he said. "She's the one who makes the final decisions."
Krause, and his wife, Nancy, own Fieldstone Orchard, which is just two miles east of Overbrook and one mile north of U.S. Highway 56.
The orchard is home to about 40 varieties of apples, Asian pears and even some cherries, many of which are ready, or almost ready, for picking.
Picking season began in August and will run through October, depending on the variety of the apples and pears.
This year, Krause said Fieldstone is giving the customers the opportunity to pick their own fruit.
"We've gone to the you-pick system," he said. "We're attempting to make it more for them. They'll be able to pick the ones they like and the size they like."
While customers don't have to pick their own fruit, Krause said he encourages it.
"Bring the children out. This is going to be an experience they remember," he said. "Make a family deal out of it.
"We like to see the older people come out," he said. "They have a nostalgia about apples and their youth."
Krause said he was trying to make the picking experience more unique for customers by implementing the you-pick system.
"We're selling an idea, an experience," he said. "The bags of apples are part of the deal. I'll throw in the apples."
The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (785) 665-7643 or go online to fieldstonee.com.
Krause continues to wind his golf cart through the rows of trees, looking over his fruit and making mental notes of things he says can be done to improve his customers' picking experience.
"We're trying to make it easy for people to buy," he says. "Fun for people to buy and nutritious."
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