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from 2 to 3 per cent, of nitrogen. If the soil is inclined to be
acid, basic slag is a desirable phosphate for peach orchards, as
it contains lime as well as phosphoric acid. Either sulphate
or muriate of potash may be used as a sotu*ce of potash.

For average soils that are capable of producing fairly good
crops of com or potatoes, the following kinds and quantities per
acre of fertilizer should give good results: From 150 to 200
poimds of nitrate of soda, 200 pounds of sulphate or muriate
of potash, 200 potmds of groimd bone, and 200 pounds of acid
phosphate or basic slag.

If the soil is well supplied with nitrogen and leguminous cover
crops are grown in the orchard, the quantity of nitrate of soda
may be reduced to 100 pounds per acre or, in some cases, omitted
entirely. In case ground bone is high in price or hard to
obtain, 400 potmds per acre of add phosphate or basic slag
may be used instead.

All fertilizers should, as a rule, be applied broadcast in
early spring and should be plowed or harrowed in by the time
growth begins. If, however, the trees show a need of available
nitrogen in summer by a lack of growth or by an imthrifty
condition of the foliage while carrying a crop of fruit, some
nitrate of soda should be applied. The results will show the
following season in the formation of more fruit buds and
greater vigor in the trees. In seasons of full crops of fruit
and in dry seasons more nitrogen is required to keep the trees
vigorous than tmder other conditions.

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30 PEACH CULTURE § 11



cm/rrvATiNG or peach orchards

36. The majority of successful peach growers practice what
is known as the clean-culture method of cultivation. Even
in the case of very rich soils that are supplied with abundant
moisttu*e, this method seems to give better results than any
other. The details of the clean-culture method vary slightly
with the location and other conditions, but in general it consists
of thorough cultivation of the soil from early spring until
about midsimimer, when a cover crop is sown to be turned
imder the following spring. The groimd should be plowed
eariy in the spring, as soon as weather conditions will allow it,
and be cultivated at least once every 10 days until the cover
crop is sown. Unless the ground is particularly stony, a disk
or cutaway harrow may be used for the first few cultivations
after the plowing; on stony groimd, a spring-tooth harrow may
be used for the early cultivations. Later in the season either
a spring-tooth or a spike-tooth harrow may be used for working
the soil; if the groimd is hard or stony a spring-tooth harrow
shotdd be used, but if the ground is mellow and loose a spike-
tooth harrow will give the best results.

Peach orchards that are situated on steep slopes will, if
cultivated throughout, wash badly and for this reason should
be handled somewhat differently than just outlined. In such
cases the orchard should be planted in a manner to allow of
cultivation across the slope, and a narrow strip of grass should
be left along the rows at right angles to the slope. This will
prevent much washing. The cultivated area should, of course,
be protected by a cover crop during the fall and winter.

The growing of intercrops in a peach orchard is frequently
practiced for the first and second seasons after the orchard is
planted. Under ordinary conditions, however, a young peach
orchard should not be cropped the third season after being
planted, for by this time the trees will be large enough to
require all of the plant-food and moisture available in the soil.



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§ 11 PEACH CULTURE 31



OROWINO OP COVER CROPS IN PEACH ORCHARDS

37. In regularly cultivated peach orchards it is necessary
to sow cover crops to prevent washing of the soil and leaching
of much of the available fertility. Also, as the cover-crop
plants take considerable water from the soil, they hasten the
ripening of wood in the fall, which is an advantage, as it causes
the twigs to mature and thus lessens the 'danger of winter
injury. Cover crops prevent deep freezing of the soil in win-
ter, and when they decay they add liimius to the soil. This
latter effect is of much importance, as many soils, especially
those that have been cropped for a long time, are in need of
additional organic matter.

For New Jersey conditions, cover crops should be planted
about August 1. For other conditions the time for planting
will vary largely with the climatic conditions. The time will
vary also with the varieties of peaches grown. In the case of
late varieties that require moisture late in the season for develop-
ing the crop, the time for planting the cover crop should be
somewhat later than for early or mid-season varieties. The
character of the season, too, has an influence on the time for
planting the cover crop. If the season is wet and the soil well
saturated with water, the cover crop may be planted a few
days earlier than in a normal season; if the season is dry, the
planting should be delayed for a few days, perhaps a week.

