Thomas W. (Thomas Warren) Field.

Pear culture. A manual for the propagation, planting, cultivation, and management of the pear tree. With descriptions and illustrations of the most productive of the finer varieties and selections of kinds most profitably grown for market online

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Online LibraryThomas W. (Thomas Warren) FieldPear culture. A manual for the propagation, planting, cultivation, and management of the pear tree. With descriptions and illustrations of the most productive of the finer varieties and selections of kinds most profitably grown for market → online text (page 4 of 18)
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them to vary.


Tlie stamens when cut away must not be ripe
enough for their pollen to communicate with and

Fig. 2.

Fig. 1 A fruit bud near blossoming.

Fig. 2. Represents a coronal of flowers from a single bud.

fertilize their own pistils. The pollen used for impreg-
nating must be ripe and powdery, and the stigma of
the pistil must be damp. It was in this way that Mr.
KNIGHT produced his Monarch, Dummore, and other
fine Pears, though the general results of this process
do not seem to be remarkable.

Mr. Louis BERCKMANS, from whom I have freely
drawn information for this work, has some 30,000
seedlings of his own propagation and of collections
other eminent pomologists, which he has selected by
various marks and tokens which are eloquent to him
in prophesying the merits of their fruits. He does
not, I think, after a long experience, pay much atten-
tion to artificial hybridization for producing new

Notwithstanding the splendid results of a systematic


improvement of the Pear, and the noble fruits obtained
by the gentlemen named, we have been indebted to
accident, or rather to the voluntary contributions of
Nature, for those pears which rank the highest in
beauty, flavor, and general excellence. The Duchesse,
found in a hedge at Angers ; the Seckel, in the woods
of Pennsylvania ; the Yirgalieu, the Bartlett, and the
Louise Bonne de Jersey, whose origin is not believed
to be the subject of design, all confirm this view;
while we must acknowledge that there is a delicacy
in the constitution of many of the pears obtained by
scientific propagation, that renders them inferior to
the accidental varieties.

In fact, the superior vigor and hardiness of those
varieties obtained through accident, alone enabled
them to survive the neglect and difficulties under
which they sprang into existence ; the high-flavored,
large, and truly splendid varieties produced by scien-
tific skill and high cultivation, maintain their superi-
ority only under the conditions in which they were
nurtured. I have seen the Duchesse d'Angoul^me
growing on quince stock, for twelve years, in a grass
plot, without attention, where it had been planted
when twenty years old, and yet producing large,
melting fruit.

A Flemish Beauty, Beurre Bosc, or Beurre Diel would
have succumbed under this treatment long before.


Leaf-blight is the terror of nurserymen, and when
it makes its decided appearance, his hope of success
for the season is at an end.



The disease is not necessarily fatal, but when plants
in the seed-bed are attacked by it, the cultivator will
almost desire that they had perished outright ; as great
numbers of them will be checked so prematurely in
their growth, as to be unable to endure the rigor of
the next winter.

On the first appearance of the disease, small brown
spots are seen upon the under side of the leaves of the
weaker plants in the seed-bed or nursery rows, which
spread quickly over the whole leaf, and in a few days,
over the entire collection of plants. Growth stops at
once, the leaves fall, and budding for that season is
of course prevented. At this period all nostrums and
chemicals are useless. The fact that this disease pre-
vails most in old nursery grounds, and indeed is
almost confined to soils long cultivated, points to the
necessity of restoring to the soil its original qualities,
or of planting only in new soils. The disease is doubt-
less of fungous character, and as its appearance on
the leaf would indicate, is highly contagious. As
remarked twenty years since, it is much more pre-
valent upon the leaves of seedling stocks than upon
those of budded and fine varieties. Buds set in stocks
attacked with this pestilence, and which have suffi-
cient vitality for growth, produce healthy trees, whose
leaves remain unspotted. This has afforded a curious
subject for speculation among pomologists.

