The recent introduction of numerous varieties of native American grapes and the creation of several hybrids between the indigenous, hardy species of our woods and the best foreign kinds, have afresh excited an interest in grape culture in the United States. Formerly the Vitis vinifera, or wine grape of Europe, with few exceptions, had been esteemed the only variety worthy of cultivation for the production of wine, and few, very few, indeed, of American origin, could by a cultivated taste, be considered fit for the table.
The wine grape is not a native of Europe, but has followed the footsteps of man from the shores of the Caspian sea, and "intertwined its tendrils with civilization and refinement in every age."
The forests of Armenia, at the base of the Caucasus and the South Caspian region still exhibit it in its original condition, climbing the highest trees, and producing a small and hardly palatable fruit (Unger on plants used for food.). At the present day wine is pressed from the wild grape on the banks of the Orontes.
From its extensive and long continued cultivation, it is not surprising that a multitude of varieties have been produced. So numerous are they, and so dissimilar in properties and adaptation to various climates, that it may well be questioned whether they have all been derived from the Vitis vinifera, or have not, rather, sprung from several species by accidental crossing. If we believe, with Darwin, that species are indefinable, and that those now existing have originated from a few primordial forms; that variations are unlimited, and that through the struggle for existence, and the principle of natural selection, individuals have been led to choose the conditions best adapted to their preservation and perpetuity of their offspring, we may suppose that through the centuries elapsed since man found the wild vine, these influences, combined with his efforts at improvement, have produced from one original form the hundreds that now exist. The tendency to vary has long been observed by horticulturists, and turned to valuable practical purposes.
This disposition is by no means universal; for while some kinds of plants will produce a multitude of varieties when raised from seed, and are susceptible of almost unlimited degrees of improvement, others of nearly similar nature are almost incapable of variation. Of the apple and the pear, the varieties are innumerable; while of the hawthorn, of which millions have been raised from the seed, there exist not more than half a dozen marked varieties. The crab, from which all our apples originated [not true. The wild apples of Kazahkstan are not crabs and were selected for their large size and other characteristics primarily by wild bears. -ASC], is wild in most parts of Europe. The almond tree so strongly resembles the peach tree that it is difficult to distinguish them by their leaves and wood only; indeed, several botanists are of the opinion, from experiments made in raising the almond from seed, that they were originally the same, and that the rich and luscious peach is the result of accidental variation produced by culture upon the almond.
These illustrations of the tendency to change and the possibility of producing many and widely differing kinds, furnished by the vine, the apple, and the peach, encourage the belief that the efforts of American pomologists to create new varieties of grapes, adapted to our climate, soil, etc., are in the right direction. For, if from the small, austere crab has sprung that prince of apples, the Newtown pippin, and from the wild vine of America, with its scarcely palatable berries, have arisen the noble Hamburgh, the delicious Chasselas and Muscats, and the hard, dry shell of the almond has been by culture taught to swell with honeyed juices, until it rivals the mangosteen of India, and the cherimoya of Peru—fruits unsurpassed by any others vouchsafed by the Creator to man—what may we not expect from the operation of similar causes when brought to bear, if they are not already at work, upon our indigenous vines, of which we can boast of at least ten well-defined species? Already we believe we perceive the effect of these influences in the multitude of seedling native grapes, which exhibit greater or less departure from the normal conditions and properties of their assumed parents. Though many of these varieties cannot properly be called improvements on the native kinds as they exist in our woods and by our watercourses, yet we have already secured several that undoubtedly are, and will continue to be highly esteemed.
Having formed to our hands species which the fostering and curbing care of nature has through ages fitted to endure the great extremes of heat and cold of our northern States, we start upon the cultivation of the vine with materials adapted to our varied needs. From among the new varieties clamoring for attention, and whose claims to notice are in several instances worthy of especial regard, it behooves the pomologist to separate with unsparing hand, not alone the worthless, but also those of slight merit. Where so many are found worthy of esteem for sundry good qualities, or adapted to certain soils, localities, climatic influences, and modes of cultivation, the importance of full and correct information on these particulars becomes plainly apparent. A judicious choice of plants adapted to our zones of climate is of the first importance. This branch of the subject of vine culture has not received in America the attention its importance seems to demand.
Those unacquainted with the history of vine culture in America will perhaps inquire, Why has not the European wine grape,
with its countless varieties growing in regions extending from the Tropic of Cancer to the Baltic sea, and, of course, endowed with various degrees of hardihood,
been generally introduced into the United States and successfully cultivated? To this question we may reply, that every species of plant requires a definite amount of heat for its proper growth,
though this may vary in intensity, and a comparatively low degree may be compensated by its longer continuance.
[This guy was way off. Heat has nothing to do with the reason why vinifera grapes don't grow well in most of the U.S. The reasons are pests and disease. The phylloxera pest has largely been overcome by the use of native rootstocks, but Pierce's Disease is still a severe limitation except in the desert West and certain regions of the Northeast and Great Lakes. -ASC]
The degree of moisture or dryness is of essential value in judging of the productiveness of different years and of different places.
The extreme northern limit beyond which the wine grape will not ripen has been definitely ascertained (Peterman's Physical Atlas. and Schouwr's Earth, Plants, and Man.). In western Europe this line may be traced from the Atlantic ocean, in latitude 47½°, to nearly 50° on the meridian of Paris, entering Belgium by the valley of the Maas. Returning south to the parallel of 50° theron to the Rhine, it descends this river nearly to Cologne; and reascending to the Mayne, passes through Frankfort, and by the valley of the Mayne to Saxony, thence to Berlin, and from this city east by south through Russia to the Caspian sea.
