What Others Say About Our 2018 Apple Growers of the Year

Phil and Judy Schwallier

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with wonderful growers who have always encouraged me, coached me, and improved the industry. Because of their hard work, progressive attitudes, and backbones, we have many, many young growers coming into the business,” says Phil Schwallier.

We received an overwhelming number of submissions to nominate Judy and Phil Schwallier for the 2018 American Fruit GrowerSM Apple Grower of the Year Award. Here is just a sampling of the submissions:

Amy Irish-Brown, MSU Extension educator, on her closest colleague:
“Really, Phil’s first and foremost an apple grower. He takes a lot of the things that he does on his own farm: trials, mistakes, successes, and takes them out to his job. So first of all he’s a grower. Second, and equally important, he’s an Extension educator. Part of his success as a grower is the teamwork he has with Judy. They work seamlessly. She allows him to be successful as an Extension educator because she’s back here on the farm taking care of the things that happen, day to day. Any farmer knows there’s no plan. Each day you’d like to think you have a plan, but for the most part, things come up, and she takes care of them. So she’s equally important on the farm. Except Phil would say more so, because he’s such a nice guy. But he’s right. Judy really does take care of things with the market. A lot of things are his ideas, but she puts them into place.”


Eric Roossinck, a neighboring grower in Fremont, MI:
“My entire lifetime of farming has been while he has been with MSU, and he’s very willing to share anything he’s learned. He’s been in my living room giving advice on planting systems, as well as gone over my financial information to help guide me with decisions. He takes time out of his very busy schedule to come an hour north of where he lives, and works to spend time with the three growers in the area where I live.”

Ed Wittenbach, a neighboring grower in Belding, MI, and 1999 Apple Grower of the Year:
“Phil is still the head of the horticultural side of the business. He’ll create a spray application plan for his employees before rushing out to lead Extension’s weekly grower meetings. He doesn’t rest on the successful marketing of the business, either. He’s always trying to grow the best fruit possible, and he isn’t afraid to try something new to do that. Phil planted vertical axis trees in 1998 and has only continued to modernize. He moved to high-density tall spindle plantings in 2006 and has now planted his first super spindle block — fruiting walls. His entire farm could be considered a part of MSU’s research efforts, as it is always the site of numerous trials. The best part about these trials is they aren’t for Phil’s benefit alone. He always wants to tell you about the latest results to help you make decisions on your farm.”