Albert Etter: Another "Growing Fruit Trees From Seed" Success Story
Happy Groundhog Day!
I've written before on the value of experimentation and in particular on the worthwhile practice of growing fruit trees from seed.
Recently, while doing my research on growing apples in Florida, I came across the inspiring story of Albert Etter in the following post at Green Mantle Nursery. Good for them for preserving the legacy of a true pioneer!
Check this out:
As a boy growing up on a farm near Ferndale CA, Etter displayed a precocious talent for horticultural experimentation. He combined aptitude with vision at an early age, making his life goal the creation of a new fruit varieties uniquely suited for California and the Pacific Northwest.
While still in his late teens, Albert had the enormous good fortune to stumble onto the piece of land that was to become his ranch and experiment station.
The young Etter discovered this bench of forest land above Bear Creek during a fishing trip up the Mattole River Valley. Rugged and remote, the parcel was available for free through the Homestead Act. In 1894 at the age of 22, Albert was able to take possession of the dream place he came to call Ettersburg. Clearing and improving the land was a formidable task, but he was helped in the work by several of his brothers who homesteaded adjacent parcels. And so a life-long quest for new and better fruit varieties took shape in the wilderness...
The Ettersburg "Experimental Place" - Laying out the grid circa 1900
Pomologists might divide Etter's career into two distinct halves: the strawberry legacy and the apple legacy. Actually, both projects began and proceded more or less simultaneously from the founding of his homestead experiment station.
He followed the same approach for both strawberry and apple breeding: wide crosses between genetically diverse parents were favored, and his germplasm frequently derived from obscure, primitive, even wild material.
Ettersburg in its Prime circa 1925
Edward J. Wickson (1848-1923) - "Father of California Agriculture" and mentor to Burbank and Etter. A plum from the former and a crab hybrid from the latter bear his name.
Etter Strawberry Beds circa 1915
* * * * * * * * *At any rate, Etter soon shifted his hopes and horticultural attention almost exclusively to his growing list of new apple varieties...
CLICK HERE to keep reading over at Green Mantle Nursery's site.
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