These limits cannot be considered the boundary of the best wine districts, which would be found at least 1½° further south, and might more properly be traced through Bordeaux, central France, where not too elevated, to Man[n]heim, and by the valley of the Danube to the Black sea. In favorable years, grapes may ripen even on the borders of the Baltic sea, at Koenigsburg. From the Caspian sea, the northern limit of tht vine may be defined with approximate accuracy as passing through northern Persia, Cabool [Kabul], northern India, Thibet, and China. Along some parts of this line it is cultivated only in sheltered valleys among the highlands and plateaus of central Asia.
The cultivation of the wine grape is prosecuted in the narrow, sheltered valleys of northern France, and on the terraced hills of the Rhine, while the greater part of the interior of both France and Germany, extending south from Frankfort on the Mayne, is too cold to ripen its fruit. This is ascribed to the fact that the interior of these countries rises to plateaus of considerable elevation, and the reduction of the mean temperature is equivalent to several degrees of higher latitude. All these favoring and unfavorable influences have their counterparts in America, with minor modifications, as we shall perceive in the course of this article.
Within the limits favorable to the growth of the wine grape in Europe, the climatic peculiarities may be considered as regular and permanent in their recurrence through successive years. No wide departures from the average of mean winter or summer temperature occur. This is made evident by the long continued cultivation of the vine upon the borders of its range, where a slight reduction of temperature, or diminution of humidity in the atmosphere would be destructive to the plant. The possibilities of culture are thus clearly defined, and observations continued through many years have demonstrated (Boussingault's Rural Economy.) that at those localities where the summer temperature falls below 67° Fahrenheit, the wine grape will not ripen its fruit so as to produce wine of any valuable quality.
The mean annual temperature, as has been remarked, is not a guide whereby to judge of the adaptation of a locality to the production of grapes fitted for wine, for the high heats of summer may be set off against the severe cold of winter, and the mean thereby be found to be the same as that of places not subject to either extremes. A summer mean, or rather the mean for the season of growth, is generally, though not always, a certain measure of fitness, and the mean temperature of 65° is defined as the lowest that will permit the vine to ripen.
If we attempt to apply the experience of the wine-growers of Europe to the cultivation of the wine grape in the United States east of the Misissippi, we are met with difficulties resulting from extreme variations in temperature, rain, and atmospheric humidity, unknown to the same extent in wine-growing countries. Here the extremes of atmospheric humidity and dryness are often positively injurious, and our drenching rains and parching droughts, often destructive to the fruit after it has passed the ordeal of varying temperature, to which it is at all times and at all places more or less exposed. The constitution of the wine grape is not fitted to withstand these sudden changes from extreme humidity to extreme dryness, and the plant and its fruit rapidly deteriorate in our uncongenial air. To these causes may be ascribed the prevalence of "mildew" and "rot," the almost universal attendants of foreign wine culture in the United States, and which no skill can obviate, and from which no section has been found claiming exemption.
The variable nature of our winters on the disputed ground of heat and cold between the latitudes of 38° and 42° offers another impediment to the successful introduction of the foreign vine.
The writer is not without his share of experience, in common with hundreds who have entered upon the cultivation with high hopes, to find them ere long rudely crushed. The mild weather frequently occurring in February causes the sap to rise and the buds to swell; this is immediately followed by a killing frost, in some instances splitting the stem for several inches by the freezing of the sap, thus utterly destroying the vine and the hopes of the owner.
A century has passed since the earlier efforts to acclimate the wine grape of Europe, and we appear to be as far as ever from the object of our desire. Acclimation, in the true sense of the word, seems to be a chimera; at least, all attempts to acclimate this plant have proved failures.
Whether tried by Swiss, by German, or by native vine-dressers skilled in the treatment of the vine, all their efforts have been attended with similar results—disease, and the death of the plants after a few years.
In Pennsylvania, at Spring Mill, by Peter Legeaux, by the Swiss at Vevay, in Indiana, or by Lakanel in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama, all have alike failed; and though Berckmans may be yet sanguine as to success in the southern States, in the words of the lamented Downing, "the thing is impossible."
Had the past generation possessed that acquaintance with the fixed peculiarities of our climate (for, with all its variations, it is governed by definite laws) that we can now command, they would have been spared a vast expenditure of money, time and labor, fruitless anxiety, and disappointed hopes. Let us apply our newly-acquired knowledge of these laws, and prevent the recurrence of similar results. The only vineyards ever successful in America are those of American grapes. To these, then, we may turn with confidence.
In the northern States of North America, east of the Mississippi, there exist five well-marked varieties of vines termed species, because seemingly persistent in their native haunts.
All other species described or named, and said to be indigenous throughout this district, are believed by the more experienced botanists to be but varieties or forms of one or other of
these five, viz:
1. Vitis labrusca, of Linnæus—the northern fox grape.
2. V. ætivalis, of Michaux—the little grape, frost grape, summer grape of the botanists.
3. V. cordifolia, of Michaux—the chicken grape, winter grape.
4. V. rotundifolia, of Michaux—the Muscadine, bullace, or bull grape of the south. It is by some considered the V. vulpina, of Linnæus, or southern fox grape, though his description more nearly accords with that of V. cordifolia. It is not known as the fox grape in the southern States. A variety is the Scuppernong of North Carolina.
5. V. caribbæa, of De Candolle. Its fruit resembles that of V. æstivalis.
These five species are not common to the States east of the Mississippi, but each has its range, beyond which, to the north at least, it will not flourish.
The V. labrusca and V. æstivalis find their northern limit in Vermont, while they grow in greater or less abundance thence to Georgia, on both the eastern and western slopes of the Appalachian chain. V. cordifolia grows in all the States east of the Mississippi, and its range extends west to the Rocky Mountains, north to Lake Winnipeg, and south to Texas. It is the only indigenous grape in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
V. rotundifolia is rarely found north of Delaware and the low country of Maryland, and extends south to Florida. It more properly belongs to North Carolina.