Mr. DOWNING supposed this disease to be identical
with the cracking and cankering of the fruit of some

Some kinds of pear trees in bearing in my grounds
are slightly attacked every year, but the disease makes


no progress ; the small number of leaves affected drop
off, and growth, commences again, though the fruit
does not acquire more than half size. The best pre-
ventives are : to plant in new, deep, and rich soils ;
to cultivate well and obtain a good, strong growth
before the first of August.

An article upon this subject, exhibiting evidence of
close investigation, and containing suggestions of much
value, was written for The Horticulturist some years
since, by Mr. H. E. HOOKER, of Rochester.


With the Pear this is always a difficult process, and
requires nice management. If the theory regarding
the necessity of affinity between the stock and the
graft is worthy of attention, propagation by layers is
important, for nothing can be nearer in affinity to a
variety than the variety itself. Some varieties are
much more easily propagated in this manner than
others, but when the proper conditions are observed,
success is attainable with all. When the leaves are
ripening in the early part of August, the lower shoots
of the present year's growth should have the bark
and sappy wood cut through on the lower side, to
about one third of the diameter of the shoot. Some-
times a ring of bark about an eighth of an inch wide
may be removed entirely around. The shoot is then
bent down into a hole (care being taken not to break
it at the cut), and covered with fine soil, tightly
packed. The retiring sap from the ripened leaves is
arrested at the incision, and there forms rootlets. I
have succeeded by this method in producing hand-


some trees from about one half of the branches lay-
ered. When it is desirable to do this somewhat
extensively, a " stool " may be formed by cutting off
the tree about a foot above the ground. The next
season there will be produced a dozen or more thrifty
shoots from a tree two years old, which may all be
layered as above described. When the shoots are too
high for this kind of treatment, incisions may be made
in them, and balls of clay and cow-dung mixed together
put over the incisions, inclosed with matting, and


These are always propagated by layers or cuttings.
Any attempts at propagating by seeds would evidently
be unsuccessful in producing a uniform variety fitted
for budding with the Pear.

The Angers and, latterly, the Paris varieties of the
Quince, are the only ones in use for this purpose.
The qualities needed for stocks are : free, rapid
growth ; a tendency to a large size so as to equal the
pear trunk, and to root freely from cuttings or layers ;
to have a cellular and ligneous formation that will fit
them to unite readily with that of the Pear. In those
varieties that refuse the Pear, or on which it makes
an imperfect union, we shall perceive by examining
the fracture where the pear wood cleaves from the
Quince, that the adhesion has been produced simply
by the irregular and grooved surfaces of the wood of
the bud and the stock, fitting into each other without
any intermingling of the ligneous fibres of each>
although the bark of the two species has united to
form a sheath over the imperfect union. That inter*


mingling, and continuation of woody fibres, which
takes place between a bud and its stock of the same
species, does not here exist. There is, then, only a
mechanical adhesion of irregular surfaces, held to-
gether by a sheath of bark.

The apparent antipathy of some varieties of the
Pear to the Quince is, doubtless, owing to the resist-
ance made by the different texture and cellular form-
ation of the Quince to the returning sap.

It is probable that, the cells of the Quince being
smaller than those of the Pear, the inspissated sap of
tlie latter, on its return, has become too rich in albumen
to pass into them; but sufficiently accurate micros-
copic experiments have never been instituted to pro-
nounce decisively upon the theory.

The tubes of all woody formations are not continuous,
but successive like the joints of bamboo : the upper-
ends being smaller, and fitting into spaces between
the lower ends of the next higher series. It is com-
monly known that water will not pass readily through
the smaller tubes, in which alcohol and ether easily
flow. From the same cause, probably, the richer juice
of the Pear will not flow in the smaller tubes of the
Quince ; and the consequence is, that a swelling out of
the Pear at that point is formed by the repelled juice
which, not finding a free passage, produces no ligneous
fibres or cellular tissue in the Quince.


