The late private fruit breeder Fred Anderson, known as father of the modern-day nectarine, is credited with the development of yellow-fleshed nectarines in California. But he also made a mark on the apricot industry with his Patterson variety.
The variety originated from Anderson’s breeding program located in Le Grand, California, and was released in 1968 to Burchell Nursery, a California-based, wholesale nursery. It was an F2 open-pollinated seedling of Perfection, selected for testing in 1959. Anderson and Irvin Burchell, founder of Burchell Nursery, were looking to develop a canning apricot that was a regular bearer and would resist pit burning, a common ailment of the Blenheim variety, according to Irvin’s son Bill Burchell. Anderson developed four canning varieties, but the Patterson was the most successful.
Apricots in the 1960s were sought by California canneries as a way to start canning before the peach season and operate the canneries for a longer period of time.
Norman Bradford, who developed new fruit and nut varieties also in Le Grand, worked closely with Anderson for a number of decades, and eventually bought Anderson’s breeding program materials and orchards in 1981, about a year before Anderson died. Norm and his son Glen further developed Bradford Farms and Bradford Genetics, which is now BQ Genetics.
Glen recalls that the Patterson variety, which would eventually become the most important apricot in California, didn’t start out that way. “The story I remember was that after patenting the Patterson, Fred didn’t sell many trees until the Apricot Producers of California