V. Caribbæa grows only in the thickest swamps of Florida and Arkansas.
While the species found in the lower latitudes will not grow if removed further north because of the cold, the natives of higher latitudes, inured thereto, will not endure the southern heat upon either the humid or dry soils of this region, both of which there abound.
We have the authority of Major Leconte that the Scuppernong cannot ripen perfectly north of Virginia, and the fox grape of the north will scarcely grow in the lower regions of Carolina and Georgia. The Isabella, originally brought from the upper districts of North Carolina, does not flourish in the low country, and will scarcely live in Georgia; and the Catawba, found on the banks of the Potomac, will not thrive in Texas.
From these five species, as before remarked, all the native varieties have originated.
The V. labrusca, or northern fox grape, is doubtless the parent of all those producing large berries, whether purple, green, or amber colored. Most of them are natural products found by man, or seedling which he has somewhat improved. Some may be hybrids, slightly influenced by a foreign intermixture, while others are decidedly mules, partaking of the nature of both parents. The Isabella and Catawba are varieties of the northern fox grape, differing only in the shorter pubescence of the under side of the leaves, the more numerous berries modified in shape, color, and quality. From it are also derived the Alexander or Schuylkill, N. Muscadine, Hartford Prolific, Concord, and a host of others of less value. Diana, Anna, etc., may be seedlings from the Catawba. From the Isabella again have originated many new kinds of various degrees of merit. This species, the V. labrusca, is more sensitive in its wild state to injury from the causes that produce "mildew" and "rot," and its descendants exhibit the same tendency in common therewith.
From the summer grape (V. æstivalis) may have sprung several of the smaller fruited varieties, though it is probable that from the wide diversity in their hardihood, those more tender may have originated from a southern species not distinguished from that producing the more hardy kinds of the north.
Herbemont, Warren, Pauline, Lenoir, Norton's Virginia, and others, belong to a class all remarkable for their high flavor, and none of which will probably ripen their fruit north of New York unless in sheltered places, or endure the rigors of winter, even in that latitude, without protection.
In another class of vines, also small berried, but very hardy, we may place the Delaware1, Clinton, King, &c., all doubtless descended from the V. æstivalis, or summer grape.
To the above named we may and last but not least, Allen's Hybrids, produced in Boston by impregnating the pistils of the blossom of an Isabella with pollen from a variety of European grapes. The seeds produced from this cross have grown and borne fruit partaking of the Isabella flavor combined with the sugary wine of the Chasselas. The seedlings of Peter Raabé, of Philadelphia, have been deemed valuable in temperate localities. Some of them are accidental crosses between our native kinds, and others the produce of foreign seed. They are Brinklé, Clara, Emily, and Raabe. More recently much interest has been excited by the appearance of Rogers's Hybrids, the result of crossing, as related above in the case of Allen's Hybrids, the largest varieties of the northern fox grape with the Black Hamburg and Chasselas, thus producing several kinds of great promise, both for size, flavor, beauty, early ripening, and hardihood. The success attending these experiments in hybridizing has opened a new era in grape culture in this country. Having shown wherein the difficulties in the way of the successful culture of the foreign vine consist, and that we possess several species from which varieties and sub-varieties have been derived, many of them of high merit and different degrees of hardihood, it remains to designate the kinds fitted for culture in the several zones of our varying climate, and to indicate their boundaries as clearly as is consistent with the extent of our information and the narrow limits assigned to this paper. Pomological conventions have dwelt upon the importance of a choice of fruit adapted to certain localities, but their deductions appear to have been made from empirical data—the opinions merely of growers who have had no experience with others perhaps quite as well fitted to succeed. We want information respecting our various fruit regions based upon positive knowledge of the climatic peculiarities of these districts, combined with the concentrated light from hundreds of experimentalists in every section. The importance of definite knowledge of the fitness of certain varieties of vines for certain regions is apparent to all who have for many years failed to produce fruit in northern latitudes from plants which they have trained, pruned, and nursed with tender care and hopefulness, to find, at last, that they had started wrong, and all their efforts futile.
Marshall P. Wilder, president of the American Pomological Convention, stated that "he had not had a ripe Isabella in his garden, near Boston, for twenty years;" and C.M. Hovey "had never picked the Isabella ripe enough in twenty-four years." T.B. Miner asserts "that the Catawba does not ripen in northeastern or central New York more than one season in ten."
We have the assertion of P. Barry, of Rochester, that the Catawba will not ripen at this latitude, and from the Transactions of the Ohio Pomological Society we draw the statement that "it is only in most favorable seasons that the Catawba attains perfection even in Cincinnati."
The vagueness with which reference is often made to the climate of large districts as adapted to certain kinds of vines, is conclusive evidence of the want of intimate acquaintance with the peculiarities of those regions. We have seen the expression that "the Lenoir is hardy in New England," conveying the idea that New England is everywhere fitted to mature this grape, and that the cold of winter does not there affect it. Now, New England is not a small locality, whose climate may be described in a few words, or pronounced, ex cathedra, as fitted throughout for the home of any one variety of the vine. New England is a large territory, extending through more than six degrees of latitude, from mild and equable Nantucket on the south, to the mountains of Maine and Canada, including those of New Hampshire, where snow is never absent, and where the mean for the year is but ten degrees above freezing, and an entire day has been known to experience a temperature thirty degrees below zero, and a minimum indicated of fort degrees below that point, suggestive of hyperborean cold. Again, some points in high latitudes in Vermont enjoy a thermometric range of 132° degrees, rising to 100° in summer to sink to 24° in winter in one instance, and in another rising to 92° to sink to 40° below zero.
