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from central Illinois located near me, wished to plant an orchard, and obtained, in the spring of 1871, some two hundred or more selected yearling trees from Bloomington. They were of the approved varieties for planting in Wisconsin, and very fine trees of their age. Not having his land in suitable condition for planting an orchard, he set them in my nursery, along side of Wisconsingrown trees of the same age and varieties, some transplanted the same year. They grew finely, and at three years of age were planted in the orchard. Of the whole lot, there is not more than half a dozen of any value, while the greater portion of those grown entirely in Wisconsin soil and climate are now healthy trees.
Too little care has been observed in obtaining trees for planting. Unsound and unhealthy trees have been sent out by nurserymen, often, perhaps, unwittingly but nevertheless unfit for planting with the expectation of eating fruit from them. Trees with bad forks or those that have been so severely cut in the central shoot as to permanently injure them. Such trees are a continual source of disappointment and loss.
CARELESS PLANTING.-Much too little care has been observed in planting trees. The ground is often very improperly and carelessly prepared; holes are hastily dug in the ground; the roots are crowded in and covered with earth, without any regard to the wants of the tree; mulching is neglected. This is often supplemented with
CARELESS TREATMENT.-Sowing the land to small grain, vainly thinking that the ground will thereby be shaded. Cattle are allowed to range through the orchard and if there should chance to be a green twig remaining on the trees it is sure to be found by the stock and unceremoniously pruned off. If the land receives cultivation it is often done in the most careless manner without hardly any more regard for the tree than though it were an oak grub. The tree that receives such treatment, if it survives the first year, may maintain a stunted growth for a few years, and then is pronounced worthless, and nurserymen are arraigned before the public for selling worthless trees, or the old cry is heard, "You cannot raise apples here."
Excessive culture, with too free use of unfermented and strong manures, sometimes is injurious. The tendency of such cultivation is to produce luxuriant growth, continuing late in the season; the wood not properly ripening, is injured by the cold; dead spots appearing on the trunk or in the forks in spring of the year, seriously injure the health of the tree and lead to premature decay and death.
PRUNING.-Trees are sometimes seriously injured by excessive and injudicious pruning. They are often neglected for a long time and then severely pruned, not heeding the fact that they require a different treatment in a rigorous climate than in one less subject to extremes of heat aud cold.
In discussing this subject, I have not presumed to exhaust the several topics, or to even present all the reasons of failure in fruitculture, but perhaps have omitted to mention causes quite as important as those presented. Enough has been said to show that the occasion of failure is not due alone to the rigors of our climate, enough has been also presented to show that fruit-growing is attended with many difficulties, enough to frighten the timid, and too often to cool the ardor of the enthusiast. The causes are so numerous and the instances of failure so many, that it has become a serious question among the masses whether it will pay to continue the effort to produce our own necessary supply of fruit.
Notwithstanding all the discouragement, the fact still exists, that we can produce fine fruit in Wisconsin. We have positive evidence of this fact at our annual fairs. Allow me to mention an incident. A former prontinent citizen of our county and State, but now a resident of Missouri, was at our late county fair; and after examining our collection of fruit, said to me, “I have just attended the state fair of Illinois, and your collection of fruit in Richland county is superior to that exhibited there,” which is evidence, either that we can raise fine fruit here, or else that our people had a good tact of displaying what they did produce. The fact being conceded that we can produce fine fruit, the question arises, can we produce enough for our own supply at a reasonable cost? I answer this question affirmatively, and will endeavor now to present some reasons and considerations whereby I think success may generally be attained.
The first thing that naturally presents itself to us is the
ORCHARD SITE.-If we have not planted an orchard, or if we have done so and failed, the first thing to do is to carefully select a suitable site for an orchard. This is a very important consideration, as we expect, or should do so, that the orchard is to thrive and produce fine fruit long after we have passed away. It is to be considered one of the most permanent improvements on the place, hence it should be on the best location that the farm presents. My ideal of an orchard site is high, reasonably dry, arable land, with natural drainage, clay soil and subsoil, underlaid with lime rock, inclining slightly to east, northeast or southeast, protected on the north and west by a timber belt. If you have not a location combining all these, get as many as you can, always remembering that the timber belts can be supplied by planting rapid growing trees; a double row of Lombardy poplars, planted six feet apart each way, with a a row of evergreens inside, or next to the orchard, will make an ample protection in a few years. Where land is generally level I think it best to plant on the highest or rolling portions: but where land is much broken by ridges and valleys, like the southwestern portion of our State, I think it very important to plant the orchard on or near the top of the highest or main ridges, if you would have healthy and productive trees. By planting on high land we secure a more even temperature, both for summer and winter; less thawing and freezing in winter, less scorching sun in summer. We can thus obviate in a great degree the injurious effects of our unfavorable climate. Never plant an orchard on a steep southwestern declivity, and never plant anything but the Siberian and Russian varieties in deep valleys, if you expect to get pay for time and money expended.
