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 5 of 18)
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the power of infusing much of its own principle of
longevity into the engrafted scions or buds.

It would be more nearly correct to say, that the,
duration of a variety is limited more or less by that
of its original, and that any inherent disease in it will
be continued, in all its buds and grafts, although
the superior vitality of the stock may mitigate its
virulence, or protract its dormant period.

Certainly, a settled conviction is obtaining among
pomologists, that some of our finest varieties, that have
been in existence for but the short time of fifty to
seventy years, have nearly reached the culmination
as they can now only be produced, in any degree of
excellence, by the utmost care.

The White Doyenne', the Chaumontel, and others,
are notable instances of the justice of this conviction.
Some localities still produce fruit of these varieties of
great beauty and excellence ; but even there, the invis-
ible hand of disease has stealthily touched their fruits,
and the plague-spot is appearing upon their golden

The influence of the stock upon grafts is very
marked. The fruits of early summer varieties are
retarded in their ripening when grafted upon winter
varieties ; and pears that should keep until Easter, will
ripen in December, if the tree which produced them
was grafted upon a summer variety.

Similarity in growth and color of wood, and in style
and color of leaf, between stock and graft, is important



in attaining perfection, but impracticable on a large


Scions for grafting should be of one or two years'
growth, that have not yet produced fruit-buds. The
shoots selected should be firm-wooded and stocky,
with buds close together, as a strong, healthy growth
is characterized by these marks.

Grafts taken -from the upright shoots near the top
of the tree are apt to make a vigorous and upright
growth, but are more tardy in bearing. Taken from
the lower part of the tree, they produce a more widely-
spread form, and fruit earlier.

The trees from which the grafts or buds are taken
should be healthy, and have produced a vigorous
growth during the previous season, but such as have
at any time exhibited symptoms of frozen sap-blight
should especially be avoided.

Varieties which succeed but indifferently on quince
stocks, ought not to be propagated by scions from
trees grown on quince. Indeed, it is a mooted ques-
tion whether grafts should be taken at all from such
a source ; but I see no reason for going to this extreme.

The part of the graft used with the most success, is
that at the junction of the spring and midsummer
growth, which is marked by a somewhat fainter annu-
lar swelling than that at the commencement of the
spring growth.

The theory of grafting is, that the newer tissues of
woody growth unite, when brought into contact, if
their sap-vessels are not indurated by age. The ter-
mini of the cellular tubes are capable of exuding


the albuminous deposit of the sap, which unites the
graft to the new wood of the stock.

It is not unfrequent that thrifty grafts of two or
three years' growth are blown out of the cleft in the
stock ; and it will always be found on examination that
only the bark and extreme rind of sap-wood have
united, while on the remaining surfaces, woody matter
has been deposited without adhesion.

When grafts are procured from a distance, or it is
necessary to keep them some time before use, they
should be cut in winter, or early spring, before the

buds have swollen, and
packed away in moder-
ately damp sand. If al
lowed to be too wet,
they will decay, and if
exposed to evaporation,
they will wither. The graft should
be in a less advanced
condition than the
stock, as during the
process of adhesion,
evaporation from the
bark goes on rapidly
when the sap in the
graft is active, and
death ensues, be-
cause the supply can not be maintained.

Grafting of the pear is usually performed only on
large-sized stocks or upon bearing trees, except in

* Fig. 8 represents a branch, exhibiting wood-buds, in the best condition for a
t Fig. 9 represents a branch with fruit-buds, unfit for a graft



nursery stocks, where buds set the previous season
have failed. On the smaller stocks, of one to four years
of age, budding is by far the preferable method of

Fig. 10.

Fig. 11.

Fig. 10. Cleft-grafting with single graft.
Fig. 11. Cleft-grafting with doable grafts.

When the trees are large, only the younger and
thriftier limbs should be grafted ; but when all the
branches are old, and covered with rough bark,
a sufficient number of them should be shortened,
in order to induce new growths, on which the
grafting may be performed, as shown in Figs. 11
or 13.

