Meet Your Grower
Kurt Guelich of Omak, Washington has been successful not because of luck, but due to his skill and analytical acuteness. Throughout his life, Kurt has never been satisfied with just being a passive bystander, but he has been determined to get in there and find out what works best.
Kurt’s story begins with his father who came over from Germany after World War II. Â After arriving in Riverside, WA (just outside of Omak), he bought a dairy farm that came with a small apple orchard. His father soon realized he preferred trees to cows and sold the dairy and bought some of the orchards that Kurt has inherited and since expanded.
After earning an undergraduate and Master’s degree from Washington State University in Horticulture, Kurt worked as a Fieldman for Blue Chelan. This job further sparked Kurt’s interest in his family orchards because he worked with different growers and learned many different approaches and systems.Â This job led him to return to his home and eventually take over for his father.
Now, after 25 years, Kurt has expanded the original 50 acres to over 250 acres. He has about 220 acres of apples and pears and 30 acres of cherries. Of these 250 acres, he has renovated, replanted or grafted nearly everything, except his older Goldens.Â Kurt says, “I love planting and developing an orchardâ€¦ but before I plant something new I have to research and find out what works because some varieties don’t work under my constrictions.”
Kurt kept busy during those 25 years tending to his orchards and starting a family with his wife Kelley whom he met in college. Together they homeschooled their three children - Laurel, Grant and Ryan - who are now grown.
For the future, Kurt plans to continue looking at new varieties to see which ones will be most adequate even with the pressing concern of labor constraints. “There are good varieties out there that fit a niche but you have to be willing to take a risk. I believe that it is worth taking a risk to find out which ones work for you,” says Kurt.
The Guelichs have six full time employees and Kurt’s wife Kelley helps out with the bookkeeping.Â Kurt believes that people are meant to work and keep active and he hopes to continue with his orchards for many years to come.
Kurt enjoys getting out into his orchards to “mow the grass” and see the condition of each and every tree. “It’s a joy to be out in the orchard and do the tractor work. I feel in harmony with the orchard when I don’t have the phone screaming or too many people problems. This way I have a better sense of what my trees are saying.
View Archived Visit an Orchard articles:
- Greg Moser
- David Cowan
- Rowe Family
- Craig Campbell
- Geoff Thornton
- Gene Bliesner
- Jack Toevs on Babcock Ridge
- Jeff Mills in Orondo, Washington
- Jim Fleming in Quincy, Washington
- Mark Stennes in Pateros, Washington
Learn about Washington Orchards:
While our growing regions appear quite dissimilar, they all share ideal growing conditions -- weather, soil and water.
Each season of the year plays a role in growing apples.
- From Orchard to You
From pruning to your home, learn about the process for preparing apples for you.
- Core Facts
Learn about crop facts, care and handling, pesticides and more.
- Washington Apple History
In the fertile valleys and plateaus of America's far west, growers tend orchards that produce the world's best apples.