After making the proper selection of the orchard site, the next thing to be considered is the proper preparation of soil. It should be continually borne in mind that the orchard is to be a permanent appendage to the farm, and that thorough preparation of soil is necessary before planting an orchard. It can be done better before the trees are planted and if it is thoroughly done, less culture will be necessary to secure the vigorous and healthy growth which is necessary. If the land has been under cultivation for a series of . years, and the soil is exhausted by repeated crops, a liberal amount of well rotted or composted (not unfermented) manure should be applied; but if the land is comparatively new, the manure may be omitted, the land plowed thoroughly and as deep as possible, if subsoiled, all the better. If manure is applied, the land should be plowed in the fall, previous to planting, in either case it would be beneficial. As early in the spring as the land is in condition to
work, it should be plowed, the soil pulverized and put in the best tilth for a crop of corn. The orchard site should then be platted off into rows each way for the sake of convenience in future culture: care in this part of the work will pay. I should put the trees not over sixteen feet apart if standard varieties, if of Siberian or crab varieties twelve feet is sufficient.
SELECTING TREES.— When your site has been chosen and the necessary fall preparations made, you have then to determine the varieties you wish to plant, and make the necessary selection and purchase. This is a subject of much importance, as your success in fruit culture is largely dependent on the varieties and quality of the trees you plant. If there are any orchards in your neighborhood, examine them, and if possible ascertain the varieties that are hardy and productive, if their are any. If you cannot obtain the necessary information by this means, obtain it from some reliable man who has had actual and successful experience in fruit-enlture, and who is competent to give you the necessary instruction. In selecting varieties, confine your selection mainly to a few of the hardiest, choosing largely from Siberian and Russian varieties.
Having determined the varieties you wish to plant, go to the nearest reliable nursery and select sound, healthy trees. purchase three or four-year-old trees, select such as have well formed heads or are properly branched, carefully avoiding those that have sharp or bad forks; a low head preferable, if well formed, a high head, better than bad forks. If there is no suitable nursery near you, order only from such as you have good reason to suppose will fill your bill with perfectly sound trees, without any substituting.
A word here to nurserymen. I fear that some of us are, or have been, too careless in regard to the culture and care of our trees in their early growth. By neglecting proper and judicious pruning and training, we have allowed some to form sharp or bad forks or have cut them back severely while young, and thus have sent out injured or diseased trees. A diseased fork or blackened heart, caused by too severe cutting back, are injuries which a tree very rarely or never recovers from. I believe that ordinarily the central shoot of a tree should never be cut back, but that we should endeavor to train every tree with a main or central shoot, with well balanced lateral branches. This can only be done by careful training. With our rigorous climate, great care and pains must be taken to
If you have the trees that are sent out, healthy. Let us try to grow perfect trees, both in heart and limb, and let us then try and convince planters that they can well afford to pay an extra price for choice trees, as one sound, perfect shaped tree is really worth a dozen unhealthy or badly formed ones.
Having your ground prepared, your trees selected and in your orchard plat, , examine the roots and carefully cut off or trim all broken or bruised roots. Have an excavation for the trees of sufficient size to receive the roots in their natural condition, without being cramped or crowded together; the roots having been wet or puddled should be placed in position and covered with fine earth or soil, so that all spaces are properly filled, and pressed down to retain the trees in proper position. When the work is done, the tree should stand two to four inches deeper than in the nursery with a slight mound around the trunk. It is important that the tree should be planted as early in the spring as possible, so that it may secure an early growth, and be thus better able to withstand the midsummer drought and also properly mature the growth of wood for winter. Do not neglect to place a good mulch around your trees as soon as planted, extending as far around as the roots are likely to extend the first year, say three feet on either side. This should be continued until the tree is well established. The mulch acts as a retainer of moisture and an equalizer of temperature, and is a very important aid in helping our trees to withstand the various changes and rigors of our climate.
CULTIVATION.-It is important that the young tree should start in its new sphere with a vigorous and healthy growth, hence it is well for a young orchard that the ground should be carefully cultivated. Some hoed crop, such as beans, potatoes, or corn, if not planted too close to the tree, may be grown without any injury, and the orchard will then be more apt to receive the proper attention. When an orchard has become established, which will be in four to six years, I think it is well to seed it to clover, but enough mulching should still be kept around the trees to keep the soil loose and mellow, thus ensuring healthy growth and fruitfulness.
Great care must be taken to prevent injury to the trees by teams or implements of culture, as it does not promote healthy growth of the tree to knock of the bark with the whiffle-tree, or to ruthlessly draw the harrow over it. The watchful eye of the planter should