That was well done, and I had to also laugh at this line: “…and the Prunarians, led by their much revered “Big Prune,” would host a wide variety of prune-related events.
The comments following the article from readers were also interesting. It sounds as though prunes were a going industry clear to Salem … and I’d have thought out here in Yamhill County
we were at the heart of it!
Timber for 70 years now, I’ve some neighboring property that had once been a prune orchard. I remember noticing stumps until around 25 years ago. In fact, my dad would drive us out from Portland to ‘raid’ an abandoned orchard just up the hill from where I’m at, then back to town to split – pit and can them by the quart. Actually, though we’d buy dried ‘prunes,’ I ate the majority of them canned, which I prefer over dried, though fresh is best!
My grandmother had an Italian
prune tree in Portland …that was the only good thing about school starting … biking to grandmas to gorge on fresh prunes. I remember how proud I felt being turned loose on that tree to ‘prune’ it. Sold and gone, I’ve not been able to get a prune tree to last more than 3 years out here. A passed friend and local orchardist told me there are nematodes of some kind that survive in the ground where prune orchards have been and will instantly attack the rootstock of a new tree – and that the only way to grow them locally is to plant a seed. I guess they do grow fairly true to seed … though I’ve not been that patient. Having removed three trees over a ten year period was enough for me.
My Dad tended local prune dryers, with one going up in flames every few years… Some relatives a couple valley’s over had prune orchards and a dryer when my dad was younger … their dryer burned
I believe one of the last local distributors of dried prunes closed on the south side of Forest Grove (Washington Co.) maybe 20 years ago… “Oregon Prune Exchange, Forest Grove, OR 97116, Cooperative.”
My old friend, Helen Webb, had …procured a special prune named for the Zimmerman
family who found it as a sport in their orchard … likely linked to: “GEORGE ZIMMERMAN Yamhill Owner of a 90 acre prune orchard”… It was supposedly a coveted variety, not sure if they patented it. I believe most of the dried prunes were ‘Brooks,’ no doubt from Brooks, Oregon…
My favorite prune, or European plum was/ is called the Petite
, you can still purchase the trees I believe… though my graft came from an HOS Scion Exchange
decades ago. Petite’s were used as pollinators amid block plantings of Brooks, or so I was told. There’s one orchard just south of Forest Grove that’s fun to watch as it comes into bloom, you can see the slight difference in bloom time which highlights the rows of pollinators vs. the more numerous production trees.
…you’ve obviously got me going here
… My dad said the most excitement he can recall in ‘this neck of the woods’ was when a bear had been breaking down limbs in a local prune orchard (they’d also go after them for getting into honey bee hives) and after ‘a dance’ on Saturday night, when everyone was well lubricated with alcohol – the bear hunt would begin. Every so often someone would be accidentally shot, but rarely died…
The good ol’ days
...Regarding your walnut tree, can you see the graft union? Some of the oldest trees I’ve seen were grafted quite high on their Black walnut ‘rootstock,’ and the graft ring is quiet prominent. …wonder if it was to avoid deer browsing… back before the deer had been thinned out.. And if there’s no apparent union, many English walnuts were simply planted as seed.