Pine Tree Apple Orchard, in White Bear Lake, MN, has been owned and run by the Jacobson family since 1958. The history of the apple orchard itself stretches back to 1904 when the first apple trees were planted by the Pine Tree Lake. What started out as 25 acres is now more than 300 acres and grows strawberries, pumpkins, and corn, in addition to the apples Pine Tree Orchard is known for.
The Jacobson Family
Born and raised in St. Paul, Art Jacobson fulfilled his dream to grow apples and live on an orchard when he and his wife, Dickey, moved out to Pine Tree Apple Orchard for work in 1950. Eight years later they purchased it, unaware that it was the beginning of what would become a very successful family-run business.
More than 60 years after their parents purchased it, Art and Dickey’s six children — Barb, Mary, John, Bill, Nancy, and Jeanne — still call Pine Tree Apple Orchard home. The siblings run the business together and even some of the grandchildren are involved.
Growing apples has always been the Jacobson family’s passion. In an interview with White Bear Lake Magazine, daughter Barb recalled fond childhood memories of growing up at the orchard, with its rolling hills and nearby lake. Orchard life also meant chores and responsibilities necessary in the apple growing business. But, clearly, apples got into the blood of the Jacobson children, resulting in the multigenerational family business that Pine Tree Apple Orchard is today.
How An Orchard Business Grows
A second orchard, located in Preston, was purchased in 1963. This business decision served as an “insurance policy” against anything happening to the original orchard. Between the two orchard sites, Pine Tree Apple Orchard grows 25 different varieties of apples.
In the 1990s, the Jacobsons took steps to increase the efficiency of the orchard — growing smaller trees and switching from boxes to bushel bins, for example. They also looked to Food Alliance Midwest for guidance on how to make their apple orchards sustainable and environmentally friendly. In the White Bear Lake Magazine interview, John Jacobson discussed how insect counts are tracked via traps that are set in the orchards. “If we don’t get up to a certain number, then we don’t spray” he told the interviewer. Tests like the insect counts prevent unnecessary pesticide spraying, which makes for a more eco-friendly orchard environment.
For Even More Fun, Check Out The 21 Best Apple Orchards In Minnesota!
It’s All About the Apples
Many of the original apple varieties are still grown today at Pine Tree Apple Orchard. In the 1990s, the Honeycrisp apple was added. After the Sweetango apple was added in the late 2000s , it quickly became one of the most popular varieties and the Jacobsons’ orchard was one of the few that sold the Sweetango directly to the public.
The website for Pine Tree Apple Orchard includes a “What’s Growing at Pine Tree” page that lists varieties of apples (and crabapples) along with their estimated harvest dates. The list is updated as the apples ripen.
The apples grown at Pine Tree Apple Orchard include varieties such as Duchess, Paula Red, Beacon, Zestar, Sweetango, Wealthy, McIntosh, Lakeland, Cortland, Haralson, Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Regent, Fireside, Golden Delicious, Honey Gold, and SnowSweet.
Pine Tree works with the University of Minnesota to test new apples, which gives them coveted first-hand experience with new developments in the apple industry. When evaluating whether or not to add a new apple variety to their orchards, the Jacobsons evaluate the variety’s seasonality, how well it stores, and whether or not there is an identified market niche for the apple.
But There’s More Than Just Apples
In addition to apples, Pine Tree Apple Orchard grows edible crabapple varieties that include Whitney, Dolgo, and Chestnut. The Virginia Crab is mainly used for making cider.
Strawberry season runs at Pine Tree from mid-June to early July. Pick-your-own and picked-for-you options are available. The orchard’s strawberry picking policies, along with a pick-your-own FAQ are posted online for guests to read so they know what to expect during their strawberry picking visit. The website also provides a strawberry conversion chart and information on the proper handling and storage of strawberries.
In the fall, apples and crabapples aren’t the only crop attractions at Pine Tree Apple Orchard. In September, the orchard opens its corn maze, which runs until late October. The 6-acre pick-your-own pumpkin patch is available in October and puts everyone in the mood for Halloween and fall, in general.
But Wait, There’s More!
Pine Tree Apple Orchard also plays host to fall events such as the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic, the Taste of White Bear Lake Rotary Fundraiser, the 5-mile Run & Walk for the Apples race, the Ladies of the Lake Quilting Show, and live music performances. Pony rides are unavailable at this time and the scenic hayrides also appear to be on hold (likely due to COVID-19). However, there is an expanded orchard walk for visitors to enjoy the orchard grounds.
To see what events are scheduled at Pine Tree Apple Orchard, visit their Activities Calendar page.
What You Can Buy At Pine Tree Apple Orchard
Besides fresh produce, Pine Tree sells its own cider as well as bakery goods. Their pies come in three sizes and are so popular there’s a “Holiday Pie Pickup Hours” schedule posted on the website. The Bakery Products page provides a full listing of the current offerings, along with mouth-watering descriptions of each baked item.
There are also Pine Tree Apple Orchard product gift baskets and gift boxes for purchase. Gift baskets are available from mid-November to December 24; gift boxes are available for shipping from mid-November to December 4, when final orders are accepted.
Customers should be aware that gift baskets are not shippable and are meant to be given the same day they are purchased. There are seven gift basket selections, each with a unique variety of food items. Gift baskets can also be customized from a hefty list of available products.
There are 11 gift box selections, so there’s sure to be one that makes a perfect gift. Like the gift baskets, customers have the option to custom-build a gift box.
A Minnesota Apple Orchard Gem
Pine Tree Apple Orchard is a very popular Minnesota apple orchard destination. Visitors praise the informative and helpful staff, the outstanding bakery items and other food products, the high-quality produce, the entertainment events, and the beautiful local scenery. It’s clearly a favorite for family outings and each year a trip to the orchard puts visitors in the fall spirit.
Art Jacobson passed away in 2008 and, eight years later, Dickey passed away in 2016. Over 60 years ago, a St. Paul city boy and his wife heard about work on an apple orchard on the shores of the Pine Tree Lake and decided to give it a try. They instilled a love of apple growing in their children, which started a family legacy, and ultimately led to the birth of Minnesota’s most popular apple orchard.
Where To Find Pine Tree Apple Orchard
We hope this article has inspired you to plan a trip to Pine Tree Apple Orchard if you’ve never been there before.
Address: 450 Apple Orchard Rd, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Website: Pine Tree Apple Orchard