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.
I HAVE a large number of crossbred seedling grapes, some of which have fruited this year for the first time. A number of these are promising, but further trial is requisite in order to select the most valuable. Two of the best varieties I propose to name the Rochester and Golden Cluster, and I give this information to secure the names. A brief description of some of these new grapes may not prove uninteresting. There are three yellow or white grapes from seed of the Hartford crossed, separately, with Miller's Burgundy, Muscat, B. Hative, G. Chasselas. Those, from the two first named foreign parents, are large in berry and cluster, dissolving in flesh, with a rich, sugary, foreign flavor. They ripen early, and the vines are vigorous, healthy and hardy. The other variety is also large in bunch and berry, tender fleshed, with rich, spicy flavor, which, to my taste, is superior to that of the Chasselas. Seedling No. 3, from the Hartford, by Muscat Hamburgh, is a black grape of medium bunch, and large, slightly oval berries. The flesh is dissolving, with a rich Muscat flavor. Ripens early. The vine is vigorous and hardy. The bunch may prove to be much larger another year, as this is the first season the vine has borne.
No. 1, from the Hartford, by Bowood Muscat, is a large, long, compact bunch of large, oval berries of a light yellow color; flesh somewhat meaty, with a decided Muscat flavor; ripens late. The vine is a prodigious grower, making large, strong shoots, and think, pubescent leaves, which mildew to some extent during the latter part of the season. The vine, however, when exposed to the winter, has proved hardy. A seedling from the Concord, by Diana Hamburgh, had a small twig of six or seven berries which were oval, black, of medium size, tender fleshed, rich and sweet. Ripened early. The vine has large, moderately pubescent leaves, and is a rampant grower. It has two arms, from each of which, several shoots have grown nearly twenty feet in length, each. A seedling from the Concord, by 8. Hamburgh, bore a few berries which colored very early, but were so damaged by the birds that they could not ripen. The berries were large, and I judge, from the size of the tendril, that the cluster will be large. The tendril is merely an undeveloped cluster, and often indicates its size, according to my observation. No. 3, from the Oporto, by Black Hamburgh, is a large, shouldered bunch of medium sized berries. The flavor resembles that of the native parent, but is sweeter. Color very dark.
Requires to hang a long time after coloring to ripen fully, and even then it is rather too sprightly to suit most tastes. If eaten shortly after coloring it is apt to make a hole in the tongue. The flesh is red, and juice very red, staining the hands purple and red, so as not to be washed out easily. The other varieties of the same parentage possess this quality in greater or less degree, and derived it from the Oporto, the flesh of which is purple, and the most acid of all grapes. The scriptural expression "The blood of the grape," applies to them, certainly. Nos. 9 and 14 are medium, or large in cluster and berry, and much sweeter grapes than No. 3. These and other of the best sorts abound in sugar, as well as acid; they are sweet, yet sprightly, with a rich, refreshing flavor. Nearly all the varieties from the Oporto are vigorous growers, healthy and hardy.. I have noticed the fruit of several among them to rot for the last two years, and it is, doubtless, their habit. A variety may have this habit as well as any other.
From the Dartmouth by the Muscat of Alexandria, I have a number of varieties which are of about the same quality as the Rogers Hybrids. The Dartmouth is a large, black native grape of the Labrusca species, originally brought from Connecticut. It is precisely of the same character as the variety Mr. Rogers raised his Hybrids from, differing only in color. Several of the seedlings from it are red grapes, one of them as large as Isabella in berry and cluster, and sweeter. Another has a medium sized bunch, and large, elongated, oval berries ; flesh meaty, very sweet, with flavor of the native. The seeds resemble those of the Muscat, and the foliage has little pubescence. Two of the varieties are black grapes, with a trace of the Muscat flavor; and one of these has a thick, woolly leaf, more like that of the native parent than any other among them. Most of them are healthy, hardy vines, and vigorous growers. They afford the skeptical an additional evidence that the Rogers grapes are true Hybrids. As for myself, I have no respect for the intelligence of any man who, at this late day, denies that they are so.
I have many other new grapes, but none that I think superior to the best of those I have mentioned. The greater part of my seedlings (all are crossbred) are yet to fruit; especially those from crosses of native varieties. A portion of these will bear next year, probably. I have experimented with other fruits, also, and have two new varieties of apples this year. These were raised from seed of the N. Spy crossed with the Golden Russet. The operation of crossing was carefully performed by me, and there can be no doubt about the parentage. I mention this circumstance for the reason that it has become fashionable, lately, to claim new fruits to be Hybrids or crossbreeds, when it is not oertainly known that they are so. One of these apples looks more like the R. I. Greening than either parent. It is as large as the N. Spy, yellowish, with a dull blush cheek, faintly striped. The skin is smooth, with no trace of russet, and the flavor is tart and aromatic like the N. Spy. The tree, too, is an erect grower like that variety; but the leaves and shoots look more like the Russet. The other variety is a handsome, red striped apple, nearly as large as the N. Spy, of a deeper red color. This also, has no trace of russet except around the stem. The quality I cannot yet determine.
The tree resembles the Russet in habit and appearance. Both varieties appear to be good bearers, and long keepers. I have a barrel of fruit of both together, and can test their keeping qualities.
In conclusion, it may be as well to observe that the production of new and valuable fruits, by crossbreeding, is an interesting occupation, and very profitable, also. The originator, you know, if he produces a variety of great value, can make a fortune. Ho is sure to do so. Not that the fortune will bo his. Not at all! I would not be so misunderstood. The fortune which he makes is divided up among the principal nurserymen throughout the country. The originator's part of the fortune is the cost of producing the variety, its propagation and introduction. The latter cost - the cost of advertising, principally - the first sales, on which he must rely for compensation, may enable him to pay, possibly. In addition, the originator, we are told, has the name of a public benefactor (what a pity that such a name will supply none of the necessaries of life), and the thanks (?) of the public.
The following list of new fruits was accepted and recommended by both the Committee on foreign fruits of the last session of American Pomological Society, and also Western N. Y., Horticultural Society, as being of more than ordinary merit. Wm. G. Ellwanger was the chairman.