George Tait & Sons, Inc.
Tait's Thorobred Seeds
Norfolk, Virginia


In the early 2000's while searching the USDA's seedbank for older, rare seed varieties, I ran across a tomato that was attributed to George Tait & Sons Seed.  I was not familiar with the firm and started researching them.

There is not a lot of information available about this company on the internet and the emergence of their old seed catalogs in the marketplace is generally quite rare.  I assume that this is due to the regionality of the company and their customerbase.

Here are some of the facts that we have been able to uncover:

  • 1853 - George Tait emigrated from Scotland with his brother and establish themselves as merchants.  When the war between the states breaks out, George accepts a commission and fights in the Confederate Army mustering out as a Colonel. [4]

  • 1869 - The company's starting date was deduced from the cover of their 1929 catalog stating that it was their 60th year.  George was originally from Haddington, Scotland, a region that was involved in the seed trade.  With his old business destroyed by the ravages of war, he saw a future in seeds and established his business as "Geo. Tait, Seedsman." [4]

  • 1885 - Eldest son, James and youngest son, William join the company and the named is changed to Geo. Tait & Sons to reflect the new structure.  By the late 1880's, William takes over as president. [4]

  • 1895 - Middle son, Robert joins the family business. [4]

  • 1898 - George Tait passes away. [4]

  • 1912 - William and Robert retire from the company, selling their interests to brother James and two other employees, James T. Moreland and David B. Blackwood. [4,6]

  • 1969 - Released a cowpea variety, developed by the Virginia Truck Experimental Station, called 'Queen Anne.' [1]

  • 1972 - Released a cowpea variety, developed by the Virginia Truck Experimental Station, called 'Cardinal.' [1]

  • 1985 - The company is purchased by Wetsel Seed Company.  By this time, Tait's had technically been in business for 116 years and was the primary distributor of lawn and garden products in the Norfolk area. [2]

1893 Seed Annual 1918 Seed Annual 1920 Seed Annual

Introductions:

  1. Corn, 'Early Surprise' (NSL 28197)

  2. Cowpea, 'Cardinal' (Released 1972) [1]

  3. Cowpea, 'Queen Anne' (Released 1969) [1]

  4. Melon, 'Extra Early Knight' (Released 1908) [5]

  5. Tomato, 'No Equal' (PI 645094)

  6. Tomato, 'Norfolk' (PI 644976)

  7. Tomato, 'Redrock' (PI 636285)

  8. Tomato, 'Tait's Trucker's Delight' (PI 645138) - Available at Victory Seed Co.

  9. Tomato, 'Thorobred Trucker's Delight' (PI 645114) - Available at Victory Seed Co.

Sources:

  1. Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions - Southernpea (Cowpea)

    1. Queen Anne (Va. 61-5-BE) - Breeder: Virginia Truck Expt. Sta., Norfolk. Vendor: Geo. Tait and Sons. Parentage: Virginia 12 (California Blackeye 5 x Jackson PH) x California Blackeye 5. Characteristics: bush, no runners, early concentrated set, pods bunched at foliage level, seed; like California Blackeye 5 but slightly smaller. Similar: Princess Anne. Vegetable Grower News, March, 1969.

    2. Cardinal (Virginia 59-41 PH) - Breeder: Virginia Truck and Ornamental Research Sta., Norfolk. Vendor: George Tait and Sons, Norfolk. Parentage: Texas 49 PH x Virginia 12 PH. Characteristics: runner free bush plant, concentrated 60 day maturity; pods bunched at foliage level, pods rose color at green shell maturity, dark purple at dry maturity; dry seed with light brown eye. Similar: Queen Anne in growth habit and Texas 49 PH in pod and seed characters. Vegetable Growers News, January, 1972.

  2. Down on the 'Farm' blog

  3. A Long Ago Life-- Part I, My Great-Grandparents

  4. The Tait Family

  5. "Melon's for the Passionate Grower," Amy Goldman, 2002, p. 62

  6. Grain Dealer's Journal, July 10, 1912, p. 205


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