Symms Fruit Ranch
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Symms Fruit Ranch began as an eighty acre homestead 30 miles west of Boise in Sunny Slope. Eight acres of fruit trees were planted in 1914. Today, Symms Fruit Ranch is a 5,000 acre diversified farm managed by the fourth generation of the Symms Family. Symms Fruit Ranch is located in the unique Sunny Slope area along the Snake River.
Apples, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, wine grapes, onions, forage, seeds, grains and cattle are produced on the rich volcanic soil overlooking the Snake River. Our products deliver an exceptional eating experience worldwide. Symms Fruit Ranch is recognized as being one of the Top 25 Growers & Shippers of apples & stone fruits in the United States.
14068 Sunny Slope Rd, Caldwell, ID 83607, USA
Dar Symms is a busy man. Busy carrying out his great grandfather’s dream to grow fruit, and busy sustaining, improving and growing the business built by four generations of his family. The company continues to be managed by the Symms and Mertz families – direct descendants of the founder.
Symms’ great grandfather moved his family to Idaho from Kansas in 1913. He bought what was then an 80 acre farm in 1914. Yes 1914, which makes this family business 100 years old this year. Symms then planted the first eight acres on this land near the Snake River west of Boise. A few of the original trees are alive and producing to this day.
To celebrate the centennial milestone, the family will host a big open house and celebration at its warehouse headquarters on the original farm August 1st. This event will be open to the public. Canyon County has honored the Symms/Mertz families as 2014 Farm Family of the Year.
From that first 80 acres, Symms Fruit Ranch has grown to more than 5,000 acres. Thirty-five hundred acres are dedicated to orchard and vineyard production and 1,500 acres contain row crops and a cattle feeding operation. Symms produces nine varieties of apples, with Red Delicious accounting for roughly half this production. Gala, Jonathan, Rome, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Pink Lady and Jonagold round out the list. Honeycrisp is scheduled to be planted in the spring of 2014.
Symms Fruit Ranch typically produces about 1.5 million bushels of apples annually. In addition to being one of the top 25 producers of pome fruits, Symms is also among the top 25 stone fruit producers in the U.S. Fruit crops grown in addition to apples include cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears and wine grapes. Row crops grown are forage and grains, onions, potatoes, sugar beets, corn and various vegetable seeds.
Surprisingly, Symms Fruit Ranch does not depend on outside growers for its fruit production. Fruits and vegetables are grown on their own farms, packaged in their own packing house and shipped from their own modern cold storage facility. The majority of Symms apples are exported while other fruits are mostly sold in the U.S. Symms apples can be found in Central America, Asia, India, The Middle East and Europe. California, Texas and the southeast are the largest domestic markets.
When asked about the apple business specifically, Dar says, “It’s a fun industry to be in – obviously very challenging – but never like screwing the same bolt into the same widget every day. Every season is different.” He also notes that “technology continues to get more sophisticated and expensive each year but is essential to maintain competitiveness.” Dar also reports that food safety is a priority at Symms Fruit Ranch. “One of our highest priorities is to make certain we keep up with the latest safety practices, regulations and innovations along with simply keeping up with the industry itself – planting the right varieties in the right lay out to produce clean, safe fruit.”
Dar is certain his great grandfather, who died in 1934, would be surprised by the size and scope of the operation today. Dar’s dad is still in good health and regularly offers advice and opinions. Dar says that his dad’s pat answer is that he “works a full day when he’s around but (laughingly) no one misses me when I’m gone.” When he is gone, he is either on the road traveling or finishing work on a book about this interesting apple family tree. We can’t wait to read it.