I asked him how he got started with avocados in the first place, and the the basic story goes like this: Bill and his father took a trip down to tour the Rio Grande valley. While down there, they bought 40+ young Mexican avocado trees from a professor at the Texas A&M research center. By the time they got back they had sold all but one, which they planted. The tree grew and produced wonderful avocados.
Later, when driving through Pearsall, Texas, he noticed a beautiful large avocado tree in a backyard. He stopped and talked to the old woman who owned the tree, and asked her if he could take some cuttings to propagate. She said yes, and Bill said that in return he would name the variety after her. Her name was Wilma Lechler. In a similar fashion, a visit to a backyard tree in Uvalde, Texas gave us the Opal® avocado.
I also learned that Wilma™ is not the same as the variety advertised as Brazos Belle, as I had previously read. They are the same genetic clone (Lechler), but the Wilma™ is grafted on a particular rootstock in a specific way as to give the best chance of success in potentially frost prone areas. As I understand it (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) the Brazos Belle is genetically identical to Wilma™, but it can be grafted on any rootstock.
In addition to being an avocado expert, Bill is also growing Capulin cherries, mulberries, jujubes, pears, pineapple guavas, and a variety of citrus. I had a great visit, and can't thank Mr. Schneider enough for his time and willingness to share stories and information. I learned a lot, and hope to be able to return soon.
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™ Trademark of Devine Avocados