Thousands of pear* trees, almost gigantic in their
size, in all parts of our country, now bearing only
the most acrid fruit, could each be made m a few



years to produce almost a wagon-load of the finest

When it is desirable to graft small stocks, it should
be done by the process known as whip-grafting, as
illustrated by Fig. 12. In Fig. 13, the cleft, which
is a simple split, is exhibited open, as it would be

Fig. 12.

Fig. 13.

after the insertion of the parts. Cleft-grafting is
usually performed on stocks of more than half an
inch in thickness as shown by Figs. 10 and 11.

All of these operations can be performed during a
month or six weeks subsequent to the first swelling
of the bud, or from the fifteenth of March to the first
of May. The exposed surfaces should be well covered



with grafting- wax. Crown-grafting, as shown in Figs.
14, 15 and 16, is performed by cutting the graft only

Fig. 14.

Fig. 15.

Fig. 16.

Figures 14, 15, and 16. Graft and Crown-grafting.

upon one side, leaving a square shoulder, and pressing
it down between the bark and the wood. More than
one graft may be set in a large stock. The cleft in
the siock, and the exposed surfaces, where the latter
has been cut, should be well protected by grafting-
wax. This is commonly made to be used when cold
by melting three pounds of resin, to which three
pounds of bees'-\vax and two pounds of tallow are
added. After stirring together, so as to incorporate
the ingredients, the whole may be poured into a tub
of cold water, and worked with the hands.



"While pear trees may be propagated with a measure
of success by other methods, it is by bud- F . g ^ #
ding only that they can be raised in large
numbers with economy and entire success.
The constitution of the Pear especially
fits it for this process.

The firm, tough bark of the stock, and
the abundant coating of mucus which
lines the interior of both the bud and
the stock, enable the operator to effect
a clean separation of the bark from the
wood, without injury to the texture of
either. The ripe mucus sap secures an
almost immediate union of the parts. In
growing the Pear upon the Quince ; the
superiority of this method of propagation
is still more marked. Mr. RIVERS says :
" of twenty grafts set in quince-stocks, it
not unfrequently happens that nineteen will live, but
nearly as often that nineteen will die." In my own.
experience with trees grafted upon quince-stock, they
have proved to separate more easily at the junction
than trees propagated by budding. It is only the
bark, and the more recent formations of wood, which
unite when brought into contact; and this union is
effected by layers of wood, deposited around the
junction, in the glutinous condition of lymph.

* Fig. 17, represents a stick of buds, with leaf-stalks for handling.



These facts show that a bud, com- Fi s- 18 -*

posed, as it is, only of bark, and of
alburnum or half-formed wood, pre-
senting a great surface of fresh material,
will form a more rapid and complete
union with the stock than an ordinary
graft. In this country, where thorough-
ness in the performance of work is often
sacrificed to rapidity, it is the general
custom to leave a portion of wood with-
in the section of bark connected with
the bud, as seen in Fig. 18. This arises,
in part, from the difficulty of separating the wood from
the bark without disturbing the chit beneath the bud,
the retaining of which is essential to success in bud-
ding. This small kernel of coagulated albumen, as
shown in Fig. 19, is the stored-up material on which
the bud feeds when quickened into life, and which
connects its vitality with the wood beneath. To
remove this deposit would insure the death of the
bud, or at least allow but a feeble growth. By care-
lessly taking out the wood from the bud, the chit
would adhere to it, and thus be displaced as in
Fig. 20.

If the wood be left in the bark, as in Fig. 18, the
edges of the bark of the bud would unite with the
stock the vital circulation being thus established.
But this piece of wood is a foreign substance, and the
union will be much more perfect when the whole
interior surface of the bark of the bud is allowed to
come in contact with the wood of the stock. From

* Pig. 18 shows a cut bud with the wood remaining, and figure of bud inserted.



my own experience, I have learned to estimate trees
produced by this method much more highly than
those budded in the more common manner. They
form a stronger union, and resist the pressure of heavy
winds without cleaving apart at the junction of bud
and stock. Several methods have been adopted for
the rapid and efficient removal of the wood from bads,
but none of them admit the possibility of the inser-
tion by one man of 1200 to 2000 buds in a single day,
as is claimed by some persons.

