Orchard road trip!

Just wanted to report back about a trip we took recently to an in-state orchard. It is called Reed Valley and is about 10 miles outside of the town of Paris, KY, which is northeast of Lexington a bit. Ever since I found out that there was an orchard in the area growing some of the same apples we planted this spring, I just had to visit the place. We have planted 13 different varieties, and Reed Valley have 9 of them. I was kinda geeked about going.

It took about two hours to get there, and once you get off the interstate, is a very pleasant drive. The terrain is generally hilly, with lots of farms, including quite a bit of horse farms. The orchard is situated about 3 miles off the main road, at the end of a gravel road. We got there about 2 in the afternoon, and it was already quite warm, but were glad to be there. And lucky for us, we were the only visitors.

They have like a little general store where they sell the apples, along with other items like jellies, jams, pickled products, cider, popcorn, knick-knacks, etc. They have an attached barn where they bring in the latest harvest and sort through them. Some of the ones that have small bruises or spots on the fruit are put in the #2 (seconds) bin, which are sold at a discount of $1/pound. The best ones are sold as #1’s and are sold for $2 a pound for all the apples, except Honeycrisp, which are $2.50. We just happened to be there when they were sorting through some Honeycrisp’s. We got a bag of about 10lbs of the seconds, because we just want to can them or eat them straight.

While we were in the store, one of the owners gave us some samples of the latest harvests. They had: Mollie’s Delicious, Ginger Gold, Gala, McIntosh, Zestar, Jonathan, Sweet Sixteen and Honeycrisps. They also had some Kosui and Maxine pears to try. We both agreed the Honeycrisp was the best, lots of tart and sweetness, and crisp. My wife prefers crisp and tart, I like them to have some sweet mixed in there. The Zestar was very good, not as in your face flavorful, but very tasty. The Jonathan’s were almost too tart for me, but Mrs Dood loved them. And the Macs were nice as well. The others, like MD, SS had good flavor, but more subtle, while the GG and Gala’s were so-so. So, we bought some HC, Zestar, Jonathan, and Macs. The Kosui was had good flavor, but the Maxine was sweeter, so we got some of those as well.

I liked the Zestar so much, I might add that to our orchard next year, along with some others.

So, we then left our apples inside the store and went out to take a tour of the orchard. Even though it’s called Reed Valley, the terrain is actually kind of hilly. It was quite warm in the sun, but we wanted to see the trees. I have never seen so many fruit trees in my life. I’m sure there are other orchards that are larger, but this was impressive. Just rows upon rows of various varieties with varying sizes. They have over 50 types of apples, maybe 10 of pears, and some peach trees, even though there were no peaches this year because of a hard freeze. They also have blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, but these were done for the year.

OK, enough chit chat, here are some pics. If you see a * , that is a variety we’re trying.

Long row of Gala

Sansa, on wire trellises

Don’t know, maybe some Mutsu, or GoldRush*

A cluster of Liberty* apples, with a beautiful dark red coloring

Korean Giant pears, about the size of a softball

I think these were Mutsu, just massive apples

A bunch of Rome’s

Roxbury Russet*

Golden Russet*

Cortland*, I believe. Almost looks like a big peach. I didn’t know Cortland’s got so big.

Perhaps Suncrisp or Jonagold, still a few weeks before they’re ready

Some of the booty we brought home, Honeycrisp and Maxine pears

All in all, a very nice trip. We’re planning to go back in about a month to try some new varieties. If you’re ever in this part of Kentucky I highly recommend this place. Here is a link to their site:



Thank you for posting! Great pictures of a beautiful orchard. I checked out their Facebook page too where they advertised a special on u-pick Gala apples for an amazing 50 cents/pound

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No problem, Rick. I thought folks would enjoy seeing various fruit grown on such a large scale. The logistics of running such a place must be daunting, to say the least. The spraying, harvesting, tree maintenance, grounds keeping, watering, fertilizing, etc must be challenging, in my opinion. I don’t know if there really isn’t a time that they’re not doing something. But, you’re always at the mercy of the weather, especially when it comes to the more sensitive fruits like peaches, which they didn’t have this year due to a late, hard frost.
I guess it slows down a bit between winter and spring, but still, you probably have to prune, fertilize, remove old or diseased trees, and replace them.

