In 1990, Luis Braun, an Italian fruit grower, was traveling through Japan when he discovered a very special apple tree. Braun took a branch from this tree back to his home in Italy, and after many years of planting, growing, grafting and cultivating, he was able to produce the perfect apple. With a sweetness unmatched by any other apple he’d tried, he knew that he had discovered a very special apple. He decided to name his new discovery, “KIKU®”, which is the Japanese word for "chrysanthemum". This flower is the symbol of the Japanese emperor, and naming this special apple KIKU® pays homage to its origin.


Exceptionally sweet and beautifully ruby-red in color, Braun set off to share this super sweet apple with the world.


KIKU® brand apples are now proudly grown in the U.S. and around the world by a select group of orchardists. Within the USA, CMI Orchards LLC in Wenatchee, WA, Applewood Orchards LLC in Deerfield, MI and Rice Fruit Company in Gardners, PA grow KIKU® apples.


Luis Braun stands amongst his KIKU® orchard in Italy. See global KIKU website here.





Walter E. Swindeman, Sr. planted his first apple trees in the fall of 1935. Walter, being a wholesale grocery salesman, used to notice the poor quality apples in the surrounding area stores. At that thought, he told his wife, Lucile, "When I retire, I'm going to raise good apples as a hobby, then go back and call on my old customers and supply them with quality apples". And this is what gave Walter the incentive to begin Applewood Orchards.  


In 1940, Walter retired and became a full-time apple farmer. Of course, his volume was limited but he did have enough to supply some of his old buddies. Before long, he started to handle fruit for a few other growers so he could supply all of his old grocery customers as well as a local retail trade.  


His son, Bernie, growing up on the farm was always helping his dad, as his dad had always paid him for the work he performed. By the time Bernie was a young teenager he was buying land and setting out orchards of his own. When he was sixteen, he was delivering apples in a one-ton truck to the Toledo customers.  


In 1955, Walter and Lucile said it was time for them to really retire. They moved to Ft. Lauderdale , Florida . At that time, Bernie married Beverly Murphy and they took full control of the family customers. They continued to expand the little farm business. In 1958, they built one of the first Controlled Atmosphere ( C.A. ) rooms in the United States . As the years went on, they kept building more C.A. storage's and taking on outside growers so they could keep up with the demand. By now, the family business had expanded to supplying several major chain stores, and Applewood Orchards incorporated in 1963.  


In 1969, Bernie once again was among the first to install an apple waxer. This only came after he built a new packing plant to house the new packing line. In the mid-1970's, Bernie and Beverly 's sons, Steve, Scott and Jim, got involved in running the family business. They too, grew up in the orchards and packing plant helping their folks.  


Today, the three sons run the business along with the forth generation, Scott's son Michael and Jim's son Brandt. They now have several outside growers bringing their fruit to be stored, packed, and marketed. Applewood also grows over 450 acres of apples of its own with plans to continue expanding its acreage. Applewood now has 16 C.A. rooms in Deerfield, plus several grower owned and rented rooms. Applewood is now shipping to numerous areas east of the Rocky Mountains and exporting to several countries. Applewood's main goal is quality, service, and consistency.




In the heart of the Columbia River Valley in Washington State, CMI grows spectacular apples, pears and cherries. Growing the freshest, highest-quality fruit imaginable comes easy for a company with over 100 years of experience working the land. Formed in 1989 by a group of family-owned orchardists who joined forces to combine marketing efforts and expand operations, CMI benefits from the multi-generational expertise offered by owner orchardists; McDougall and Sons, Columbia Fruit Packers, Double Diamond, and Highland Fruit. Today, CMI has grown to become one of Washington State’s largest grower/shippers of premium conventional and organic apples, pears, and cherries.


Over the past 25 years, CMI’s domestic and export programs have expanded significantly. CMI now ships the very finest quality fruit across the U.S.A. and to more than 60 countries worldwide. In addition to a full suite of mainline apple and pear varieties, CMI offers exclusive varieties and brands such as Ambrosia™, Kanzi® and KIKU® brand apples. CMI partners with first-class growers in Chile, Argentina and New Zealand to deliver apples, pears and cherries year-round.


Innovative packaging options provide retailers with unique selling tools and solutions. CMI’s impressive packaging array includes clamshells, tote bags, pouch bags, and instant displays that ship with fruit and are easy to set up.


For over a decade CMI has been a leader in organic growing, with more acreage being dedicated to organics each year. As consumers become more aware of what they are eating and how they are treating their planet, consumer hunger for premium organic produce is rapidly growing. To meet this growing demand, in 2009 CMI created the Daisy Girl Organics™ brand; a program that is continually expanding to include more varieties. In only 5 years, Daisy Girl Organics™ has grown to be the #1 selling organic apples in the U.S.A.


CMI is constantly striving towards sustainability in all of our growing practices. In 2015, CMI’s conventional fruit is closer than ever to being grown organically. From planting disease resistant trees that reduce pesticide use, recycling and mulching, investing in new technologies that are more energy-efficient, to conserving resources at every opportunity, CMI growers are stewards of the land are care deeply about preserving the “orchard way of life” for generations to come.





Rice Fruit Company is the largest apple-packing facility in the Eastern half of the United States. Situated in the heart of Pennsylvania’s prime orchard country, the company receives, stores, and packs more than a million boxes of high-quality fresh Pennsylvania apples annually.


Rice Fruit Company is a family business, which was founded in 1913. It is now managed by four brothers who represent the third generation of the family to run the business. The brothers (David, Ted, John, and Mark) grow fruit on 800 acres of apple, peach, nectarine, and pear orchards in Adams County. The fresh fruit grown on these farms account for about one fifth of the fruit packed and marketed by Rice Fruit Company. The other 80% is supplied by other fruit-growing families with orchards in the same famous fruit belt of South-central Pennsylvania.


Rice Fruit Company stores, packs, and ships over 20 varieties of apples, including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Royal Gala, Empire, Fuji, Rome, Granny Smith and KIKU®. The apples are stored year-round in state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere storages and packed to specification using the newest electronic color-sorting equipment and gentle electronic sizers.


The company also has the capacity to individually sticker fruit with variety information and PLU numbers when required.


Rice Fruit Company has the highest possible ratings in the industry for both ability and integrity. It has won numerous awards within the industry including the Governor’s Export Award for excellence in promoting Pennsylvania exports. Sales manager John Rice was awarded national industry awards as Apple Man of the Year by The Packer newspaper and Apple Grower of the Year by the American Fruitgrower magazine.  In 2012, all 4 Rice brothers were honored as Growers of the Year by the Good Fruit Grower magazine, the first time the honor had ever gone to growers outside of the Northwest.


The company has developed a high reputation for packing and shipping consistent, high-quality fresh apples. Its large capacity and unique facilities allow the company to respond quickly to orders and to comply with special customer requests. The close proximity of the company to the major markets of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York City allows the company to ship and deliver apples quickly with lower freight costs.

U.S. Growers

Jim and Mike Wade, owners of Columbia Fruit Packers (co-owners of CMI) in Washington State.

Quite possibly the sweetest apples you'll ever taste!

Rice Fruit Company conducted a two-year study of sugar levels in apples at harvest.  Apples of all varieties were collected and measured for Brix levels.  KIKU® truly is the sweetest apple they grow, an incredible 30% sweeter than Honeycrisp.




Brix scale |ˈbriks skāl| 


a hydrometer scale for measuring the amount of sugar in a solution at a given temperature.



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© CMI 2015-2016

KIKU® is a registered trademark of KIKU® Srl-GmbH, Italy, not an apple variety.