1926 - The most popular California avocado is the Hass (frequently mispronounced and misspelled as Haas), which weights about half a pound and has a pebbly black skin when ripe. Hass avocadoes are unique because they are the only avocado variety that is produced year-round. According to the California Avocado Commission:
The tree began life as a mistake - a lucky-chance seedling planted by A.R. Rideout of Whittier. Rideout, an innovator and pioneer in avocados, was always searching for new varieties and tended to plant whatever seeds he could find, often along streets or in neighbors' yards. In the late 1920s, Mr. Rudolph Hass, a postman, purchased the seedling tree from Rideout, and planted it in his yard.
According to Paul Wilkes, son-in-law of Rudolph Hass, the California Avocado Commission's statement is misleading:
"Rudolph Hass did buy the avocado seeds from Mr Rideout, but he planted them himself. Rudy had used all of the money he had to buy the land for his grove. He was only earning 25 cents an hour working as a postman so he couldn't afford trees.
Mr. Rideout was noted for using any seeds he could get his hands on, including the garbage from restaurants. His selection process occurred when the seedlings were ready to graft. He would then destroy any weak seedlings. Rudolph Hass knew nothing about raising trees, but Mr. Rideout was very helpful to him and instructed him to plant three seeds in a cluster where ever he wanted a tree, and then pull up the two weakest seedlings and graft the strongest. For this reason, no one knows what kind of seed produced the Hass tree."
Following are excerpts from 2004 article, How The Hass Avocado Came To Be, by Cindy Miller, granddaughter of Rudolph Hass:
My mom, Faith (Hass) Wilkes knows how the Hass avocado came to be, so I will share it with you . . . After reading a magazine article illustrated with an Avocado Tree with dollar bills hanging from it, Grandpa bought a small 1 1/2 acre grove in La Habra Heights in 1925. There were a few Fuerte avocado trees.
He planted the rest of the grove on 12 foot centers with three seeds in each hole. He hired a professional grafter named Mr. Caulkins, to graft cuttings from the existing Fuerte trees onto the strongest of the three trees from each hole. All but three "took". The next year Mr. Caulkins re-grafted those three trees. The following year Mr. Caulkins re-grafted the one tree that had rejected the graft again. Again it didn't take. Grandpa was ready to give up and chop the tree down, but Mr. Caulkins said it was a good strong tree. He advised Grandpa to just let it grow and see what happens. So he did. The Hass avocado happened. Grandpa Hass only planted the seed, Mr. Caulkins did the grafting, and God gave the increase.
Grandpa patented the Hass Avocado in 1935 but, since it was the first patent ever issued on a tree, it got no respect. Growers would buy one tree from Mr. Brokaw who had the exclusive right to produce the nursery trees. They would then re-graft their whole grove with the bud wood from that one tree. For that reason Rudolph Hass made only $5,000 royalties on his patent. However, he was the first to have a producing grove of Hass Avocados, all be it a very small grove. He found a ready market for the fruit at the Model Grocery Store in Pasadena where the chefs for wealthy people who lived on South Orange Grove Street shopped. Once they sampled the Hass variety, they insisted on it. My mom, her sister, and three brothers worked with Grandma and Grandpa harvesting and also sold avocados from a roadside stand by the grove at 430 West Road in La Habra, California.
Every Hass avocado tree today is descended from that original tree. There is a plaque commemorating the location of the parent tree but the tree died of root rot and was cut down on 9/11/2002 at the ripe old age of 76 (It was planted in 1926). That is very old for an avocado tree. The wood from the tree is stored at the nursery run by Mr. Brokaw's nephew. Some of the wood has been made into jewelry, gifts, and keepsakes by Mr. Hass's Nephew, Richard Stewart. He gave them to members of the Hass family and some members of the Avocado Growers Association.
Grandpa expanded to Fallbrook with an 80 acre orchard which bore its' first crop in 1952 just as Grandpa Hass died of heart failure in the Fallbrook Hospital. However, Grandma Hass lived to the ripe old age of 98 after a lifetime of eating a half piece of wheat toast with avocado slices on it with breakfast just about every morning.
Patents expire after 17 years. When Grandpa filed for his patent in 1935 he prayed and asked the Lord to let him live as long as the patent was good. As a young man he had been rejected from service in WWI because of a congenital heart condition. He knew his ticker was not too good, yet he worked hauling those heavy mail sacks all those years. He passed away in 1952 a few months after his 17 year patent on the Hass avocado expired. Grandma Hass lived the rest of her life on the pension from Grandpa's mailman job. Others saw the profit potential in the Hass avocado and have developed it into the industry it is today. Now we all enjoy its fruit.
Source : http://whatscookingamerica.net/avacado.htm