The McIlrath Farm in Tieton, Washington

We are first-generation family farmers who constantly explore new production methods to improve yield and fruit quality.

Our family farms are located in Tieton, Washington, the upper valley outside Yakima. At an elevation of over 2100 feet, our cool nights and warm days are ideal for growing apples. The weather combined with extremely fertile soil yields firmer apples with bright red color and sweeter sugar content. Our yearly natural moisture averages 8 inches, resulting in fewer pests.

Our certified organic cherries include Bing, Rainier, Sweetheart, Lapin, Lambert, Glory, Van, and Sunset Bing cherries. We tie brightly colored ribbons to the branches of our cherry trees in hope that this will discourage Starlings from feeding on the cherries. The challenge this year for our cherries was a November freeze. This will likely result in fewer cherries, but they will be larger and of excellent quality.

McIlrath Farms employee in Yakima, Washington features locally grown apples and a great variety of fruits and vegetables. Shown is process of thinning the apple trees for higher yield and larger apples

Every year brings new challenges to our farming business. This year we have been blessed with a very good apple crop. In order to harvest only large, well-colored and the most flavorful of apples, we hand thin our trees. We move down each row with ladders throwing half-inch applets from each tree branch to the ground to form rich compost. The remaining applets need to be separated so that they will grow into large, tasty apples.

McIlrath Farms employee in Yakima, Washington features locally grown apples, variety of fruits and vegetables. Shown is use of white cloth to reflect sunlight back onto the lower branches of apple trees for greater yield

As you drive through our orchards, you will see many production examples including the use of white ground cloth to harvest the sunlight and reflects it upward to the bottom of the apple trees to increase production of the lower branches of large, older apple trees.

McIlrath Farms employee in Yakima, Washington features locally grown apples, variety of fruits and vegetables. Shown is the process of apple tree grafting for greater yield.

We also practice several different grafting techniques to reflect the current customer choice trends. Since we practice sustainable agriculture, we use a large chipper to chop up trees and branches left over from our spring grafting and add this to the compost pile.

Working closely with Washington State University in Pullman, we use the minimal amount of chemical sprays possible on our apple crops for sustainable agriculture.

We constantly strive for better stewardship of our rich Yakima Valley farm land to preserve it for generations to come.