John J. (John Jacobs) Thomas.

The American fruit culturist : containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees in the nursery, orchid and garden : with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties cultivated in the United States online

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Online LibraryJohn J. (John Jacobs) ThomasThe American fruit culturist : containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees in the nursery, orchid and garden : with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties cultivated in the United States → online text (page 5 of 31)
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the attacks of insects. For example, the peach and apricot,
which are very liable to attacks of the peach-worm, are
budded upon the plum, which very seldom suffers. The
quince is often destroyed or injured by the borer, but the
pear is exempt from this injury; hence the former may be
grafted on the latter. But such expedients sometimes fail
Instances have been observed where the peach-worm, no'
to be thwarted in this way, had attacked the apricot at the
place of union on the plum, even as high as three feet from
the ground.

Tender kinds are sometimes placed upon hardy stocks
with good effect. Thus, the peach budded on the plum has,
in some instances, done better in cold climates, and made
an earlier growth in spring. This is not to be ascribed to
any alteration in the character of the peach, but to the
simple fact that the plum is aroused by a less degree ot
warmth from winter's sleep, and exerts an earlier influence
by its supply of sap.

Benefit has resulted from superior hardiness in stock?
during wet or severe winters. The winter of 1846-7
accompanied in some parts of the country with unusual
wetness, followed by intense cold, destroyed large quan-


titles of young pear trees on roots of their own species,
while those on quince nearly all escaped.

Sometimes a change in the character of the soil renders
certain stocks desirable for particular localities. The White
Doyenne pear flourishes finely on the quince in some places
where it is otherwise cracked and worthless. Dr. Lindley
found that in the chalky soil at Kouen, the peach on plum,
and cherry on cherry, were languid and sickly ; while in
the same garden, the peach was healthy and vigorous on the
almond, and the cherry on the Mahaleb stock. But in rich
artificial soil, composed of other ingredients, the two latter
were again feeble in their turn.



THE importance of attention to the variation in fruit
wrought by a change in climate, soil, and cultivation,
appears to be much underrated. While the peculiar or
essential character of a variety remains unchanged, the
quality, or degree of excellence, is variously modified.
This is sometimes so great that serious disappointment
results ; and high expectations, caused by success in one
case, are defeated by different circumstances in another.
Hence the necessity of understanding these modifying

The changes produced by climate, are greater in some
classes of fruits than in others. The cherry varies but
little in character and quality ; the fine varieties originated
by Thomas Andrew Knight near London, are also among
the finest when removed to the northern states of America.
This may be owing in part to their period of maturity,
which, occurring early in summer, could not be influenced
oy the length of the seasons. But with the apple, pear, and
peach, the case is quite otherwise. Very few of the whole
British catalogue of apples, are first in quality here. The
White Astracan, an apple of high reputation in Russia,
becomes very inferior in England; and a similar loss takes
place on the removal to England of some of the finest
apples of Italy. Some of the best peaches in the neighbor-
hood of Philadelphia, become second or third rate in
western New York, the shorter and cooler summers of the
.alter region not being sufficient to give full flavor to many
of the more southern varieties. American peaches taken
to England lose still more. Of fifty sorts, from the middle
and western states, tested at the great Chiswick garden, all
but two were pronounced " worthless."


But the influence of seasons alone produces sometimes
extraordinary results. In the year 1842, the Wurtemburg
pear was regarded in western New York as the finest
foreign pear among, several which had then just fruited ;
but the two succeeding seasons it was nearly worthless.
The Bezi de la Motte, about one year in seven, in some
localities, is a delicious melting pear, and at other times
dry and tasteless ; in other localities, it is uniformly good.
Some striking cases were mentioned by the late Robert
Manning of Salem. The Beurre Duval, which has a high
reputation in Europe, produced, the first year of bearing,
beautiful fruit ; but on ripening, they were found tasteless
and worthless. The next year the same tree produced
fewer pears, half the size, different in shade of color, and
delicious in flavor. In another case the Hericart yielded
fruit which proved melting and high-flavored. The next
year it not only varied in size shape, and color, but was so
tasteless as to be immediately rejected. Again, the Calabash
pear produced in two seasons, oblong fruit with projecting
ridges, the color being bright russett, and the flesh break-
ing, melting, and very good. The next year the fruit was
more abundant, of larger size, of a bright yellow color,
without ridges, and the flesh very insipid.* But these were
unusual cases. They serve to show, however, the extreme
caution to be used, both in describing fruit, and deciding
upon the merits of new kinds. They also show the pro-
priety of aiming to select such as are little affected by such
influences, as the Madeleine, Bartlett, and Seckel.