If a cover crop is such that the plants start growth the fol-
lowing season, it should be plowed tmder in the spring before
it has made much growth, otherwise the growing plants will
take from the soil a quantity of plant-food and moisture that
is needed for the peach trees.

Unless the soil of a peach orchard is exceedingly fertile,
legimiinous plants should be used for cover crops, as plants
of this order add available nitrogen to the soil. Among the
legumes used for peach orchards are: Hairy vetch, Crimson
clover, cowpeas, and soybeans. Hairy vetch is hardy and is
the best legimie for northern districts. For the best results,
the seed should be sown at the rate of from 35 to 40 i)oun(ls
per acre; it should not be sowti later than August 1. Crimson



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32 PEACH CULTURE §11

clover is a good cover crop for regions south of Central New
Jersey and Pennsylvania. If sown farther north, it is com-
monly winter killed. About 15 pounds of seed should be sown
per acre. Red clover is often used for a cover crop in sections
that are too cold for cowpeas or Crimson clover, as it will
withstand a lower winter temperature than these crops. From
8 to 12 poimds of seed are sown per acre, the larger quantity
being used when conditions are not the most favorable for
germination. Cowpeas make a good cover crop in southern
peach districts, but in northern districts they are killed by
the first frost. About IJ to 2 bushels of seed is required per
acre. Soybeans, in sections north of New Jersey, will make a
somewhat better growth than cowpeas and are not so sus-
ceptible to frost killing. About 1 bushel or more of seed is
sown per acre.

In the case of peach orchards where the soil is excessively
fertile, a non-legtuninous cover crop is better than a leguminous
crop, because the former adds no nitrogen to the soil. For
orchards grown imder such a condition, rye, wheat, oats, barley,
rape, and buckwheat are frequently sown. For all of these
crops except rape from li to 2 bushels per acre of seed is
required; for rape from 4 to 6 pounds per acre of seed should
be sown. Some of the crops mentioned make an early growth
the spring following the planting; these crops should be plowed
under early. When non-leguminous plants are used as orchard
cover crops, care should be taken to prevent the trees from
being injured by mice and rabbits, as the crop, owing to the
height of the plants, will afford a good harboring place for
these animals.

• Often a non-legtuninous crop can be combined with a
legvmiinous crop for sowing in peach orchards. Rye at the
rate of 1 bushel per acre combined with 25 potmds per acre
of Hairy vetch seed is a good mixture for a cover crop. Also,
rye at the rate given combined with from 10 to 12 poimds per
acre of Crimson clover seed is a mixture that is desirable where
the clover is hardy.



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§ 11 PEACH CULTURE 33



THINNING OF PEACHES

38. Proper thinning of peaches is an important orchard
operation. If peach trees are allowed to produce excessively a
large proportion of the fruit will be small and inferior and there
is danger of the trees being injured by the breaking down of
branches; in addition, there is a possibility that the trees may
become somewhat irregular in bearing. Unfortimately, much
less attention is paid to the thinning of peaches than should be
the case.

With favorable weather at blooming time, the peach often
sets fruit as dose as 1 inch apart on all the vigorous 1-year-old
twig growth, and tmless a large proportion of this fruit drops
because of imperfect pollination, insect injiuy, or other causes,
the peaches will be entirely too numerous. In the case of
most varieties the fruit should be thinned so that the peaches
are not closer than 4 inches on the same side of the branch;
commercial varieties that are inclined to bear rather small
fruit should be thinned to 6 inches. If the set of fruit is light,
two peaches may be allowed to remain near each other if they
are on opposite sides of the branch. The Moimtain Rose,
the Crosby, and the St. John varieties are inclined to pro-
duce undersized fruit and consequently require more thinning
than varieties like the Elberta, the Reeves, and the Belle,
which often produce peaches that are too large to pack well.
A peach from 9 to 10 inches in circumference is sufficiently
large for all commercial purposes; those that measure, say,
11 inches in circumference are often difficult to market and are
seldom profitable to grow unless they can be sold to a special
trade.