An admirable plan is shown at Fig. 21. The pro-
cess, consists in thrusting the tough, but not harsh

Fig. 19. Fig. 20.

Fig. 21.

Fig. 19. A bud with the eye preserved.
Fig. 20. A bud with the eye removed.
Fig. 21. Quill as used in separating wood from the bud.

edge, of a quill, under the upturned edge of wood, and
pressing it firmly and gently forward; the chit is
cut smoothly from the wood, and remains in its
proper place, attached to the bud.

The thickened mucous sap which lines the bark,
and covers the wood, when closely examined, will




exhibit a cellular structure of albuminous materials
attached to the chit, ready to extend themselves into
the shoot, which the dormant bud will ultimately form.

Fig. 22.

Fig. 22. Stick with bud at A, too high-shouldered for setting.

The operation of fitting the bud to the stock, after
each is cut, should be performed almost instant-
aneously. This is equally necessary to prevent the
drying, and the chemical change of the exposed sap,
which almost immediately oxidizes, and turns brown
like the flesh and juice of an apple, when cut and ex-
posed to the air.

Fig. 23.

Fig. 23. Stick of buds, selected properly.

For budding, select young, vigorous shoots, of the
present year's growth, with well-ripened buds, as
shown at Fig. 23. Cut off the leaves, allowing the
foot-stalks to remain attached to the bud, serving as
a handle when the bud is fitted into its place in the
stock. "Reject the upper and unripe buds, selecting
only the plump, well-ripened ones. Hold the larger
end towards your body, inserting the knife-blade as
far above the bud as you intend to leave the bark
below it, and separate the bud, with a rather deep



cut into the wood, as shown at Fig. 24. Hold the
removed bud by the foot-stalk, and with the quill
take away the woody portion. If you choose to leave

Fig, 24.

Fig. 25.

Fig. 24 The proper cut to be made in separating the bud.
Fig. 25. Quill prepared for separating bud from the wood.

the wood, pare it down as thin as possible. If you
are not expert in the manipulation, shield the bud
from the air by placing it in the mouth, or in a vessel
of water. Make the incision quickly in the bark of


the stock, as in Fig. 26 ; raise it from the wood, and
push in the bud, by the leaf-stalk. You may now
cut off the bark above the bud, so that it will exactly
fit the cross incision, and tie the whole gently, but
firmly, with strips of bass matting, as at Fig. 27.
The ties should be loosened in two or three weeks
after the budding is finished, and entirely removed
before winter sets in.

Fig. 2& Fig. 27.

Fig. 26. Bud with wood removed, and stock cut for insertion.
Fig. 27. Bud inserted and tied.

Budding is occasionally performed in spring, but
not to any extent in commercial nurseries ; nor is it
universally successful, although a convenient process,
when buds which were inserted the previous summer
have failed.

The period for budding the Pear extends from the
middle of July to the middle of September the pre-


else time depending on various local circumstances
which affect the growth of the tree. The season may
be a late or early one, or a poor soil may have retarded,
or a rich one stimulated the growth, so as materially
to affect the period for budding. Dry summers and
late spring planting of stocks will also retard the
operation. The observation of the following points
will assist in selecting the proper time for budding.
The first or spring growth of leaves should be fully
ripened, and the midsummer growth nearly com-
pleted. At this time, an abundance of ripened or
richly albuminous sap is thrown between the bark and
wood, and when both the stock and the bud are in
this condition, union is readily effected by the harden-
ing of this sap into tissue.

The stock should be cut three or
four inches above the bud, as shown
at Fig. 28, soon after the leaves start,
although with very strong and well
rooted plants, care must be observed
not to deprive the plant of all its top,
until the bud has put forth a shoot
some inches in length. As soon as
the latter has grown to nearly a foot
in height, it should, if inclining from
the perpendicular, be staked and tied.
Occasionally, the stump of the stock
will afford sufficient stay for the sup-
port of the shoot without the use of
a stake.

