The experiments of centuries have failed to establish any rules by which varieties of our standard fruits, the apple, pear, peach, cherry, and plum, may be perpetuated with certainty from the seed. Seedlings often reproduce themselves for two or more successive crops, particularly when the seed is of the wild stock, or possesses its chief characteristics. Or, in case the tree is completely isolated
from the pollen of other varieties, its kind may be perpetuated from the seed; but the inclination to vary or "sport" from the parent is so decided, that all who plant with the expectation of good fruit use grafted or budded trees. It is well known that seedlings from our best and most highly improved varieties depart more widely from the original than those from inferior grades, while the young trees evince less vigor, and decline at an earlier age.
The French and Germans have, of late years, repeated an almost exhaustive series of experiments toward determining a system by which excellence may be obtained with certainty from fruit seeds. Their experiments, though failures as to the object proposed, have proved the fact that some one or more seeds in every perfect fruit have a stronger tendency towards perfection than other seeds in the same specimen, and that, while such seeds as produce in their first crops inferior fruit to their parents continue to deteriorate with every successive planting, the others continue in the same ratio in the improving course. It has also been proved that trees grown from the improving seeds bear fruit at an earlier age, with every successive crop of trees, while those grown from the deteriorating seeds require, with every crop, a longer period of growth before showing fruit. The natural inference from this fact is, that the better kinds endure a shorter period proportioned to their age before fruiting. Such, however, has not been shown with certainty to be the case.
The experiments of the celebrated Belgian pomologist, Van Mons, with the pear, prove the different tendencies of seeds from the same specimen fruit. He, however, instead of carefully selecting only the few improving seedlings from improving parents, planted a/7 the seeds of such varieties as exhibited the improving tendency, and continued planting thus through eight successive generations. He found that in the eighth generation his best kinds fruited at the age of four years, while those of an opposite tendency required a much more extended period to bring them into bearing.
The results of these experiments established the fact that the better kinds, are more likely to produce good fruit from the seeds than the wilding. Indeed we have never known good fruit to spring at once from wildings with crab tendencies. Excellence is progressive, while in some cases the opposite, from good to worthless, is accomplished in a single generation. This, however, is more particularly the case in budded or grafted fruits, the seedlings seeming to follow the type of the original stock rather than that worked upon it. It is true that many of our best varieties are accidental seedlings; yet, for all we know to the contrary, they may have attained their excellence by a course of gradual improvement, going on unnoticed for an indefinite time.
Change of locality, in case the soil or climate, or both, be different from those in which the parent grew, produces great changes in the seedlings. Trees of the same variety, planted in different localities, often produce fruit quite dissimilar.
Fruit will deteriorate in quality, and the trees become less enduring and more uncertain bearers, from being grown successively in the same ground. Many of the finest varieties have become, in the early settled districts, so worthless through this cause, that their culture has been wholly abandoned. Removed to a new locality they flourish as finely as ever. In the year 1848, the father of the writer sent some Rambo apple trees from his residence in Delaware, to a farm just cleared from the woods in Indiana. He has since received specimens of their produce, so perfect in size, color, and flavor, as scarcely to be recognizable as the same variety with those grown here, from trees planted at the same time, and procured from the same nursery.
STOCKS FOR FRUIT-BEARING.
' When the natural stocks of the apple, cherry, peach, or pear cannot be easily
‘procured, or where the soil is unsuitable, or when it is desirable to dwarf the
tree so that it may occupy less space, or to bring the tree into bearing sooner
thanit would fruit upon its own roots, other stocks, or roots of a different character,
are used with advantage. Tor the apple, paradise roots and the white thorn
may be used; for the cherry, the mahaleb; for the peach, the red plum; and
for the pear, either quince, thorn, or apple.
