Apple season kicks off at local orchards

Apple season has kicked off at orchards across our area, including Apple Valley Orchard in Cleveland.

Apple Valley Orchard in Cleveland has 40 acres with more than 14,000 apple trees and 27 different apple varieties. Chuck McSpadden is the owner of Apple Valley Orchard. He said the orchard started on accident.

“One day my mom said, ‘..well if you are going to plant more trees why don't you just plant a bunch?' She meant like 30 or 40. The next day my dad bought 400 apple trees," said Chuck McSpadden.

Galas ripen first and are harvested in August. "It would be a problem for us if everything ripened at the same time, because we could never get everything harvested," said McSpadden.

McSpadden explained they pick through the Gala trees three different times.

"Actually they are not as red as normal. They are a little more orange and that is just due to the high heat," said McSpadden.

Pasqual Ruiz is one of Chuck's pristine pickers with two decades of experience. Ruiz said he cannot even count the number of apples he collects everyday. The trees at Apple Valley Orchard fruit into November. Pink ladies are the last variety to ripen.

In addition to the apples most people have heard of, there is one unique to Cleveland. McSpadden said one day they noticed a Gala apple that looked a bit different.

"Everything below that major cut was regular Galas. Everything above was much larger," said McSpadden. They cut off a limb halfway up the tree, which altered the genetics in the tree. This created a larger and juicer apple. McSpadden said his dad insisted it be named after his granddaughter and Kaitlyn's Gala otherwise known as the "Grand Gala" was born.

"It originated here, believed to be the only apple patented from the state of Tennessee," said McSpadden.

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