272. The Dwarf Juneberry

The dwarf Juneberry, shad-bush, or service-berry (Amelanchier alnifolia), has become quite popular where locally grown. In some cases in Iowa it has been grown and marketed as high-bush huckleberry. Indeed, Professor Bailey says, "They closely resemble large huckleberries." The Success variety has become commercial and has been referred to another species (A. botryatum), but grown side by side with selected native varieties from Colorado, South Dakota, and other parts of the arid States, the decision must be that they all belong to the same species. It is really a neglected native fruit of considerable value. Professor Card says of the fruit of Amelanchier alnifolia: "Dark purple or blue, with bloom, large, sweet, juicy. A valuable species for fruit or ornament."

With several years' experience in growing the fruit, it has been found that with proper pruning and culture the size and quality are as much improved, as are the currant and gooseberry, by good treatment. The best varieties are very heavy annual bearers, and the only drawbacks at present are that the fruit ripens unevenly and the birds, if permitted, will take it as fast as ripened where grown in a small way. But in the few cases at the West where it has been grown by the acre for market, the berries taken by the birds have not been missed, as the fruit-eating birds at that season seem local in their habits. Where grown in a small way for home use, the low bushes are easy to cover during the brief ripening season. In the near future, when more general attention is given to this fruit, varieties will be secured by seedling production, selection, and crossing, that will be much larger in size, of better quality, and that will ripen more evenly. Bird-netting will also, in the near future, be obtainable, as in Europe, at prices within the profitable reach of growers of June-berries, cherries, and the Japan persimmons, which also are ruined often by the picking of birds.

In a few cases it has been grown by the acre in Iowa and sold in the groceries as high-bush huckleberry. As the huckleberry does not grow on the limestone soils of the prairie States, such deception is easily practised, and indeed some varieties now grown are not a bad substitute, as they are larger in size, quite as juicy, and as pleasant in flavor as the commercial huckleberries.

273. Propagation and Pruning

The dwarf varieties are usually propagated from the sprouts that start from the lower part of the crown like those of the flowering almond. These when taken off have not much show of roots, but the bark is softened and will emit stronger roots in time to support growth if planted early in spring. It will also grow from cuttings of the young wood made in the fall and placed in solar hot-bed, as practised with the cuttings of the grape (60. Spring-planted Cuttings). The cuttings can also be started by grafting on short pieces of apple-root and set down in nursery to the top bud. The cuttings soon root above the apple-wood, and I have not known the plan to change or modify the growth of the bush. »Spring layers twisted where covered with earth (53. Spring Layering) will also make strong plants before fall.

The first three years after planting there is little need of pruning. But later the renewal plan gives best results. The suckers coming up from the crown are mainly permitted to grow and the old canes that have borne fruit two or three years in succession are cut out, as with the currant and gooseberry. As it bears on wood and spurs of the preceding year's growth the cutting out takes much bearing wood, but enough is left for a full crop and the new growth at once takes the place of that cut out. The renewal plan soon makes a stool two or more feet in diameter by the extension of the crown sprouts. Hence it is best to plant eight feet apart each way and cultivate in both directions. When the stools are as large as needed, the extension is easily arrested by taking up the sprouts for propagation, or if not needed throw them in the brush pile.