This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I have become somewhat identified with the "Pocklington" grape, so much so that I get a great many inquiries as to my "real candid" opinion of its merits for general cultivation and for market purposes.
I have praised this grape at horticultural meetings, and other places, perhaps more than any one else, and I suppose that to be the reason for so many inquiries of me. I have been familiar with the Pocklington for five years; the first two years of my acquaintance with it the original vine was so overcropped as to retard its ripening and spoil its quality. It has, however, improved in quality every season since. This last year, 1880, the Pocklington was ripe here, Rochester, N. Y., fit for market about Septem ber 6th, but it is much better, with little or no pulp and with a honeyed sweetness by 15th or 20th of September, and fully ten days earlier than Concord on the same grounds. It hangs well on the vines till destroyed by frost. The Pocklington is a seedling of the Concord, just as strong and vigorous a grower, fully as hardy to withstand the winter's cold and summer's fluctuations in temperature, to resist mildew as its parent, the Concord. I have no doubt whatever, that wherever the Concord will succeed at all the Pocklington will succeed better, on account of its earlier ripening.
It is a white grape, with a greenish golden shade, of the largest size both in berry and bunch, and very heavy and showy.
It is a good setter, the berries setting on the bunch like corn on a cob, and might be improved by thinning the berries. But nothing of the sort has ever been done to my knowledge. The next question is, "Well, how about the quality? Is it foxy?" Yes sir, I must confess, to my taste, it is a little foxy; but less so, when thoroughly ripe, than any other fox grape that I know of. We have been waiting a long time to raise a fox grape that is not foxy, and I almost begin to despair. If some one says, how about the Delaware? I shall demand the proof of the Delaware being a Labrusca or fox grape at all; if I do not, its being a native American any way. This last fall I kept a bunch each of Lady Washington, Niagara and Pocklington till near the middle of December, on a plate in a close room. To my surprise, the Lady Washington, although with much the thinnest skin was apparently the best keeper. I have no doubt, with a little care, either of these grapes may be kept to middle of January in good condition. Well, as to quality? To my taste the Lady Washington is entirely the best.
The Pocklington is the next best, and while we are in doubt as to whether we can grow the Lady Washington successfully, it being a hybrid, I think there is no doubt whatever that the Pocklington will thrive and do well over a longer and wider extent of country than any other good grape, not excepting the Concord; for where the Concord will do well, I believe the Pocklington will do better because of its earliness.
When I commenced to write this article I did not intend to make any comparisons with other varieties; for comparisons are odious, sometimes. But we must have some standard of excellence to go by. When I have said the Pocklington is a much better grape in quality than the Concord, I have been told, "Oh! well if it be better than the Concord that will do, the Concord is good enough for me." Now, sir, I wish it distinctly understood that the Concord is not good enough for me, but I have to take the best I can get. I have heard grape amateurs, grape critics, and those who have believed themselves excellent judges, declare the Pocklington to be the best grape they ever ate, better than any foreign or hothouse grape ever grown.
When I hear such remarks I rarely say much, but I keep up a tremendous thinking, and long to inquire: "Did you ever eat a well-ripened Cannon Hall Muscat, a Muscat of Alexandria, a grizzley Frontignan or a Muscat Blanc Hative?" Or even a good Black Hamburgh, a Muscat Hamburgh or Golden Hamburgh, or even a grade lower say, a Golden Chasselas, a Rose Chasselas, or a common Sweetwater? But it is not fair to compare the quality of our truly American grapes with that of the best European varieties. While I cannot agree with my friends who think the Pocklington grape better in quality than the best hothouse grapes, I do think it will prove to be the best and most valuable purely American grape we may have for some years. And on purely American and of the Labrusca species, I think we shall have to rely for our crops of market and wine grapes in most localities of this latitude east of the Rocky Mountains.
I consider the Pocklington grape, the whits. "grape for the million." We have had scores of white grapes introduced, tested, proved wanting, and discarded within the last thirty years. But sir, the Pocklington has come to stay; it is of the largest size both in bunch and berry and the most successful white grape in taking premiums at the fairs that I know of. It is seen above all others, it attracts more attention and will recommend itself. It needs no puffing, the grape men cannot let it alone. Of other white grapes I consider the Lady the best of all of its season, both in quality of fruit, productiveness and hardy constitution, being a seedling of the Concord. The Lady will not interfere with the Pocklington, it being ripe and gone, if you choose, before the Pocklington is fit to cut. But still the Lady keeps well on the vines. This season of 1880, the Lady was ripe with me, fit for market by the 20th of August, the Moore's Early and Champion both together about 25th of August, the Pocklington about 6th of September, and Concord about ten days later.
This sir, I submit, if acceptable, to your columns according to my judgment for what it may be worth.
This being a direct seedling of the Concord, and having all its peculiarities of growth, ought to become as popular as its parent. We have really few first-class white grapes, and from all that we have seen, we believe this will be a valuable addition to the list.
W. C, Junction City, Kansas, writes:
"I send you a 'blow' for an ugly named grape that you have failed to mention. What do you know about it. An answer in your next Monthly will greatly oblige."
[With this came a card stating that it is "the best hardy out-door white grape known, etc." We have noticed the grape before, as we do all new varieties likely to be of value. We can only say that the name attached to the card is that of a nurseryman in very good standing among his brethren. We may not have had the experience which would warrant us in saying it is the "best white kind known;" but have no hesitation in saying it is one that will give general satisfaction. - Ed. G. M.]
Mr. Purdy, in the Fruit Recorder, speaks in high terms of this new variety.
A correspondent of the Orange County Farmer has been visiting the original vineyard of this grape, - and praises its sturdiness, and the size of its fruit. He does not seem impressed that it will equal some poorer growing kinds in flavor.