Volume 73 Number 2 Article 4 Pages: 110-114
Year 2019 Month 4
Title: Niels Ebbesen Hansen: A Man with a Vision for the Unfathomable
Author: Marvin Pritts
Niels Ebbesen Hansen was one of the most successful fruit explorers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
He was well-educated for his time, but valued the practical over the theoretical. “Don’t wave a college diploma over a field of tender plants and expect to make them hardy.” Hansen took eight trips to northern Asia during his career to collect plants that were hardy and resilient under conditions of the High Plains of North America – his adopted home.
Some of these plants were new species that he introduced to the Dakotas, whereas many others were used to hybridize with familiar fruits to generate hardier offspring.
He also introduced species that were im-portant for agronomists, but he did not develop these because his interests were with fruit improvement.
Hansen is credited with the release of 113 types of apples/crabapples (Malus spp., some red-fleshed); 72 varieties/hybrids of plums, cherries, apricots and sand cherries (Prunus spp.); 35 varieties of grape (Vitis spp.), and many selections of raspberry (Rubus), currant (Ribes) and strawberry (Fragaria). Hansen overcame many personal and physical challenges in his quest to transform the High Plains into a major food-producing region, driven by his belief that he should leave the world a better place than he found it.
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