The Quince forms a notable exception to all other
fruit trees in its ability to form roots readily from any


put of its bark. The propagation of the Angers
Quince, by layers or cuttings, is manifest! j onl j a con-
tinuation of the original individual tree.

not later Mm January, since the buds will begin to
swell in the early, warm days of winter. It is desir-
able that the buds should remain in a completely dor-
mant state, so that they can make no demand upon
the cutting for sap until rootlets hare pushed out, and
given the cutting ability to furnish it without exhaus-
tion. It is not generally considered that roots are
never added by influences exterior to the plant, but
are the product of the plant itself The roots of a
cutting are formed by the sap contained within itself,
which, exuding as healing lymph, is changed into roots
under the peculiar conditions of air, moisture, and
darkness which process goes on even in winter, when
the ground is not frozen. It will be seen, then, that
those plants formed with large evaporating organs in
the bark will not readily root, as they part too easily
with their sap. The dose, dense bark of the Quince,
and the hard rind of the outer wood of the Grape
peculiarly fit them for this method of propagation ;
and we consequently find that, out of thousands of
cuttings planted of the Angers variety, but few fail
of rooting.

The cuttings should be planted as early in spring as
possible, although their vitality is so great as to sur-
vive almost any treatment, in soils fitted for them.
During a rather wet June, while trimming some quince
stocks, preparatory to budding in August, I directed
the trimmings, then in full leaf, and with some inches


of new growth, to be planted in the adjoining ground,
which was so sandy and poor that it had been left
implanted. Even with these disadvantages, more than
half took root, and made fair plants.

The cuttings should be from eight inches to a foot
long, and planted so as to leave an inch or two of buds
above the surface of the ground. The soil should be
rather clayey, and retentive of moisture. When it is
light, it should be packed firmly around the cuttings
with the foot the closer the better. Cuttings of the
Quince will usually succeed more uniformly in rather
damp soils, but will not so uniformly grow thrifty
when transplanted to drier grounds.

Fig. 3.

Fig. 3. Mother Stool, and usual Plan of Layering Quince Stock*.

Quince stalks are, however, produced in much
greater quantities by layers from permanent planta-
tions of stools. These are made by planting quince
roots about four feet apart, in very deep and richly
manured soils, and cutting back the growth every
year near the ground. This treatment forces up a
large number of thrifty shoots, which increase in
quantity as the stock grows older.



As usually practiced, in the latter part of August,
the earth is heaped up, and firmly packed around these
clusters of shoots or stools, as in Fig. 3.

The shoots throw out roots immediately, but are not
usually separated from the stock till the autumn of
the following year. It has not been customary to
commence earthing up before the second spring ; but
we have found it of essential importance to do it
earlier, so as to secure the benefit of the concentrated
sap of the fall.

Fig. 4.

Fig. 4 Treatment of Stools in the first, second, fourth, and fifth years.

A much better plan, practiced by Mr. A. S. Fuller, is
shown at Fig. 4. The stool is planted in a trench,
which, as the former increases in size, is, at the earthing
up of each successive crop, filled higher and higher,
until, at the removal of the fifth crop, the stool is dug
up, the lower part of the root removed, and the upper
and more vigorous portion replanted.



It is of the highest importance that only the very
best rooted plants, either of quince or pear, should be
planted in the nursery. Mr. Barry, than whom there
is no higher authority, says, in his excellent work,
" The Fruit Garden," that " one hundred good, vigor-
ous stocks are worth five hundred poor ones;" and
some of us will live to see the day when customers
will pay five times more for a perfectly healthy,
well-grown tree, than they will for a poor, or even
a medium one." There are a few purchasers now of
the same opinion. It has been customary -to crowd
the nursery rows with all the plants that promised to
survive, planting them only eight inches apart, and to
bud them all, without discrimination, during the fol-
lowing summer. The consequence has not unfre-
quently been, a feeble growth from those buds that
barely survived ; a thrifty growth in the vigorous and
healthy stocks ; and complete failure in one half of the
number planted.

