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The curious story of “failure” by Rudolph Hass, the world’s most famous avocado “inventor”


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First Hass avocado grower must have died a millionaire; He couldn’t even stop being a postman

The first avocado tree was about to be felled, if not for some children who pointed out its fruits were the most delicious.

Photo: Lisa Fotios / Pexels

Avocados are surviving trees. They have seen millions of years go by prospering despite evolutionary changes for about 10 million years and then a long time later the Olmecs and Mayans (in Mexico) were the first to cultivate them in their gardens.

Today we can enjoy different varieties, like the favorite Hass avocado, who has little to be born, a century ago thanks to Rudolph Hass that despite the success of his harvested fruits and the great contribution he died far from being rich.

Avocados belong to the laurel family, the same group of plants that includes bay leaves and cinnamon. The avocado evolved in the hot climates of Central America.

From Mexico to the United States

In the 1830s, Dr. Floridian Henry Perrine met avocados in Mexico while serving as the United States Consul in Campeche and thought they would make an excellent addition to Florida’s horticultural offerings.

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He sent some seeds to a friend on Indian Key in Florida who planted them. Then the Second Seminole War broke out. The island was abandoned and avocados forgotten, according to Colorado State University professor Jeffrey Miller.

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Strong Avocado was the most popular

The first settlers in California attempted to establish avocado cultivation in the United States, but the cold in the winter months hinders the growth of most avocado varieties. After failed attempts, in the 1850s and 1860s Some cold-resistant avocados were obtained from central Mexico so that they could be grown in California.

One of the first cold-resistant specimens was a variety that was called “Strong,” Miller publishes in The Conversation.

The Fuerte avocado is so called because it is one of the few varieties that survived the famous “Freeze of the 13th”, a period of cold weather that severely affected California fruit crops in the winter of 1913.

El Fuerte was the most popular avocado variety in America, as it was until the 1940s. Representing 75% of avocados sold, it currently only represents 2% of the California market.

Two children discover and save Hass avocado

Rudolph Hass was a postman He made 25 cents an hour, originally from Milwaukee, who lived in La Habra, California. He found out from a brochure that he could make money growing avocado, so he decided to borrow money and buy a plot of Fuerte avocado trees.

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At the end of the decade of 1920Hass got some avocado seeds to grow rootstocks for his nursery. From one of these seeds grew a tree that he rejected the branches of Fort that Hass wanted to graft onto him.

People say that Hass was about to cut the stubborn treeBut she decided not to when her children told her that the fruits they bore were her favorites.

When the man tried them, he knew that his children were right and saw their potential to market themselves and started selling them to people at work and in a city market.

The first patent granted to a tree in the United States

Hass’ avocados conquered people’s palates, they were a success, and in 1935 Hass patented the tree, the first patent granted to a tree in the United States.

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To your misfortune, most growers, instead of buying their tree, evaded their patent and even being an illegal practice, they simply grafted their cuttings themselves.

With the millions of pounds of Hass avocado consumed in the United States, Hass may have died as a wealthy man, but he did not, he is estimated to have only earned in his lifetime around $ 5,000 for the patent. He didn’t get enough to go on his avocados alone and quit his job at the post office.

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