Surely at Rupert or St. Johnsbury, where the mercury takes so wide a range, we need not, with the poet, call upon the imagination for—
Without, at present, inquiring into the causes that render localities in eastern America, in latitudes corresponding to the vine regions of Europe, much colder in winter, while they are warmer in summer, and the existence of a mean annual temperature on the Atlantic coast of 8° to 10° below that of places in western Europe at the same distance from the equator, we will proceed to indicate the northern limits of the districts which we have denominated grape zones, and to designate the varieties adapted to each.
The results of "Meterological Observations," made at numerous stations over an extensive region of the northern and western States from the year 1854 to 1859, inclusive, and recently published by the Patent Office, have added greatly to our knowledge respecting the mean temperature of this region, and furnished us with data not hitherto accessible.
For the meteorological on which our lines of equal heat have been based, we have been largely indebted to the above named "Results" &c.
We have therefrom laboriously reduced the means for several hundred points, necessary to our purpose, from Maine to Missouri, compared them with the reports of observations made at several United States military posts, as tabulated in Blodget's valuable "Climatology of the United States," and with those made under the direction of the regents of the university at sixty-two academies in the State of New York during twenty-five years.
Our insight into the distribution of heat in the atmosphere may be rendered more clear by connecting together by lines those places having the same mean, summer mean, winter or mean annual temperatures, respectively. These line are termed isothermal lines, of lines of equal temperature, and have been traced around the earth with more or less precision, according as observations have been made more or less remote from each other, and with greater or less accuracy. These lines afford important guides to the localities where the cultivation of certain plants and fruits may be successfully conducted, for plants are, in general, confined to certain regions of the earth where the circumstances of temperature, moisture, &c., are found most conducive to their healthy growth. Isothermal lines have been delineated upon maps, &c., indicating the limits of the districts where the olive, the vine, wheat, Indian corn, cotton, rice, and may other plants thrive most freely.
The definition of zones, torrid, temperate, &c., which has long been in vogue, has really no place in nature, and the actual measures of heat alone constitute the various belts of climate.
The vine is peculiarly the growth of climatic conditions, and its zone has been pretty accurately defined.
The tortuous line bounding the European region of vine growth on the north, winding through the valleys of northern France and Germany, now ascending on one side to descend on the other, curving round the base of the hills, or climbing on terraces their sunny slopes, instinctively follows the isotherm of mean temperature of the season during which the grape is forming and maturing its fruit.
The American grape appears to ripen under nearly the same mean temperature as that of the wine grape, or to be limited in its range on the north by the same climatic peculiarities; but no attempt has been made, that I am aware, to minutely define the limit in the United States, nor has attention been paid to the fact that certain classes of grapes are adapted to definite belts of region in our country.
The lines bounding our grape regions have not been laid down theoretically, based upon certain mean temperatures, without reference to the observation and experience of growers. Extensive notes of their reports and opinions have been tabulated and digested. The mean temperatures for June, July, August, and September, at most of the points where grape-growing has been attempted, have been noted upon the map of the United States, and lines drawn passing through all those points, at which a similar, or nearly a similar, mean was found to exist. Thus connected by these isothermal lines, the grape zones have been developed.
The2 isothermal mean of 65° Fahrenheit, for the four months of June, July, August, and September in North America, has its extreme limit in the valley of the Penobscot, near its mouth. Tracing it thence southwest, we find it skirting the coast of Maine by Gardiner and Saco, and entering New Hampshire below Great Falls. Thence curving westward, it passes below Concord, New Hampshire, and northwest to the valley of the Connecticut, at Windsor, Vermont, and perhaps further north. The valley of the Upper Connecticut joins too high latitude with too great elevation to permit the continuation of this isotherm northward, but it again appears in the low-lying valley of the St. Lawrence, nearly as far north as Quebec. In this high latitude the minimum of 44° below zero has been observed, as at St. Martin's, Canada's East, in 1859, a degree of cold which would perhaps prove destructive to the hardiest native vines if unprotected. It has been already observed, that the range of our native species, with one exception, does not extend further north than the northern boundary of Vermont. From Quebec, the isotherm of 65° may be traced up the valley of the St. Lawrence, and entering New York, it passes near Potsdam, east of Governeur and west of Lowville, near to Houseville, and ranges by the base of the mountains of northern New York, through Herkimer, Hamilton, and Warren counties, skirting the west shore of Lake Champlain, to the St. Lawrence; thus encompassing the highlands of this region, in whose valleys the grape will not ripen. It perhaps passes through Lake Ontario from east to west, crosses the peninsula to the foot of Lake Huron, across Michigan to Green Bay, and thence, in the same northwest direction, to the Mississippi.
The eastern coast of New Hampshire and northeastern of Massachusetts, north of Boston, the higher regions of the interior of Vermont, and of Massachusetts, in the counties of Worcester, Hampshire, Hampden, and Berkshire, and the higher lands of Connecticut, generally are found to have a mean temperature of 65° for the four months named, and it is only in favored localities in these regions that the hardiest vines will ripen.
The isotherm of 65° again appears in southern and middle New York, south of the valley of the Mohawk and west of the valley of the Hudson and in the northern plateaus of Pennsylvania, along the mountain ranges of the interior of the latter State and of Virginia, skirting their valleys at a high elevation almost to the parallel of 38°.
The isotherm of 67° for the four months before named, appears first at Saco, Maine, and again at Manchester, New Hampshire, and thence in the valley of the Merrimac nearly to its mouth. From Manchester it ranges southeast, curving through Cambridge, Boston, and Bridgewater, to Nantucket.
