The Crops





Apple trees are all pruned by hand in the winter to remove branches that would prevent the sun from reaching the apples during the summer.


In the spring, as the temperature warms up the apple trees bloom and millions of bees on each apple farm pollinate the apple trees so that the apples can grow.


After growing all summer, the apples reach peak size and flavor in the fall and are then harvested by hand from every tree.. After picking the apples, Ferguson’s sells them to grocery stores and to consumers at their retail stores and pumpkin patches on their different farms.

Apples are America’s favorite fruit and different varieties grow throughout the different regions of the United States. Ferguson’s Orchards grows over 30 varieties of apples including favorites Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Pazazz, Zestar, Paula Red, and Cortland. The Eau Claire orchard has 60 of its 130 acres dedicated to apple trees.

Every apple variety is a little different to grow but overall they all have the same necessities – sun, water, and nutrients – to grow into the perfect apple.

Apple trees are a long-term commitment and investment. Cared for properly, an apple tree can produce apples for 30 years or more. Ferguson’s gets apple trees from plant nurseries when they are about 2 feet tall – basically a stick with roots. They plant the young trees in the ground and then build the support system around it to help the tree thrive. The trellis system Ferguson’s uses looks a bit like a wine vineyard grape trellis system. It helps support the apple trees so they can put all their energy into growing apples, not growing huge root systems to support the weight of the apples.

With the trellis system, Ferguson’s installs a drip irrigation system on each apple tree that drips water onto the tree’s roots. With the drip system the apple farmers are able to use a lot less water than sprinkler systems that spray water into the air to disperse it, which causes a lot of water to evaporate and be wasted.

Apple trees start producing fruit about 3 years after they’re planted on the orchard, and they ramp up year by year until they hit peak apple production at about 6 years. Apple trees can stay at peak apple production for 20 – 30 years with good care.
Caring for apple trees is a year-round project.

The cycle starts in the winter when every apple tree is pruned by hand to cut off certain branches. The goal of the pruning is to help the tree create the perfect canopy – or leaf covering – that is not too dense or shaded for apples to grow in the summer. Spring time is an important time for apple trees. As the temperature warms up they bloom with white and pink flowers, and lots of bees fly around and pollinate the trees so that they grow apples.

Summer time is when the apples grow from a pea-sized bud to a full sized apple of up to 3 or 4 inches in diameter. During the summer farmers tend to each tree, making sure they have enough water and nutrients, and mowing the grass between the apple trees to keep insects and pests under control.

And in the Fall, every apple is picked by hand.



Pumpkins are planted in the spring after the last frost. Ferguson’s plants over 30,000 pumpkins on their different farms.


Pumpkins are grown between the last frost in the spring and the first frost in the fall. Because pumpkins grow on long vines that can reach 20 feet in length, pumpkins are planted with lots of space around them to allow plenty of space for the pumpkins to grow. Pumpkins thrive in warm and sunny weather, and grow over the summer months.


Pumpkins are best harvested – cut off the vine – before the first frost happens in the fall, or they might get damaged and rot. After being cut off the vine pumpkins are moved to a dry area where they cure and the skin hardens. They taste best 2 or 3 weeks after they are harvested.

Historical Timeline


Tom and Deb Ferguson purchase the Galesville apple orchard in Trempealeau County Wisconsin, leaving their corporate jobs in Southern California and moving with their children to pursue their dream of farming in Wisconsin. At that time they thought apples were just red or green! (They know differently now!)


The Ferguson’s purchase the 130 acre apple farm in Eau Claire, more than doubling the number of apple trees in their orchards. Tom and Deb’s son Andy joins the family business and moves onto the Eau Claire orchard after graduating from law school. In 2014 the Fergusons plant 40,000 Pazazz apple trees on the Eau Claire orchard.


The Ferguson family adds a third orchard to the family business by purchasing McIlquham Orchards in Chippewa Falls, which had been growing apples for almost 100 years. In 2015 Andy’s brother Joe joined the business. In 2018 Ferguson’s becomes the largest apple producer between the Rocky Mountains and Lake Michigan by purchasing the large Pepin Heights orchard in Lake City, Minnesota right over the border with Wisconsin. With the addition of the famous Pepin Heights orchard, known for being one of the first orchards to cultivate the Honeycrisp variety, the Ferguson family had 250,000 apple trees on their orchards.


Today the Fergusons have over 300,000 apple trees on more than 300 acres of orchards spread out among their different farms. The family has expanded too; both Andy and Joe have gotten married and both sons have two children.

From Farm to Table

Deb’s Delicious Apple Crisp

Yields: 10-15 Servings
Prep Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients Instructions
  • 9 cups sliced/pared apple slices (a mix of Honeycrisp and Haralson is great)
  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • 2. Grease a 9x13 pan
  • 3. Coat apple slices with a light coating of flour and cinnamon. Place slices in pan
  • 4. Mix topping ingredients with fork and sprinkle/spread over sliced apples.
  • 5. Bake approximately 40-45 minutes until apples are tender and bubbling and the topping is a golden brown
  • 6. Best served warm with whip cream or ice cream!

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