This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
In conclusion it may be well to state, as a record of the times, and for possible suggestive value, some of the present problems of horticulture.
Experimentation is needed in the oldest of horticultural operations - pruning. It must be approached through physiological botany. We know next to nothing about the feeding of plants and the influences of the food elements on plant-products - current methods of fertilizing are largely arbitrary. Many questions having to do with sex are before us. There is need of more precise knowledge about bud-formation and the setting and dropping of fruits. There is yet much to be done in the classification and description of horticultural plants. More than elsewhere in agriculture, horticultural plants are inter-planted as in catch-crops, cover-crops and in crop-rotation; the inter-relationships of plants and the effects of crop residues, therefore, must be studied. Greater knowledge of the associations of plants would throw new light on the relations of climates and soils to plant-growing - plant ecology. We have not yet reached the limit of improvement in any cultivated species and plant-breeding must be given attention. The relationships of parasites and hosts involving the whole matter of predisposition, resistance and immunity offer a series of problems. The good and bad effects of sprays, quite aside from their insecticidal or fungicidal functions, are worthy of study.
Much has been written but very little is really known about the reciprocal influences of stock and graft. The whole matter of stocks needs experimental attention, fruit-growers in particular having little to guide them in the choice of stocks for the several fruits. We know that cultivated plants vary greatly: are any of the variations heritable or do they appear and disappear with the individual? A study of the last problem would bring one to a much-needed investigation of mutations. Acclimatization deserves consideration. There yet remain many native plants worthy of domestication. Forcing of plants brings up many problems; as, the influence of heated soils and atmospheres, soil sterilization, artificial fights in place of sunlight, the use of electricity in forcing growth and the physiological disturbances of the plant brought about by the changed environment. Lastly, those who ship and store horticultural products are calling for experimental aid to solve their many problems.
Extension work is the effort made by an institution of higher learning to carry outside its own walls and directly to the people, any form of helpful educational influence. A state university, or institution that derives financial support from the state, may legitimately be called upon to give instruction to the people who cannot attend its courses, if means are provided for the performance of this office. Such an institution no longer fulfils its complete function when it confines itself to teaching students who come to it and to the investigation of problems within its laboratories. A strong college of arts and science, necessarily the center of the great university of today, may extend its educational ideals and its higher educational functions to the people of the state as well as to the students who reside within it. The professional schools of law, medicine, education, engineering, journalism, agriculture and others (articulated with the college of arts and science, to make up the university) are each investigating the problems of their respective fields and gathering information that may be carried to the people of the state, through organized extension work.
More and more the people are coming to depend upon this information as a basis for better enactment, better municipal functions, better sanitation, better regulations as to health, better civic improvement of all phases, and last, but not least, better agriculture, better roads, and a higher plane of country fife.
Extension work in horticulture is that phase of organized extension activity that has to do with better production, better handling and better marketing of horticultural products and the higher efforts of living to which this work contributes.
Horticultural extension is conducted by means of private letters, lectures, publications, correspondence courses, demonstration schools, demonstration experiments, and the like.