Plus, you have to be a bit of a forecaster to determine what varieties you’re going to plant. I noticed they had lots of rows of Mac’s, Gala’s, red and yellow Delicious, and Winesap’s, which is probably a safe bet. But they also had lots of Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Goldrush, and other “modern” apples, along with some older varieties like the various Russets, Grimes, Jonathan, Ben Davis, etc.

You run an orchard, I’m sure you know all about this stuff, and things that I haven’t even mentioned. How has your place been doing? I noticed on your site, that you gave your apple trees a rest last year. How have they responded this year? What kind of rootstocks do the best for you? Sorry to hear about the peach freeze out, I thought y’all would’ve escaped that where you’re at, but I guess it was really widespread.

We really enjoyed being there, Mrs Reed was running the store while we were there. She was very friendly and generous with the samples of the apples, or jellies, or whatever. Plus, she seemed genuinely interested that we were starting our own little orchard. I told her some of the varieties they had that we were trying, and she gave us her opinion on them.

She raved about Goldrush, said I should get some more of those, and how they change from very tart on picking to tart and sweet in storage. I wanted to pick Mr Reed’s brain on some things about how they do things there, but we had to leave. But, we are planning on returning as other fruit are coming to harvest, so I hope to have a chance to talk to him.

We’re considering adding some blueberry plants next year, what would you recommend as how to prepare the grounds for them? I know we’ll be getting a soil sample, and that we probably need to add some sulfur to the soil. But, are there any other suggestions you might offer?

Our place is very small compared to the orchard you visited. I noticed they have 3000 apple trees,sorting/grading machinery and a commercial kitchen. I really liked how clean and well kept their place was. We focus on clean and well kept also, but we only grow only about 5 acres total and we are only open several days a week. Most of our sales are blueberry or blackberry but interest in our peaches and apples is improving. We have a lot of fun, but even a small operation like ours creates a lot of sweat and a bunch headaches! I would not want to deal with anything bigger.

After our fireblight epidemic we did not crop the apples last year. The freezing weather that killed our peaches this year also thinned our apples hard, so we only have a partial crop. Its probably better to learn on a small crop like this year. We are 100% B9. Spaced between 3-6 feet. Not very vigorous in my warm climate, but they were not killed by fireblight as bad as if I had M9 rootstocks. Got another 150 trees on order on G11 which should grow a little bigger.

Blueberries are very easy to grow compared to tree fruit. In my area blueberries are grown on raised beds with a lot of added peat moss or pine bark and drip irrigtion or micro-sprinklers. I’m not sure which type of blueberries grow well in in your area. In general, rabbiteye are a lot easier to grow than highbush or SHB in most area. They tolerate higher PH, lower organic matter and are not as particular about much or too little water. Birds are the biggest problem with blueberry.


Sorry to hear about the fireblight outbreak last year, and the freezing weather. Like I said above, you can do a lot of work and preparations, but you are still at the mercy of freaky weather. Like you said, at least you had the berry business, and that must have taken the sting out of losing profit from your fruit trees. You said you have 5 acres, but that’s still a lot of land to work.

It’s interesting that you used B9 trees, I thought those were bred for really cold climates. I read that they are somewhat fireblight resistant, more so as the tree gets older. Hope the G.11 trees work out for you. What varieties are you going with? Also, how have your Pristine, Roxbury Russet, Winesap and Goldrush trees done in the past? We’re trying those varieties, and was wondering about your experiences with them.

