THE PEACH—ITS PROPAGATION, CULTIVATION, VARIETIES, ETC.
BY ISAAC PULLEN, HIGHTSTOWN, NEW JERSEY.
This delicious fruit justly claims a large share of attention, not only among
those who are greatly benefited by its cultivation, but by those who have only
a small plot of ground to devote to fruit. The ease with which it is raised, its
generous return for the slightest attention, and its unequalled flavor, render it one of the most desirable fruits for the orchard or garden. It is proposed in this
paper to state briefly a few facts, gathered from a long experience, as to
propagation, cultivation, varieties, &c.
In the selection of seed it is desirable to procure it from localities where
diseases have not made their appearance. For a number of years the best seed in the market was procured from Accomac, Virginia, and other counties on the
Peninsula where almost all the trees were seedlings. In the preparation of the seed for planting, the usual custom with nurserymen is, in the month of October, to clear a space of ground, excavate to the depth of three inches, fill this excavation with stones, and cover over with earth about two inches in depth.
As a protection against too severe freezing in the winter, some boughs, or stalks, or straw may be thrown over the whole. In the spring, as early as the stones begin to open with the swelling kernel, the bed may be opened and the kernels carefully gathered and planted, in rows four and a half feet apart, and at a distance of about four inches from each other. The stones that have not opened may be cracked with a hammer, and the kernels planted in the same manner.
Plough and cultivate the young seedlings until they are of proper size for budding, which will be about the 10th of August or earlier according to latitude. Buds are generally chosen from thrifty orchard trees of three or four years' growth, as being better matured than those taken from one-year-old trees in the nursery rows. The operation of budding is simple; an expert hand setting as many as two thousand in a single day. The bud is cut about one inch in length the eye being in the middle. The bark will very readily cleave from the wood, and, in all cases where the bark of the budding limb is free, the plan of budding without the wood is preferable. A slit, corresponding in length with the bud, is made in the seedling, as near the ground as possible, and the bud inserted, where it is made secure by being wrapped about with strands of
Russia mat, or other convenient wrapping material, care being taken to leave
the eye of the bud exposed. In a few days the bud will have adhered to the
wood of the tree, when the wrapping may be removed. Early the following
spring the seedlings should be cut off as near to the bud as it can be done without
injury—say one-half inch above it. Then, for the six weeks following, the
stump which is left must be kept clean from suckers, so that the growing bud
may have the benefit of the strength of the root. By the falling of the leaf the
inoculation will have attained the height of four to six feet, according to the
soil. It is not desirable that the trees should be grown in highly manured ground,
or that they should attain a large size the first year.>
PLANTING, CULTIVATION, PRUNING, ETC.
In all cases, peach trees should be planted when of one season's growth. The
time of planting, whether fall or spring, is immaterial. In very severe climates,
the spring would be preferable; but in all the peach-growing belt of the United
States, the choice between fall and spring planting is of little account. For
orchard planting, the ground should be marked out in furrows, about eighteen
or twenty feet apart, and the trees planted to about the same depth as they
stood in the nursery. The side limbs and tops should be cut off, leaving a
straight stem of the desired height for forming a head. If the trees are planted
in the fall this trimming and topping should be deferred till spring. Low heads
arc desirable. When the heads begin to form proper care should be taken to
prune out all unnecessary limbs, leaving three or four limbs in proper position
to form the future tree. Shortening in about one-half the growth for the second
and third years after planting, and keeping the inside of the trees clear of use
less growth, is all that is required in the way of pruning before the trees commence
bearing. The borers, which enter the body of the tree at or a little below the
ground, should be removed from year tp year. Many remedies for their prevention
have been recommended, but experience has demonstrated that the best preventive
is personal inspection of each tree, and removing with a knife, or other suitable
instrument, the borers. Peach trees will succeed in any soil that will grow corn
or potatoes, and require about the same cultivation as those crops. No manures
are required until the trees have borne their first crop. After the first crop one
hundred bushels of wood-ashes, or three hundred pounds of Peruvian guano, or
four hundred pounds of some standard super-phosphate, or four hundred pounds
of bone-dust, to the acre, will restore the trees and prepare them for the next
year. [Do a soil test first. This was not horrible advice because peach stone formation does take significant calcium and phosphorus from the soil, but this advice is using "or" and then recommending sources of nitrogen, potassium, calcium OR phosphorus. These are not interchangeable nutrients! Do a soil test in the Fall, then apply a fertilizer that will supply what is insufficient. -ASC]
Among the hundreds of varieties which have been cultivated, and which swell
the columns of nurserymen's catalogues, there are about twelve which amply
suffice for general cultivation. Those varieties, which I shall recommend as
possessing the qualities of fine flavor, succession in ripening, hardy growth of
tree, and general fruitfulness, have been tested by me through a long and successful experience in the cultivation of the peach, with the exception of the Hale's Early, which is of recent origin. This latter variety has been fruited by me for three years, both in the orchard-house and in the open air. In each case it
has been fruited side by side with the Troth's Early Red, which latter has for
years held the position of the earliest market variety. The Hale's Early ripens
at least two weeks in advance of the Troth's. It is larger, of fine flavor, and
promises to be one of the most valuable and profitable additions to our peach
list, since it increases the length of the peach season by two weeks. In order
to fill up a gap between the Hale's Early and Troth's I am now engaged in producing a new variety by hybridizing.
LIST OF VARIETIES FOR GENERAL CULTIVATION, GIVEN IN THEIR ORDER OF RIPENING.
Troth's Early Red.
Large Early York.
