Apple season is here

DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - For many families, picking apples at their favorite orchard is an annual fall tradition.

The prime time for that is just around the corner, starting this weekend at most locations.

Apple Valley Orchard south of De Pere is starting to come alive, but nothing like what's to come.

"A lot of people, on weekends we'll have 700 to 800 cars, per day. This weekend we'll be busy, next weekend we'll be mobbed because we start with our Cortlands on the 28th and basically we're opening up the whole orchard on the 28th," says Jerry Van Elzen, owner of Apple Valley Orchard.

While all the wet weather has delayed the apples ripening by a week or so, and caused a few headaches with equipment, you won't find any complaints from Van Elzen.

"The trees got a lot of growth this year. We got the heat and we got the rain, so the trees are thriving. We got a beautiful crop; we got nice size," says Van Elzen.

With 3,000 apples trees on 23 acres, Van Elzen is in his 42nd year operating the orchard.

His greatest reward? His loyal customers.

"I've known people and their kids, now their kids and their kids. We see the same families come back year after year after year," says Van Elzen with a smile.

After more than four decades running the operation, Van Elzen says despite published reports of him retiring, he plans to keep going at least few more years -- and hopes his apple orchard has many more years after that.

"Hopefully we can find a buyer, keep the orchard going. That would be ideal. I've been in it my entire life, so it's hard to walk away."