As far as blueberries go, I think we’re going to try either Blueray, Bluecrop or some other northern bush type. I don’t know if a southern version would do well here. I’d also like to try some raspberry brambles, but haven’t decided yet which varieties. I had all my berry varieties written down that I wanted to try. I was looking through Nourse’s website and liked what they had. I bet birds, and deer are your biggest nemeses. I’d imagine you use a lot of netting to keep them out.

We have some wild blackberries growing here on the farm, but I’m not a big fan of them. But, my wife likes them, and picked lots of them back in June and July. They’re just not that sweet, but I did eat them when she put them in a cobbler!

Yes, my wife saw that pick your own Gala’s for 50c a pound on Reed’s Facebook page, too. If we weren’t so far away, we might’ve went back tomorrow for that. I imagine they have a lot left over and need to encourage people to come get them. They had some other varieties at $1.39/lb like Mollie’s Delicious, Jonathan and Mac’s, that I’d be interested in, but we got lots of yard work to do tomorrow. Gotta mow that jungle lawn of ours, I guess.

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You had yourself a great day! Go back 2nd week of October to slice up some russets. They’ll blow your mind!

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Oh yes, we were planning our next trip on the way home from the first one! We would like to go on the 20th of next month. By then they should have some Cortland, Grimes, Jonagold, Liberty, and Golden Russet ready. Then a week later they should have some Stayman and Stark Winesap, Roxbury Russet, Suncrisp and Mutsu to try. And hopefully we’ll go in October to try the rest. They will even have Winter Red Flesh apples available along with some pumpkins and cushaws as well.

Mrs Reed was quite adamant about us getting some Goldrush in October. She said they’ll be really tart at the beginning, but just give them a couple months, and the sweet will kick in. She said they will eventually have a high brix but it is masked somewhat by the tartness.

Just wish we were closer, I’d go every week. But, a 160 mile round trip is a bit far to be going that often. But, it is tempting…

If you are planting a few hundred trees on a short timetable, you don’t have much choice in rootstocks! When we started four years ago our choices were limited to mostly B9, or M9 on full dwarf trees. We did not plant M9 because we knew that some large orchard blocks on M9 had been killed by fireblight epidemics. My climate makes fireblight even more likely, so we had to settle for the B9. We are going to up the fertilizer next year and see if we can get most of the trees to 9-10 feet. I would have started on Geneva four years ago if they would have been available for a reasonable price Got Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Granny and Fuji coming on G11 for next spring. At the moment, Pristine and Goldrush are some of my best looking trees. Had to thin the trees 2 times to keep the branches from breaking. I started with commercial quality 5/8 inch feathered trees on these and it really shows. The Roxbury and Winesap trees I bought had larger limbs but no feathers. On a larger tree like a MM111, the size and form of the tree you plant is not as important as with dwarf trees. I have learned that, if you start with branches and no feathers on a dwarf tree, it may take 2 years to get the tree into proper form. Gala, Crimson Crisp and Fuji are also looking good with good quality fruit. Stayman fruit wants to split. We have both Virginia Winesap and Old Fashion Winesap that look OK. Cameo trees are growing well, but bitter rot has been a problem this year. .

If your wife likes blackberries they would be a good addition to your farm. Lots of good variety to choose from that are sweet. Also about 10 time easier to grow than fruit trees.


Well good call on the B9 instead of the M9, guess that choice saved you a bigger headache when the fireblight hit. We have some old Milam apple trees on the farm, and one of them got hit pretty bad. It’s so big (20’+) that it will probably recover, but it looks like it just got scorched. I worry about my little trees in the future when and if FB hits. I tried to get varieties that have decent FB resistance, and most of them are on Geneva rootstocks, which should help as well.

You mentioned limbs and feathers on trees. Excuse my ignorance, but what is the difference between the two? Are feathers the small nubs that were once little branches, but were pruned off before shipping? My apples from Cummins did not have any little branches, just some nubs, that sprouted leaves and some of them developed into branches.

