Author Topic: Hatano Farm Opuntia  (Read 611 times)

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Hatano Farm Opuntia
« on: October 09, 2022, 04:52:30 PM »
New here, decided to register after lurking for a couple weeks. I live in Long Beach, California. Currently I'm in an apartment, but hopefully sometime next year will have a backyard to work with. Once I have that backyard, I will be undergoing a project of sorts.

There's a historic farm near where I live that has been operating since WWII. When the original lease owner, James Hatano, retired in 2014, he attempted to transfer the lease to his longtime foreman, Martin Martinez. This began a process that was still underway when Mr. Hatano passed away. Ultimately, the city decided that the farm had to be closed; it was made official a couple months ago. Here's an article if anyone would like to read more: https://www.kqed.org/news/11927282/the-loss-of-my-familys-farm-is-a-loss-for-californias-japanese-agricultural-legacy . In short, the farm is going to be destroyed (plants included) and replaced with a native plant nursery.

Here's a video I took of the farm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNsLRWpn07I . As you can see, there is an incredible amount of Opuntia ficus-indica plants. To my understanding, they were all planted by the foreman, Martin Martinez. I've tried the fruit, and although I don't know how they compare to the most popular commercial cultivars in Latin America, they taste at least as good (if not better) than the Opuntia fruit available at grocery stores here in Los Angeles county.

I'm not sure if the Opuntia ficus-indica at Hatano Farm are named varieties, but I imagine it would be very difficult to determine. Looking at the fruit size, color, etc, seems to at most allow determination of cultivar category (e.g. orange, white, etc) as opposed to cultivar name. Some of the plants may also be seedlings of originally planted clones. A technical analysis of the plants would be a huge undertaking, based on how I understand such an analysis to be performed. For example: https://www.academia.edu/35750434/Inventory_of_the_main_commercial_cactus_pear_Opuntia_spp_cultivars_in_Mexico

Knowing that the farm was to be destroyed, knowing that there aren't many good-quality fruit-producing Opuntia clones circulating in California, and knowing that it would be nice to help preserve the farm's legacy, I reached out to the foreman as well as the granddaughter of the original lease owner (who in turn also asked her dad, who is the original lease owner's son). I was given permission to harvest some pads from the farm, for the specific purpose of establishing mother plants and distributing cuttings, to continue the legacy of the farm.

Right now, they're just in a pot, hopefully sending out roots, but over the next few years I plan to multiply them until I have enough to start distributing. At that point, I will distribute cuttings free of charge (other than asking to cover any costs, e.g. shipping) with informal 'cultivar names' (trade names?) that reference the farm. For example, "Opuntia 'Martin Martinez Hatano Red'" or "Opuntia 'Martin Martinez Hatano Orange.'" I've also gotten ahold of a couple Opuntia 'Chapeada' cuttings, which is a popular fruit-producing cultivar in Mexico; hopefully, their fruit will provide a good point of comparison when evaluating the quality of the Hatano plants.

I don't know how active I'll be here, but in a couple year's time, anyone who remembers this post (or finds it later on) should feel free to email me and ask me about this project. I linked my email to my account.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2022, 05:07:23 PM by greg_D »

elouicious

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 984
    • Houston, Tx
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2022, 11:30:23 PM »
great effort greg!

is the farm already destroyed? I love opuntia- they take almost no care and would be happy to carry on some of these in the future- I am in california now and could come get some

Pokeweed

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
    • Houston TX
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2022, 09:35:09 AM »
Hi Greg, I have acreage, so I could grow out a large test plot in S. Tx. If the farm hasn't been razed yet and you still have access to the material I could be a backup source. D

roblack

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2419
    • Miami, FL 10B
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2022, 12:25:02 PM »
A noble endeavor indeed!

Not a ton of space here, but happy to help. PM sent.