THE INFLUENCE OF STOCK
upon the fruits of budded or grafted trees is not yet fully understood by our first scientific pomologists. Many fruit-growers do not take the stock into account further than as a passive vehicle, through which the sap is drawn by the leaves, giving it no share otherwise in the elaboration of the fruit. While we admit the general rule, that fruits are produced most perfectly on their natural roots, we know. there are modifying circumstances which render different stocks preferable. We have observed that, with successive plantings, some quality of the soil essential to the well being of either fruit or tree, or both, becomes exhausted ; that frequently the first generation of trees endures longer, bears more abundant crops, and fruit of better quality, than succeeding generations planted in the same ground, under the same circumstances. The peach may be succeeded by the apple, and the apple by the pear, and each kind produce healthy fruit upon healthy and vigorous trees. But plant either peach, apple, or pear, for three generations successively, and the result will be a great deterioration in the quality of the fruit, a decrease in quantity, and a shortening of the life of the trees. It therefore. becomes necessary to substitute, so far as practicable, other roots different from the natural one, if we wish to continue to grow good fruit upon the same ground.
On the principle that the vigorous growth of the tree is at the expense of its fruitfulness, and, on the other hand, that prolificacy interferes with a vigorous growth, we understand that to work a strong growing scion upon a weakly stock will bring the tree into fruiting at an early age. But why the stocks should hasten or retard the period of ripening, or how it changes the color, flavor, or size of the fruit, is not so easily shown. We know that a few of our best native varieties of the pear, when grown upon the quince, are more perfect than upon their own roots, and that most of the superb foreign varieties can only be successfully grown by us on quince stocks. All we know about the cause is, that the quince roots give out a more meagre supply of sap, so affecting the growth of the tree that it becomes and remains a dwarf. It is also thus brought into bearing at an earlier age, producing larger and more certain crops of perfect fruit, while the want of complete harmony between stock and scion has a tendency to shorten the existence of the tree. All our standard fruits can be grown with more or less success upon other than their own roots.
whose grace of form, beauty of color, and high flavor, render it only second to the peach, while the hardiness and great endurance of the tree, and the little care it requires to perfect its annual tribute of fruit, as well as the high market value of the same, make it the most profitable. It will adapt itself to every variety of climate, and although it delights in a heavy or clay soil, it will do well in any soil where its roots do not come in contact with too much water.
The pear is, however, difficult to propagate from seed, and requires a longer period before bearing than any other fruit; hence the scarcity of young trees, and the comparative high prices they command at the nurseries. For this reason, chiefly, different stocks are so commonly used on which to grow the pear, though many other advantages result from the use of stocks of a different character from its own.
In the early settlement of the country very few pear stocks could be obtained, and various experiments were tried on the haw, apple, and thorn with partial success. The thorn proved to be the best adapted to the purpose, and several old moss-grown trees planted about the year 1710, on the farm of the writer, have borne fruit until within a short time. The thorn here used is the large variety known as the “apple thorn,” which bears a berry about the size of a small red plum, and is quite palatable. The thorn gives longevity to the tree, while it detracts from the flavor of the fruit. It has generally been abandoned since the quince has been introduced in its stead.
The apple is rarely used to give roots to the pear. In a few instances, however, the effect of the apple roots upon the pear has been astonishing. Mr. Perkins, of New Jersey, in experimenting with various stocks, used the scion of a superior variety of the hedge pear, thick-skinned and late in ripening, On apple roots he found the pear grown to more than twice its largest size on its own roots, and when carefully picked and house-ripened, proved to be the finest winter pear, being a fine orange color, with tender flesh, exceedingly rich and juicy. We have seen specimens weighing over a pound, perfectly free from blemish or fault; and being so pleased with the fruit, we worked it upon some old standard trees, from which we now gather large annual crops of hedge pears! We have since worked it upon both apple and quince, and await their fruiting with interest.
