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CULTIVATION OF THE GRAPE-VINE IN WISCONSIN.

R. J. HARNEY, OSHKOSH.

At the outset I may be permitted to make a few remarks on the general usefulness and benefit which would result from the investigation, by this association, from the practical stand-point of intelligent experience, of the manner in which vegetable life is influenced by local, climatic causes, and other physical characteristics, and by the interchange of such information as may contribute to a comprehensive knowledge of the best methods of culture, and the specialties, which are best adapted to our soil and climate. No other subject can equal this in general importance. The culture of the tree and vine has, necessarily, a more intimate connection with climatic conditions, and involves a wider and more comprehensive range of observation than that of field-crops. The trees become, as it were, the children of the soil-permanent occupants. Exposed to the cold and storms of winter, as well as the more genial influences of summer, as the years go by, climatic effects are written in their history. They are a yearly record of the character of the respective seasons of their existence; and those engaged in their cultivation and growth, can thus obtain a practical knowledge, which is of great general value.

The cultivation of the apple and other fruit-trees in the northwest, has, through a long series of years, been attended with the most disheartening results, and while a partial success has been attained, the belief generally prevails, that their successful culture is to be limited to favored localities alone. But the very features of our climate which are unfavorable to the apple tree, viz: a bright and dry atmosphere, occasioning rapid evaporation, are highly conducive to the healthful growth of the grape vine, and the production of its fruit in the highest perfection. The soil too, in almost all localities, abounds in the elements essential to its health and fruitfulness, . and the summers of southern and central Wisconsin are sufficiently

long to fully ripen its fruit; while fifteen years of very general cultivation have demonstrated the fact, that the choicest varieties of American grapes can be cultivated here with the highest success. This result has been attained, too, under a prejudicial opinion operating against it, that the climate was too cold for the cultivated grape vine, and that American grapes were too inferior in quality to make them a desirable fruit. Now the luscious Delaware, Roger's Hybrids, No. 3., Agawam, Wilder, Salem and Walter, rival, in point of excellence, many of the European varieties, when they are ripened in perfection; and throughout a large range of territory in this State, they fully ripen about the middle of September, while in four seasons out five, there is no frost hard enough to injure the foliage until the first or the middle of October. The first slight frosts do not affect the vine, and it will withstand without any visible effect a degree of cold that will kill the tomato and corn. Contrary to the general belief, it is not a child of the tropics "native to the manor born;" although it grows there in many places of high altitudes, yet it is most at home in the temperate zone, and flourishes the best, and produces the finest quality of fruit, north of the middle line of the belt of the grape region.

There is no other fruit that grows so abundantly throughout so wide a range of territory, soil, and climate. Like the honey-bee, it seems to be the constant companion of the inhabitants of the north temperate zone, south of 50 degrees north latitude in Europe, and 45 degrees in America. It does not grow in India, nor in Arabia, and is indigenous to a much wider range of territory in America, where it is more frequently found in the altitudes of the tropics, than in Europe or Asia. In North America, it is very generally found throughout the whole region south of 45 degrees, with a great number of varieties adapted to varied locations. The almost universal presence of wild vine in great variety, some of them in the most favored localities producing a very fair fruit, would indicate this to be the natural land of the vine; notwithstanding the prejudicial opinion to the contrary, founded on the fact, that European varieties, which through successive ages of change and adaptation have conformed to the climate of their nativity, would not succeed here to any general extent; and it may be well here to remark, that persevering efforts in propagating from acclimated European vines, are now producing very hopeful results; as successive propagation on this fertile soil, and stimulating climate, adds to the vigor of many European varieties. Hybridizing has also produced varieties that in fruitfulness, vigor, foliage, and quality of fruit, equal some of the esteemed varieties of Europe. The fruit of the Salem is essentially European in its qualities, and the Wilder, the best of all our black grapes, is a close approximation. They are both very pure, with no malic acid, and soft pulp, and rich in saccharine qualities when fully ripened.

It is only of late years, that the cultivation of the vine has received any considerable attention in this country, and the progress that has been made, in the last twenty years, in improved varieties far surpasses any thing of the kind in any other country in a period of similar duration. Twenty years ago there was practically no culture worthy of the name; but now, American grapes take high rank, and have only just commenced the ascending scale of improvement. No other plant so readily changes its character, conformable to the climate and soil of a country, and yields new and improved varieties with such facility of reproduction; and nothing yields more pliably to the dominion of man, or more gratefully responds to his kind treatment. Under his training hand it assumes whatever shape and size suits the demands of his convenience or taste, and yields to him the most abundant reward for his labor.