It is this liability to change, and occasionally to become
valueless, that has induced 'the opinion that varieties are
worn out by old age; but this is disproved by the fact that
the same varieties flourish elsewhere with undiminished
excellence ; and that some of the new sorts, when removed
to ungenial localities also exhibit precisely the same symp-
toms of " running out" and decay.t

* Hovey's Magazine, vol. 8, p. 87.

t The English Gold Pippin, which originated centuries ago, was long since cited
as an example of an old and defunct variety; while even at the present day, in all
favorable soils, both in Europe and America, it flourishes as well as ever. The
Boyenne pear has been many years since, rejected in some parts of New England
as worthless, where it once proved fine. But as proof that this deterioration is to be
ascribed to some defect in the soil, and not to the age of the variety, it needs only to
be stated that in central and western New- York, it is cultivated extensively and



The effect of keeping the soil mellow "by repeated stirring,
on most of the finer and delicious fruits, can be hardly be-
lieved by those who have only seen it on the more common
varieties of the apple. " No stunted tree bears fine fruit,
Even the Seckel pear, of all sorts the highest flavored, is so
inferior in some situations, as to be scarcely worth gathering.
Some other pears, however, lose their distinguishing traits
entirely, and bear nothing suitable for human lips. Of this
class has been the St. Ghislain in my grounds, where the
tree stood neglected for several years, and caused me to
wonder how any thing so insipid could have passed through
the hands of Robert Manning. Yet that eminent and worthy
pomologist was not to blame. An accidental improvement
of its condition, caused it the last season to bear excellent
fruit, increased some in size, but immensely in flavor.

41 It would seem that flavor is the last touch of perfection
that some pears receive ; and that if the nourishment of the
tree be exhausted with their growth, so that nothing is left
for the last finish, they are tasteless and worthless. This is
not the case however with all sorts of fruit ; and exceptions
maybe found in the Madeleine, Seckel, and Virgalieu ; but
I think we have no right to condemn any variety of the
pear, until the tree has done its best that is, borne fruit in
a thriving condition."*

"No estimate," says Samuel Walker, "can be made of
the true character of any fruit, more particularly of the
pear, unless the specimens are fair, well grown, of full
size, and quite ripe : or, in other words, in the highest state
of perfection the variety will attain under the most skilful
management and favorable season. Some varieties, under
the care of a lover of fruits, well cultivated in a congenial
soil, may be compared to 'refined gold,' while the same
variety in unskilful hands, the trees neglected, in grass
land, or in wet and impoverished soil, may prove as ' dross.' "

with great success, and is there regarded as the most valuable of all known pears.
A.n interesting example occurred the past season in Hie garden of Dr. Wendell of
Albany, where trees of this variety, in soils of dilferent qualities exhibited ail the
grades of difference from blighted and worthless fruit, to rich golden specimens.
Further evidence on this subject is furnished by the fact thai the Beurre Did anil
other sorts of quite recent origin, have in unfavorable localities already exhibited tha
cracked and blighted appearance falsely ascribed to old age.

* David Thomas, in Ohio Cultivator, 18-45, p. 6.


There was much truth in the remark of Bacon, that "the
scion overruleth the stock quite, the stock being passive
only." The change which takes place when the sap is con-
verted into the descending juices, and thence into fruit, is
effected entirely by the leaves; that is, when a pear is
grafted on a quince, the entire elaboration of the juices
is effected by the leaves of the pear, and the perfect fruit
of the pear is the result, and not a cross or mixture of
the two fruits. Hence the error of the notion formerly held,
that the stock might produce a distinct specific change, ana-
logous to that in hybrids.