From Manchester, New Hampshire, it also ranges southwest through Worcester, to Springfield, and a short distance up the valley of the Connecticut. Again it curves southwest from Cambridge, through Mendon, north of Providence, Rhode Island, to Norwich, Connecticut, by the coast of Long Island sound to the valley of the Hudson, whose sides it skirts at a small elevation, and also that of Lake Champlain, almost, if not quite, to Montreal. From Montreal, we find it in the lowlands bordering the St. Lawrence, near the eastern and the southern borders of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, in the region of the smaller lakes of western New York, and in the valley of the Mohawk.
It thus encompasses the region bounded by the line of 65° at lower levels in the northeast part of the State. At the east end of Lake Erie it recedes to a greater distance from the lake, and includes much of the elevated region lying between it and the Alleghany river, at least as far south as Worthington, latitude 41°, whence it may be traced west-northwest through the counties of Butler and Beaver, in Pennsylvania, and of Trumbull, Portage, and Cuyahoga, to within a few miles of Cleveland, in Ohio; reappears on the northern shore of Lake Erie, near Detroit, thence passing across Lake Michigan and Wisconsin, north of Madison, to the Mississippi, at the southeast corner of Minnesota, It also skirts the eastern side of the Alleghany mountains, through Pennsylvania, from the northeast corner of the State to the west border of Maryland.
The isotherm of 70° first appears at the east end of Long Island, and may be traced northwestwardly to West Point, thence westwardly to Shawangunk mountains, at the northern extremity of New Jersey, and southwest along the foot of their prolongation, the Blue mountains of Pennsylvania, and valley of Lehigh, Lebanon, and Cumberland, Pennsylvania, Winchester, Virginia, to Lewisburg, latitude 38°; thence curving northwest and north, it reaches the Ohio, below Steubenville. From this point it extends northward across the State of Ohio, through Oberlin, and in the same direction through the southern tier of counties in Michigan to Lake Huron, through the northeast corner of Illinois, the lower counties of Wisconsin, to the Mississippi, near Prairie du Chien. An out-lying region where the mean of 70° occurs, exists on the southern border of Lake Erie, from near Fredonia, New York, to Sandusky, Ohio.
It only remains to trace the isotherm of 72° for the four months indicated. This may be said to commence at a point on the shore of New Jersey, near latitude 40°; thence extends across the State, through Philadelphia, northern Delaware, to Baltimore and Washington; thence southwest through Virginia, parallel to the line of 70°, to be broken by the mountains in the southern part of the State, and returning north on the western slope of the Alleghanies, near their base, to Marietta and Zanesville, Ohio, it is deflected southwest by the highlands, to the Ohio river, at Portsmouth, and crosses into Kentucky; thence it passes northwestward above Cincinnati, through central Indiana and Illinois, to the Mississippi, which it crosses south of latitude 40°.
An isotherm of 75° might be traced nearly parallel to that of 72°, in lower Delaware, Maryland and southeast Virginia, extending through the middle counties of Kentucky, southwest corner of Indiana, and south Illinois.
Below this line, perhaps, it will be found that the most tender varieties of the fourth class ought properly be placed.
There are some exceptions to the application of these laws in higher latitudes and in the States bordering on the Mississippi.
The sudden reduction of temperature in September, unless the first half retains the high degree of August, may not permit even the earliest and hardiest kinds to perfect their fruit. This is the case in the latitude of Montreal. Here, though the summer mean taken alone would seem to indicate a very high temperature, that of September is not generally adequate to the maturation of the grape.
Wherever, as in the higher latitudes or on high altitudes, the shorter season of summer heat prevents perfect maturation, all means that promise to hasten the ripening of both fruit and wood should be resorted to. Late growths should be especially guarded against, by removing the extremities of the shoots in September, thus concentration the energies of the vines upon the lower buds.
A warm, well-drained soil, free from excess of vegetable matter or animal enrichment of any kind, is of quite as much importance, aiding materially the ripening process and preparing for the coming cold. The high fertilizing with clammy, mucky composts, rendering the soil retentive of moisture, and therefore colder, is one cause of the many failures in grape-growing in the northern regions of the vine.
In southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, where the grape isotherm of seventy degrees occurs, and in middle Illinois and Missouri, where that of seventy-two appears, the mercury has fallen in winter to twenty-three degrees below zero. This is a point very rarely if ever reached on the same line in the east, and would assuredly destroy the vines adapted in the Atlantic States to these isotherms. At Philadelphia, on the line of 72°, the mercury did not fall lower than five degrees below zero from 1854 to 1859 inclusive, and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania it seldom descends below 10°.
So variable is the climate of the northwest, north of the latitude of Chicago, that although a series of winters may occur so mild as not to injure the most tender peach in bud or growth, yet occasionally the cold has been severe enough to kill hardy apple trees. A cold, hard-freezing night in midwinter is sometimes followed by a sunny day, which thaws the frozen bark on the wood, again to be frozen on the following night. This frequently repeated, kills the bark, which shrivels and separates from the wood. A large portion of the apple trees in northern Illinois at the present time are scarred, if not entirely denuded of bark on the southern side; tall trees suffering more in this manner than those having low heads.
Trees grown in timbered lands and on sandy knolls are superior in hardiness to those produced on level prairies. Superabundant moisture, we repeat, being the chief obstruction to successful fruit-growing in the west.
The many varieties of native vines and the hybrids therefrom may be arranged in four classes, having reference to the four zones into which the territory of the United States east of the Mississippi may, from its climatic peculiarities and relative adaptation to the aforesaid arrangement of vines, be properly divided.
The first or very hardy class includes those fitted to endure the extreme cold of the northern zone, and to mature their fruit during the short summer of high latitudes. These all have a close, hard wood, ripened early in the season of growth. They have withstood the winter rigors of the northern States, having been exposed in 1860-'61 to thirty-six degrees below zero without injury.
