Visiting with orchard owner today

Charlie Swanson of Mountain View Orchards (Corvallis, MT) was delivering apples and cider today to the store where I work and I had a chance to visit with him as we unloaded his van. I copied this from his website: " Swanson’s Mountain View Orchards was established in 1909 by my great grandfather Charles J. Swanson (originally Karl Johan Svenson). "

What particularly caught my attention was when he told me of his grandfather’s having been sent apple varieties by Luther Burbank, which were used to establish an orchard (since sold). I don’t know whether those apples still exist, but I thought it fascinating. Burbank wanted the varieties to be trialed in different locales, according to Charlie.

So somewhere out here in Western Montana a few of Burbank’s own creations likely still exist, and maybe produce; who knows what randomly-located trees were established by others as the trees were used as scion sources? I now look at every older tree I see and wonder what it really is?

Anybody here a Burbank scholar? Given the scope and thoroughness of his work I would wager that there’s a notebook somewhere that describes those efforts. It would be interesting to try to piece together a trail and learn what developed.

I have one of Burbank’s cultivars, not apple, blackberry. Burbank white blackberry. What’s interesting is the Burbank gardens has it and so does ARS. But both sources are virus infected. They are looking for a virus free source. Mine comes from a source in California although 3rd hand that at one time was certified virus free from the state of California. If it is now infected so are all my brambles that have flowered. Anybody know where I can get a virus test done?
Interesting that the leaves look just like Marijuana leaves, Almost exactly like pot!

Drew, that’s interesting, and it leads me to the thought that there may be uninfected sources out there somewhere.Whether it’s worth anybody’s time to chase them down is a question for better minds than mine … might be worth looking into by the right person.

I guess one way to find out who test for viruses would be to ask whoever does the testing in a given state- they should be able to tell you.

You know, both pot and hops are members of the mulberry family, but I don’t know about blackberries, which I thought were roses. Don’t know anybody who has smoked blackberries.

:- )M

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I’m not a Burbank scholar but I have read various old books about him. There was something of a cult of Burbank during the early 20th century, I was surprised to read all the hyperbolic descriptions. I guess fruit breeding guru of back then is like computer guru (e.g. Steve Jobs) of today.

Here is something about his apples I found in some old book.

None of Burbank’s apples attained fame at all comparable with that of his
plums. His prestige, however, caused them to be widely planted in private
gardens and apparently, in a few instances, raised for local markets. Pub-
lished testimonials indicate that individuals thought highly of certain varie-
ties, particularly the Goldridge and the Winterstein.

Autumn Russet.— 1920. Season, fall. (118, p. 6.)
Bonita, or Red Maiden Blush. — 1919. Seedling of Gravenstein. (115, p. 2.)
Crimson.— 1919. Seedling of Garden Royal. (115, p. 3 ; 118, p. 2.)
Goldridge.— 1911. Seedling of Newtown. (86, p. 14; 102, p. 11.)
New Fall Golden Russet. — Listed in the 1914 bill of sale.
Peron.— 1914. Listed in the 1914 bill of sale.
South.— 1912 ( ?). Color photograph of fruit. (135, vol. 4, p. 181.)
Star.— 1919. Seedling of Baldwin. (115, p. 2.)
Tokapuna Russet.— 1901 ( ?). Imported from New Zealand in 1886. (191.)
Winterstein. — 1901. A Gravenstein seedling. (56, p. 5.)

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Two interesting vids on Luther Burbank’s properties.

Not comprehensive. Just for fun.

Matt, sorry to digress, but, man, that guy gets around. I think he was at our scion exchange last year, and I caught my daughter watching a video of him and his daughter opening plastic eggs to discover the toy surprises inside. She cold watch those for hours.

I hadn’t realized there are people whose profession is getting people to watch their Youtube videos.

Interesting, Scott. It may well be that the current Charlie Swanson’s antecedents chose to sell the property that had those apples because they couldn’t see a future for Burbank’s contributions. Mebbe they weren’t very good. Like Edison, Burbank tried an awful lot of things out to find our what worked and what didn’t. Great men in any era are fascinating. I am fortunate in that I am not so burdened by any stretch …

I wonder if any of Burbank’s apples survive in commercial use anywhere in the country? A little orchard here or there that ended up with a couple or three that worked where they were, perhaps? It’s fun to speculate.

One thing’s for sure, Burbank, or whoever did the naming, had a talent for names. “Autumn Russet, Red Maiden Blush, Star, Tokapuna Russet”- these would all fit right in next to Pink Lady, Jazz, and Opal, today.

Who knew? Not I.

Wow! In a sense, Burbanks efforts live on today in that we’re still showing interest, and so many youngsters were interested in plants because of him. I know that books I read in third/fourth grade introduced me to Burbank and the concept of plant breeding. (And here I am nearly 60 years later still luvvin’ it!)


I thought everybody knew about those, his most famous. Well many others are probably better known really like The Santa Rosa plum, Elberta peach, Elephant Heart etc.


I’m stoked with the little kernel that I saved from a plum I ate couple months ago! I left it in open air to dry out and forgot about it until I read and watched the Miraculous” Stoneless Plum" from MrsG’s post.

At that time, I found it quite interesting and thought about a seedless plum would be great but I never dig further or post this up for the experts to evaluate!

Could this be from Luther Burbank’s work? Is this little kernel still valid? Or it’s too dried out at this point & died?

And here it is again with a fish oil pill for scale!


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That doesn’t look viable. Seeds that are viable should be plump after drying.

Burbank deserves high praise and credit for many fruiting plants, but not for the Elberta peach, which has its own major historical significance in agricultural industry of the Southeast. These are named for the wife of Samuel Rumph, who grew the original as a seedling from a Chinese cling crossed with, IIRC, Early Crawford. The fruit was exceptional and firm enough to transport via rail to market in NYC, providing city folk with better fresh fruit. He grafted many of these into his orchard, as well as creating a nursery. The overall characteristics of the fruit, in appearance, taste, and transportability, along with its adaptability to growing conditions, and advances in refrigerated shipping (another effort advanced by Mr. Rumph without patenting or requiring compensation), are major blocks in the foundation of commercial peach growing in the Southeast. This, in its time, became the most widely sold peach tree worldwide, thanks to Samuel Rumph.

Many good things in the fruit growing arena come out of California, but Southerners were undergoing a difficult time in their economic history during the period of these accomplishments, and are, perhaps, even more strongly deserving their due, considering the lasting impact on their economy and agriculture.

Oops. meant July Elberta. My bad.