The real truth is that budding and grafting may give us as healthy and long-lived fruit-trees as can be grown on own roots. To illustrate: If we bud or graft a favorite variety of the plum on a thrifty seedling of our native species it will prove equal or superior as a fruit-bearing tree to one on its own roots. The decision rests on the securing of stocks hardy and healthy in a given section of our own country or Europe. The fro and con discussion comes from the use of the same commercial stock over a vast region running through many degrees of latitude and longitude. As an instance, the Prunus Mahaleb or St. Lucie wild cherry grows freely on the mountains over west Europe. Its pits are gathered in vast quantity and used over Europe and America for stock-growing. As a stock for low rich soils it has been a failure in Europe and America, but on high dry land it is a grand success wherever it does not root-kill in severe inland climates, and when its use is confined to the uncolored-juiced cherries. The colored-juiced varieties make an imperfect union with its wood in Europe and America.
Investigation will show that grafting and budding as practised universally in this country is a process near to Nature and will give healthy and long-lived trees, but it is necessary to get nearer to Nature in the selection of seeds for stock-growing. At this time the use of the red wild cherry (Prunus Pennsylvanica) stocks in cherry propagation is being urged in the Northwest and in parts of Canada, and several are growing the stocks. In South Dakota, Professor Hansen and others are urging the use of Siberian crab stocks in apple propagation. The use of native plum stocks is almost general west of the Great Lakes. As the years go on the stock question will be adjusted locally and there will be less demand for European seeds. That the subject of hardier stocks is important is shown by the fact that in the winter of 1898-99 tens of thousands of bearing fruit-trees were root-killed as far south as Missouri, with no trace of injury in the tops. As the years go on the commercial prejudice against the propagation of trees on their own roots will be a thing of the past.
Our grapes, small fruits, and nearly all our ornamental trees and shrubs are now on their own roots, and Nature has made it possible to grow all the orchard fruits of the north temperate zone from cuttings of the surface roots.