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 6 of 18)
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trees can be removed at any age. When over ten
years old, and twelve to fifteen feet high, they can be
transplanted with as much safety as pear trees, grown
on pear roots, at two years of age. Captain Richard-
son, of Brooklyn, who sailed the " Duchess d'Orleans,"
a Havre packet, for many years, was induced by a
French gentleman at that port to bring home in his
vessel some large pear trees, grown on quince roots.

These trees were nearly twenty feet high, with a
main stem six or eight inches thick at the base,
branched close to the ground, and each as perfectly
conical as a Norway Spruce. They had been in bear-
ing in France for nearly twenty years ; and are now,
after thirteen years of growth in a new soil, beautiful
objects in shape and foliage ; and what is more, pro-


duce every year large crops of splendid fruit. Of the
six thus brought three thousand miles, five are still

Persons planting large pear trees will, without
doubt, obtain many advantages which they could not
expect from smaller ones ; yet these are entirely con-
ditional upon the treatment the trees have previously

To repeat, pear trees upon quince roots, of ten or
twelve years of age, may be removed with almost
perfect certainty of success. But to insure safety with
trees upon pear stocks, whose branches have not been
shortened-in, they should be either pyramids or half
standards, so that fibrous roots will have formed near
the stem ; or they must have been root-pruned, or
transplanted in the nursery. But in the case of stand-
ards, whose growth has been unchecked, roots as long
and numerous as the branches will have formed which,
of course cannot be retained in transplanting. Such
trees can only be safely transplanted when root-
pruned the previous year, by digging a trench around
each, and cutting off all the roots which extend into
the trench. These trenches should be filled with good
soil, to induce the formation of fibrous roots.

After much experience in planting large trees, I
am convinced that the pear is the only species of fruit-
tree capable of being readily transplanted at a large
size ; and that when the foregoing directions are com-
plied with, the pear culturist may obtain an advance
in the fruiting of his orchard of five or six years.

Instances of success in the planting and fruiting of
large trees- are numerous. In the spring of 1856,


Mr. L. PECK, of New Haven, removed to his garden a
Flemish Beauty, twelve years old, which, in the fall of
1857, bore a bushel of pears that averaged larger than
Duchesse d'Angouleme, grown on the same grounds.
A large number of trees of equal size, planted at
the same time, proved nearly as successful. Mr. Wm.
HOWE, of North Salem, Westchester Co., planted a
few years since, some large trees from the pear ground
of Mr. Samuel Parsons, mentioned by Mr. Barry in
his " Fruit Garden," and in two years obtained from it
then the finest Yicar and Easter Beurre Pears exhib-
ited at the Fair of the American Institute for that year.


Our country possesses such a varied soil and climate
that no general rule can be given for the time of
planting; indeed, the exact period must differ with
almost every season. The removal of trees should
take place while the vital powers are dormant, or
nearly so. This is indicated by the ripening, and ulti-
mately by the fall of the leaf, which occurs, in the
latitude of New York City, from the middle of Sep-
tember until the first of November. From the period
at which the leaves ripen until they form again in
April or May, trees may be removed with safety
whenever the state of the weather will permit, and
the soil is sufficiently free from frost for their recep-
tion. Large numbers of trees are removed from nur-
series, and planted with success, immediately after the
leaves have been killed by early frost such as remain
on the tree having been stripped off.

The fibrous-rooted quince and root-pruned pear


trees are liable to be thrown out by the freezings and
thawings of winter, if they are not planted sufficiently
early to allow the settling of the soil about the roots
before the ground freezes. When planted in autumn
the trees should receive a heap of earth about their
trunk and over the roots. If the trees to be planted
can be obtained at a period in the fall when one may
reasonably expect fine weather and warm rains to
assist in settling the earth, before it is frozen, the
hurry and uncertainty of a late spring should be
avoided by autumn planting. The season best adapted
to the transplanting of the Pear is, that short period
before the commencement of severe frosts when the
leaves and wood are perfectly ripened, and the for-
mer easily parts from the tree. At this period, the
great flow of sap to the leaves has ceased, and every
cut and bruised rootlet will receive a covering of
healing tissue, through which, within a few days, root-
lets will push out.

