Hey guys, back after a break due to the tornado which ravaged my small town and a week of upper respiratory sickness. I'll be making frequent updates to the blog in coming weeks regarding farm work, animals, fruit stock, and distilling as time allows.
Anyhow, recently my good friend Mark Walmsey who I've been doing a bit of trading with passed some new White Blackberry information my way which completely opened up a whole new field of research for me. As he says in the e-mail; Viva Orange!
I've recently done some reading on white blackberries. Regarding 'Nettletons'/'Iceberg', let me propose another theory:
From what I have read, the 'Nettletons' white blackberry was collected in Albion, IL. This is the same location that John Orange - one of the early collector/breeders of white blackberries - lived and sold his plants. Albion is 30 miles from where one of the Nettletons lived/lives, so I would take a guess that they went down to Orange's or someones old homestead and found some crazy-old clones. Chances are that this is Orange's 'Orange's Crystal' aka 'Crystal White', 'Colonel Wilder' or a seedling of one of them. I know Burbank's photo of 'Crystal White' shows it to be a muddy color, but I really question his photos and chain of events regarding his work with white blackberries. Burbank states "that the berry with the aid of which I developed the new fruit was called a white blackberry. It was a berry found growing wild in New Jersey, and introduced as a garden novelty, with no pretense to value as a table fruit, by Mr. T. J. Lovett. He called the berry "Crystal White...". Is this the same as 'Orange's Crystal'? Orange's 'Crystal White' came out in the 1850's. More than likely Burbank got most of his white blackberry breeding material from the chain of plants John B. Orange collected and distributed. Burbank was twelve when Orange was advertising his "choice blackberry plants" that included white blackberries in the 1861 version of American Agriculturist. Regardless, I believe very strongly that 'Nettletons' owes it's genes to John B. Orange. Viva Orange! To me, this find is extremely rare. How could they have survived 160 years? These are John B. Orange's releases per The Small Fruits of New York: Albion [flesh color]-Rural N. Y. 11: in. i860. 2. Downing Fr. Trees Am. 443. 1869.A white sort found in the wild prior to 1860 by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois.Although introduced as having productive plants and large fruit, Downing found the plantsunproductive, the fruit only fair in size, imperfect and without flavor. Colonel Wilder [white]-Mag. 30:360. 1864.Originated prior to 1864 by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois. Fruit of medium size,oblong, slightly pointed, light cream color, moderately firm, does not develop well ; very good. Crystal White [white]-Elliott Fr. Book. ig6. 1859.Orange's Crystal. 2. Mag. Hort. 30:359. 1864.Raised from seed by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois, prior to 1859. Plants vigorous,not hardy, suckering freely, very productive when grown with other sorts; prickles few,weak; fruit of medium size, oblong-oval, light creamy white, translucent, sweet; good. Dr. Warder [pink]-Mag. Hort. 30:360. 1864.Raised by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois, prior to 1864. Fruit large, dark rosyred; good.
Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler
The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.