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2022, 09:39:45 PM »
great effort greg!

is the farm already destroyed? I love opuntia- they take almost no care and would be happy to carry on some of these in the future- I am in california now and could come get some

Thank you! The farm is not yet destroyed. That said, the lease is now expired, and the property is now being managed by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy as deputized by the city. I asked a lawyer friend about who the cacti belong to now that the lease has expired and it seems like there isn't a clear answer. It also might be tricky to remember which variety is which; they're all mixed up, and I doubt they still have fruit on them.

I will definitely reach out in the future when I have some pads to give out.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2022, 09:57:59 PM by greg_D »

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2022, 09:43:51 PM »
Hi Greg, I have acreage, so I could grow out a large test plot in S. Tx. If the farm hasn't been razed yet and you still have access to the material I could be a backup source. D

Thank you! It's tricky to get any more pads because the lease has expired, and the city has turned over management of the farm to a land conservancy, so at this point I'm not entirely sure who owns the plants. To my understanding, they are going to destroy the plants, so in theory they wouldn't mind, but I don't want to test the theory. In addition, I'm pretty sure the plants no longer have fruit on them, so it would be hard to sort out which is which.

I will reach out to you when I have some pads to give out.

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2022, 09:49:27 PM »
A noble endeavor indeed!

Not a ton of space here, but happy to help. PM sent.

Thank you! Reply sent via PM.

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2022, 01:34:10 PM »
Update: I stopped by today and there's still a lot of fruit. It's a good sign for the season length of the cultivars.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2022, 09:57:27 PM by greg_D »

mangomike

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 194
    • USA Arizona
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2022, 08:22:58 PM »
I would also be happy to help preserve this historic collection. Is Mr. Martinez still alive? If so, it would be important to get him to document which varieties are which, their origins as he remembers them and any other information and get this into the hands of the conservancy.

I have recently landed on 40 acres in Arizona Zone 8b and Zone 9a 1.5 acres) and can act as a backup for this collection if you would like. I am also familiar with botanical record keeping. Let me know if i can help.

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2022, 07:41:37 PM »
I would also be happy to help preserve this historic collection. Is Mr. Martinez still alive? If so, it would be important to get him to document which varieties are which, their origins as he remembers them and any other information and get this into the hands of the conservancy.

I have recently landed on 40 acres in Arizona Zone 8b and Zone 9a 1.5 acres) and can act as a backup for this collection if you would like. I am also familiar with botanical record keeping. Let me know if i can help.

Hi Mike! Mr. Martinez is still alive. I was able to talk to him a bit via text message, enough to confirm that he wasn't opposed to the idea of preserving the cultivars or naming them after him / the farm, then he stopped responding. I'm not sure why - it might be painful for him to talk about, or he might be busy. It would surprise me if he knew the variety names. I'm not even sure if they're named. Based on some things I've read about edible cactus in Mexico, there's a diverse reservoir of genetics in the country, in the backyards of individual families who have made their own selections. It is from those backyard plots that some commercial cultivars have emerged. It's possible that the Hatano plants may match up with described cultivars (a great example of such descriptions is linked in my initial post), but if one of the Hatano selections has all the documented characteristics of a described cultivar, I'm not confident that means it is in fact that cultivar. It could just mean it's another clone that is descended from a common ancestor or has independently converged on the same characteristics. As far as where they're from, it would surprise me if he remembers; to my understanding it's been decades since the originals were planted, and they're all mixed up with each-other. Even if he did know, there's the issue that he stopped responding. Overall, the unlikelihood of finding 'official names' is what gave me the idea of informal trade names ('Martin Martinez Hatano Orange' etc) as I described in the original post. Upon googling any one of them, the history of the farm would pop up in the results.

Thank you for the offer to help. The first step for me will be to establish mother plants. Once they are established, I will start distributing pads at-cost (cost of shipping) to interested parties.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2022, 08:02:22 PM by greg_D »

mangomike

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 194
    • USA Arizona
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2022, 11:52:16 AM »
Greg,

Yes, establishing mother plants is key.

I read where Palos Verdes is possibly reconsidering heir original decision to close the farm, since it has historic value as the last Japanese-American farm in the area.