During the fall and spring, when the ground is not
frozen, these radicles are increasing, and are ready to
commence their office when the first leaves begin to
put forth. Not only do the wounded roots send forth
fibres, but twigs of the pear-wood which have been
properly layered in late summer will be well provided
w r ith spongioles. Trees removed in early autumn,
with care, will scarcely show any check, and will often
fruit as well the first season after planting as if they
had not been disturbed.

Trees received from France, which have been dug
when wood and leaf were fully ripened, will, on their
arrival here, exhibit on their pruned roots, and even


on their broken branches, a thick coating of newly-
formed tissue, and often many rootlets, an inch or more
in length. The most skillful English nurserymen and
fruit cultivators select early autumn for the removal
of their trees.

If trees arrive in early spring, one should not hasten
the planting so much as to be obliged to perform
the work indifferently, by planting in shallow holes
or poorly prepared soil. Lay the trees in by the heels,
covering the roots deeply with loose, tine earth, and
then plant them at leisure, removing them from the
trench no faster than they are required. By occasion-
ally moving the trees heeled-in, the period of planting
may be delayed until the middle of May. It must
not be forgotten, that the leaves should be fully ripe,
and all growth completed, else the evaporation of sap
through the still active leaves would go on too rapidly
for the supply afforded by the maimed roots.


As the Pear tree advances in age, the difficulty of
successful removal increases. The reason is not always
understood by those who seem to consider the roots
as chiefly valuable for sustaining the tree in an upright
position, and obtain with the tree the least number
that will perform this office. Almost all persons be-
lieve that if, by dint of extra labor, they have secured
a few long, naked canes of roots, that they have per-
formed their work admirably; although by careless
digging, or pulling the roots through the soil, they
may have destroyed all the hair-like fibres which
alone give value to the main roots. The nourishment


of trees is received from the soil, through the agency
of the hair-like rootlets which spread through it
from the termini of the larger root. No matter how
many large roots may be attached to the lifted tree,
its removal will only be well performed when you
have secured a large quantity of fibrous roots.

As the tree increases in size, the roots near the body
exhaust the soil of nutriment, and the absorbents, or
fibrous spongioles, become hardened by age, and
incapable of action. New fibres push out from the
termini of the rootlets into the newer and richer soil,
and the office of those in the exhausted ground is at
an end. Nature supports no useless members in her
economy, and those radicles which have performed
their office, and become incapable of affording further
aid, are cast off.

Thus, year after year, as the roots extend and throw
off their fibres, the new spongioles supplied are found
farther and farther from the trunk, and more and more
labor must be expended in the digging, to obtain a
sufficient number of them to sustain the tree in its
new position.

No one need expect a tree to flourish, or indeed do
more than barely survive transplanting, who is care-
less about the kind of roots with which his trees are


Although the Pear tree will endure more severe
pruning, and yield more readily to modifications of
its form, than other fruit-trees, yet this facility of man-
agement may cause us to lose sight of the fact, that the




restraint of its irregular growth can be better per-
formed in its succulent condition by summer pinch-
ing. But as the form of nursery trees is usually very
imperfect, and will require severe pruning to reduce
it to regularity, we should perform this labor in

Fig. 29.

Fig. 80.

Fig. 81.

such a manner as to need no repetition, and so that
only the gentler restraints of summer pinching, and
the pruning of young shoots, will be needed, to
induce a handsome shape. The great difference
between the effects of two methods of pruning may
be seen by reference to the figures. Fig. 30 repre-
sents a maiden plant or tree of one year's growth
from the bud. with a mark at A, to indicate the place
at which it is frequently shortened in the fall pnming.