But although one species, or even variety, cannot be
changed to another by the stock which supports it, a slight
modifying influence may be exerted by the shade of differ-
ence between the sap of one species and that of another.
The sap of the quince may exert a sensible effect, small in
degree, even after it has undergone the great change which
is effected by the leaves of the pear. We accordingly find
some sorts of pear improved, and others deteriorated on the

There is doubtless an analogy in the influence exerted by
different stocks, and by different soils. As the earth is
solder in summer a few feet below than near the surface, it
is highly probable that such soils as variously favor the
downward extension of roots, may modify the character of
fruits like the changes of seasons. Different trees of the same
variety are known to be affected by slight shades of differ-
ence, which are often ascribed entirely to the stock, though
the soil doubtless has a large share of influence. This view
is further indicated by the increased or diminished luxuri-
ance of some kinds when growing in a light or a heavy soil.
Different degrees of fertility often produce material effects,
both in productiveness and flavor.

There is no doubt that stocks on which trees are grafted,
operate in some degree in a similar way. Some, like a
rich soil, assist the more rapid growth of the branches ;
others, like a sterile one, retard it ; hence corresponding re-
sults on the fruit may be expected.

Stocks may hasten or retard ripening ; they may affect
the size, color, and quality of fruit. The temperature,


depth, and other characters of soils may do the same. Ten-
der kinds are made hardier on hardy stocks, not because of
any specific influence, but the usual supplies of sap are im-
parted sooner in spring and withheld earlier in autumn, and
the tender wood has more time to mature precisely similar
to the planting of tender trees on sterile or rocky soils, which
cause an earlier cessation of growth.

Although, as a general rule, the change in quality is so
small as to be rarely taken into account in practice, it is in
some rare instances considerable, and is worthy of investiga-
tion and experiment. Early fruits have been sometim'es
retarded a few days in ripening when grafted upon late va-
rieties of their own species, and their maturity has been
hastened on early stocks. In one case, the JRed Magnum
Bonum plum ripened ten days earlier when grafted on the
Cherry plum, a variety which matures at midsummer, than
when worked upon a late prune. In another instance, late
peach stocks were found to retard a few days the sorts bud-
ded upon them.*

In one instance,, related by President Knight, a very
marked change was effected. His garden contained two
trees of the Acton Scott peach, one growing upon a stock
of its own species, and the other on a plum, other circum-
stances being the same. The fruit of that upon the plum
was larger and much more red to the sun ; but its pulp was
coarse, arid its flavor so inferior that he would have denied
the identity of the variety had he not himself inserted the
buds. Such remarkable instances are to be regarded as of
very rare occurrence.

Salt peaches or plums, show that foreign substances may
enter the juices, and modify or change the quality of the
fruit, as well as poison or induce disease in the tree. Solu-
ble substances in the soil may thus exert a sensible influ-
ence. In the same way, the peculiar character of the sap
and secretions of a stock may produce a like result.

The, increased productiveness effected by dissimilar stocks,
is often so great as to become a very important object in
practice. "In proportion," says Lindley, "as the scion
and the stock approach each other closely in constitution,
the less effect is produced by the latter ; and on the contra-

* Hort., III., p. 191.


ry, in proportion to the constitutional difference between the
stock and the scion, is the effect of the former important.
Thus, when pears are grafted or budded on the wild species,
apples upon crabs, plums upon plums, and peaches upon
peaches or almonds, the scion is, in regard to fertility, exact-
ly' in the same state as if it had not been grafted at all ;
while on the other hand, a great increase of fertility is the
result of grafting pears upon quinces, peaches upon plums,
apples upon white thorn, and the like. In these latter cases,
the food absorbed from the earth by the root of the stock, is
communicated slowly and unwillingly to the scion ; under
no circumstances is the communication between the one and
the other as free and perfect as if their natures had been
more nearly the same ; the sap is impeded in its ascent, and
the proper juices are impeded in their descent, whence ari-
ses that accumulation of secretion which is sure to be at-
tended with increased fertility." This view is strongly cor-
roborated by the striking similarity between the swollen
portion of a grafted limb on a dissimilar stock, as a plum on
the peach, immediately above the place of union, and the
swollen portion of an ungrafted tree bound with a ligature.
From the preceding remarks, we may arrive at the fol-
lowing conclusions :

1. That the difference in the soluble matter contained in
the sap of dissimilar stocks, may exert a modifying influence
in the fruit ; and that soluble matters in the soil, or their
absence, may in a slight degree do the same.

