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Turning apple wood into smoke
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One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure, and yes, one orchard’s old apple trees might become another company’s apple smoke flavoring.

Sunrise Orchard is in the process of converting a lot of their orchards planted with standard-sized trees to densely planted dwarf-sized trees. Removing the old trees creates a lot of unwanted wood. In the past, Sunrise usually burned large piles of wood to dispose of the old trees and sold some for firewood. However, this year is different.

When Sunrise’s Allen Teach saw an ad on an apple grower website looking for apple wood, he made a call.

“This is one of our largest years ever for cutting down trees and I didn’t know what to do with all of the wood,” Teach said. “Then, it all fell into place.”

Teach talked to Jeff Cummings, the Rhinelander plant manager for the Red Arrow Company. The company makes smoky flavorings for the food industry. While a lot of the flavoring comes from the smoke of northern grown hardwoods, the firm also has an interest in producing an apple smoke flavor.

The products produced by Red Arrow are used by other manufacturers, who make products for consumers. The company’s product is used in producing other products used in smoking, grilling and browning, as well as being used as cooking flavors.

Red Arrow buys wood by the ton at a modest price.

“You may not get rich, but it’s worth your time,” Teach said of the arrangement. Cummings also pointed out that by going with Reed Arrow at least the wood found a use. In all, Sunrise sold Red Arrow 250 tons of apple wood this year. That’s an unusually large amount for the orchard.

All of the wood was loaded for Red Arrow by Andrew Smiley, a local logger with a boom-equipped truck.

When the wood left Crawford County, it was bound for a processing plant in Park Falls. At the plant, the wood is ground into sawdust. The sawdust is then subject to “pyrolization” under intense heat, which creates a vapor that is ultimately condensed to a smoke-flavored liquid.

Red Arrow has also worked with an orchard in Galesville, but is interested in getting more apple wood in the area. Orchards or individuals with abandoned orchards on their property, who are interested in getting more information can reach Red Arrow at 715-365-5500. Locally, those interested in getting more information can also contact the Sunrise Orchard.