Since the introduction of the quince for pear stocks, all others different from the standard roots have gone out of general use. The variety of quince proved most suitable is the Angers, a foreigner, now so perfectly naturalized that pears are grown upon it in the highest state of perfection. It is readily propagated from the slip, which may be laid in the spring, and inoculated with the pear in the autumn succeeding. It becomes a dwarf tree, and commences bearing in its third or fourth year from the slip. By a system of pruning it may be grown into almost any shape or size desirable, fitting into corners or angles, or flower plat, or any out-of-the-way spot on which the sun occasionally shines, always proving both useful and ornamental.
delights in a heavy soil and a high and dry locality, For many years after the first settlement of the country the favored home of the cherry was the “Delaware Highlands”—a tract between Wilmington and Chester, where the hills sweep down gently to the river’s edge, and catch the first warm rays of the morning sun. The markets of Philadelphia and New York were, for more than half a century, supplied with cherries from this locality; and well-grown trees of improved varieties have been known to represent a capital of from one to two hundred dollars each, in the transfer of real estate, the produce of the trees averaging thirty to forty dollars each, annually. John Brown established his nursery and fruit farm here about the year 1780, and the noblest cherry, pear, and apple trees now standing in the neighborhood are of his planting. Generations of trees have since been planted and have passed away, while these veterans still flourish in their pride and beauty, and yield annually large crops of superior fruit. While the old trees preserve a uniformly healthy habit, young trees of the same variety, even when budded from these, become diseased—the bark of the branches cracking and leaving great black ruptures, which affect the growth and finally destroy ‘the tree. This we now remedy by working the cherry on the mahaleb stock, which brings it earlier into bearing, and, like the quince, has a tendency to dwarf the tree. By judicious pruning, the mahaleb may be equally adapted to dwarfs or standards. When pruned from the roots upwards, good-sized trees may be formed, almost rivalling the cherry on its own roots; while pressed from the top downward, it may be shaped into a dwarf of any requisite size or form. The cherry is now on the decline with us.
has become the most important as well as the most profitable fruit of Delaware. For many years we enjoyed the monopoly of the best markets in the middle or eastern States. The Messrs. Reybold planted thousands of acres, and their fruit was justly considered superior, and accordingly commanded everywhere the highest prices. They freighted steam and sailing vessels for every important market within reach, embracing even those of Canada, on the St. Lawrence. The size attained by the trees, and their enormous crops, astonished all who visited them. It was supposed by many that the cultivators possessed some secret which enabled them to grow both better trees and superior fruit. Their secret was suitable soil and climate, and thorough cultivation. Failures were unknown in the orchards first planted, and it was not until the second orchards were in bearing that any deterioration was noticed in the quality of the fruit, or failure in the health and vigor of the trees. The second planting produced uncertain crops of inferior fruit, and the trees endured only half the period of those of the first planting. After the second crop of trees the decline was so rapid that peaches were rarely grown in the locality, except on plum stocks.
The orchards of Messrs. Reybold were located near the centre of New Castle county. Peaches were previously grown quite extensively in the northern part of the State, and the adjacent districts of Pennsylvania; but they had run out, while the Reybold orchards were in their prime. At the present time the finest peaches taken to the New York and Philadelphia markets are grown in the vicinity of Dover, (which occupies a central portion in the State,) and in the extreme northern section of the State, where for many years their cultivation was wholly abandoned.
What is known as the “peach district” is not confined to any one locality or neighborhood for more than a single generation of trees. It is progressive, moving from the north toward the south at the rate of about fifty miles in twenty years, when it again returns by a single leap to the place of starting. In other words, peaches are grown with complete success only after the ground has rested for a period of about twenty years; it having been found that intervals of such length are necessary, in order that the soil may become perfectly disinfected from all injurious qualities imparted to it by diseased trees, or that it may fully recover those peculiar constituents exhausted by the growth of previous trees.
