Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchards

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Cover of the Stark fruit book, 1901

Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. is a horticultural company based in Louisiana, Missouri, that specializes in growing and selling fruit trees to home gardeners and commercial orchardists. The company was the original marketer of the Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples.


In 1816, James Hart Stark moved from Kentucky to Louisiana, Missouri. He brought with him a bundle of apple scions. From his bundle he started a nursery business, which was officially incorporated in 1889.

In 1893, Stark Bro's held their first International New Fruit Fair. Jesse Hiatt, who owned an orchard in Peru, Iowa, sent samples of his fruit to compete in the contest for the best new fruit. Hiatt's apples won the judging, but his nametag could not be found. He submitted samples of the same apple the following year and won again. This, time there was a nametag and the apples could be identified. The Stark brothers traveled to the Hiatt farm and bought the rights to the Red Delicious apple in 1894.[1][2]

In 1914, the Stark Golden Delicious apple was discovered and developed. The original tree was found on the Mullins' family farm in Clay County, West Virginia and was locally known as Mullin's Yellow Seedling and Annit apple. Anderson Mullins sold the tree and propagation rights to Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co., which first marketed it as a companion to their Red Delicious apple in 1914.[3][4]

They collaborated with Luther Burbank who willed over 750 of his varieties to the company.

In June 2001 the possibility of closure to Stark Brothers Nurseries, Louisiana, Missouri's oldest and largest employer, famous worldwide for the fruit trees it grew and sold was a reality.[5] However, the alarm was short-lived. By fall of that year, Stark Bro's was back as two separate business Stark Bro's Fulfillment Services and Stark Brothers Nurseries and Orchards.


  • James Hart Stark
  • William Watts Stark[6]
  • Clarence McDowell Stark
  • Edgar Winfred Stark
  • Clay Hamilton Stark
  • Edwin Jackson Stark
  • John Stark Logan
  • Clay Stark Logan[7]
  • Cameron G. Brown

Current Operation[edit]

Stark Bro’s has three main business areas: e-Commerce/Mail-Order, Wholesale and the retail Garden Center. The operations include:[8]

  • 250 growing acres in Louisiana
  • 427 growing acres in Atlas, IL
  • 1 million cubic feet of climate-controlled warehouse space
  • 1 million cubic feet of non-refrigerated work/storage area
  • 1.7 million cubic feet of cold storage
  • 5 acres of greenhouses
  • 30,000 square feet of office space

One million trees per year are shipped from Stark Bro’s facilities.


  1. ^ "About Stark Bro's". Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. Retrieved 6 December 2015. In 1816, James Hart Stark and a small band of pioneers moved west from Kentucky and settled on the west bank of the Mississippi in a place that would later become Louisiana, Missouri. ... 
  2. ^ Zotta, LeAnn (2015). 200 Years and Growing: The Story of Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. IngramSpark. pp. 65–67. ISBN 978-0-692-31291-9. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  3. ^ Higgins, Adrian (August 5, 2005). "Why the Red Delicious No Longer Is. Decades of Makeovers Alter Apple to Its Core.". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-07-27. When Stark's successors, in a similar stunt, found and named the Golden Delicious growing in West Virginia in 1914, the Delicious became Red Delicious. 
  4. ^ "Dunbar Man 'Discoverer' of Golden Delicious Apple". Charleston Daily Mail. October 18, 1962. Retrieved 2008-07-27. The Starks sent a man to look at the tree, just like you've heard, and they bought the tree and the ground for 30 feet around it, and eventually they fenced it. They were to get all the fruit from the tree, down to the last apple. 
  5. ^ "Louisiana, Mo., Survives by Adapting to Change". (April 2008). Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: [1]
  6. ^ Zotta, LeAnn (2015). 200 Years and Growing: The Story of Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. IngramSpark. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-692-31291-9. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Yang, Linda (July 11, 1991). "Year-Round Beauty, And the Berries Aren't Bad, Either". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-27. Small fruiting plants like blueberries are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners, said Clay Stark Logan, president of Stark Brothers Nursery of Louisiana, Mo. "Probably only strawberries are presently more popular," said Mr. Logan, whose family-owned company, which dates to 1816, ships fruiting plants nationwide. 
  8. ^ Zotta, LeAnn (2015). 200 Years and Growing: The Story of Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards Co. IngramSpark. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-692-31291-9. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 

External links[edit]