The most valuable of this class are Clinton, King, Logan, Perkins, and Delaware. From their hardiest representative they may be called the Clinton section. In the lower latitudes of their zone, where a longer season permits the maturity of wood and buds, the Northern Muscadine, Hartford Prolific, and Concord may be included in the above division. These will endure, with the exceptions noted, the extreme rigors of the winters of New England and northern New York as high as the isotherm of 65° without protection.
A second class of hardy vines comprises those that are adapted to a lower zone, where the mean temperature for the four months during which they are maturing their fruit, does not fall below sixty-seven degrees of Fahrenheit. The most valuable of this class are Concord, Adirondac, York Madeira, Marion, Oporto, Hartford Prolific, and N. Muscadine, where their wood is matured, and Union Village in some places; Isabella, in favored localities, as near Cayuga lake, and Diana and Rebecca in similar situations on dry, warm soils, as at Hudson, New York. The above will not always endure the winters of New England nor middle New York, nor of the valleys of the Hudson and Lake Champlain without protection; at least in severely cold seasons. Most of them were killed in the winter of 1860-'61, in Orange county, New York, where the mercury fell to 30° below zero. As the average minimum temperature of New England in this zone is —15°, that of western New York —33°, and that of the valley of the Mohawk —19°, (a temperature of -40° has been noted at Saratoga,) these varieties will then require protection, and it would be better always to lay them down even if they are not covered with earth and boughs. Where the grape isotherm of 67° ranges through territory having lower latitude, as Pennsylvania and Ohio, the winter extremes do not prevail, and protection may not always be required. This, from its leading variety, might be called the Concord section.
A third class, or half-hardy vines, includes those which will ripen at places having a mean temperature of seventy degrees for the four months before named, and require a longer season than is afforded in any part of New York, except, perhaps, near the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the region of the minor lakes, and the lower valley of the Hudson river. They find their most favorable localities where the winter mean does not descend below 32° above zero, and most of them will require protection where a degree of cold —10° is experienced. The most important of this division are the Isabella, Diana, Hyde's Eliza, Maxatawny, Taylor's Bullet, Creveling, and Cuyohoga, Union Village, Rebecca, Lenoir, Elsingburg, Allen's Hybrid, Roger's Hybrids, hardier kinds, and Catawba, in some highly-favored localities. From the leading variety they may be called the Isabella section.
In the fourth class may be placed those vines that will not ripen their fruit north of the grape isotherm of seventy-two degrees. This includes Catawba, Anna, Norton's Virginia, Bland, Brinklé, Clara, Emily, and Raabe, in its northern range, and Scuppernong, Herbemont, Pauline, and Warren, and others further south, and throughout its southern range in the western States. This may be termed the Catawba section.
Though the hardy and very hardy varieties named are those best adapted to withstand the cold and ripen their wood and fruit in shorter northern summers, many of them find in lower latitudes and warmer zones a more congenial climate, and attain therein a degree of perfection never reached further north. Thus the Concord is so highly esteemed in some parts of the west, in lower latitudes, as almost to surpass the Delaware. Many, however, of the hardy varieties are unworthy of cultivation, where the half-hardy or more delicious kinds can be brought to full perfection.
The following notes will illustrate the correctness of our delineation of the isotherms of 65° and 67° throughout New England. Their accuracy might be proved by many pages of authority drawn from voluminous reports and statements of vine-growers, but our limited space forbids enlargement, and the subject can receive at present but imperfect treatment.
In the valley of the Merrimac the hardier varieties may be cultivated, if properly protected from the effects of early frosts and the severity of winter as far north as Manchester; but the valley of the Connecticut is more favorable to the vine than the eastern part of the State of New Hampshire. Here the grape isotherm of 67° is found further north, even as high as Windsor. In elevated localities success cannot always be expected; nor is it always attained even at lower points. At Windsor, Vermont, the Delaware ripened, though its wood as well as that of the Concord, was killed back considerably by an unusually severe winter. Hartford Prolific and Concord also ripened, and even the Rebecca matured some fruit in one locality.
The most favored district for vine culture in northern New England is the valley of Lake Champlain. Here less uncertainty attends the ripening of the hardiest varieties. As far north as Burlington, in gardens, Delaware, Concord, White Muscadine, and Hartford Prolific do well. Its winter extremes are, however, low, the Mercury at Plattsburg having fallen to 14° below zero, and at Burlington, for several years in succession, to 18° and 20°, while at Rupert, at the southern extremity of the valley, enjoying a summer mean of 4° higher, it has fallen to 28° below zero. Here the Clinton and Hartford Prolific and White Muscadine will ripen. The Delaware and Concord do not always mature, and are covered in winter. The Clinton needs no protection, and were the season long enough for the ripening of their wood those above-named would not need it even in this latitude.
Connecticut, though lying in lower latitudes does not, owing to the elevation of a large part of the State, present very favorable localities for the growth of this fruit. Pomfret, Middletown, Wallingford, and Cornwell are on the grape isotherm of 64° and 65°, and therefore not more favorable to early maturity than Saco, Maine, or Brandon, Vermont. The Isabella will seldom ripen at Hartford.
The fruit committee of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society reported, in 1859, that the Isabella and Catawba are ripened in New England only in the very best seasons in a few favored localities. The Delaware, Diana, and Rebecca are subject to mildew. Whenever their foliage has been destroyed from that or any other cause, their fruit cannot mature, nor can their wood endure the cold of the succeeding winter, nor can they fruit in perfection the following season. The Isabella seldom ripens in New England; the Catawba never; and even though covered, is not always matured in the open air, not finding the season sufficiently long in Massachusetts. The Hartford Prolific answers the requirements of earliness, which is its chief recommendation, having no other good quality.
