Talk about a juicy comeback story.

Iowa’s apple trees, which took it on the chin in 2012 from a late freeze and drought, are bursting with fruit this year. While this year’s weather wasn’t great for all of the state’s crops, it was a good for apples, according to orchard owners and Farm Bureau members, including Maury Wills of Wills Family Orchard in Adel, Bev Baedke of Community Orchards in Fort Dodge, Donna Brahms of 3 Bee Orchard near Griswold and Jane Schneider of Schneider Orchard near Lacona.

That means there are plenty of locally-grown Honey Crisps, Jonathans, Chieftains and other apple varieties to enjoy as we head into fall.

Beyond grabbing a bag of crisp and juice apples or picking your own, at an Iowa orchard you can explore corn mazes, take trail rides, pick out a pumpkin and do all kinds of fun stuff. Then there are the great apple desserts, like pies, cobblers and fritters, to enjoy. (I’m getting hungry just writing this!)

And it’s not about the good food. As I’ve learned over the years, Iowa apple orchards make great places for family outings. They offer lots of room for the kids to run, a getaway for busy adults and a great opportunity to view our state’s beautiful countryside in autumn.

To find an Iowa apple orchard near you, search the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers online directory and map at

By Dirck Steimel. Photos by Gary Fandel.