It should have been shortened in at about half
its height. The cross lines on Fig. 31 indicate places
on the limbs where the usual improper pruning
would be performed. Both of these Figures ex-
hibit incorrect modes of shortening, which will in-
duce a growth that becomes very difficult to shape
into regularity. To form a pyramid of the tree
shown at Fig. 30, its branches should be shortened
to two or three buds, and the young shoots formed from
these, pinched during the latter part of June, to in-
duce the lower dormant buds to push out. But the
method most certain of producing the basis for a well-
shaped pyramid is the summer pinching of the maiden
plant, as shown at Fig. 31, which is the form that the
tree at Fig. 29 would have assumed in autumn, if
pinched during the preceding July. This last-men-
tioned tree will now need to be shortened-in much
below the mark at A, to induce lateral shoots in the
proper place to form a well-balanced pyramid. ~No
general rule for pruning trees before planting would
accurately meet the necessities of each case, but it will
be safe to recommend, that when branches or branch
spurs have not formed low down upon the stem, or
when the tree is not stocky and vigorous, or when
the roots are much shortened in digging, the tree
should be cut back one-half of its height. ~No one
who prizes ultimate excellence more than the present
appearance of his trees, but will prune mercilessly all
the parts that conflict with their perfection of shape.
In most instances, trees are retarded for two or three
years by permitting too large a quantity of foliage
to remain. Too many branches are demanding a mere


subsistence, when a fewer number would find nutri-
ment enough to insure a vigorous growth.

When the pyramidal form is not desired, it is still
necessary to preserve the balance between the roots
and the top of the tree.

Most horticulturists have stopped here in their in-
structions relating to planting ; but root-pruning will
be found fully as important in practice as the proper
shaping of the top. Wounded roots must not only be
removed, and the ends of all the cut or broken ones
smoothly pared, but, in many cases, all the roots may
be shortened with profit in the. growth and fruiting
of the tree. When large mass s of fibrous roots are
formed, as on the quince and root-pruned pear stocks,
they become so matted together as not easily to be
separated from each other by earth in planting. When
roots are placed in contact in the soil, they will usu-
ally become diseased, and lose their power of affording
sustenance to the tree.

Before the tree is planted, the fibres and succulent
spongioles should be shortened to an inch in length,
and thinned sufficiently to admit of being readily sep-
arated by the earth distributed among them.

It is now the received practice among horticultur-
ists to plant the pear or quince root so deep as to
cover the place where the pear-bud was inserted. By
this method, as the quince stock has been budded at
least four inches above the ground, we add six inches
to the depth of the root, plunging into a colder soil
those rootlets which have been formed near the sur-
face, and are not adapted to that depth, and tbua


violating some of the delicate conditions of vegetable

In replanting trees on quince stocks so deep as to
cover a portion of the pear, it is best to prune off two
or three inches of the main root. The recent removal
of some hundred trees, which had been planted out
three or four years, gave me an opportunity of exam-
ining the effect of deep planting. In almost every
instance where the quince-roots had been buried six
or eight inches deeper than the natural position, I
found the lower layer of roots inert, and in many cases
diseased, and it has now become my practice to remove
three or four inches of the lower portion of the main
root with a fine saw. For trees upon the quince stock,
no fears need be entertained on account of the reduc-
tion of the roots, as the portion of the stock buried
will soon be covered with fibres and rootlets.

After having been once root-pruned and planted
out, trees may be removed within three years from
their root-pruning, without greatly reducing their tops.
Ordinary nursery trees must be severely pruned in
their branches, in order to reduce the evaporating
surface of wood and leaves to a limit that will
require no more sap than the roots are able to furnish.
Suppose a tree capable of evaporating two gallons of
sap each day, through its leaves, is provided with
roots sufficient to furnish this amount. Now, if the
tree be removed, and nearly half the roots are muti-
lated and lost, while all the branches and leaves are
left entire, it is plainly to be seen that the latter will
continue to require a full supply of sap, while the
diminished roots will be incapable of supplying suffi-


cient moisture to prevent the tree from drying. It
must be distinctly kept in mind that the formation of
roots is in almost exact ratio to the amount of healthy
branches and foliage, and that every branch has its
counterpart of root below the surface of the soil.