As to formal names, I agree that there not be 'official' clone names; a paper I recently read described genetic testing of fruit and nopale varieties in Mexico and the results indicated that many clones are hybrids of many different species. According to the authors Opuntia ficus-indica might better be considered a landrace rather than an actual species - the result of thousands of years of humans selecting from the species around them for better fruits and fewer spines.

Even those supposedly formally named clones can sometimes be seedlings of a named parent. I am building a collection that contains varieties with the same name that are clearly different. It will be interesting, for example, to compare the 'Chapeada' you have with one I recently received from Fruitwood Nursery.

In any event I hope to keep in touch with you regarding this very worthwhile project. I feel that cactus will become a more important group of edible plants in the years to come.

Regards,

Michael

Reedo

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 54
    • Santa Cruz, CA - zone 9b
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2022, 02:39:55 PM »
This sounds like a great project. Put me on the list of folks willing to grow some out. I have about 10 good selections up in Santa Cruz, with similar intentions to share them as they get larger. It sounds like it isn't possible, but getting some descriptions of the fruit right now would be great.

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2022, 09:38:57 PM »
Greg,

Yes, establishing mother plants is key.

I read where Palos Verdes is possibly reconsidering heir original decision to close the farm, since it has historic value as the last Japanese-American farm in the area.

As to formal names, I agree that there not be 'official' clone names; a paper I recently read described genetic testing of fruit and nopale varieties in Mexico and the results indicated that many clones are hybrids of many different species. According to the authors Opuntia ficus-indica might better be considered a landrace rather than an actual species - the result of thousands of years of humans selecting from the species around them for better fruits and fewer spines.

Even those supposedly formally named clones can sometimes be seedlings of a named parent. I am building a collection that contains varieties with the same name that are clearly different. It will be interesting, for example, to compare the 'Chapeada' you have with one I recently received from Fruitwood Nursery.

In any event I hope to keep in touch with you regarding this very worthwhile project. I feel that cactus will become a more important group of edible plants in the years to come.

Regards,

Michael

Thank you!

I got the 'Chapeada' from the same source so unfortunately not much to compare.

Regarding the city, to my understanding they are going to make it into a facility that grows native plants. So in that sense it will continue to be a farm but they're still going to remove the cactus to make space for growing the native plants.

I'm not very good at using this site yet so I might be late to notice replies. For that reason I linked my email to my account; please feel free to reach out via email for updates if I'm unresponsive here (same goes for anyone reading).
« Last Edit: October 25, 2022, 10:03:19 PM by greg_D »

greg_D

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 55
    • 90802
    • View Profile
Re: Hatano Farm Opuntia
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2022, 09:50:15 PM »
This sounds like a great project. Put me on the list of folks willing to grow some out. I have about 10 good selections up in Santa Cruz, with similar intentions to share them as they get larger. It sounds like it isn't possible, but getting some descriptions of the fruit right now would be great.

Thank you! I can provide a very basic overview. There's an orange one which is excellent. I would rank it alongside 'PCH#1,' but with the flavor a bit closer to strawberry banana than watermelon. As with 'PCH#1' the flavor seems to become more pronounced and uniformly distributed when the fruit is pureed, the seeds strained out, and the resulting 'smoothie' refrigerated (said 'smoothie' because to my understanding it isn't agua fresca unless you add water and sugar). Of these orange ones, there were a range of fruit sizes; I took a couple cuttings from each end of the size spectrum.

There's at least two different red ones (red skin, red flesh); one of them has a nice floral undertone even when room temperature and unprocessed. There's a couple white ones that didn't seem like much to write home about. There's one with skin that stayed green on the outside even when the fruit was starting to burst open, with red flesh. The flavor wasn't much but it seemed novel. There's one that seems similar to some of the 'burbank spineless' cultivars, with fruit that's decent. There's what seems to be a yellow flowered form of Opuntia tomentosa that doesn't really have potential as a food crop but is of interest to a couple botanic gardens in the area.

I'm going to get fruit from everything first to double check my initial observations, then I'm guessing the orange one and the 'floral' red one will become the ones I end up selecting for distribution.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2022, 10:05:59 PM by greg_D »

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk