A common popular belief is that a given variety of the cultivated fruits does not vary in tree or fruit. But the close observer will find in every orchard-row planted with a given nursery variety that no two individual trees are exactly alike in tree and fruit. In every row of orchard or small fruits can be found one tree or plant that year after year is better in tree and fruit than the others. Those who have not made a study of the subject may conclude that the evident variation comes from the stock on which the tree or bush was grafted or budded, the soil at that point, or other natural cause. But when we propagate this superior tree or plant we find a duplica- tion to great extent of this individual variation. The truth is that our cultivated fruits vary in individual trees of a variety as much, or more, than a row of elms or maples.
Some of our propagators and fruit-growers are now cutting scions and buds from selected individual trees and shrubs, and we have reason to believe that it will do much to advance horticulture. In some cases the variation of an individual tree is sufficient to class it as a distinct variety. As an instance, in a row of Fameuse apple, the writer observed one tree that bore year after year distinctly striped fruit. In other respects it was in quality and texture of flesh a true Fameuse. This is now known as the Striped Fameuse.
The florists have not neglected the interesting and profitable work of crossing and hybridizing. Indeed, by crossing and selection a large part of our beautiful flowers and flowering shrubs have been developed. But aside from the noble work of Luther Burbank, of California, little has yet been done in this country in improving the orchard fruits by crossing. This does not come from the difficulty of performing the work, but mainly from the fact that it requires longer time to test the value of the seedlings produced.
In Nature the bees and other insects perform the work of crossing, but not in a methodic way. In artificial pollination we are able to select the parents that promise the most useful and desirable combination of hardiness on one side and best fruits on the other.