The Romeo and Juliet of Pear Rootstocks
Fireblight, the scourge of pear production in the eastern
United States, caused Professor F. C. Reimer of Oregon State
University to "search the world over" to find resistant
trees. He made plant collecting expeditions to China, Korea,
Manchuria, and Japan. One of the most worthwhile trips,
however, was within the United States to visit Mr. Benjamin
Buckman of Farmingdale, Illinois in 1915. During this trip
Professor Reimer found two blight-free trees.
"Old Home, thou art the sun."
Mr. Buckman obtained some scionwood of a seedling European
pear (Pyrus communis L.) from Mr. B. O. Curtis of Paris,
Illinois. Buckman planted the grafted tree near the Buckman
family homestead. Professor Reimer collected scionwood from
Buckman's tree and named the clone 'Old Home.' Subsequent
testing showed that not only was 'Old Home' blight-
resistant, but the frame developed strong wide-angled
branches. This clone was an excellent compatibility bridge
for quince, and was also resistant to pear decline. What a
virtuous pear of rootstock potential!
F. C. Reimer, Professor Emeritus of Oregon State University in 1967 with the
original 'Old Home' tree. Reimer was 86 years old; the tree 52.
Reprinted here with permission from the American
Society for Horticultural Science
"Farmingdale, Farmingdale, wherefore art thou,
While walking around Buckman's farm Reimer noticed a second
blight-free pear tree. This open pollinated seedling was
growing near an 'Anjou' tree. Reimer collected some
scionwood to take back with him. He later named the clone
'Farmingdale.' Mr. Buckman died in 1925 and his family
orchard, homestead, and the original 'Old Home' and
'Farmingdale' trees were destroyed.
By that time Reimer had established trees of both 'Old Home'
and 'Farmingdale' in his research collections in southern
Oregon. He continued research and breeding with these trees
and learned that crosses of 'Old Home' x 'Farmingdale' were
Joseph Postman, NCGR Plant Pathologist, standing where Reimer had stood
under the original 'Old Home' tree above, but 23 years later. This tree is now
gone from Medford, but it has been established at the Repository in Corvallis,
Photograph by Kim Hummer
Beyond Romeo x Juliet
Many researchers became interested in the blight resistant
crosses of 'Old Home' x 'Farmingdale.' The Agriculture
Canada Rearch Station in Summerland, B. C., obtained a supply
of seed. They sent this seed to a private nurseryman, Lyle A.
Brooks, of Forest Grove, Oregon. Mr. Brooks and Drs. Melvin
Westwood and Porter Lombard of Oregon State University
evaluated more than 500 seedlings from this cross. In the
late 1980's Mr. Brooks trademarked the name 'OHxF' Series
(Brooks Sellections)®. U. S. plant patents for five of the
rootstock clones are assigned to Carlton Plants, Inc.,
Dayton, Oregon. Propagation material for research can be
obtained from USDA-ARS NCGR-Corvallis.
Prepared by K.E. Hummer, January 1997