When stocks are strongly rooted, they should be
planted in the fall provided the ground is ridged up
against the rows, to prevent heaving out in the winter.
If weakly rooted, and no extra care is intended, they
should be buried in light, dry soil, placing the roots
thickly together in a trench, and filling it up within
a few inches of the top. This should be done
early, in order that the ground may be firmly settled
by rains, and packed about the roots before it is


As early as the condition of the ground will permit,
the stocks so treated should be planted in nursery
rows, or bedded out. In bedding out, the weaker
stocks may be planted thickly, or only two or three
inches apart, in rows, at a sufficient distance to permit
plowing between. The soil should be strong and
deep, and the plants receive thorough cultivation.
The nursery ground should be deeply worked, and
well manured a year previous to the planting of the
stocks, in order that the application of fresh and power-
ful manures may not induce a succulent and unripe

The method of preparing a plot of ground planted
recently with stocks, may not be inappropriate to this
section. The soil was a sandy loam, half an acre of
it being filled with boulders, varying from the size of
a paving-stone to those weighing five hundred pounds
each. As these stones were reached by the plow,
they were removed by laborers with spades and crow-
bars, and placed on the surface of the plowed land.
When a furrow had been cleared of stones, the sub-
soil plow was drawn by a stout team in the bottom
of it, loosening the subsoil to the depth of six inches.
This loosened earth was now thrown out by the
common plow, and the hard soil again deepened by
the subsoil plow, until the whole depth of loosened
soil was from sixteen to eighteen inches. The ground
was then cross-plowed, harrowed smooth, furrows
drawn four feet apart, and deepened with a spade.
Thirty thousand pear stocks were then planted one
foot apart in these trenches. The whole expense
for labor was as follows :


8 days' labor of team and man, in plowing and subsoiling, at

$4 $32 00

3 days' labor of 3 men to loosen and remove rocks and stones,

at $1 9 00

1 day's furrowing by double plowing 4 00

27 days' deepening trenches, at $1 27 00

20 days' planting stocks 20 00

$92 00

If double the labor had been devoted to deepening
the soil, it would have been an economic expenditure.
Great care should be exercised in securing the trees
in straight lines, as a tree projecting from the row is
liable to injury from the plow.

The soil must be dry and rich, and the use of that
common but vaguely denned term must not be mis-
understood. Properly expressed, the soil should be
fertile without having received recent applications
of strong manures.


To stimulate a vigorous growth early in the season,
an application of from three hundred to five hundred
pounds of guano per acre is highly approved. It
should have been composted for a month previous to
use with forty times its bulk of well pulverized swamp
muck, which has been exposed to the frosts of at least
one winter after digging. This stimulating compost,
however, should be applied in the Fall, after growth
has ceased, well distributed, and plowed in on soils
otherwise in good condition. A strong and stocky
growth of trees will ensue, and as this energetic and
volatile manure will have exhausted its power by
midsummer, the young wood will ripen fully, and


become hard and firm. A much more perfect manure
for the development of young trees is formed from a
mixture of guano and superphosphate of lime. This
I prepare each winter, and have found most excellent
effects from an application of six hundred to one
thousand pounds per acre in the strong, healthy growth
and early fruiting of almost every tree to which it is

To prepare this quantity of superphosphate, use
three hundred pounds of burned bones, or four hun-
dred pounds of ground, unburned bones dissolved in
one hundred and fifty pounds of strong sulphuric acid
diluted with twice its bulk of water, adding one hun-
dred and fifty pounds of Peruvian Guano ; the whole
to be thoroughly intermixed. The excess of acid
changes the volatile carbonate of ammonia in the
guano to the soluble but non-volatile sulphate, which
is slower, and not corrosive or injurious in its action
on plants. The resulting mixture being in a semi-
fluid state, some absorbing material will be needed to
act as a divisor. Peat or swamp muck, nearly dry,
will be the best substance, and may be used in large
quantities, being itself composed of the ligneous and
carbonaceous products of the growth of wood. This
compost may be spread broad-cast, or strewn in fur-
rows plowed near the rows. The necessity of furnish-
ing the elements found in this manure may be seen
at once in the chemical analyses of the Pear, its bark
and wood.

On the farm of Prof. MAPES, several varieties of
pears, which with us have not hitherto maintained
their European reputation, have been produced, of


great excellence, by application of the phosphates.
The fruits were pronounced by LOTUS BERCKMANS, Col.
WILDER, and others, the finest of their kind ever grown
in this country.

