Everette Brandt, known to many in the business as E.W., was the first grower in the state to grow apples on dwarf trees — called Malling IX rootstock, according to a February 1964 article in the Yakima Herald-Republic. In the article, Brandt shared why he liked the compact trees: They produced a greater number of larger apples.
Brandt’s willingness to embrace innovation was key to his success in the Yakima Valley fruit industry, which he entered in his late teens. Brandt died Saturday at the age of 88.
Brandt was born in Shelton, but spent most of his years in the Wapato area. He grew up in a farming family and at the age of 19, shortly after marrying his wife, Ada, started farming on 16 acres of cherries and peaches he purchased. Like many young growers, Brandt had lean years and sought supplemental income. That led to a job in the late 1950s as the national sales representative for a nursery company in Forest Grove, Ore. called Carlton Nursery. Through his work with the company he learned about new rootstock, such as the Malling IX.
“He knew that was the way the future was going to be and brought it here,” said son Allen Brandt, 65. Brandt’s willingness to embrace innovation to better grow, pack and sell fruit has been passed on to his four children, who now run two fruit companies: EW Brandt & Sons and Brandt Fruit Trees.
EW Brandt, with his children, formed EW Brandt & Sons in 1979. Brandt Fruit Trees was a division of EW Brandt & Sons that became a separate company in 2013. “He kept us to be thinking outside the box,” said son Lynnell Brandt, 67, who is president of Brandt Fruit Trees, which sells trees and also markets new fruit varieties through Proprietary Variety Management, such as the Cosmic Crisp, a variety developed by Washington State University.
And in the early 2000s, EW Brandt & Sons brought the Pink Lady, a branded version of an apply variety developed in Australia, to the U.S. E.W. Brandt also brought innovations to the packing business — E.W. Brandt and Sons — as well. In the 1990s, the packing firm purchased a sorter that was able to identify and sort out defective fruit. Such sorters are now a common part of fruit packing lines today.
But his children also credit Brandt’s work ethic and willingness to work through tough times, which often lead to new opportunities. “He would always say ‘Never give up, keep doing your business. Do what you know,’ ” said son Dana Brandt, 58, who owns E.W. Brandt and Sons with brother Allen Brandt. Brandt is survived by his wife and his four children, including his three sons and a daughter, Cynthia Tissell, who works for Brandt Fruit Trees. Several of Brandt’s grandchildren also work in the two companies.
Source: Yakima Herald