The peach, when it fails upon its own roots, may be grown to a limited extent on the roots of the plum. We have heard of large crops being gathered from such orchards; but our own experiments with the plum stocks have not proved satisfactory. They may answer in a more northern locality, where the plum flourishes and the peach fails; but in our congenial climate and suitable soil for the peach, we have not found such substitution of general advantage. The peach will outgrow the plum stock, and, when in full foliage, the high winds are apt to break it off at the place of junction. This may be avoided by budding below the surface of the ground; but in that case the borer will select the tender bark of the peach, where it unites with the plum, and at once girdle the tree. The plum stock gives the peach a deeper color, while it detracts somewhat from the flavor and renders the flesh more coarse [I have my doubts about the influence of stock on color and flesh texture, though sparser foliage growth from a peach on plum stock may increase light intensity on the fruit, thus indirectly leading to deeper color. - ASC]. This may be accounted for from the fact that the sap of the plum starts later in the spring, and ceases to flow earlier in the autumn, than that of the peach, thus shortening its natural season and giving the fruit less time for the perfect elaboration of its juices.
are budded both on peach and plum stocks; but owing to the destructive attacks of the curculio, we seldom obtain a perfect crop of either fruit, unless when grown under glass. We have noticed that, like peaches, the plum stock gives the fruit a deeper color than when grown on peach roots, though the flavor is not perceptibly changed by its influence. The apricot is liable to injury from late frosts, as it blooms so early in the season. We have found it a good plan to set the trees on the north side of a wall or building, so that they may be shielded from the rays of the sun while the frost is upon them.
may be grafted either in the root or the extremities, though success is uncertain, owing to the thin bark and porous quality of the wood, Large vines are sometimes grafted by cutting them off at the ground and boring holes in the stump, in which are fitted the scions with the bark on them. The soil is then drawn up and pressed about them, leaving only the top bud uncovered. The other buds, if any, can strike root and assist in the growth of the vine. Seedlings make the best stocks for grafting, as they are furnished with better roots than slips or layers.
It may be here remarked that grafting is most successfully accomplished when the stock and scion nearly approach each other in general character, as the Catawba and Diana, the Isabella and Concord; while there is little sympathy between the more highly improved varieties and the common chicken or frost grape, and none whatever between the best kinds and the ordinary wild, sour grape.
injurious to fruit and fruit trees are not numerous in variety, but. so destructive as to render fruit growing a precarious business in many parts of the country, and even to cause the cultivation of many kinds to be wholly abandoned.
The caterpillar is hatched in the early spring from a collar of eggs deposited around a branch the preceding summer by the mother butterfly. It begins to feed upon the tender leaves of the apple and some other trees as soon as they appear, and increases in size and capacity for destruction with the growth of the foliage, destroying it as fast as it grows. When numerous, it has been known to strip whole orchards of their leaves, thus destroying the fruit crop for the season, and sometimes proving fatal to the trees.
The remedy, however, is efficient and easily applied. In the early morning, while the dew is on the foliage, sprinkle fine air-slaked lime freely over the tree. The caterpillar will drop almost as soon as touched by the subtile dust, or perish while holding to the leaf. The same remedy is equally efficient in regard to the thrip of the grape leaf, and the slug that depastures upon the foliage of the cherry. While the caterpillar is depredating on the leaves of: the tree, the borer, a more subtle and dangerous enemy, is often at work at the roots.
The borer is the larva of a brown beetle, striped with white, which, like a thief, seldom shows itself in the day-time, but flies about at night in the early summer, and covertly attacks the tree near the surface of the ground, where it makes a small hole in the bark, deposits its eggs, and trusts to nature to hatch them into life. The young worm feeds at first upon the tender bark, until, growing larger and stronger, it strikes into the "pith of the matter,” eating away the wood of the apple tree, so that it may fall before the first puff of wind, or die standing on its mutilated roots. This pest is also particularly fond of the quince, which can only be saved from it by closely watching. When the pear is worked upon quince stocks, it is necessary to set the roots below the surface of the ground for the security of the tree; otherwise, it will be sure to girdle the stock where the two woods meet.
The remedy—the only sure remedy we know—is the knife, and a pointed instrument to impale it in its holes. An application of ashes has been recommended as a cure; but we have tried it, and found that it destroyed both borer and tree. Coal ashes or lime, applied judiciously, may be a preventive; but so also is the earth drawn up around the trunk and pressed bard, so that the butterfly cannot penetrate it. Better than either is a small piece of oil-cloth tied tightly to the trunk of the tree, and drawn down to the ground where the lower parts are covered with earth, to prevent the insect reaching the bark.
