About Southwind Orchards
Once a prize beef cattle operation, Southwind Orchards has grown to be one of the premier apple orchards in Minnesota. The unique topography of the Driftless Area along the Mississippi River results in micro-climates that allow us to grow a wide variety of apples. While we are always seeking out the latest varieties to plant, we know many of the older varieties remain customer favorites. Therefore, we strive to maintain a mix of both older and newer kinds of apples.
Southwind Orchards is a year around working orchard. While the harvest months of September and October are our busiest times, there is much work to be done at other times as well.
In the winter, while the apple trees are “sleeping”, it is time to prune. The pruning methods we use ensure maximum sunlight penetration during the growing season. This allows for the juiciest, most flavorful apple possible.
During spring the apple trees awake from their winter sleep. In early May, the trees blossom – a truly beautiful spectacle. Bees are brought in to pollinate the blossoms. Once the bees have done their job, we assess the fruit set and adjust the crop load for maximum yields of high quality apples.
While the summer months are not quite as hectic as spring, there is still plenty to do. The orchards must be maintained and the process of adjusting the crop continues. This is also the time to prepare for the upcoming harvest.
During the fall harvest most visitors to our retail market will see only a small portion of what happens during our busiest season. The harvest crew of 15 – 20 workers is out in the field gently harvesting the apples by hand and transporting them up to our coolers and packing line. Once the apples are at our plant, they are either packed for our wholesale customers and retail store or put into the coolers to be packed later. We also truck many of our apples to other packing houses that in turn sell to larger retail chains.
The harvest season lasts about two months and is seven days a week, as weather permits. So, after the last apple is brought in, things slow down considerably and we rest up for next year’s pruning.
We invite you to come and enjoy the beauty of our ponds and the scenic location on Apple Blossom Drive.