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NINTH DISTRICT-E. WILCOX, TREMPEALEAU, COMMITTEE.
COUNTIES-La Crosse, Trempealeau, Jackson, and Buffalo, with the valleys of the St. Croix and Chippewa.-The oldest apple-trees in our country had been planted, say, fifteen or eighteen years, when they were mostly killed in the winter of 1872 and 1873. Many of these trees had given such promise of life and fruitfulness .that orchards were being generally planted. Many had been put out quite recently. These younger trees suffered less than those which had been in bearing for years; in fact some orchards, the trees of which were only from one to three years planted, came through that winter with but little loss, not near as much as those of the same age in the nursery. One reason for this, no doubt, was, the earth had been so recently moved to set the tree, that the slight rain, late in the fall, had saturated the soil with moisture, while the soil in our nursery and orchard was very dry. While all kinds failed, it must be admitted that some stood it better than others, and if the early planters had known what we now know, they would be a good deal better off than they are.
For illustration, in my orchard, I had a few each of Keswick Codlin, Autumn Strawberry, Bailey's Sweet, Northern Spy, Lady Finger, Yellow Bellflower, Rawle's Janet, Ben Davis, Minkler, Red Romanite, Fall Stripe, Drap De Or, Pomme Grise, Jonathan, Wagner, Domine, Perry Russet, Golden Russet. No more of any of these in mine. I had about forty Utters, half are left; fifty Fameuse, twenty survive; twenty-five Plumb's Cider, twenty good trees, these stood better than any other except Duchess, which came out about the same; also Red Astrachan. Now out of all the above, I have got about one hundred very fair trees, and although they are but a small part of what I once had in my orchard, still when I reflect that they are of bearing age, taking President's Tuttle's estimate of their value, I am considerably set up. When I look over those Transcendents, set out to fill up where trees have died, budded with hardy standards, with a prospect of bearing fruit another year, though only two to four years from the bud, I think, perhaps I will not accept brother Smith's advice, and leave this country for Baraboo, or some other more favored region, but will pick the flint, and fight it out here, the rest of my life. The prospects for fruit here another year are good, wherever we have the trees left, old enough to bear.
The following notes taken from correspondence with successful orchardists in this district may present some facts of interest:
Mr. S. S. Luce, of Galesville, writes: "My orchard, consisting of 425 trees, varying in age from three to ten years, is in the pocket of a side-hill, fifty to one hundred feet above the table-land, and almost one hundred and fifty feet above the Mississippi at Trempealeau. It has an inclination to the east, is protected on the north, west, and south by hills surmounted by groves of oak and hickory. The soil is a deep, vegetable mold, on a clayey subsoil. I transplanted the first hundred trees in 1866, and cultivated the ground for six successive years. The first crop of apples was five years after, when I raised seventy-five bushels, mostly the Duchess of Oldenburg and Price's Sweet. My orchard was injured to some extent by the winter of 1873, but bore a fine crop the following summer; the best bearing trees producing from one to six barrels each. I had three hundred bushels of apples on three-fourths of an acre of ground. The losses from the severe winters of 1873 and 1874 will be about twenty-five per cent., and to those less than eight years old, almost nothing.
My trees have proved hardy in the order named, commencing with the most hardy: Duchess of Oldenburg, Red Astrachan, Plumb's Cider, Utter, Fameuse, Price's Sweet, Fall Stripe, Golden Russet, etc. I have never found it difficult to conduct an orchard up to eight years, even over frozen mercury, but after that age, thirty degrees below zero seems to be about all the hardiest varieties can safely stand in the most favorable locations.
Mr. S. M. Davis of Jackson county, gives his observations in that county as follows: "Less tree planting, success, poor, almost a total failure, and hence, not much interest felt in fruit-raising. But few apples, except the crabs and Hybrids are raised. Some bear every year and stand the climate well. Small-fruits, on the increase and do well. There is more attention paid to the cultivation of ornamental trees, all on clay subsoil are doing well. Balsams begin to decay in twelve or fifteen years on light sandy soil. All of the small-fruits except grapes, will stand our climate on any soil. The tender varieties of grapes "winter kill," Concords, Delaware, Clinton, and Hartford, will stand by covering. Fire Blight showed itself on the hottest days, on the rapid growing trees of the hardiest varieties.
DISTRICT-SAMUEL ROUNSEVILLE, SHEBOYGAN
COUNTIES-Sheboygan, Calumet, and Manitowoc.-There were less than the usual number of trees planted in this district during the past season, but the setting was generally more carefully done; the weather was favorable and I think the full usual quantity of a year's planting are standing in good condition. There is an increasing degree of interest taken in fruit-culture. The tree planters have been meditating upon and enquiring into the causes of their successes and their failures, and are fast learning what varieties to select, and where to plant them. The crop of apples was light. In my own little orchard, and I think it is much the same throughout these three counties, the Duchess and Golden Russet did best. The fruit of these two varieties was larger and better flavored than usual, and the quantity, particularly of the Duchess, was satisfactory. The Red Astrachan which usually grows here large and fair, this season was deficient in size, flavor and color and deeply sutured like the old red tomato. The apple moth and curculio did but little injury.