2. That a further change is at the same time effected by
increasing or lessening the supply of sap from the stock to
the graft ; and that a similar change may result from a fer-
tile or sterile soil.

3. That both early productiveness and early maturity may
be produced by a stock or a soil which lessens the luxuri-
ance of the tree ; dwarf trees and those of old or diminished
growth maturing their crops perceptibly earlier than those
possessing great thriftiness and vigor.

As a general rule, the influence of the stock is not to be
taken into account in ordinary practice, except with kinds of
very different natures. Cultivation and fertility of soil are
of incalculably greater importance. And while the effects
of climate are to be attentively observed in making a selec-


tion of varieties, the improvement of those selected sorts,
to the highest degree of perfection, is only to be attained by
skilful culture.*


When fruit is thick upon the branches, both size and fla-
vor are diminished. Many kinds are rendered nearly worth-
less by overbearing. It is often observed that early apples
and peaches, remaining last on the tree, are much more de-
licious than the earlier portions which ripened on crowded
limbs. With some varieties, the effect of productiveness is
so great as wholly to alter the character. A tree of the
Heath Cling, before unknown to the person who raised it,
bore the first year a very abundant crop ; and the fruit,
which had been recommended as of great size and excel-
lence, was small, green, with only a disagreeable, bitter
tas-te. In the warmer and longer summer of the following
year, the fruit, which had been thinned by the frost, was
three inches in diameter, very handsome, and of sweet and
excellent flavor. The importance of understanding these
influences, before deciding on the quality of a new fruit, is
at once evident. The advantages of pruning are to be as-
cribed in part to the same cause.

* The influence exerted by the graft on the stock, although not strictly within the
Jmits of thi chapter, offers an interesting subject for inquiry. The extension of
the wood of the slock, by successive depositions from the leaves of the graft, and
through the cellular system of the bark, so as to preserve the strict specific identity
of the wood of the former, is familiar to every practical cultivator. But the graft
often exerts a modifying influence. The same seedling cherry stocks, grafted with
sorts of different degrees of vigor, soon vary in the amount and size of the fibrous
soots. Trees of the Imperial Gage and Jefferson plum, a few feet high, when bud-
ded on the wild plum, were found to have only half the amount of roots possessed
by the unbudded stock, of the same age. " A graft of the Green Newtown Pippin,"
says Dr. Kirtland, " will invariably render the bark of the stock rough and black
(the habit of the variety,) within three years after its insertion."



THE SOIL for fruit trees, as well as for farm crops, should
be of good quality. Whatever will produce a vigorous
growth of corn and potatoes, will in general be the best for
fruit trees. Sterile soil is unfavorable for both ; but doubly
so for the latter, for while it only lessens in quantity the
growth of farm crops, it lessens the quantity and greatly in-
jures the quality of fruit.

Good soils vary in many particulars ; but as a general
rule, one which is dry, firm, mellow, and fertile, is well
suited to the cultivation of fruit trees. It should be deep,
to allow the extension of the roots ; dry, or else well drain-
ed, to prevent injury from stagnant water below the surface;
firm, and not peaty or spongy, to preclude disaster from

Very few soils exist in this country, which would not be
much benefitted, for all decidedly hardy kinds, as the apple
and pear, by good manuring. Shallow soils should be
loosened deeply by heavy furrows and manure ; or if the
whole surface cannot be thus treated, a strip of ground eight
feet wide, where the row of trees is to stand, should be ren-
dered in this way deep and fertile for their growth. The
manure should be very thoroughly intermixed with the soil
by repeated harrowings. An admirable method of deepen-
ing soils for the free admission of the fine fibrous roots, is
first, to loosen it as deeply as practicable with the subsoil
plow ; and then to trench-plow this deeply loosened bed for
the intermixture of manure. The previous subsoiling ad-
mits the trench-plow to a greater depth than could be at-
tained without its aid. The only trees which will not bear
a high fertility, are those brought originally from warmer
countries, and liable to suffer from the frost of winter; as


the peach, nectarine, and apricot ; for they are stimulated to
grow too late in the season, and frost strikes them when the
wood is immature. It however happens, in the ordinary
practice of the country, that where one peach or apricot tree
is injured by too rich a cultivation, more than a hundred
suffer by diminished growth from neglect.