Fig. 28.*

* Fig. 28 represents the treatment of the budded plant during the first summer.



EVERY fruit grower should either select his trees for
himself, or obtain .the services of a competent person.
There are so many circumstances governing the suc-
cess of nursery trees, so great a difference in their
growth, and their roots, as well as in the manner in
which they are taken from the ground, that the most
careful attention is necessary to avoid the numerous
chances of failure. The soil on which the nursery
trees have grown is a subject of some consequence.
It should be one well suited to the permanent growth
and fruiting of the trees. Some nurserymen, in order
to meet the quickened demand for large and hand-
some pear trees, stimulate their growth by profuse
applications of manure. This practice will produce a
succulent unripened growth, and the trees, when
planted in an inferior soil, are either killed by winter-
blight, or languish for several years.

An instance is narrated of a nursery which was
advertised as containing immense numbers of pear
trees, which was said to have been manured at the
rate of two hundred double wagon loads per acre.


One large nursery of pear trees, which came under my
observation, was located upon the bed of a drained
rnill-pond, the water still standing at two or three feet
below the surface in the ditches, which were dug at
such distances apart, that the water rose to the sur-
face between them. On this alluvial soil, an enor-
mous growth was obtained, but at the expense of the
healthfulness of the trees. Of some fifteen hundred
pear trees obtained by the author from this ground,
nearly half perished by blight during the first year.
Other nurseries may be seen located on imperfectly
drained alluvial soils. Pear trees grown on such
grounds are always deficient in fibrous roots, and con-
sequently less able to bear transplanting.

Disappointment, also, often attends the selection of
trees transplanted from poor and neglected soils,
particularly those that are light and sandy. The
plants acquire a stinted habit of growth, from which
they seldom or never thoroughly recover.

The purchaser should observe if lice or other para-
sitic insects have made a lodgment upon the trees,
and guard against domesticating a pest which it will
require years to exterminate. Trees infested by them
in the nursery, are generally stunted, and their growth,
for a longer or shorter time, retarded.

In selecting plants for pyramid trees, choose those
that have branches or branch-spurs within a foot of
the ground, and fairly distributed along the stem. It
will be impossible to find trees in any considerable
number with the branches perfectly arranged, still
those only should be selected for this purpose which
approach the standard as nearly as possible.


The stem or trunk of a healthy nursery tree will
usually be twice the diameter near the ground that
it will be three feet above, and decrease with a regular
taper towards the top. Stems that are of the same
size at the collar, and three, or as sometimes happens,
even five feet above it, have been forced up in their
growth by crowding in the rows, or by injudicious
pruning. The height of trees should be a secondary
object compared to other qualities. The bark should
be clean, of a lustrous appearance, and free from
ungainly scars from wounds made by the pruning

Nurserymen are often forced, by the popular prefer-
ence for tall trees, to prune them contrary to their
judgment, so as to induce growth in that form : the
lower part of the tree, deprived of its portion of the
foliage, remains undeveloped, while the top is increas-
ing at its expense.

The purchaser should ascertain, if possible, how old
the trees are, and how long they have stood in the
nursery rows without being lifted, or root-pruned;
for a tree of any kind, and especially a pear tree,
will not be well provided with fibrous roots within
the circle dug in taking it up, after standing for three
or four years, without root-pruning or transplanting ;
nor will a pear tree form these fibrous roots, on which
depend its vitality and fruitfulness, unless the stock,
on which it was budded, has been properly treated
for their formation. It is the practice in some of the
French nurseries to cut off the tap-root of pear seed-
lings when they are three or four inches high, to cause
the growth of fibrous roots just as we pinch off the


terminal bud of the yearling shoot, to produce lateral
brandies. When taken from the seed-bed, the plants,
instead of the single tap-root, ten or twelve inches
long, will have three or four roots from four to eight
inches in length. These roots are shortened, and the
plants set in the nursery rows, when a mass of fibrous
roots will be produced. If the trees remain in the
nursery for more than two years, the roots are again

A healthy pear tree, three or four years old, twice
transplanted, is worth fifty per cent more than one
of the same age, though of much greater size, remain-
ing where it was budded. When the trees are lifted
in the nursery, observe whether the roots are fibrous,
and numerous ; and if they are not, but consist of long,
naked roots, or of two or three straight forks, their
chances of successful transplanting are very small.


