Apple picking season is underway, and one Lockport farm says crops look strong.
Apples on Oak, a U-pick farm located in Lockport, is celebrating a successful growing season by opening its doors to patrons.
Apples on Oak co-owner Lawrence Peceniak said fall is a busy time of year at he and his wife’s orchard.
“It is [busy] now because No. 1 we have probably the best crop we’ve had in the last six years,” he said.
Peceniak said their success this growing season boils down to one main factor: better management.
“There’s a lot of things to growing—fertilizing, pruning, spraying the right thing at the right time,” he said. “We do a lot of natural stuff. We spray seaweed extract; we spray fish oil; we spray compost tea on the ground. I don’t think you can put one thing as the silver bullet that that was the answer, but I think all of those things combined has led to a really good season.”
Apples on Oak features approximately 800 trees and 80 different varieties of apple for people to enjoy. This fall, the farm has two rows of Asian pears for guests to try, as well.
“Our main interest is just growing the apples and the pears for the people to enjoy,” he said.
Peceniak stressed the value he and his family place in operating a small orchard.
“In the fact that we’re small, we greet the people one-on-one,” he said. “We like it like that.”
Cathy Keller, of New Lenox, said she is glad she and her daughter decided to go apple picking.
“We were looking for something new to do today, and it’s kind of a fun seasonal thing,” she said.
Cathy’s 8-year-old daughter, Emilee Keller, said she’d never gone apple picking before.
Cathy, however, recalled taking Emilee apple picking when she was younger and said her daughter just can’t remember.
The two trekked the orchard grounds trying the apples they picked.
“We’ve been going along tasting, making sure we like the ones before we pick too many of them,” she said, laughing. “[Emilee] found the one she likes, and now we got to try to find it again.”
Cathy said she sees a huge benefit to eating locally grown fruits.
“They’re fresher, so that’s always great,” she said. “They haven’t been sitting for several days or weeks in transport, so that I like a lot, too.”
Rob Grayfer, of Bolingbrook, explored the orchards with his girlfriend, Jessica. He said he was looking forward to picking apples.
“She’s a baker. We like apples… She makes pies, cinnamon rolls [and] pancakes.”
Grayfer said he thinks apple picking is very popular this season for a few reasons.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff online,” he said. “Maybe it’s just, you know, social media. People are sharing more recipes, and stuff like that gets people interested. We’ve always kind of went [apple picking.] So, it’s a good seasonal thing to do. [Jessica] really likes fall.”
This season, the owners of Apples on Oak anticipate allowing guests in through the fourth week of September.