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Ranch Changes - Barton Legacy Tree Due For Removal
The Barton Ranch, one of California's largest walnut growers, has announced it will remove its last living link to its founder, Perry Franklin Barton, who established the ranch in 1912 and planted this tree among 10 acres of walnut trees the following year.

Nearing its centennial next year, the Barton Ranch has increased from an original 131 acres to a large swath of land lying off Henry Road northeast of Riverbank plus other acreage in Escalon, Ripon and Farmington.

The lone remaining tree from the 1913 planting which the Barton family calls "The Grandfather Tree" will be removed this winter because it has contracted "blackline" disease, a virus that will eventually kill the tree.

The Barton family, including Jerry and his wife Janet Barton, their sons Don, Gary and Brent with wife Cyndi and grandson Joshua, who all help manage the ranch, gathered at the foot of the tree on Thursday to make the announcement.

The Grandfather Tree is recognized as one of the largest walnut trees in California. Until recently, the canopy had a spread of more than 100 feet. It is clearly visible on Google Earth's view of the Barton Ranch.

In an orchard the size of this tree, there would be only four to five trees per acre versus the standard planting today of 75 or more trees per acre. It has produced as much as 1,200 pounds of walnuts per year.

Jerry Barton, former president of Diamond Walnut Growers Inc. when the company was a grower-owned cooperative and California's largest walnut handler, will manage the removal project.

The intent is to preserve the tree and its legacy in two ways. One, a crosscut section of the five-foot diameter Eureka variety will be kiln dried and preserved on display in the office of the Ranch's sister company GoldRiver Orchards with the Barton family history depicted in the growth rings. Two, cuttings will be taken from the tree and grafted onto English walnut seedlings for replanting on the Barton Ranch.

Due to mark 100 years of growing walnuts next year, the Barton Ranch has expanded from its original size by acquiring neighboring properties. It also has ranches in Ripon and Farmington that are managed by Gary, Brent and Joshua Barton, with Joshua representing the fifth generation of the family to grow walnuts.

GoldRiver Orchards, formed in 2003, recently received approval from the San Joaquin County Planning Commission to construct an 85,000 square foot processing and warehouse facility at Enterprise Road and Highway 120, between Escalon and Oakdale.

This facility will not only process the family's growing crop of walnuts but the production of about 40 growers in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. It exports 85 to 90 percent of its shelled and in shell walnuts to some 20 foreign countries including China. Don Barton handles that part of the business.