The various causes of the failure of trees obtained
from nurseries would require almost a lifetime to
investigate, and a volume for their enumeration. A
few that have fallen under our observation will be
simply narrated, without discussion.

1. The too great crowding of the trees in the nurs-
ery rows, by which a fair supply of roots cannot be

2. The trees are dug with too little care, and sent
away with, mangled and shortened roots.^

3. Purchasers are not always sufficiently liberal to
be willing to pay for the best trees, or for matting and
packing them.


4:. The trees may be too old, or have stood too long
without transplanting.

5. Bad pruning.

6. The practice of grafting on old stocks, to
which the new wood has not the power of assimi-

Y. The practice of gathering seeds for stocks from
any and every source, from diseased fruit, and from
the fruit of diseased trees ; while the seed of small and
wild pears only are fit for the purpose.

8. The custom of using suckers from old pear-tree
roots, which seldom attain a fair size or thrifty

9. The employment of the common and the Por-
tugal Quinces for stock, instead of the large and rapidly
growing Angers variety.


This will depend much on the growth and treat-
ment in the nursery. I am decidedly of the opinion,
that when pear trees are to be left to struggle with
the ordinary difficulties in an orchard, even when
they are to have skillful attention and watchful care,
they should not be planted less than four years old. This
requirement, however, is not without exceptions. For
instance: when they are to be planted not farther
apart than twelve or fifteen feet, and have some of the
advantages of good nursery treatment in this casr,
even yearlings may be planted at once in the fruit
ground ; also, when they are to be planted at greater
distances, and the grower will not begrudge the
bestowment of so large a piece of ground to the


cultivation of such small trees. The disadvantages
of planting small trees are, that they are liable to be
injured by the plow, and browsed by cattle, accident-
ally or intentionally admitted, or by the animals used
in tillage. Perhaps the most formidable objection is,
that the owner will regret what he deems the waste
of a valuable piece of ground for so many years ; and
against his own judgment sow or plant an injurious
crop among his trees.

There is, however, a much better method of treat-
ing young trees, than to subject them to the chance
of all these evils. If they have not been transplanted
or root-pruned, select those of two or three years 7
growth, and prepare a piece of ground for the home
nursery. For this a rich, deep, dry soil should be
spaded and thoroughly pulverized, to the depth of
two feet. In it plant the trees in rows four feet dis-
tant, and three feet apart in the rows. Two hundred
trees would here occupy a space fifty feet square.
The roots having been carefully examined, and, as
before mentioned, the laterals pruned to six or eight
inches, are spread out horizontally, and gently covered
with earth. It will be seen that the labor of pinching,
pruning, and cultivating, will be much less on so small
a spot, than when the cultivator is obliged to travel
over the three or four acres, upon which they are ulti-
mately to be planted.

If at the end of two years it is still desirable to
allow them to remain, a sharp spade should be thrust
down around them, at a distance of fifteen or eighteen
inches, in order to cut the long straggling roots, and
thus induce the formation of roots nearer home. This


will fit them for transplanting at an advanced stage
of growth. In this case, if at the end of two or three
years they are removed at the proper season, and with
care, they will suffer scarcely any check. By pursu-
ing this plan they receive better care, grow faster,
and are not liable to damage ; and as only good trees
will in this case be set in the fruit grounds, none of
those unseemly breaks in the rows, caused by the
death or injury of a tree, need occur.

"Where, however, older trees, at least once trans
planted, can not be obtained, and it is desirable to
set out the orchard at once, stout two-year-old trees
are decidedly preferable. Such trees have not stood
sufficiently long to send their roots beyond a limit,
whence they can be removed ; and with careful digging,
removal, and planting, the purchaser need not fear
a loss of more than two per cent. Quince-rooted

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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 5 of 18)