Some of the English, and other foreign nurserymen
have a scale of prices for trees of the same variety,
graduated by the number of tran&plantings.

The tree is lifted at the end of the second year, the
roots smoothly trimmed, and replanted immediately
in an adjoining trench. As each successive row is
removed, the ground 'which was occupied by it is
opened for the reception of the next. The benefits
derived from this process consist in the formation
of large numbers of fibrous roots, which push out
at the extremities of the pruned roots, and the con-
sequent safety of removal. Two or three transplant-
ings of the Pear tree will produce a mass of rootlets
and spongioles that somewhat resembles an enormous
head of hair. The transplantings occurring at inter-
vals of two or three years, will occasion at each
removal more and more surprise at the immense
mass of roots, and the great change which will have
taken place in their character. Instead of long
straggling laterals, stretching away from the trunk
for several yards, masses of innumerable fibres
will be found, contained within a compass of three
or four feet, and instead of the feeble shoots that
are usually produced after removal, the same season


will often exhibit a vigorous growth, and ripened


"When trees arrive at an inconvenient time for their
permanent planting, they should be immediately
heeled-in. A trench should be dug near]y a foot
deep, taking care to throw all the earth upon one side,
to form a bank sloping to the bottom of the ditch. In
this trench place the roots of the trees close together,
permitting their bodies to recline against the bank ;
then sprinkle the earth upon the roots as in planting,
taking care to leave no spaces for mice to harbor in,
or which will expose the roots to frost, or the drying
influence of the atmosphere. If the trees are to
remain any length of time, and particularly through
the winter, this is a labor that must not be slighted,
and the trees should receive nearly as much care as
in permanent planting.

When slightly inclined, the trees are more readily
covered, and can be removed with less injury to their
roots. If the trees in this position should commence
growing before it is convenient to plant them, the
growth may immediately be checked by lifting them
sufficiently to detach the soft spongioles forming.


When the roots of trees that arrive from the nursery
appear dry, if the branches are not withered, it will
be sufficient to plunge them for an hour into a thin
mortar of clay or earth ; but when the trunk and
branches present a shrunken and withered appear-
ance, they should be at once laid at length in a shal-


low trench, covered lightly with earth, and left from
three to ten days, according to their condition, until
the bark is swollen full and plump. The wood of
plants is not a solid structure, but is composed of
cells or short tubes, separated by woody fibre. These
cells are the arteries and veins of the plant, in which
is conveyed the sap which hardens into wood and
bark, or is developed into fruit and leaf.

"When the tree has become dry, these cells contract
so much that sap cannot pass through them, and arti-
ficial means, such as are above described, become
necessary to restore their functions. Trees which it
is necessary to treat in this manner should be short-
ened in to a greater extent than is needful in other
cases, and when planted, the ground should be well
mulched. Frequent sprinkling and watering of the
branches and foliage of injured and poorly rooted trees
is found much more useful than the profuse pouring of
water upon the roots by preventing the evaporation
through the leaves from exhausting the supply of sap


Many persons imagine it necessary to choose a wet
day for planting trees. On a light sandy loam, little
injury would result, perhaps, from the selection of
such a day, but for planting upon a strong loam, or
clayey soil, no choice could be more injudicious.

The earth falls in mortar or in clods upon the roots,
pressing them down into close contact, instead of
being distributed between them, and thus separating
each rootlet from its fellow with intervening earth
that would soon be filled with fibres.