There is considerable quantity of small-fruits grown, mostly by individual families for their own use. There are four or five parties in this county who are growing strawberries and raspberries, to some extent, for the market. As near as I can ascertain, about three hundred bushels of strawberries and one hundred bushels of raspberries have been marketed. The Wilson strawberry, and the Thornless raspberry, seem to be the favorite varieties.
There was but little blight in this vicinity. The most luxuriant growing varieties seem most liable to it. The attack commences upon the richest places in the field, and in moist, warm weather, when the trees are making the most rapid growth. With us, the Transcendent has been injured more in the nursery than any other variety, pears not excepted. In the orchard, pears have suffered most. I am inclined to believe, that when the horticultural chemist shall have traced this disease to its source, it will be found to be in voracious and voluptuous feeding.
The apple trees were but slightly injured by the severe cold of last winter. The snow fell early, became deep, and continued, with us, until late in the season; this saved them.
But few bearing plum trees were injured, but the young, thriftygrowing nursery stock was badly stricken in the tops. The same may be said of pears, if we make the single exception of the Flemish Beauty. I saw no trees of this variety that were injured by the excessive cold weather.
There has been but little effort made in ornamental or timber planting of trees. The years are few since this whole section was densely covered with a natural growth of timber. The old settlers are yet resting from the exhaustive labor involved in making farms in a wilderness of trees. They already see their mistake in the wholesale destruction of the timber, and will soon begin to plant trees for shelter and timber.
In regard to natural advantages or disadvantages of different iocalities in soil, exposure, protection, local peculiarities, etc., the best fruit-belt of the State consists of the timbered, lake-shore counties, lying between Racine and Green Bay; portions of the more northern counties are the best of all.
The weather during the past year has been unusual, and this has had a corresponding effect upon vegetation, in the growth of different kinds of trees; in lessening the extent of the blight; in checking the ravages of the apple-moth and the curculio, and in the perceptible variation of some varieties of fruit from their common habit. In this, nature has given us some hints for our consideration and improvement.
TWELFTH DISTRICT—J. M. SMITH, GREEN BAY, COMMITTEE. COUNTIES-Brown, Kewaunee, Door, and Oconto.-As a member of this committee, I confess that I do not know what to say. To report failure in greater or less degree in every direction, is not pleasant, yet I do not know of a single orchard in my vicinity, but has been injured, more or less. Some that have been well cared for are sadly injured.
A friend of mine has an orchard which is well located, and has been carefully cultivated since the trees were set, fifteen to eighteen years ago. The trees made a splendid growth, and seemed to be but little affected by either summer or winter, until last winter. Last spring they showed signs of being badly injured. During the
summer they kept dying; until to-day, there is scarcely a living tree left. All varieties seem to have fared alike. Another and a larger one, situated south of Green Bay, upon a ridge sloping to the east, had been set nearly thirty-four years, all the varieties in it but one, had been more or less injured previous to last winter. There were seven Fameuse trees, that had been bearing, continually increasing crops each year, for sixteen years, until the summer of '74, when the crop was one hundred and fifty bushels. Their owner was of course delighted. He thought he had at least one variety that could truly be called iron-clad. Last spring he came to me utterly disheartened and discouraged; "his last hope, his Fameuse were all dead." His fears were worse than the reality. They came out quite late in the spring, gradually improving in appearance during the summer. In the fall they yielded about fifty bushels of fruit. Whether they will entirely recover or not, remains to be
About five miles further south is another old orchard on elevated ground, with a southeastern aspect. The oldest bearing trees were the Tolman Sweet; some of them, about twelve inches in diameter, had been in bearing nearly twenty-five years. Last winter killed, I believe, every one of them. His whole orchard is badly injured. His Fameuse were hardly in full bearing, they having been set only a few years. Here let me say that my observation satisfies me that the Fameuse is a more hardy tree and less liable to be injured after it gets fairly into bearing, than before. These two last mentioned orchards are, I believe, the oldest in this part of the State. They have been well cared for; yet the results have been, to say the least, discouraging. It must be evident that we have not yet found the true Iron-Clads for this state. The Fameuse is, all things considered, the safest tree to set in this portion of the State. The results have been so discouraging that but very few trees have been or will be set for a short time to come.
If I were to choose to-day between apple- and pear-culture in this district, I should be very apt to choose the latter. The little pear orchard of which I have repeatedly spoken at these meetings, stood the test of last winter. If my memory is correct, none of them died from the effects of the winter, though two or three were killed with the blight. There are to-day about forty of the original forty-five trees standing. It is now ten years, since they have been touched,