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It's a banner apple crop this year for Pennock grower

It's the time of year Randy Huisinga enjoys most. "Busy, busy," he says as he takes a hearty bite from an oversize apple and bounds toward the shade of the orchard that occupies his days. He's sort of a jack-of-all-trades -- the "supreme commande...

Briana Sanchez / TribuneRandy Huisinga, Sunnyside Orchards, talks about the 10 acres of land and roughly 650 trees he helps maintain.
Briana Sanchez / Tribune Randy Huisinga, Sunnyside Orchards, talks about the 10 acres of land and roughly 650 trees he helps maintain.

It's the time of year Randy Huisinga enjoys most.

"Busy, busy," he says as he takes a hearty bite from an oversize apple and bounds toward the shade of the orchard that occupies his days.

He's sort of a jack-of-all-trades - the "supreme commander" he says through a bearded smile - at Sunnyside Orchards, a 15-acre plantation off a gravel thoroughfare north of St. John's Lake near Pennock.

It's great work, he says, especially when business is booming.

Sunnyside specializes in 12 to 14 varieties of apples, grown from more than 650 trees. And the wet summer and often cyclical nature of apple trees have helped produce a crop so large this year, Huisinga's primary concern is ensuring the branches of the trees remain intact.

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"Massive," Huisinga says of the crop. "... bigger than most years. We've got no shortage of apples, that's for sure."

That's evident a few hundred yards away, where a warehouse rises from the flatlands. Within it sits dozens of 40-pound crates, some stacked six high.

The product will be sorted by hand and machine, and later sold at a number of local farmers markets throughout the remainder of the month. The Honeycrisp is a popular staple for local customers, who are drawn to its color and sweetness.

"It's a popular apple," Huisinga says.

Much of the Haralson crop will be crushed and used for the more than 400 gallons of cider Sunnyside markets and donates each year.

The remaining crop will be donated to churches and food shelves.

"Every apple gets used in some way," Huisinga says.

He hopes this year's crop is a sign of things to come: Sunnyside plans to plant another 200 trees next year.

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It will take four to five years for the trees to reach optimum production.

Sunnyside Orchards is located at 6051 75th St. N.W. in Pennock.

For more information, call 320-599-4539.

One of several orchards in the west central area, Sunnyside Orchard does not offer public picking.

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