Episode 168: John Jacobson
Jun 30, 2021, Updated Jul 22, 2021
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Second generation grower with Jacobson’s Pine Tree Apple Orchard, John Jacobson knew the SweeTango apple needed to be added to the farm the moment he tried it in 2006. It took a bit of convincing for the remainder of his family at Pine Tree, but after adding 10,000 trees it’s become a staple of their offerings.
As a second generation grower, John’s family roots (literally) are in apple farming. The original orchard was planted in 1904 on the shore of Pine Tree Lake extending around 25 acres. After working on the orchard for eight years, his father ended up buying it in 1958. Pine Tree Apple Orchard now stretches over 300 acres with apples, strawberries, and pumpkins. To this day, John and all five of his siblings are involved in raising and selling the crop, with family truly at the core of the business.
Not only does Pine Tree Orchard have the farm, but a full-service bakery with dozens of different apple pies, donuts and cider. As summer is somewhat of the “off season” for apples, Pine Tree is now preparing for the season by trimming trees, and topping off the processing season of freezing apples until next season.
The Jacobson’s define their farm culture with high quality fruit by choosing varieties that are unique, with an appeal to the market that they serve. Thanks to a partnership with The University of Minnesota’s fruit breeding program, Pine Tree is involved in testing of different varieties that the farm provides.
Pine Tree Orchards’ introduction to SweeTango apples goes back to 2006. John and his father were on their way to another farm in Minnesota when they swung by a friend’s operation in Lake City. This friend told them there was a new variety of apples coming up and introduced them to SweeTango.
“I was sold at first bite.” – John Jacobson (05:26 – 05:29)
After bringing the SweeTango apple home and allowing everyone else in the family to try, John was able to push to add the new crop to the farm. But it’s not as simple as adding it and hoping that consumers like it as much as he does.
When adding a new crop to the grow list, it can be difficult to take a risk on what to invest in. As direct marketers, Pine Tree Orchard has the ability to give their customers a taste of what they’re working on and gauge their interest.
Once the family was convinced, Pine Tree joined the co-op and began with over 10,000 trees. With significant starting harvesting cost, SweeTango has been quite a successful apple for them so far, with few apples having teh same taste and texture, and coming before honeycrisp season.
Thanks to joining the co-op, Pine Tree has been able to work diligently on getting SweeTango into the hands of more direct farm marketers in the midwest and east coast so that more consumers can access them in grocery stores
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