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Lubera stops plant deliveries to the UK
Due to Brexit, we are not able to deliver to the UK. We are working on a solution on how we can continue to bring a wide range of Lubera plants to the UK and directly to our customers' homes in the future. However, such a solution will not be available before 2022 or 2023.

Luther Burbank

Everyone has their heroes. A role model, that one emulates and admires. If such role models are from the past, then this has the advantage that one is not required to catch up to them, simply because they cannot do it. They lived at a different time, and so the load of the role model weighs a little less. However, I would not do without such role models. They may sometimes be a bit exaggerated and sometimes appear too ambitious, but they give direction and purpose and a down-to-earth approach at the same time. When breeding, one always walks in the footsteps of those who came before us. Even better is the image of a dwarf on the shoulders of a giant; maybe we will see a little further, if we continue to breed. But without the giants among us we would be nowhere.


For me, such a figure is Luther Burbank from Santa Rosa, California. In the late 19th and early 20th century, he was a world celebrity; he was named in connection with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, with whom he also met with every year. Agriculture and horticulture at that time were not neglected relics of the past as they are today, but they stood on an equal footing with technology as areas of progress which would decide the fate of mankind. Throughout his life, Burbank bred around 800 plant varieties. He launched a potato by chance, and step by step he opened up a whole world of plants: plums, cherries, peaches, walnuts, berries. He supposedly bred a fabulous, white blackberry and his thornless prickly pear (Opuntia) talked speculators into growing gigantic crops that ultimately all failed. Yes, even that is part of a breeder’s life.

From a modern perspective, Burbank had a problem. He knew Darwin, but he did not yet know Mendel (like almost all scientists up until 1900), and later, he did not really take notice of him. He was a brilliant scatterbrain, he had creative ideas on the assembly line, he gathered what came into his hands, he also took part in breeding contracts, he went from one project to another - and he (almost) always found something. Among other things, there are some plants that are on the market today, more than 100 years later. Burbank was incidentally quite unscientific. He followed the ways and opportunities that nature offered him, but he had no idea about the individual projects or about the population of seedlings. Interestingly, he was also a good writer, and an ingenious marketing and PR specialist, long before these special disciplines were even around. But that should have made him suspicious when scientific agronomy and breeding research started to emerge at the beginning of the 20th century. The Congress, as well as scientific institutions, sent commissions to Santa Rosa in order to discover the master’s secrets. They tried to scientifically reconstruct what and how the genius, chaotic man bred plants. And they understood nothing, absolutely nothing. There was no secret recipe, but also no reproducible method. Only trial and error, and success. Not rarely, even due to entirely false assumptions. There were just a lot of plants, and someone who could (sometimes) see the treasures. 

Of course, Burbank was then accused of being a charlatan towards the end of his career. He was especially criticised, he claimed, for being able to talk to the plants, for understanding their language. But I'm sure that Burbank has only meant the moment, after years , when one walks through the rows, after haven’t seeing anything for hours and days, and then suddenly a plant subject lights up and says, "Take me, shame on you that you have never seen me before; I'm the variety, take me to the people!" But most nit-pickers just do not understand this language.


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