And, you mentioned “commercial quality 5/8 inch” feathered trees. Are you saying the thicker the caliper, the sooner the tree will start producing? I ask this question, because I also got some 7/16" peach trees from them, and they just haven’t grown as well as the apple trees. They’ve sprouted little branches and leaves but not much vertical growth.

Maybe it’s not a valid comparison with the apples, as they were pruned to 30", and the apples to 38", and they’ll be trained differently. I must say some of my apples have grown new central leaders to about 5-6 feet tall now.

A feather is a small diameter branch that has not been pruned. These feathers are critical for production of fruit in the first few years after planting so they help make the economics of a commercial tall spindle orchard work. A tree about 5/8 inch with 15 feathers is considered the ideal tree for this system. Its not that important when planting a few trees but it would be nice.

Nurseries normally produce apple trees with several “branches” but few “feathers” because trees normally grow that way. Often the diameter of these branches is large in comparison to the leader and should be removed to force the energy of the tree into the central leader. Some nursery make multiple applications of growth hormones to their trees to get the feathers. They normally sell for a little more money and they are in very high demand.

Here is an article from Cornell that talks about the importance of the feathers:


Thanks Rick, for the explanation. I actually had read your linked article last night. Interesting about how and why they pull those feathers down. There’s been others on this forum who have mentioned this, maybe it was @alan or @applenut, and how it’s helped getting trees to fruit sooner.

I don’t believe any of my apples from Cummins had feathers, don’t think they had many little branches either. I ordered 2 apples from Wallace Woodstock, and I think one of them might have had feathers, or maybe it was just longish branches pruned back a bit.

Just an update. I messaged them last week, asking when their next batch of apples will be ready, especially the ones we’re interested in. Specifically Cortland, Grimes, Gold Del, Jonagold, Liberty, Gold Russet and Red Spy. They said they should be ready about Sept 10th, so it looks like it’s about time for another road trip! I’ll pass on a new report after that trip, maybe next week.

We will prob make another visit next month, that’s when some really nice apples will be ready.

Thanks. The linked article is well written and easy to follow.

Well, we went back to Reed Valley today. It was a sunny, and a slightly warm day, but perfect for doing a little PYO. We were late getting back after making some other stops. We got there about 2pm and left around 5pm. They had lots of new fruit available to pick and some leftovers from last month’s apples.

We got a good deal on what was left of some Gala’s, only 50c/lb, and some Maxine pears, just $1/lb. All the rest were only $1.39/lb, so we picked a lot.

We sampled some in the store before we went out to get them. Of all the maybe 10 apples we sampled, I think my favorite was the Golden Russet, followed by the Cortland. Her picks were Pixie Crunch and the GR.

So out to the orchard we went, pulling our little wagons with bags and some drinks. We ended up getting various amounts of Gala, Gold Del, Liberty, Grimes Golden, Cortland, Jonagold, Jonathan, Gold Russet, Pixie Crunch, and the Maxine pears. I saw that they had a small section of Winecrisp, and saw some on the ground, thinking they were ripe with a very dark reddish skin tone. So, I picked four of them. They are beautiful looking fruit. I found out that they weren’t supposed to be picked yet, and was prepared to pay more for them, but they didn’t have a problem with it. They’ll have to sit for a while before I’ll sample them, if I can resist them.

So, there you have it, 10 varieties of apples, and a bunch of pears. My wife is the bigger pear fan, so she got 11lb of the Maxine! Guess she’s gonna can most of them. I think we got about 20lb of apples total, so some of those will be made into pie filling, maybe some jelly or jam, some canned, and the rest will go into cold storage for fresh eating. What’s the best way to store them, just in a Zip lock bag, and put em in the crisper? Or is there another bag that would work better?

Since it’s late, I’ll try to post some new pics tomorrow.

Put your extra apples and pears down in your crisper.