In the absence of sufficiently extensive and well-defined observations respecting the humidity of our climate, which, if even in our possession would, from the fact that the dry extremes balance those of excessive moisture, scarcely suffice to indicate localities in every respect adapted to the cultivation of the vine, if such exist, we must rely upon the averages of rain-fall in elucidating this part of our subject.
To the "Climatology of the United States, &c.," by Lorin Blodget, a highly valuable work, exhibiting remarkable research and ability on the part of its author, we are indebted for the facts from which we have prepared the following cursory description of the rain districts as they extend over the States of which we treat.
The influence of the relative amount of rain in different parts of the grape zones is of much importance. Though this is not an element that can be relied upon with confidence, as can the periodical return of heat, it may yet, in the average of many seasons, be determined with an approach to accuracy. Throughout the northern States the fall of rain during the summer varies from nine to fourteen inches. The region including all the great lakes from the mountains of northern New York and valley of Lake Champlain to the western extremity of Lake Superior, extending along the southern border of Lake Ontario and east end of lake Erie, then passing southeast to include almost all of Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna, the high region of Virginia to the border of North Carolina, eastern Kentucky, northeastern Ohio, all of Michigan, a small portion of Indiana, and the borders of Lakes Michigan and Superior, in Wisconsin, appear to be favored with a smaller fall of rain during the summer than any other parts of the vine-growing districts of the United States east of the Mississippi. Over this region, which may also properly include the coast of New England, there occurs in summer the average of about ten inches of rain. There is a district over which nine inches only are deposited, but it is quite limited, and extends from Rochester west to the end of Lake Ontario, and not much further south than Buffalo. A similar contracted district of eight inches summer rain-fall occurs in the mountains of Virginia. As regards the fitness of the latter for vine-growing we have no information.
The region over which the fall of nine to ten inches of summer rain extends includes all the localities where the cultivation of the vine has, in the northern section of our country, been attended with the largest share of success. At Cincinnati and St. Louis the fall of rain for the summer months is about fourteen inches, and this deposit of moisture occurs over most of southeastern Virginia, the Carolinas, where it reaches fifteen inches; most of Kentucky, Middle Tennessee; but equalling that of the Carolinas in the western part of the two last-named States, the southwestern corner of Ohio, the southern border of Indiana, all the south, southwestern and western parts of Illinois, including one-half of the State; southeastern Iowa, and all the eastern half of Missouri to the Ozark mountains.
Between the northern border of the rain district of fourteen inches thus appropriately designated, and which can only be properly defined upon a map, and the district of ten inches fall before noted, there is interpolated a very irregularly shaped region, over which there is deposited in the average of summers about twelve inches of rain. This extends over almost all of New Hampshire, all of Vermont except the northwest corner and valley of Lake Champlain, all of New York except the northeast mountain region, the valley of the St. Lawrence and lake borders before noted, as having nine and ten inches fall, and the lower valley of the Hudson, where eleven inches are deposited. It also includes all of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, the northern part resembling the valley of the Hudson, and passing southwestwardly between the two districts before named, extends in a narrow belt through Maryland and Virginia, crosses the mountains in western North Carolina, ranges along the west boundary of Virginia, extends over southern, middle, and western Ohio, nearly all northern and middle Indiana, all northeastern Illinois and Wisconsin, except the lake borders, and over most of Iowa and Missouri not before excepted. This is not generally a favored region for the vine, having an average fall of two inches more than the district of less rains, though more promising than when fourteen inches prevail. The excessive rains which occur throughout the latter region of fourteen inches are frequently destructive to the more tender grapes, and the hopes of the vigneron are often rudely crushed by the loss of three-fourths of the crop from this cause alone.
And such must ever be the experience of those who in this district continue to cultivate the Catawba, Isabella, and other varieties subject to injury from excess of moisture. It is only in the region of lesser rain-falls and within the zones adapted to their needs as respects summer heat and length of season, that we can reasonably hope to find a greater or general exemption from influences so unfavorable.
No section of the northern and middle States is entirely exempted from sudden and enormous falls of rain, amounting in some cases to waterspouts, often quite local; but the section designated as that over which a fall of ten inches of summer rain occurs can be shown by the experience of successful vine-growers to claim greater freedom from injury arising from this cause.
The ameliorating influence of our lakes is too marked to escape attention. The peninsula of Michigan, northern Ohio, western New York, and western Vermont show higher temperatures near the lakes, and the abrupt curve of the isotherms from the Upper Mississippi valley to Lake Michigan, proves that altitude is not the cause of their amelioration. The success attending fruit-growing in northwestern New York may be properly attributed to the influences of Lake Ontario and the minor lakes of that district. The spring frosts do not occur so late as at points further in the interior, and the expanse of melting ice retards vegetation until the season is so far advanced that it escapes injury therefrom.
The influence of the waters of Lake Ontario is also apparent in the prolongation of the growing season of the vine on its southern border.
Throughout the month of May the temperature of water taken about one foot beneath the surface is but seven degrees above the freezing point. This is owing to the continued flow of waters from the melting ice of the upper lakes. It gradually rises to that of the atmosphere in the latter part of July, and above it in August. In September it is nearly three degrees warmer, and to the middle of October it retains the temperature of 53°, which is six degrees above that of the air above its southern shore. Its effect in warding off late frosts is thus readily comprehended.
The eastern shores of the lakes are much more safe than those of the west side. Altitudes make a great difference, and the best influence is not felt immediately upon the shore, but some miles distant, often upon higher ground.