The dark-louse is a less formidable enemy than either caterpillar or borer. It attaches to the young and smooth barks of the apple and pear, sucking their juices and retarding their growth, until, finally, it destroys the tree altogether if not removed. -A single washing with strong soap-suds will generally clear the tree of them, and restore its vigor, if attended to in time.
The apple-worm and the curculio, or plum-weevil, affect the fruit only. The first enters at the blossom, and feeds at the core of the apple, causing it to fall prematurely from the tree. The curculio is a small brown insect that stings the young and tender fruit, depositing its egg in the flesh of the plum, nectarine, or apricot, where it soon hatches and commences, in the larva state, to feed upon the fruit. It is so destructive that a tree loaded with young fruit will sometimes not have a single specimen left to arrive at maturity.
Remedies and preventives, in great numbers, have been tried with only partial success. Bottles, half-filled with sweetened water, are sometimes hung in the tree, and captivate a few. Spreading a cloth on the ground under the tree, and then jarring the tree while the insect is partly torpid with the cold, in the early morning, will cause many to fall, when they may be easily destroyed. Strong-smelling herbs, such as tansy and elder-leaves and blossoms, or other nauseous-matters not agreeable to the olfactory nerves of the insect, are hung among the branches, in hopes the insect will give them a wide berth. But the best preventive is to dust the trees with sulphur or lime when wet with dew. This method will sometimes keep the insect from the fruit if applied in proper season, taking care to renew the application whenever the rain washes the dust from the leaves and fruit.
[Next article: Native Fruits of the "Far West"]
Both fruit and fruit trees are subject to so many diseases that, frequently on this account, and in consequence of destructive insects, a good and full crop is not gathered during the whole life of the tree. We will mention a few of the most fatal, and give such remedies and preventives as have been found beneficial.
The apple is such a hardy fruit, and the habit of the tree so uniformly healthy, that we know of but few diseases to which it is subject, and those are not of a fatal character. The most serious is that known by the general name of light, which affects the terminal branches and destroys the crop for the year. The cause is attributed by some to the sting of an insect—by others to frost; but being involved in uncertainty, the remedy is likewise uncertain.
The pear is also subject to the blight, which assumes a more dangerous form than in the apple. The disease begins with the early summer, and first appears in the extremities of the branches, from which it extends rapidly toward the trunk, causing often the speedy death of the tree. Sometimes its strength is expended before the destruction of the tree is completed, and it may partly recover. It is indicated by a shrivelling of the bark upon the branches, and withering of the leaves which still adhere to the affected branches. Such trees as continue a vigorous growth late in the autumn are most subject to the disease, and, consequently, fertile soils and thorough tillage have a tendency to encourage the malady. The disease is contagious, and young trees in the immediate vicinity are liable to be affected if not attended to in time.
Remedies have been tried, though not always with complete success—such as washing the parts affected with ley [an old version of "lye" -ASC]; also, Downing recommends a solution of copperas [hydrated ferrous sulphate (FeSO4·7H2O)... probably got its name from the green color that looks like aged copper metal- but there is NO COPPER in copperas! -ASC] and diluted muriatic acid. But the sure remedy is to cut off the branches at once below the part affected, and burn them. This will be a certain cure, provided the cut is made at a sufficient distance below all external signs of the disease. Sometimes the sap is vitiated below the part in which the effect is apparent, and the disease breaks out again.
Black knot—Except in a few favored localities, the plum is, of all stone fruit trees, the most liable to disease. Its peculiar malady is the black knot, which is an eruption of the branches, causing an excrescence like great, unsightly warts, and so interferes with the flow of the sap as to cause the death of the branches beyond the place affected. he black knot, like the pear blight, is attributed to various causes, the most probable of which is a disease of the sap imparted from either the soil or atmosphere ; as healthy trees, removed to a neighborhood where the disease is unknown, are not affected. The disease seems to pervade every part of the tree, and shows itself as virulent in the young trees which spring from the stump of the affected tree as it was in the parent. Of all the remedies yet recommended, we have not found any one effectual, though we believe a proper application of a-solution of salt would preserve the health of the tree, and prevent the destructive attacks of the curculio on the fruit, The difficulty is in the application without injury to the tree.