Clayey and light soils in some cases require opposite ma-
nagement. The former, for instance, is much benefited by
the admixture of chip-dirt, which renders it looser, lighter,
and more retentive of moisture. But on light soils the
effect is not so beneficial, and is sometimes positively inju-

Peaty and spongy soils are particularly injurious to tender
fruits. Such soils become very warm by day, and radiate
the heat rapidly in clear frosty nights ; hence peaches and
apricots generally perish when growing in them, the heat
of the sun promoting a rapid succulent growth, which is the
more easily destroyed by the succeeding intensity of cold.


Besides the more common and universal ingredients of
soils, sand and clay, there are others essential to the growth
of trees. Among the more important of these are potash,
lime, and phosphate of lime.

Now, whatever earthy ingredients are found in the wood,
bark, and fruit of Jrees, must be derived from the soil ; and
if the soil in which they are planted does not contain all
these ingredients, the trees cannot flourish. It therefore
may become important to supply such deficiencies by the
application of the particular or specific manure needed.

But it is not to be expected that, cultivators generally will
be able to analyze their variously differing soils, nor to pro-
cure it done by a skilful chemist. t The next thing, then,

* A great deal of misurderstanding has arisen from an indefinite use of terms.
We often notice in a region of country where a heavy, baking clay prevails, cer-
tain j^pots of ground locally designated as "quite sandy ; and in a sandy region, por-
tions which are pointed out as " heavy day." Yet we not unfrequently find that
the sandy soil of the clay region actually contains more ciay than the clay soil of the
sandy district. The terms, as commonly used, Jire relative ; n.od to dex-ide correct-
ly on statements made by others, we are compelled to inquire where the authors of
such statements reside, and with what soils they have been familiar. The Lest sim-
ple rule for distinguishing, applicable to all localities, is to regard such soils as in
any case are found to crack in drouth, as heavy, and those which never crack, as
light soils.

t Considerable difficulty exists in procuring perfect analyses of soils. In examining
one of the most fertile soils of Monroe Co., N.Y , Dr. Emmons did not discover even


that can be accomplished is to ascertain the component
parts of the different kinds of trees, which are nearly the
same in all localities. If it is found that a particular
species contains an unusual quantity of some certain ingre-
dient, we may safely conclude that such ingredient would
oe useful generally as a manure.

As instances, analysis has shown that the pear, the
apple, and the grape, contain, of 100 parts each of earthy
ingredients, the following proportions of potash, lime, and
phosphate of lime : *


Sap-wood. Bark.

Potash 22 6

Lime 13 30

Phosphate of lime 27 6


Potash 16 5

Lime 19 51

Phosphate of lime 17 3


Potash 21 2

Lime 17 39

Phosphate of lime 15 5

The proportions of these ingredients, although not exceed-
ing the quantities found in some other plants, are so large
fts to show conclusively the importance of a proper supply
in the soil. They already exist in all soils adapted to the
growth of fruit trees ; but their small amount in particular
localities, from natural deficiency, or from long cultivation,
may render their application a matter of the greatest impor-
tance. Such application may be partially made by common
yard manure, which contains them in considerable propor-
tions ; but wood ashes, in which they mostly exist in large
quantities, will furnish them more freely and with a more
speedy effect ; as from the large proportion of animal matter
in yard manure, too much succulence of growth or even

a trace of phosphates when 100 grains, and afterwards '100 grains, of the soil were ope-
rated upon, and it was only when 1000 grains were used, that a five-thousandth part
was detected Yet this minute proportion is equal to about ten cubic feel per acre
with a depth of one foot, and supplies the necessary ingredient for heavy crops.

Online LibraryJohn J. (John Jacobs) ThomasThe American fruit culturist : containing directions for the propagation and culture of fruit trees in the nursery, orchid and garden : with descriptions of the principal American and foreign varieties cultivated in the United States → online text (page 5 of 31)