Meet the vendor: Sunflower Orchards

Meet the vendor: Sunflower Orchards
Posted on 09/06/2018
Lance Hall and apples on a tree

Lance Hall of Sunflower Orchards did not grow up on a farm, but most weekends he could be found working on one of his grandparents’ farms in Missouri. One of Lance’s grandmothers was widowed and farmed until she was 88 years old. Lance says he cut a lot of wood and baled a lot of hay as a youth helping that grandmother. Both of these grandparents’ farms were 130 acres and they both farmed mostly cattle.

When Lance was young, he had a small herd of 20 cattle at his grandparents’ farms, and cattle are his first love. He now has a small cow-calf operation of 45 head of cows. Lance says to compete in the cattle business you need a lot of land, which he didn’t have. This lack of land moved Lance into the orchard business instead. 

Today Lance has 210 acres in Paola, Kansas, with mostly fruit trees. Lance’s farm, Sunflower Orchards, has 450 peach trees consisting of 25 varieties. Lance’s favorites are Luck 13 and Flaming Furry. He also grows 3,000 apple trees consisting of 25 varieties, Lance’s favorite is Zestar, but he says you can’t go wrong with a Fuji because they are always sweet and crunchy.

Lance currently has a quarter acre of blackberries — featuring Natchez, Ouachita, Triple Crown and Chester varieties — that he plans to expand soon. Since different varieties ripen at different times, Lance likes to grow several varieties of fruit to give him a longer season.  

For pest management, Lance does not spray unless he actually sees a predator bug. The stink bug is his number one enemy. The stink bug actually stings the fruit, and Lance can lose half a tree fruit crop to these bugs. The spotted wing bug is deadly to his blackberry crop, and the Japanese beetle that has plagued other farmers in the area has not made its way into Sunflower Orchard yet. Lance suspects he will have to deal with them next year.

Peaches started in late June and we have a few more weeks left if the weather is agreeable. Apples just started the middle of August and will be available through October depending on weather. Lance also opens his orchard to the public for you-pick apples, typically starting later in September.

Be sure to visit the Sunflower Orchards vendor stall at the Lenexa Public Market on Saturday mornings to get the latest updates on Lance's fruit.

Published Sept. 6, 2018