Although the distance apart of the peaches is the important
feature of thinning, imperfect or injtu*ed fruit should always
be removed. In the case of well-pruned trees, thinning can
be done rapidly; the simple bending of a fruit to one side with
the fingers will generally cause it to break from the branch.

The thinning of peaches should be done just as the natural
thinning, or the dropping, begins; this is from about 50 to 60
days after the time of blooming.



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34 PEACH CULTURE §11



RENOVATION OF NBGLECTED PEACH ORCHABD6

39. Whether or not it will pay to renovate a neglected
peach orchard depends altogether on conditions. Many peach
orchards never become profitable; some are planted on sod
land and then left to care for themselves with the restdt that
they are failures from the beginning; others are ctdtivated for
a few years and then neglected; and still others are cultivated
to some extent, but are either starved by a lack of plant-food
or are allowed to become the prey of San Jos^ scale, borers,
and serious fungous diseases. If a grower comes into possession
of a neglected orchard he must consider whether the failure
was due to some fundamental cause that cannot be set aside
or whether it was due to neglect; if he finds that the failure
was due to neglect he must consider whether or not it will pay
to attempt to renovate the orchard. Most peach-orchard
failures are the result of a lack of care.

In considering whether or not it will pay to renovate a
neglected orchard, the matter should be viewed from several
standpoints, such as the variety or varieties of trees, the age
and condition of the trees, and the size, location, and acces-
sibility of the orchard.

The variety or varieties of trees in the orchard is perhaps
the most important point to consider. If the orchard con-
sists largely of trees of unsalable varieties it will not pay to
attempt to renovate it, even if the trees are in fairly good
condition.

The age of the trees is another important point for consider-
ation. The exact age may be difficult to ascertain, but trees
from 1 to 4 years old can easily be distinguished from those that
are from 10 to 12 years old. However, exact information as
to the time the trees were planted is usually procurable in some
manner. Peach trees that are from 10 to 12 years of age and
in a neglected condition are of little value under average con-
ditions, and it is only in exceptional cases that it will pay to
renovate them.

In the case of orchards that are from 1 to 3 years old, if the
trees have been entirely neglected from the beginning they are



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§ 11 PEACH CULTURE 35

likely to be of little value. Some of the trees are almost sure
to be dead, and the others will be so severely checked or injured
by scale, borers, and bark beetles that they will be likely to
succumb at an early age to attacks of yellows and little peach,
if such diseases occur in the locality. In fact, trees that have
been planted only 1 or 2 years and have been neglected during
that time, will have no advantage over newly planted trees,
as the latter will soon overtake them in development.

A young orchard of good varieties that has been well planted
and only partly neglected is generally well worth proper care
and attention. To distinguish between such an orchard and
a badly neglected orchard is not difficult. A prospective pur-
chaser should be cautious about spending much money or
labor on a peach orchard that has been badly neglected; it is
nearly always best to start a new orchard.

The size, location, and accessibility of an orchard are,
obviously, important points to consider in determining whether
or not it will pay to renovate the trees. The influence of these
factors is so apparent that they need not be discussed.

The value of a neglected peach orchard that is from 4 to
8 years old is not easy to determine. If such an orchard is
located in districts where Uttle peach and peach yellows are
prevalent it is imsafe to purchase it during the dormant season,
unless the purchaser has the assurance of an expert that the
orchard was free from these diseases the previous season. In
general, neglected orchards from 4 to 8 years of age in such dis-
tricts contain trees in early or advanced stages of these dis-
eases, and thus their value is not very great. Inexperienced
persons have been known to piu'chase such orchards and at
high prices, only to find them almost worthless.

Peach orchards from 4 to 8 years of age that are practically
free from yellows and little peach and that are not in a badly
neglected condition can, however, often be profitably reno-
vated. The directions for the work are as follows: Prune the
trees thoroughly, cutting out all the dead branches, and if the
trees are in a weak condition or have made but Uttle growth,
cut back all the live branches severely. Spray the trees before
the buds open with lime-sulphur spray to destroy scale and to



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36 PEACH CULTURE § 11

prevent attacks of peach-leaf curl. Plow the orchard as early
in the spring as soil conditions will pennit, and keep it well
cultivated until midsummer; in midsimimer sow a cover crop.
Apply fertilizers annually as directed for the fertilization of
bearing orchards.