Of the ones you list, it is a strange coincidence that the ones with “gold” in the name are the ones that will keep in fridge better than the others, which should be eaten fresh within the coming days before they go soft.

Thanks. Yes, that is a strange correlation. Maybe golden skin on an apple is thicker, and protects the flesh better, or it reacts to oxidation different? Or maybe they “breathe” differently thru that color of skin? That is an interesting question to ask. Although, Liberty and Winecrisp are supposed to be good keepers.

I just got a little GR out if the crisper, it was very crisp to my surprise, and a good balance of tart/sweet. For some reason I was thinking a Russet wouldn’t have that crispness, but my experience with apples is very limited. I’m glad we planted a GR tree in our little orchard. How will a Roxbury compare to this apple? The Grimes’ look more green than gold, will they turn color in the crisper? Or should they be set out on a sunny windowsill?

This trip was different, in that it wasn’t as exciting the second time, but it was cool to drag our carts out to the trees and just fill up our bags. The apples we sampled didn’t seem to make as big an impression on me as the first trip. Maybe I’ve had so many bad apples in the past that that first trip kinda spoiled me for any others afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, the apples we got yesterday were very good.

We will go next month to stock up on some Suncrisp, Winesap, Goldrush, Pink Lady and whatever else appeals to us. They’re supposed to have a Brushy Mountain, and Sundowner apples as well. Are you familiar with either of those?

Hope you’ll post after tasting Brushy Mtn Limbertwig. Can’t wait to get a detailed description of its taste. Most of the catalog, book descriptions just say it tastes “like a Limbertwig.” We need a new system to describe taste. Like a 0 to 10 scale of crispness; 0 to 10 scale of tartness; 0 to 10 scale of sweetness.


OK, if I can remember when we go next month I’ll try to either get a sample in the store or just pick a few BMT up. Sometimes they have samples of what’s ripe, but yesterday, in the case of a couple varieties like Empire and Grimes Golden, they didn’t. I didn’t pick any Empires, but I got about half a dozen GG. I’ve read a lot about LT’s and that they’re supposed to be a good southern apple, but I’ve never seen or tasted one. Does the LT name have something to do with the structure of the tree? Like does it have droopy or willow like branches?

The GG’s were kind of green, not gold, so they probably need to sit in the crisper a bit. Hopefully they’ll turn color, even tho I’ve read that these apples can be green, but surely they won’t stay that color, will they? They had Red Spy on their harvest list, but I forgot to ask about them. I suppose a RS is a sport of Northern Spy?

I’ll give my impression of what we got when they’ve ripened a bit more. I did like the Gold Russet’s very much. I dont think I’ve had a true russet apple before, and this one impressed me. They’ll have some Roxbury’s ready in a few weeks. Someone on this site, maybe @BobVance or @Matt_in_Maryland mentioned that GR are very sweet, but these ones I’ve had have a good sweet/tart balance. I imagine they’ll get more sweet in storage, if I can leave them alone long enough.

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Yes, I think that is generally the case. I’m also interested to hear how BML is, as I’ve grafted a bunch of the LT’s, including BML.

GR can have very high brix- in the 20-23 range. They are my favorite, so I may have been talking about them…

This is a bit early for them, so that could explain the sweet tart balance. Though I did pick them one year in mid-late September and they were already pretty good. Don’t let them sit around too long- I’ve picked them several times at a PYO (in one big picking, as it is over an hour drive) and they really start to soften around Christmas (after picking in late Oct, early Nov). I still like them soft, but that won’t be to everyone’s taste.

They aren’t all that preciousness. This was year #4 for my tree (B9 rootstock) and I still haven’t gotten a decent harvest. Though this time there was plenty of set- I think something just ate most of them (after I went to the trouble of bagging a lot…grr). I still see one on it, so maybe I should pick it, just to see how they are in mid-Sept. And because it may not be there in another day.

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