Travis Schoenwald -
Schoenwald Orchard: 25 acres
Cosmic Crisp®, Cripps Pink cv., Rockit™, Sugarbee®, Galas, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smiths, Honeycrisp, Lucy Rose™ apples
Travis Schoenwald is a Washington apple grower in Manson, Washington. Travis both owns an orchard and manages orchards for Gebbers Farms. His background in the apple industry runs back to his fond memories of helping his dad, Mike Schoenwald, and grandpa, Don Schoenwald, growing up on the family orchard in Malaga, Washington.
Schoenwald has been growing his own apples for 5 years and has been managing orchards for Gebbers Farms for 12 years. About 2,000 acres are under his care at Gebbers Farms with a range of varieties including Cosmic Crisp®, Cripps Pink cv., Rockit™, Sugarbee®, Galas, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Granny Smiths. Schoenwald oversees the 2nd oldest producing Granny Smith’s in Washington.
“They’re huge. We call them the Big Granny’s,” Schoenwald remarks referring to the size of the tree due to the traditional planting style and growth over time.
On his own orchard Schoenwald grows Honeycrisp, Galas and Lucy™Rose apples.
For Schoenwald, his favorite part about being a Washington apple grower is seeing the results of hard work. And the ability to work outdoors is a bonus.
“I like to see the end of the season, those bins lined up, they’re all full of fruit,”
He humbly credits his success and the success of the orchards he manages, to the people around him. Other growers and industry members have been a community full of experience and knowledge that have been a resource for Schoenwald.
“One of the biggest rewards is the people you get to work with,” Schoenwald notes. “Great network of people who are always ready to help. I can just make a phone call.” He learned over the years that the best way to accelerate his learning curve was to reach out to other growers.
Schoenwald was involved in the Wenatchee Valley College Tree Fruit Production program where he was able to gain hands on experience through research studies conducted by teachers in the program. He attended Washington State University and received his degree is Horticulture with an emphasis in Tree Fruit Production. Starting as a junior in college, Schoenwald worked as a pest management independent consultant. This was the start of his career in the industry and then in 2005 he transitioned to managing orchards for Gebbers Farms. After years of experience as an orchardist, he acquired his own orchard in 2013.
New varieties, planting styles moving toward mechanization and advanced horticultural practices - the growing efficiencies in the industry keep things energized.
“The new stuff is fun because you’re always learning something” Schoenwald says. Schoenwald works daily with traditional planting styles and the newer planting styles like the V-trellis system.
“Having experienced the old [planting style], and working with the old, it really highlights the advantages of the new system and the new varieties,” he comments.
Schoenwald’s mission as a Washington apple grower is to produce quality fruit that provides good consumer experiences.
“I want to produce fruit that people want to eat, that I want to eat. If I’m happy with the fruit I’m producing, I think in general, consumers are going to be happy with that.”
Schoenwald and his wife Megan, have nine children and he hopes they become involved in the apple growing business.
His kids help change irrigation and check codling moth traps. Schoenwald remarks that he makes the point to teach them to be able to spot issues and problem solve on their own. His intent is to help create a love for it when they are little, hoping to instill the same passion for growing apples he has.
“That’s every farmer’s dream, to pass it down.” says Schoenwald smiling.