This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
"C. W. T.," Hulmeville, Pa., writes : " I was yesterday looking through a very fine orchard in this vicinity when my attention was called to a row of Seckel Pear trees, some twenty-five of which had been much injured and a number of them killed under circumstances different, I think, from any I ever met with before. I should like to have your views as to the cause. Just a year ago the owner of these trees discovered patches of bark on their trunks turning black. These were nearly always on the north side of the trees, and were from a few inches in extent up to a length of two or three feet, and extending entirely around the trees. In the course of the season, these patches dried up and peeled off, leaving the wood beneath perfectly sound and white, not discolored in the least. The trees are some three or more inches in diameter, and fifteen or sixteen feet high. The soil is light sandy loam, has been well manured and planted with hoed crops, and kept well worked. There were no pear trees injured but Seckel, with the excep tion of one 'Howel,' which was affected in the same way.
I will remark here, that sandy soil in this vicinity does not seem to suit the Lawrence Pear. A row of these in this same orchard, did so very poorly, that they had to be taken up and replanted in heavier soil, where they have since done well. I could suggest no other treatment for the injured trees than painting over the bare places and discontinuing the manure. The trees are of remarkably vigorous growth, and where they are not entirely girdled, nature is making a strenuous effort to cover the wounds with new bark.
"A fine young apple orchard near this first, and containing 1,500 trees, is also badly diseased, but in a different way. The trees are old enough to bear a bushel each, but will have no fruit on them this season. Last August the branches began to die, commencing at the extremities and turning black as the disease extended down. There were no insects noticed on the trees, but on examining the bark of the affected branches, it appeared to be covered with minute punctures, invisible to the naked eye. The soil here also has been heavily manured, planted with corn and tobacco and kept well worked. The refuse stems of the tobacco have been heaped up around the butts of the trees to keep off the borer. The owner is just beginning to head in his trees, which is all the treatment they have received as yet. I suppose high feeding is at the bottom of the trouble".
[The bark disease referred to is not uncommon in the pear, though not referred to in any of our fruit books. It is of fungus origin. It is rarely troublesome in those orchards which have the trunks regularly lime-washed once a year.
There are two kinds of apple disease, which have effects such as you describe, one done by a small insect (Tomicus pyri), the other from a fungus attack. In either case cutting and burning the diseased parts, before there has been time to mature eggs or spores for another crop, is the only remedy we have ever known suggested.
As to high feeding, injury from this cause among fruit trees, is purely mythical. A tree already half sick from bad treatment, though this may pass under the name of good culture, may become past all recovery by plenty of good food; but for an Apple, Pear, Cherry, Peach, Plum, or similar tree, you may pile on the manure six inches thick under a healthy tree without disgusting it. Of course, if you use salt, or some of the chemical combinations so often recommended in the place of good, old-fashioned manure, and natural plant food, you may expect trouble; but this is no more to be called the results of high feeding than if a man expires from an overdose of laudanum. - Ed. G. M].