Under average conditions, a neglected peach orchard is
less likely to pay for renovation than a neglected apple orchard,
and for this reason great caution should be exercised in pur-
chasing a peach orchard for renovation.



HARVESTING AND MARKETING OF
PEACHES



HARVESTING



PICKING

40. stage of Maturity for Picking of Peaches. — The

peach is one of the most perishable of fruits, consequently the
picking and handling of a crop for market requires dose atten-
tion. An important detail of the work is to pick the fruit
at just the right stage of ripeness. White-fleshed peaches are
green in color when immature, but as the ripening stage
approaches the green turns to greenish-white with perhaps a
yellowish tint. Yellow-fleshed peaches are a yellowish-green
when immatiu-e, but when the ripening begins they gradually
change to an orange yellow. An immature peach is hard and
not easily bruised by pressure; a ripe peach is soft and vnH
remain flattened when pressed; one just beginning to ripen is
somewhat elastic, or springy, when pressed in the palm of the
hand.

For a local market, peaches may be allowed to remain on the
trees until they are almost fully ripe. A peach picked green
may improve somewhat in color as it ripens in the basket,
but it will not compare in flavor with fruit that has ripened on
the tree. Peaches that are to be shipped short distances by



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§ 11 PEACH CULTURE 37

rail should be picked at a stage when about .1 or 2 days
more would have been sufficient to bring them to the softening
stage. The fruit of such varieties as Elberta, Belle, and Hiley,
can, becatise of their firm flesh, be allowed to become more fully
ripe before picking than fruit of tender-fleshed varieties like
Greensboro, Early Crawford, and Moimtain Rose. If the fruit
is to be shipped to a distant market, great care should be exer-
cised in picking it at the right time. In New York and other
cities carloads of peaches are sometimes condemned and
destroyed by Board of Health inspectors because the fruit is
too green and therefore tmfit for food. In such cases not only
the fruit itself is a loss to the grower but he is compelled to pay
the freight, which will amoimt to considerable if the shipment
was made from a distant point. If overripe fruit is mixed with
firm fruit the results also will be disastrous for the grower if
the shipment is made by rail. Every package of peaches, there-
fore, should contain nothing but fully developed yet firm fruit.

41. Picking: Appliances. — If peach trees have been
pruned and trained low, most of the fruit can be picked by the
pickers standing on the groimd, but if the trees have been
allowed to grow tall, a step ladder will be necessary for the
picking. A three-legged step ladder, forms of which have been
illustrated and described in a previous Section, is better, espe-
cially on rough land, than the common four-legged step ladder,
as it is more stable on the groimd.

Peaches should always be picked in a strong basket with
wide, smooth, wooden staves, as such a basket is less likely to
bruise the fruit while it is being carried from the tree to the
packing house than a cheap, flimsy basket. Often the regular
market package of the locality is used as a picking basket,
la the Ontario peach-growing district, the large Climax basket
is commonly used; in the Michigan district, the bushel basket
is popular; and in the New Jersey-Delaware-Maryland district
the Delaware basket is the one most commonly used. Many
progressive growers now use the round half -bushel basket w4th
a swing handle; this basket has already been illustrated and
described in a previous Section.



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[iH PEACH CULTURE §11

42. Method of Picking. — Each peach should be care-
fully picked from the tree by hand and should not be pinched
with the fingers. If each fruit is tipped sidewise and twisted
slightly as it is removed from the branch, it can be released
much easier and with less danger of its being bruised than if
the picker attempts to pull it directly from the branch. Each
peach as it is picked should be placed quickly but carefully
into the picking receptacle; under no circumstances should the
fruit be thrown into the basket. Picking is often carried to
extremes by inexperienced persons; either much time is wasted
by a too cautious handling of the fruit or it is handled too
roughly by being dropped or thrown into the receptacle.

43. Management of Pickers. — For harvesting a peach
crop, pickers are usually employed by the day. As a rule a
foreman is placed in charge of the work and it is his business
to see that the pickers do a certain amoimt of work and do not
injure the fruit on the trees. Individual pickers are sometimes
assigned to certain rows so that the foreman cAn determine the
amount and the character of the work done by each. Con-
tracts are sometimes made for the picking of peaches at a given
price per basket, but in most cases this plan has been found
to be detrimental to the trees and the fruit.