The ground, even of a light soil, is trodden hard
when wet, and is thus left in the most unfit condition
for future cultivation. Contrary to the usual belief,
the day selected ought not only to be dry, but at
least two or three days should have elapsed after the
falling of rain, before planting is commenced. The
soil being now prepared, and the holes dug according
to the directions given, let one person hold the tree in
an upright condition, and another with a shaking
motion of the shovel sift the mould among the roots,
ooccasionally stopping to lift those roots that have
fallen below their natural position. The necessity of
attending carefully to this latter direction will be
seen from the fact that the roots of trees, especially
when fibrous, are thrown out in layers so as to reach
different strata of earth, and that no two roots can be
found growing in contact. Consequently, when the
roots are pressed down in a mass, the energies of the
tree must be greatly crippled, and its growth retarded.
When the roots have been partially covered by shak-
ing in the pulverized earth, the person holding the
tree may, by a slight tremulous motion, sift the finer
particles among the fibrous roots, and thus separate
them more completely ; but carefully avoiding to lift
the tree so as to alter its level, or tear its roots. To
prevent the formation of a hollow beneath the forked
roots of a tree, a mound of firm earth should be formed
in the hole upon which the tree is to be planted, and
care observed to press the earth into any space that
may remain.

If the tree is found to be planted too deeply, it
must not be lifted, with all the weight of soil upon it,



until it has reached its proper level (as this careless
plan would displace all the roots, and entirely ruin the
more delicate ones) but the earth should be carefully
removed, and the tree reset. The hole should be tilled,
as far as possible, with the top soil ; and to obtain a
sufficiency for this purpose, the soil should be removed
from the adjoining surface, and intermingled with a
portion of the subsoil, to till the hole.

If the earth immediately around the roots of a tree
is poor, the most skillful cultivator cannot remedy
the defect without removal of the tree ; but when an
infertile soil is upon the surface, any ordinary laborer
can improve it by manuring.

The loose earth with which holes are filled in plant-
ing trees, must not be pressed upon the roots by tread-
ing, or other means, under the pretext of fixing the
tree firmly in its place. The more loose and porous the
soil is left, in filling the hole, the more perfectly will
the next rains wash it among and around the roots,
and solidify the ground. If convenient, a few pails
of water would imperfectly imitate the effect of rain,
and prove temporarily beneficial. To prevent the
displacement of the tree by heavy winds, and the con-
sequent racking and fracture of the roots, a mound of
earth should be raised against the body, to remain
through the winter, and for a month or more in spring.


By training all the trees of a plantation, whether on
Quince or Pear roots, as pyramids or low standards,
but little care need be observed to preserve greater
distances between those on Pear stocks. The best



arrangement is the quincunx, as it affords a larger
space to trees planted in this manner, than set oppo-
site each other. F ig . 32 .
By this plan, the loofeet
trees will be ar-
ranged in rows
in five different
directions, from
which fact the
method takes its
name. In plant-
ing, the ground
should be laid
off by a plow in
farrows, at the
proper distance.
A furrow should
then be plowed
at right angles
to the former, at
one end of the
plot, where the
outside row of
trees is to be
planted, as in
Fig. 32. The dis-
tance at which
the next paral-
lel furrow is
to be plowed,
should be one half of that at which the trees
are to be planted in the rows. That is, if the
rows are ten feet from each other, and the trees are to


be planted at ten feet apart in the rows, the cross far-
rows must be plowed five feet distant from each other.

Every alternate crossing will indicate the position
of a tree, omitting the first crossing in each alternate
row. If the trees are planted quite up to the bound-
ary line, this plan would give us five rows of twenty-
two, and six rows of twenty- three trees each, or an
aggregate of 248 trees upon a plot of the size as shown
at Fig. 32, which represents half an acre of ground
although the addition to one side of this of an equal
plot of ground would be capable of containing only
225 trees. If trained to branch near the ground,
and properly pruned, 473 trees may be grown and
fruited upon an acre, for many years, without crowding.
By this method improperly termed quincunx each
tree would stand ten feet from its neighbors in the
same row, and a trifle over twelve feet from the nearest
in the adjacent rows.

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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 6 of 18)