Washington Apple Orchards
see a slide show of apple packing in Washington
see a slide show of apple harvesting in Washington
Apples first found their way to Washington state in 1826 on a Hudson's Bay Company sailing vessel. The captain of the ship, George Simpson, was given the seeds of a "good luck" apple on the eve of his departure from HBC's London office. Simpson had been acting Governor-in-Chief of the unincorporated western territories of what is now Canada. The Hudson Bay Company was primarily a fur-trading enterprise; by the 1820's it was involved in fierce competition with another entity, the Northwest Company.
When Simpson arrived at the frontiers of the North American fur trade in 1821, he discovered that these two companies were literally at war with one another. It is recorded that Simpson led the HBC forces "with such vigour during that first winter that he was selected to command the entire Northern Department" of HBC's territorial holdings. The English Parliament finally forced a merger between Northwest and Hudson's Bay, and Simpson was appointed governor to re-organize the vast new company. The name Hudson's Bay was retained, and its headquarters was moved to Fort Vancouver (Washington) in 1825. The first apple trees were planted in Fort Vancouver between 1827 and 1829.
Apple Country Tours
Enjoy the "Fruit of our Labor"
with customized bus tours through the scenic Wenatchee Valley.
See and experience-
- Working Family Orchards
- Antique Packing Line Demo
- Commercial Packing Line
- Sample the fruit varieties
Education, Entertainment & Fun
Call to make reservations-
Toll Free: 1-866-459-9614
Be sure to visit us online for great products from the family orchards of Wenatchee Valley
Washington Apple Country
Today, Washington leads the nation in apple production--and has since the1920s. More than half the apples grown in the United States for fresh eating come from Washington orchards. In terms of total crop for both fresh and processed use, Washington grows between forty and fifty percent of this country's apples. In addition to being sold in all fifty states, Washington apples are marketed in over forty countries.|
There are 172,000 acres of orchards nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, at elevations of 500 to 3,000 feet above sea level. This area was first settled by pioneers at the turn of the nineteenth century. By the mid-1820s, these early settlers discovered that the area's rich, lava-ash soil and plentiful sunshine ceated near-perfect conditions for growing apples. Trees planted along the stream banks tended to be particularly healthy and vigorous. The pioneers developed irrigation systems, and by the end of the century commercial ochards were established. To this day, most of the state's apple-growing districts are still located along the banks of major rivers. Growers are now using "dwarf trees" in high density plantings to bring new orchards into production faster. Smaller trees improve harvest efficiency because the apples are easier to reach. Orchardists can respond more quickly to consumer demand for popular, newer varieties, such as Fuji, Gala, and Braeburn.
Washington has seven main production areas. The Yakima Valley is the largest of these and, along with the Columbia Basin, gives the state its famous Fuji. Unique to this particular cultivar is the accumulation of liquid sugar in the flesh of the apple. Known as the "sugar core" (or honey core), this renders more flavour to Washington Fujis than to those grown in other parts of the country.
The Okanogan region in the northern part of the state ensures plenty of late-season fruit. Its shorter growing days and cool temperatures produce excellent apples of all varieties. Lake Chelan is known for the classic Red Delicious. The Wenatchee Valley and Spokane harvests include both Red and Golden Delicious, along with Gala, Rome and McIntosh. Last--but certainly not least--is Skagit Valley. Though it is the smallest of Washington's growing regions, it is here that one finds the specialty and antique apples. Orchardists in this cool, temperate climate produce Gravenstein, Orange Pippin and Carmine, as well as Jonagold and Gala.