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.
By. M. B. Bateham
IN considering the question whether it would not be better for me to plant a large pear orchard, instead of replanting my peach orchards, which were ruined by the past winter, I have come to the conclusion that pears will pay me the best, if I can procure suitable land; and as the result of my observations for the past twenty years, inOhio and elsewhere, I am convinced that the pear crop is more reliable than any other of our tree fruits - less liable to failure or injury from severe cold and also from attacks of insects. Peaches, of course, are unreliable everywhere; and here in Ohio, as in all the older States, the apple crop is more and more subject to failure, from drouths and the myriads of insect pests, as well as fungoid diseases; while with plums and cherries the case is still worse. But any one who travels and observes, or reads the printed reports of the crops, will find that even in seasons like the present, when all other fruits are nearly or quite failures, pear trees that are of sufficieut age and size are generally bearing a fair crop of fruit.
In a letter just received from Mr. N. Ohmer, of Dayton, 0., an extensive fruit grower and President of the Montgomery County Horticultural Society, he says he has about fifteen hundred standard pear trees, most of which have been in bearing for eight or ten years, And during that time have borne a partial or fair crop every year; while the apple crop in that vicinity has not been a fair one but once in that time, which was last year. So that he considers the pear crop much more reliable than the apple.
As to the blight, he has suffered some loss of trees thereby, but not much where the soil was well chosen and the trees of suitable kinds and well trained; had very little blight last year, and almost none this season. He does not let the fear of blight deter him from planting pears; for only two years ago he planted, as an experiment, an orchard of fifteen hundred dwarf pears - though he has not as much faith in dwarfs as in standards.
He has now on his trees a full crop of Bartletts, Louise Bonnes and F. Beauties, with a smaller crop of D. d'Ete, Rostiezer, Lawrence, Seckel, B. Lucrative, Vicar, etc. This fruit will be sure to sell for high prices this year, in the absence or scarcity of peaches and grapes.
Mr. Ohmer's Bartlett and Vicar pears are noted for their fine size, color and excellence. His Vicars especially, ripening up so finely at Christmas time, sell at very high prices in city markets, and he counts it one of the most profitable varieties. His soil is a good strong loam, resting on limestone, and the situation quite elevated, not requiring drainage.
Another successful pear orchard is that of Mr. A. Fahnestock, near Toledo, consisting of a thousand standard trees, planted ten years ago, and embracing the leading market varieties. These also are bearing a fair crop of fruit, especially the Bartletts, and have done so for several years past, with almost no losses of trees from blight or any other cause. The soil of this orchard is flatter and more clayey than Mr. Ohmer's. It was well underdrained before planting. The trees have grown very finely, and, being trained to branch low, they are now perfect pyramids in form, averaging about fifteen feet high, and as many wide at the base. He attributes his exemption from blight largely to the form of his trees, the tops affording shape and shelter to the trunks.
Speaking of pear trees, I will add a hint or two for Western Nurserymen. It has long been the prevailing opinion among tree dealers and planters that pear trees cannot be grown as successfully in nurseries in Ohio and the more Western States, as in those at the East, and persons desiring first class standard trees must procure them from Western New York. I confess that my own experience at a Columbus Nursery, for the ten years that I was there, accorded with this opinion. But on visiting that establishment a short time since, I was surprised to find large blocks or squares of as fine standard pears, two and three years old, as I have ever seen at Rochester or Geneva; and, as evidence of the growing demand for the trees, I was told that the number of pear trees, of different ages, on the grounds, was not less than six hundred thousand; the demand every year increasing, especially at the West and South.