A few questions have come up over the weekend and we hope this message helps you understand why we operate the way we do!
We are a you-pick orchard unlike any other in the world. We have over 1,500 trees of over 500 varieties of fruit that are harvestable from July through early November. We average 3 trees of any particular variety. This means that we don't necessarily have a large volume of any one variety that is available to be picked at any one time. There may be times where several varieties are ready to be harvested at the same time. Other times, there may not be any fruit ready for picking.
We determine how many hours we are open based on the availability of the harvestable fruit. The more fruit, the longer we stay open and/or the more days we are able to offer picking. There have been times where we are open for just one hour or eight hours. Again, it all depends on how much fruit is available to pick. There are also times were we may plan on being open for 4 hours and the night before we are hit with a bad storm and horrible winds that will drop the ripe fruit. We may have to close unexpectedly or reduce the hours we had planned to be open because of the damage to our supply. We have also had all of our peaches consumed by a heard of deer the night before we planned to be open for a big peach weekend and had to unexpectedly close for the weekend as there was nothing to pick. This is a very difficult business to be in as we can control neither the supply or the demand. We manage it the best we can.
We post on our picking report to the right that our hours are what they are or until picked out. This is because we cannot control how many apples each visitor picks while on our property, nor can we make more fruit available for picking. We are at the beck and call of Mother Nature and the trees. As a result, we may have to close early because there is no more fruit to pick. Unlike a retail store that has stock in the back room, when a tree runs out of fruit, we cannot "restock the shelves." Nor can we offer a "raincheck" because that tree will not produce more fruit in the current season.
If we plan on being open certain hours, and we have to hang the closed sign and place the Picked Out sign, it is because the harvestable apples are running low as they would all be picked by the visitors on the property at that time. However, we will have a conversation with anyone who pulls into the driveway after those signs are placed until we were scheduled to close to either allow them to visit the property and see the animals or to give them directions to other area orchards. We will not turn anyone away without the information they needed to make their experience a pleasant one. Everyone is always pleased with our willingness to direct them to other places where they can experience apple picking with their family if there is no more fruit to pick here or our willingness to let them remain on our property to experience the land and the animals and the pond and the maze as long as they are here and to come back another time for the fruit.
The volume of people here on Saturday 09/18/10 was not typical. We have learned that we were featured in an article that ran in several publications in Lawrence and Shawnee and a television spot that ran over the weekend as well as at least 5 magazines that we were unaware of until our visitors shared this with us. Many publications and news organizations get their information from the internet and do not ask our permission prior to publishing. There is nothing we can do about this since it is public information. It certainly does add to the volume of visitors. If you wish to avoid this crowd, you may certainly make an appointment to pick with your family anytime there is availability of fruit. This is clearly stated at the beginning of the picking report to the right as well! We do our best to accommodate as many people's schedules as possible in addition to opening to the public who wish to come at the times we can open to the public.
If you wonder why we do things the way we do, please let us know and we will post the answer here!