BELOIT

Loosen your belts—The Apple Hut is reopening for another picking season.

The Apple Hut, 1718 W. Walters Road, will unleash its fall goodies at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1 in the well-known and sweet-smelling store.

In an interview Tuesday, owner Lori Jenson said she can’t wait to see her customers again.

“I get super pumped seeing all the familiar faces again and the smiles,” Jenson said. “The adrenaline is already flowing.”

The store is stocked with fresh Fritz’s Famous Donuts, homemade pies, fresh-pressed cider, turnovers, caramel apples, breads, cheesecakes and more. Pumpkins, squash and mums also will be on scene.

Inside, the aroma of fresh apples and donuts is expected to delight.

“I always tease people we pipe it out to the parking lot on purpose,” Jenson said.

The first variety of apples will be Zestar, Paula red, and ginger gold.

“All three are good for cooking and eating. Zestar and ginger gold apples are a little more sweet, and a Paula red is similar to a McIntosh apple,” Jenson said.

People are invited to come in and eat, shop or pick. Most everything in the store is locally sourced.

Jenson said the unusual weather this summer—dry to start but a bit rainier lately—has stressed the trees, and some varieties struggled and didn’t produce as much. This winter did not have a long enough cold snap.

“A few varieties are slim, but we will have plenty of apples to get us through the season,” she said.

Fortunately there was no hail or early frost this season, although there was a bit of drought, which didn’t stave off a few hardy weeds.

“All the drought-loving weeds showed their faces this year,” Jenson said.

Jenson said she and her husband John planted 550 new trees this spring when not watering.

This year the Jensons added pink ladies and Blondees to its existing varieties of honeycrisp, Ruby macs, macoun and red delicious.

“It takes four to five years before those will be super productive. We are trying to incorporate more varieties in the you-pick area,” Jensen said.

Hours at the Apple Hut will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Jenson’s parents, Fritz and Connie Brockhus, started a small hobby orchard back in the late 1970s in little barn that is today part of the Apple Hut store. Lori and John Jensen started running it in 2016, making this their sixth season.

It’s a special fall for Jenson, who doubted she could run the enterprise after her parents passed away.

“I guess it gets in your blood. We are in it for the long haul,” she said

Three years ago the Jensons added some walls to give more space and last year added a new deck. On some weekends, the Apple Hut offers ribs, pulled pork and chicken smoked on a grill. People should call ahead to see if the grilled items are available.

The Apple Hut property is 8.5 acres with about 2,200 trees. The Jensons grow 17 varieties of apples.

Customers also enjoy flocking to the picture board with old photographs of them as little ones. Jenson said she also makes time to offer some school tours for kids to teach them about the orchard.

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