A good system for the managing of pickers is the ticket
system. Each picker, as he begins work for the day, is pro-
vided with a bunch of tickets, each ticket bearing the same
ntmiber. A picker places a ticket in each basket of fruit that
he picks. At the packing house these tickets are collected
and payment made accordingly.



ORADINO AND PACKING

44. Importance of Proper Grading and Packing.

Experience proves that it pays to grade and pack peaches
carefully. Bruised or partly decayed peaches should never be
packed in the same basket with sound fruit and small or
unsightly peaches should be sej^arated from those of desirable
size and appearance. If peaches are to be sold on a local market



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§ 11 PEACH CULTURE 39

they need not be packed firmly but they should be arranged in
an attractive manner. The top layer of each package should
be placed with the most attractive side uppermost, and if the
fruit is likely to stand in the market place it is a good plan to
cover the packages with red or pink cheesecloth, as this will
add to the appearance and besides will keep out flies and wasps.
If peaches are to be sold on a distant market even, greater care
should be exercised in the grading and packing than if they
are to be sold locally, for they must withstand transportation
and be in competition with other shipments.

45. Peacli Packages. — A number of different kinds of
packages are used for peaches. In Virginia, the Carolinas,
Georgia, and other Southern States peaches are shipped ahnost



Fig. 11

exclusively in what is known as the Georgia carrier, which is
illustrated in Fig. 11. A Georgia carrier is 24 in. X ll^ in.
X 10| in., outside measurements. In each carrier there are
six small baskets, known as till baskets, which are arranged in
two layers and separated by a thin wooden slat. A carrier will
hold about 40 poimds of fruit. When the baskets are empty the
carrier weighs about 10 pounds. The material for the carriers
is generally purchased sawed to the right dimensions and is
put together at the orchard.

The Georgia carrier is a good long-distance shipping package,
and also is a popular package on the market, as a prospective



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40



PEACH CULTURE



§11




Pig. 12



purchaser can see all of the fruit in the baskets without much
disturbing of the pack. Another advantage is that the cover
cannot easily be removed without the aid of a hatchet or some
such tool; consequently the fruit, when in transit, is not subject
to the ravages of petty thieves.

Peaches from the Pacific coast are shipped in shallow boxes
like the one illustrated in Fig. 12. These boxes are 18^ inches

long, Hi inches wide,
and 2i, 3, 3i 4, 4|, 5.
or 5i inches deep, inside
measurements. The
depth of box used is de-
termined by the size of
the peaches. The ends
are made of either f-inch or f-inch material; the sides, top,
and bottom are of J-inch material. The boxes are usually
made at the orchard. Some of the advantages of this form of
package are that the peaches are not likely to be bruised in
shipping, the boxes are convenient size for handling, they pack
well in cars, and they are not easily
broken. A box will hold from about
20 to 25 pounds of fruit.

Formerly, most of the fruit from
the eastern peach-growing sections
was marketed in the so-called Dela-
ware basket, one of which is illus-
trated in Fig. 13, but in recent years
the Georgia carrier has come into
extensive use for long-distance ship-
ment. A full-sized Delaware basket ^°' ^^
will hold 16 quarts of peaches, and when full weighs about 25
pounds. In New York State, modified forms of the Delaware
basket are used to some extent. They are similar in construc-
tion and of nearly the same shape as the genuine Delaware
basket, but are somewhat smaller in size. One size holds
10 quarts of i)eaches and another holds 14 quarts. The 10-
quart baskets are usually shipped in pairs and are known as
twins. The Delaware basket is a poor carrier for long-distance



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§ 11 PEACH CULTURE 41

shipments, as it is easily tipped over, the sides are so thin that
they are easily broken and the covers can be easily removed by
thieves.

The bulk of the crop from the Ohio and Michigan peach-
growing sections is mar-
keted in bushel baskets
like that illustrated in
.Fig. 14. This form of
package is not poptilar
in most markets, as there
is such a large quantity
of fruit in one basket
that much of it may be-
come bruised in transit.

The Climax basket,
one of which is shown in



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