This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
We hear much of the deterioration of varieties, and even of their entirely running out and failing altogether. And, again, we hear much of trees suited to one locality or distnct, and not to another. Of the former, in the sense in which it is generally taken, we have no belief. In the latter we have, in a restricted sense.
To illustrate with a very marked instance, we will take Rawle's Jannet, which puts out its leaves very late in the spring, and is so late in (lowering, and consequent maturing of its fruit, that it is unfit for a northern latitude. On the contrary, we believe most of our standard varieties will sustain their high character throughout the apple-growing region north of the thirty-eighth parallel. We must here admit that in many localities we find local seedlings of almost equal value to the general standards, and in these Connecticut, and perhaps Ohio, stand pre-eminent. But the fact that we wish to state is, that for premium, for the twelve best varieties of fall and winter table varieties, we have found nearly the same kinds offered in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. These are complete or perfect varieties, and under good treatment will prosper in every place within the specified limits in which any apple trees will thrive. Our observation, which has been pretty extended, and, we think, accurate, leads us to the belief that proper treatment is necessary for their perpetual prosperity in almost every locality; and the exception is so rare, that we are almost disposed to make the assertion general.
For the soils which constantly sustain vigorous trees in their full production of fruit, must be referred to those rare formations of drift or alluvium which have a good elevation; bottoms and lowlands not affording the conditions of prosperity. Wherever we have found the apple failing or running out, natural conditions being favorable, we have found defective preparation before planting, or exhaustion of fertility in some obvious form, sufficient to account for all deterioration. On the other hand, we have seen the poorest soil, or that the most completely exhausted of its fertility, by generous preparation giving growth to the most healthy, thrifty, and productive trees which we ever beheld. The condition of the soil before preparation has much to do with the cost of preparation, of course; but the case is rare in which considerable preparation is not required to maintain perpetual productiveness. Seek out the general want of the fruit, and supply it, and special wants will be few.
Wc shall recur to this at another opportunity, with some special considerations.
[The above, from an old and experienced pomologist, bears directly on a subject which has at times been productive of much discussion. It is to the point. We have heretofore expressed our conviction against the idea that our old favorite apples are "running out" - Ed].
Dear Sir, - Observing, in your February number, an article by C. W. G., on the above subject, I wish to bespeak your indulgence while I notice a few particulars in which he apparently misapprehends the real nature of the difficulties of which he treats.
Speaking of the Kentucky fruit known as Rawle's Jannet, he draws the conclusion that its habit of late starting in the spring occasions, also, a lateness of maturity which unfits it for more northern latitudes. There is doubtless much apparent reason for this conclusion in the fact of its unpopularity north of the Ohio valley; but, with a knowledge that it has been grown for many years, in this state, as far north as latitude as 42° 3O, with no complaints of its failure to mature, the writer is inclined to attribute its lack of popularity at the north, rather to the fact that it does not compare, in quality or appearance, with other varieties that succeed there, while they are unsuccessful in regions farther south.
The main fact, however, to which this correspondent alludes is, that, in nearly all the northern States, the varieties that usually take the premiums, as the best fall and winter sorts, are the same, notwithstanding the fact that these same varieties are pronounced unsuccessful in many of these states. From these facts, he argues that their apparent failure must be only apparent; and that, with proper treatment, they would be found universally successful. This we can not but consider a hasty conclusion. The varieties to which this writer doubtless alludes, such as Rhode Island Greening, Fall Pippin, Esopus Spitzenburg, Rox-burg Russet, and Baldwin, do occasionally produce fruit in these regions, and that of the finest quality. Their failure in portions of the west, therefore, is not in quality, but in quantity; and in this respect, the deficiency is often so decided, and withal so constant, as to render them mere cumberers of the ground.
In many localities, however, and with some of these varieties, this is by no means the only cause of failure. Whole orchards are sometimes swept off by the changeableness and severity of the winter, rendered more fatal, doubtless, by the unripened wood resulting from over-rich soils, lacking the suitable preparation to which he so properly alludes.
While, therefore, we heartily concur with your correspondent, and also with yourself, in the belief that these varieties are not to be considered as "running out," the conclusion seems difficult to avoid, that they lack adaptation to the climate or soil, or both; and that other, and perhaps less valuable varieties, must be substituted for them, till the progress of pomology shall develop newer and more valuable sorts, adapted to meet the exigency.
[The above, dated February 25th, would seem to prove that "Uncle Sam" sometimes drives a very slow coach. We are very glad to get it, however, and ought not, perhaps, to complain of the mail in these times. While we are not willing to admit that apples are " running out," we can agree with you, Mr. Lyon, that some kinds are better adapted to certain localities than others. We must accept the fact for the present, however we may account for it. Leaving C. W. G. to speak for himself, we would remark, that articles conceived in the spirit of the above, going a little more into detail in regard to kinds, locality, etc., would be of much service to the Committee now revising the fruit list of the American Pomological Society.