Sections 217, 218, and 219, give an outline of the advance within recent years in growing the native and foreign persimmons in this country, and their propagation. In West Europe the climate does not favor the introduction of fruits that need a high summer temperature except under glass. Hogg does not mention it in his" Fruit Manual," and De Candolle does not include it in his origin of cultivated plants, yet for many years the Japan varieties have been cultivated in West Europe under glass, especially the variety Costata, which bears a handsome orange yellow fruit the size of large apricots. Bur- 1 bidge said of its fruits in 1878: "The fruit is delicious, with a flavor like apricots." In the south of France too, in 1882, the writer saw plantations of a Japan species or variety under the name of Diospyros | Mazeli loaded with medium-sized orange red fruit, which I think is identical with the Mazelli grown in Georgia. The fruits from this source are seen in the market in Paris and Berlin wrapped in tissue-paper like oranges, and meeting with ready sale. In this country, prior to the introduction of the Japan varieties select native ones of our two American species, Diospyros Virginiana and D. Texana, were propagated and planted from the Gulf north to Ohio and New Jersey, and some of these are yet grown on account of their superior quality.
At the present time the Japan varieties (Diospyros Kaki) are attracting much attention in sections of the South where the thermometer does not fall below ten degrees above zero. In the coast region, from Norfolk southward, and quite generally in the cotton belt, they reach perfection of tree and fruit. By budding or grafting them above ground on native stocks their culture has been extended northward to New Jersey and South Ohio, but they suffer during severe winters. At this period varieties are being introduced from North Japan and from China. Hon. Charles Denby, the United States Minister to China, sent scions of hardier Chinese varieties to the Department of Agriculture, which were lost by drying during the voyage. But the seeds he sent at the same time grew, and about three hundred seedlings have been sent out for trial. Some of these may extend the culture of large and good varieties northward. Recent attempts have also been made, we are told, to introduce the hardy and good varieties of south Central Asia. As the Japan varieties bear when only from two to four years old, and the fruit is set so abundantly that thinning is needed to keep up needed size and to prevent the trees breaking down, the production of train-loads for market in. congenial climates is easily possible. But it is a new fruit and our people must be educated to its use. The round or flattened varieties with dark flesh, such as the Mazeli, will prove most profitable for market here, as has already been experienced in France, as they are sweeter, less astringent, and can be eaten before they are entirely softened. These varieties can also be picked when hard, and will ripen up in the crates like tomatoes. In the near future the best varieties will be shipped, wrapped in tissue-paper, as in France, and instruction given the grocers not to expose for sale until in the proper condition for dessert use.
When grown in larger quantity the best varieties will also be dried like figs. The writer, in connection with many American visitors, at the great commercial fair at Nishni-Novgorod in 1882, decided that the dried and pressed Asiatic persimmons were far more delicious and healthful than the Adriatic figs prepared in the same way.
The earlier varieties of these persimmons mature gradually. Hence growers go over the plantations several times at intervals, selecting the fruits in proper condition for shipment. This is easy after a little experience, as the color varies in ripening with great uniformity, and the shape changes. The seedlings of this species usually develop only male flowers during the first three years of growth. Later some pistillate flowers appear. The select varieties are supposed to be perfect in flower, but increased experience has shown the gain in mixed planting of varieties, as with most highly developed fruits; but when varieties are mixed in planting the effects of cross-pollination appear on the fruits to a remarkable extent. Berckmans, of Georgia, says: "This variation in the color of the flesh has caused some confusion in reaching a correct nomenclature." The heavy and continuous bearing of the Japanese varieties has so retarded the growth that rather close planting is recommended not exceeding twenty by twenty-five feet each way. The Texana varieties are still smaller in growth and can be planted closer. Under cultivation the varieties of the Virginiana species make large trees with great spread of top, and should be planted accordingly, and the same is true of the Asiatic varieties of the Lotus type when introduced. Propagation by crown-grafting on transplanted native seedlings, and top-working on native stocks is given in Section 219 briefly. The writer's experience and observation lead to the belief that it is quite as easy to bud or graft as the pear, plum, and cherry, if the side-graft plan is adopted (86).