Stump the "World.
Ward's Late Free.
These varieties will afford a succession of fruit from the beginning to the end
of the peach season. I attach descriptions of each:
Hale's Early.—A new and valuable early peach; vigorous and healthy
tree, and an abundant bearer. Fruit—medium size, nearly round. Skin—
mottled red, with dark red cheek. Flesh—white, melting, juicy, and high-
flavored. Glands—globose. Flowers—large. Season—last of July, and first
of August. Freestone.
Troth's Early Red.—Fruit—small, round, uniformly red. Flesh—white,
slightly red at the stone; not of first quality as to flavor, but one of the most
valuable market varieties on account of its early ripening. Glands—globose. Flowers—small. Season— 1st to 15th August. Freestone.
Large Early York.—This truly excellent peach is known by many names,
such as Livingston's New York Rareripe, Honest John, New York Rareripe,
Haine's Early Red, Walter's Early, &c. Fruit—above medium, roundish.
Skin—whitish, dotted with red, with beautiful red cheek. Flesh—white, very
juicy, and of excellent flavor. Season—middle of August Flowers—small.
Crawford's Earlv.—A very popular, yellow-fleshed variety. Fruit—large,
generally oblong, but variable as to shape. Skin—yellow, with red cheek.
Flesh—yellow and juicy, and slightly acid. Flowers —small. Glands—globose.
Season—last of August. Freestone.
Yellow Rareripe.—A variety ripening at nearly the same time as the
Crawford's Early, and much esteemed on account of flavor. Fruit—large,
roundish, the suture extending half-way round. Skin—orange-yellow, with
rich red cheek. Flesh—yellow, but red at the stone. Flowers—small. Globose glands. Freestone.
Oldmixon Freestone.—An old and highly esteemed variety. Fruit—
large, roundish, a little swollen on one side. The skin is pale, dotted profusely,
with a beautiful cheek. Flesh—white, tender, and very rich. Flowers—small.
Glands—globose. Season—first of September.
Reeves' Favorite.—Fruit—large, roundish, slightly oval. Skin—yellow,
rich red cheek. Flesh—deep yellow, red at the stone, rich and melting.
Glands—globose. Flowers—small. Season— 10th to 15th September.
Stump the World.—Fruit—large, slightly oblong. Flesh—white, red
cheek, of excellent flavor. Ripens about the middle of the peach season, just
following the Oldmixon Freestone, which it closely resembles in size, appearance
and flavor. Flowers—small. Glands—globose.
Crawford's Late.—This has no rival as a yellow-fleshed variety. Its large
toe, beautiful appearance, and unapproachable flavor, make it a deserved favorite
among growers. Fruit—large, roundish, with shallow suture. Skin—yellow,
with dark red cheek. Flesh—deep yellow, and red at the stone. Glands—
globose. Flowers—small. Ripens from middle to last of September.
Ward's Late Free.—A fine, white-fleshed, productive variety. Skin—
white, with crimson cheek. Flesh—white, slightly red at the stone, excellent
flavor. Flowers—small. Glands—reniform. Season—last of September. Freestone.
Smock.—A well known late variety, very productive, and valuable as a
market peach, on account of its bearing transportation. It is also a favorite for domestic purposes for pickling, preserving, &c. Fruit—large, oblong. Skin—
light-yellow, mottled with red, with red cheek when ripened in exposed places.
Flesh—yellow, but red at the stone. Glands—reniform. Season—last of
September and 1st of October. Freestone.
Heath.—A clingstone variety, of most delicious flavor. Fruit—large, oblong, narrowing to both ends, with distinct suture on one side. Skin—whitish,
but slightly tinged when grown in exposed places. Flowers—small. Glands—
reniform. Season—from 1st to 10th October.
Another list, combining, in many respects, qualities common to the above,
might be made; but on the whole I consider the list given as possessing more
qualities for commendation than any other.
Peach-growing, as an industrial pursuit, is steadily increasing. With the
opening by expresses and otherwise of such markets as Boston, Albany, Troy,
Portland, New Haven, Buffalo, and all considerable towns and cities north of
New York, the demand has been so much increased that when peaches are received in fair condition in New York, no such gluts as distinguished that market
some years ago, when this fruit was thrown into the dock by boat-loads, are
known. At present the eastern market receives the main supply from the
Peninsula, bounded by the Chesapeake bay on the west, and the Delaware bay
on the east. This comprises the State of Delaware, and a portion of the States
of Maryland and Virginia; but the greater part of the supply comes from the
State of Delaware. The extension of the Delaware railroad from Wilmington
south, through the whole length of the State, and through some counties of
Maryland south of Delaware, and the running of a through train during the peach
season to Jersey City, has opened up one of the finest peach-growing districts in
the United States, to one of the best markets. In the summer of 1864 there
were received at Jersey City, by the Delaware peach train, three hundred and
thirty-five thousand (335,000) baskets of peaches. Add to this about one hundred thousand (100,000) by Adams's express, and three hundred and sixty-eight
thousand one hundred and eighty (368,180) by the Camden and Amboy railroad,
(the greater part of which were Delaware peaches re-shipped at Philadelphia,)
making the amount received in New York city from the Peninsula eight hundred
and three thousand one hundred and eighty (803,180) baskets. The receipts
during 1865, from the same source, amount to over that number. New Jersey,
during the above year, furnished about half as many baskets as the Peninsula
for the New York market. In the west, the great markets of Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago, St. Louis, &c, have stimulated peach-growing to a great extent,
so that in certain portions of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, this pursuit has become
a great source of wealth.