What Apple varieties do you grow?
We grow most standard varieties like McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, Jonagold, Gala, Granny Smith, Golden & Red Delicious.
But we really enjoy growing unique varieties - both brand new and heirloom. Please see our Apple page to check out the complete list--which currently stands at 88 producing varieties. Or just stop by and try something you've never heard of. We encourage taste-testing in the shop. You might find a new "apple-of-your-eye"!
Why don't you have Pink Lady, Jazz, or Fuji Apples?
Pink Lady, Jazz, and Fuji apple trees ripen very late in the season so they are grown in areas where there is less risk from freezing weather, like New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest of the USA. We are now growing Daybreak Fuji which was developed for growing seasons similar to Wisconsin.
Is everything grown at Door Creek Orchard?
Yes. All of our apples, grapes, pears, honey, and sheep are grown and raised on our 80 acre farm. Recently we have elected to not grow pumpkins; the small quantity we sell are grown by neighbor farmers right down the road from us.
How come you don't grow raspberries anymore?
Spotted Winged Drosophila (SWD), an invasive Asian fruit fly, has arrived in Wisconsin and has made growing fall raspberries sustainably impossible. This new fruit fly is able to lay its eggs in fruit that is just ripening. The result is a small white larvae that develops in the berry and accelerates spoilage. Numbers of SWD build over the summer and fall berries have a high chance of having larvae inside. While consuming these tiny larvae is not a health hazard, many of you may not enjoy these "protein added" berries.
The only option to effectively manage this new invasive is to spray the berries repeatedly during the harvest season which also effectively kills pollinators and other beneficial insects. We have never done this with our fruit and do not want to begin. We cannot maintain our dedication to our growing principles and manage this pest at the same time. Therefore, we are discontinuing fall raspberries as a crop.
If you want more information about SWD, we suggest an internet search. There are many university sites (including University of WI) dedicated to this new invasive insect.
Why is your cider so exceptionally good?
Door Creek Orchard cider is made fresh every Thursday of the fall from handpicked apples that have been graded and washed. We never use windfalls from the ground. Because our cider does not contain any preservatives and is unpasteurized, we recommend drinking it within two weeks or freezing it. Freezing will allow your cider to keep for months until you are ready to enjoy it.
We use a blend of apples in each batch. Each variety has its own flavor (and we have many to choose from!), so by doing this blend we create a balanced delicious cider. Because of how the varieties ripen at different times over the season, you will notice a shift in our cider flavor from light to heavy and from tart to sweet as the apple harvest progresses. Please see our Cider page for more information.
Why aren’t you organic?
"Organic” is a legal term that is regulated by the government. To be certified "organic", a grower must use only non-synthetic chemicals on the approved "organic" list. It does NOT mean that the crop is grown without chemicals, just that the chemicals applied are approved, non-synthetics. Pesticides used in organic programs can also have harmful effects on humans, animals and the environment, and must be used carefully and only when needed.
Though we do not grow using only these "organic" chemicals, we use extremely minimal amounts of chemicals on our crops. We only spray if the levels of one pest or disease rise above certain levels. We measure these levels by scouting insect traps, by using weather stations to predict disease, and by visually inspecting for insects and disease. These practices together are called Integrated Pest Management or IPM (See below for more info).
In addition, we utilize what to many are "organic" practices in the way we grow and maintain our land. These sustainable practices include: proper pruning to allow air movement through the trees, mowing sections of the orchard to limit pest habitat, and planting/maintaining friendly habitat for beneficial insects and other animals (such as our marshland, woods, and prairie). We are also constantly exploring other practices to improve the health of our land without utilizing additional chemicals. We truly believe that with hard work and maintenance a healthy farm ecosystem can usually maintain balance all on its own, no chemicals - organic or synthetic - needed. We are constantly working toward this goal.
For more information on what makes something "organic", read about the different certifying bodies and the standards they use here.
What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Apples are some of the most difficult fruits to grow in Wisconsin. They are not native to North America and have not evolved to fight off the pests we have here. Integrated Pest Managment, or IPM, is our approach to growing attractive, tasty apples from healthy trees. This includes pest-monitoring traps and disease-forecasting weather stations. This tactic prevents pests from becoming a problem and reduces pesticide (both organic or synthetic) use. We only spray pesticides if pest levels are high enough to cause substantial harm to our trees and crop. This approach is more time-intensive but is certainly worth the work; we have reduced chemical use (including pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers) in our orchards by 50% or more compared to conventional methods.
The majority of our IPM practices involve trapping and monitoring pests in order to identify if and when we need to apply a pesticide. To do this we use traps baited with a species-specific pheromone to attract the males of that species. Based on the number of insects we see in the trap, we are able to determine if the pest is a serious problem and the best time to spray. At times we also put up extra traps for certain species for a "trap-out" instead of applying a chemical (organic or synthetic) spray.
Weather stations are also important tools that we use to monitor moisture levels in our trees. Fungi such as apple scab require moisture to flourish. If we monitor the threat of an outbreak, we can know if we need to spray at all, as well as being able to time a fungicide application to be the most helpful instead of spraying regardless of threat level as was traditionally done in conventional farming.
Finally, grazing our sheep on rotation in the orchard and careful mowing and grinding up leaf litter in the fall is another effective way of destroying habitat for pests that live in the grass or fallen leaves during the winter. Preventing pests this way in the fall is a great way to eliminate them the following spring and summer - no chemicals needed!
Can I book a photography session at your orchard?
Door Creek Orchard is a popular location for photography. Families enjoying a day on our farm during REGULAR business hours, September – November, are welcome to take as many photos as they would like.
Professional photographers and their clients are permitted on our farm as well. To provide everyone with a positive, safe experience, these are our guidelines for professional photographers.
I've seen pictures of weddings at your orchard - can I book my event with you?
We've been fortunate to have several beautiful weddings of wonderful people at the orchard in the past. However, at this time we've decided to discontinue renting the orchard for special events.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept VISA, MasterCard ($5 minimum for credit cards), checks, and good ole cash.
Can we bring our dog with us to the orchard?
We love dogs too. However, because of liability issues and because some folks just aren't fond of dogs, please leave your pets at home for the comfort and safety of all our guests (and pets!). The one dog allowed is our orchard dog, Georgia. You may see her around wearing an orange vest for safety. She is very friendly.
We want to pick our own - what do we do when we get there?
PYO is finished for 2016, and we are closed for the season. We expect our first PYO apples to be available around Labor Day weekend, 2017.
Do you sell seconds?
Unfortunately, no we don't. We are such a small orchard that we must use almost all of our seconds to make our cider. There are a couple of varieties that are very dry and don't add much to cider (Northwestern Greening, Pound Sweet, Wolf River), so at times we might make these available for sale. We also offer pear 2nds from time to time. Check our "What's Ripe" page to see if we currently have seconds of anything available.