Western New York is dotted over with lakes, which lend their softening to the climate of this region. In some of these more favored spots, peaches and many of the finer fruits grow in perfection; but on removing to a distance therefrom, and on higher levels, the crop is found uncertain.
In the State of Ohio, at points ten miles inland from Lake Erie, the Catawba is unworthy of cultivation and rarely ripens. On sandy soils along the lake it generally matures, while on the islands, on clayey limestone, it always ripens, and of a quality not uniformly met with elsewhere.
At Kelley's island, (Cunningham's island of the maps,) near the western extremity of the lake, the Catawba is exempt from mildew and the effects of frosts, and almost from the "rot," though 3° further north than Cincinnati, where it is often injured (G.C. Huntingdon in Patent Office Report for 1861.).
For eighteen years past there has not been a failure of the grape crop at this place, though it has experienced every variety of season incident to the latitude, and the coldest winter and the dryest summer "known to the oldest inhabitants," have occurred within this period. Within the last four or five years vineyards have been planted along the entire lake coast from east of Cleveland to west of Sandusky, a distance of more than sixty miles, and this branch of business promises to become a leading occupation of farmers in this section of Ohio. On Kelley's island alone there have been planted nearly five hundred acres of vines, more than one hundred and fifty of which have borne fruit with an average yield per acre of not less than three tons. Two hundred and fifty tons have been sold as fruit in one season ant the average price of about one hundred and twenty dollars per ton, and the remainder devoted to wine.
The thorough drainage and judicious pruning and laying out of these vineyards possess great merit, but to the well-selected locality, surrounded by influences more favorable than elsewhere combined in our country, we must attribute almost entirely their marked success.
This region, says Blodget, corresponds more nearly than any other section to the wine-growing regions of the Rhine.
The influence of soils is also very marked in its effect upon the quality, productiveness, and health of the grape.
On the continent of Europe, vineyards that produce the best wine are invariably found on dry soils more or less abounding in lime, and the most celebrated are on the dry, sunny sides of granite or calcareous hills, with the surface terraced, each terrace sustained by a stone wall, against which the vines at its base are trained.
At Hennepin, Illinois, the Isabella has succeeded so well as a table fruit, that the growers have not been induced to seek for anything to compete with it. The Catawba does as well at Hennepin as at Cincinnati, and will produce as good wine, but is not esteemed as valuable as the Isabella for the table or the wine-press, while the latter is much more productive. Soils in which Catawba comes to perfection are sometimes found entirely unfitted for the growth of the Isabella. At the above-named locality the Catawba never rots, while at Cincinnati both this and the Isabella are so susceptible to the "rot" as to suggest the abandonment of their culture.
A damp, foggy morning, followed by a close, warm day, occurring in the Ohio valley any time in the months of June or July, will affect the vines unfavorably, and at the most critical period three such days occurring together will destroy the whole crop.
The soil of Wisconsin is favorable to a luxuriant growth of the wood of most kind of fruit trees, but the severity and the vicissitudes of the climate too frequently counteract the advantage.
The situation of this State is by no means so favorable as that of Michigan and Indiana, over which the mitigating influences of their bordering lake are distributed.
The prevalent western winds sweep their sub-Arctic blasts from the Rocky Mountains and the plains of Nebraska over the entire State.
Grapes can be raised in Wisconsin in light, dry, warm soils, if the vines are protected in winter.
The effects of drainage are here so marked that a Wisconsin fruit-grower has estimated it equal to twenty degrees, or, in other words, that trees on well-drained land will safely endure twenty degrees more cold than if on a wet soil.
Soils too rich in vegetable matter cause excessive growth of roots, and a large vascular system too readily gorged with juices. The inability of the plant to elaborate this excess of nutriment, during damp and hot weather succeeding heavy rains, may be one important cause of the "rot." The manifest injury sustained by vines in heavy, fat loams by the accumulation of moisture, should teach cultivators the imperative necessity of planting in a sandy soil, well drained. Here the effects of drought can be obviated by mulching, and the late succulent growth of shoots, in good measure, be restrained, and both rot and mildew in some degree avoided, if not entirely prevented.
Most of the large vineyards of Missouri are on soil unfriendly to the vine, having compact surface and retentive subsoil. The vineyard in Missouri, where the Catawba does not rot, is on a comparatively poor clayey loam, abounding in pellets of iron resembling buckshot. The soil is deep, underlaid by a stratum of gravel of a foot and upward in thickness, resting on magnesian [sic] limestone. The grapes grown thereon are never affected by the "rot," and it produces uniformly good crops. It is in the west-southwestern part of the State of Missouri, a district described by Professor Swallow, the State geologist, as presenting rare inducements to the vine-dresser, appearing to possess the characteristics of soil and climate requisite to success. The extremes of heat and cold are not there so great as in the other vine-growing regions, and in the southern part of the State the atmosphere is sufficiently dry, and though injurious to the grape at certain stages of its growth, yet they are not so marked in the high table-lands of the south and west as in the north and in the valleys of the Mississippi and Missouri. The soils on the bluffs or highlands of this district are not so abundant in argillaceous matter as those on the north and west of the State, and those resting on the magnesian [sic] limestone of southern Missouri are by far the best to promote the full perfection of the vine.
1Respecting the origin of the Delaware grape much uncertainty exists; it must, however, be considered a native.
J.N. Sheppard, of Marion, Ohio, states in the Country Gentleman, vol. xviii, p. 219, that out of 1,000 seedlings from Catawba seed,
he produced some showing dark colored fruit resembling Isabella, and one bearing fruit, leaf, wood, and in habit of growth, not to be distinguished from the "Delaware."
2The lowest summer temperature permitting the vine to succeed in Europe is 65° and a summer below 67° will not produce wine of any valuable quality or quantity."—Boussingalt's Rural Economy.