The cherry is also subject to a disease which shows in the rupture of the bark, though the wartlike exerescences are not formed as on the plum. Like the sap blight of the pear and the black knot of the plum, the certain cause and remedy have not yet been determined. Some varieties, as the Black Morello and the English Morello, are subject to the black knot similar to that on the plum, and, as in regard to the plum, we candidly admit both cause and remedy are to us unknown.
The yellows.—In the middle States, where the peach arrives at the highest perfection, it is subject to but a single disease, and that, when fully developed, is of a fatal character. It is known as the yellows, and when young trees are grown from the seeds of diseased fruit, it sometimes shows itself in seedlings one year old. In most cases it is not noticeable until the tree has borne one or two crops of fruit, when it is indicated by slender, erect branches starting up from the larger limbs, a general sickly appearance of the tree, and a dull color of the foliage. The fruit also becomes discolored, and so changes from the ‘natural taste and appearance of the variety as not to be recognizable as the same. When first attacked, a single branch only is sometimes affected; but by the following season it spreads over the whole tree, which struggles feebly for life for a season or two, producing small, immature, and flavorless fruit. _The yellows is a contagious disease, and is imparted to other trees by contact or propinquity, as well as by a knife used in pruning trees affected, from buds taken from infected trees, and from the soil in which such trees have grown.
Remedy.—As a remedy, we have known iron filings and scales from around a blacksmith’s anvil, placed about the roots, at the rate of a good shovelful or more to the tree, to have a good effect. An application of hot wood-ashes about the roots, so that the ashes come in direct contact with them, will prolong the life of-the tree; but the best preventive and cure is an application of Peruvian guano, sowed around the ground and harrowed in. We have seen old orchards, apparently worn out, revived by this application, which have borne fruit for many years after. One of my neighbors has adopted the plan of throwing fell (air-slaked) lime over his trees about the time the curculio deposits its eggs, and of sowing guano in his orchard every spring, with most satisfactory results. His crops are unfailing, and the life of his trees extended to more than double the age of others in his immediate neighborhood.
We believe we have discovered a sovereign remedy for nearly all diseases of our fruit trees, as well as for the destructive insects, which so frequently destroy our fruit after it has given promise of satisfactory crops. It is nothing more than common salt. We have experimented with it on bushes and young trees, with admirable effect in many instances, though sometimes with injury, owing rather to the manner of application than the agent employed. Its application was first suggested to us as an insect destroyer, from the success of an experiment made upon the tree-moth. We found it altogether effectual in preventing injury from this troublesome pest, and so we extended our experiments, with almost equal success, to the fruit-destroying family of pests. The difficulty is in the proper application of the remedy or preventive, as salt is so injurious to tender vegetation that, frequently, we cannot reach the insect without also touching a bud, blossom, or tender leaf. Where the atmosphere is impregnated with saline particles, nearly all our troublesome insects and most of our diseases of fruit trees are unknown. The most perfect fruit of the peach, plum, nectarine, and apricot, and the most enduring trees, are found in the neighborhood of salt water. On the higher lands, along the Delaware and Chesapeake bays, all stone fruit trees bear plentiful crops, and endure much longer than in the interior. On the islands of the bays where the shores are washed by salt water, we have found peach and plum trees with their loads of fruit in such perfect condition as we have never seen elsewhere. Of the many plum trees we have examined in those localities we have yet seen no trace of black knot, nor any sign of the curculio on the fruit. Peach trees flourish and bear annual crops at the age of fifty, and in some cases seventy years, and on the islands of the Chesapeake the figs produce two or three successive crops of perfect fruit in the same season.