It is one of the most prolific, and the most beautiful and valuable of all fruits. The graceful and fruitful vine, has ever been the emblem of grace, luxuriance and abundance; the theme of the poet in all ages, and historically associated with the whole existence of the human family. Its cultivation is of great antiquity. Humboldt found varieties of the vine now cultivated in Europe growing wild on the banks of the Caspian Sea, and in Armenia, which countries are believed to be its native place; and it still shows its proclivities for a dry, bright, pure atmosphere like ours.

The Romans planted it in the Rhine country, and in England, during their occupancy; but the climate of England is too moist for general out-door culture, and the heats of summer are insufficient to mature its best qualities, although the winters are mild; while in the altitudes of Tokay, in Hungary, where the soil freezes to the depth, sometimes, of two feet, but where the summers, like ours, are bright and warm, and the air pure and dry, it flourishes

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in a most luxuriant and healthful growth, and produces, with the regularity of the seasons, the very choicest and most valuable fruit, thus showing its inherent instinct for the bright climate of its nativity. It is, however, a great emigrant, and has followed its early cotemporaries, the Caucassian race, in all their varied wanderings from the parent nest.

The vine in Europe receives the most careful culture, and is there the most remunerative crop. There are, even in the districts most favorable to its growth, occasional failures, and diseases and enemies to combat. The disease that most prevails, and that is the most dreaded, is the oidium, a parasitic fungus, which prevails more in the warmer districts than in the northern and cooler ones, and is now one of the most serious obstacles that grape-culture has to encounter in that country. The dry, pure air of our State, and cold winters, are well calculated to resist it, and to create a healthy foliage which is essential to successful culture.

The immense value of the annual crop in Europe is almost beyond belief. According to official statistics, there are over twelve millions of acres devoted to its culture, producing yearly a crop worth, on the ground, from $800,000,000, to $1,000,000,000, nearly one-half the amount of our national debt, and as a branch of agricultural industry, is said to be “ only equalled by the culture of rice, which forms the staple article of food, for one-third of the human race, and also that of wheat."

Can a good quality of this most desirable fruit be produced to any considerable extent in our State? The facts I have given in the history of its cultivation, all serve to show that it is peculiarly adapted to the southern half of our State, and the practical experience of fifteen years culture, of varieties of the greatest excellence, confirms it. Grape-growing is no longer an untried experiment with us, for the Delaware, Agawam, Wilder, and Salem are brought to a perfection here that is not generally reached. The originator of the Walter, Mr. Kaywood, told the writer that he never saw elsewhere such luxuriant foliage on the Delaware, and such a splendid profusion of fruit as in the vicinity of Lake Winnebago and other parts of Wisconsin; and it is the remark of all, who have had experience, that the climate of Wisconsin is conducive to a healthy and luxuriant leaf, an essential requirement of grapegrowing. The Delaware particularly, that is so precarious in

many places, luxuriates in this climate and soil, and the same may be said of the other choice varieties. The fact is, we have been raising grapes here that would be pronounced good even in critical Europe, but it is also true that in too many instances the fruit is plucked needlessly before it is ripe, and is frequently injured by improper management in the cultivation, such as over-bearing and injudicious summer-pruning.

Our average summers have sufficient duration of heat to develop the fullest amount of saccharine, where the vine has the proper exposure, soil, and cultivation, and our dry autumns are particularly favorable to the process of the elimination of water from the leaf during a critical period in the formation of fruit.

METHODS OF CULTURE.-In the brief space of such an article, a general outline only can be given. The practical details must be learned by experience. As the vine in this climate must be pro-tected in winter, the culture and training must conform to this necessity, and it is no drawback to remunerative success, since, in one of the most favored grape-growing regions in the world, the vines are taken down and protected, during the winter. It is not. a very expensive process, for when the vines are pruned, one man can cover one hundred and fifty to two hundred a day. This also. prevents the vines from a too early start in the spring and exposure to frosts, securing them froin the uncertain contingencies that affect many other fruits. It should be borne in mind that there is no plant-culture so intelligently conducted as that of the grape, and the results of which can be so accurately estimated. While it is the most remunerative crop grown from the soil, and a healthful and pleasant labor for even women and children, one in which they can acquire a most intimate knowledge of the processes of vegetable life, it is no slovenly and hap-hazard system that will succeed. Neither is there any mystery or difficulty in its practical operation.

SOIL AND EXPOSURE.—The first things in importance are proper soil and exposure. The vine flourishes in a great variety of soils, but a subsoil of limestone seems to be its favorite here. It does remarkably well on light clay soil, but must have good under-drainage. Unlike the apple tree, it covets a southern exposure, sunshine and a bright, pure atmosphere. As the vines must be laid down in the fall, they should be grown from the ground at a sharp

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