A study of the following analysis will show the
necessity of using potash in addition to the elements
found in the superphosphate and guano, which may
be supplied to the soil in the form of crude potash,
green sand marl, or woodashes. Neither ashes nor
potash should be mixed directly with guano or stable
manures, or so placed in the soil as to come imme-
diately in contact with each other.


One hundred pounds of fruit yield nearly half a pound of ashes, the
wood and bark much more.






27 '00












Sulphuric Acid







Phosphoric Acid







The small cost of stocks has induced a careless
method of planting, and a more inexcusable neglect
in preparing them for it. Quince stocks are usually
taken from the mother plant or stool by a quick jerk,
which leaves a large ragged end ; as it strips off the
bark and wood from the stool, for a space at least
twice the diameter of the stock. At the season when


this is performed, no healing lymph exudes, and of
course, no rootlets are produced ; besides, the rugged
wound does not encourage their formation. A raw,
unhealed end always remains ; and of some thousands
of pear trees upon quince roots, which I have removed,
I have never seen fibres put forth, where such a wound
has been made. The rough corrugated ends will show
the marks of the rupture made by their violent
removal from the parent stock.

The injured roots of stocks should ~be smoothly cut,
and the jagged portions cleanly pruned away, leaving
a surf ace, from which fresh rootlets will readily sprint).

In the violent removal of the stock, the bark is
stripped from nearly all of the fibrous roots ; and if
they are not removed, a large mass of decaying
organism must be thrown off, before a healthy vitality
can commence.

When the fibres are thick and matted, they should
be cut back to an inch in length, or they will be
pressed together in the soil, and decay. Two rootlets
or fibres never come in contact when growing, and
this condition should be accurately imitated in

Pear seedlings, which have not been root-pruned in
the seed-bed, have long tap-roots, which should be
shortened to six or eight inches. It lias been recom-
mended to lay out the tap-root in a horizontal direc-
tion ; but the distorted position obstructs the free flow
of sap ; and the root receiving nutriment from only
one direction, the tree will be distorted by growing
mostly on the same side.

The tops of stalks are frequently allowed to remain ;



but they should be well pruned, in order to induce a
new and large-leafed growth to prepare sap that on
its return will strengthen and unite the bud to the
stock. "When all of the top is allowed to remain, the
leaves will be small, and but little new wood formed,

Fig. 5. Fig. 6. Fig 7.

Fig. 5. A seedling of one year's growth.

Fig. 6. The same at two years, after root pruning.

Fig. 7. The same at two years, with pruning.

while close pruning would induce large and vigorous
leaves capable of preparing great quantities of well
aerated sap.
The contrast between Figs. 5 and 6 is not too


strongly pictured, to represent the real advantages
derived from root and top pruning. The pruning of
the top should always be done before planting, as the
roots do not obtain sufficient hold of the soil to pre-
vent their being disturbed and pulled out by the


The increase of the number of trees of a given variety
has for some years been considered as a simple exten-
sion of the original tree of that variety. Grafts or
buds taken from any variety of the Pear, when inserted
into a pear stock, will entirely change its character-
istics, and enforce the production of their own variety
of fruit. Having this power, it is not too much to
believe, that they have that also of carrying with them
whatever defect of constitution, or feebleness of vitality,
may infect the plant, and that trees produced from
them would be feeble or strong, short or long-lived, in
proportion to the possession or want of these qualities
in the original.

That the defects of a tree must limit the powers of
all its descendants, is a well known physiological fact.
But the different trees of a variety are not descendants
from an original of that variety, but only parts of it ;
and starting from this basis, some pomologists have
asserted, that as all the trees of any variety are but
brandies from the original, and not the product of
fecundated seed, they must be limited in their exist-
ance by the life of the original. .

In this theory, however, sufficient allowance is not
made for the increase of vitality, by alliance with


a vigorous stock, which is the product of a seed ; and
hence possesses the elements of independent life, and

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Online LibraryThomas W. (Thomas Warren) FieldPear culture. A manual for the propagation, planting, cultivation, and management of the pear tree. With descriptions and illustrations of the most productive of the finer varieties and selections of kinds most profitably grown for market → online text (page 4 of 18)