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 am cultivating the Pear quite extensively, both on its own and Quince roots; and having been a sufferer to a very great extent, this season, from the effects of the frozen sap blight, I have watched with anxiety the Horticulturist, and the other horticultural Journals (as misery is said to love company), to ascertain whether the evil has prevailed to any great extent elsewhere. I know that many of my neighbors have suffered very severely from the same cause, but I do not learn from the horticultural papers that it has prevailed in other localities. The disease manifested itself here about the middle of June, at which time my gardener commenced, and still continues, a thorough course of amputation, cutting in all cases where it was practicable, below the part diseased in many cases taking the head of the tree entirely off. My trees were most of them large and very vigorous, comprising about 160 varieties. No sort was spared, - all were more or less affected, excepting one, Bartlett on Quince, - not one of which was diseased, - and a lew White Doyenne's that were last year in a torpid state, owing, my gardener thinks, to an application of "Barry's wash." The destruction has been sickening to an amateur cultivator.
I have lost already at least two hundred trees, many of them of model forms, all of them of the best sorts, and of all ages from three to fifteen years; and I desire to know whether the disease has prevailed in other parts of the country as in this locality. I desire the information before I can determine whether to replace with Pear or other fruit trees, the vacancies in my orchard occasioned by this fatal enemy to the Pear. Amateur.
The disease referred to is generally known as "fire blight" because trees attacked with it, assume the appearance of having been scorched with fire. "Frozen sap blight" would be an improper name, because frost has nothing to do with it Whatever the agency may be, it comes in the growing season.
It has committed extensive ravages among pears in almost all parts of the country; and it also attacks both Apple and Quince, but is not usually fatal to them as it is, or would be, to the pear. In 1846-7, and two or three subsequent years, it prevailed alarmingly at Rochester and the country about; but with the past two or three years it has in a great measure disappeared In other parts, however, both east and west, where it had not appeared during its prevalence at Rochester, it is now making great havoc among the Pears. Judging from its local prevalence at first, and its mode of attack, we felt convinced that it was some minute insect that stung the tree, and infused a virulent poison into its circulating fluids; but no insect has ever been discovered, to which it can reasonably be attributed; and a multitude of facts have from time to time been collected, which go far to show that the disease is produced by intense solar heat "scalding" the sap, or by some peculiar condition of the atmosphere, which interrupts the natural action of the cells, and produces extravasation of the sap.
The latter theory is supported, in some degree, by the fact that blight is very often observed to prevail in a moist, sultry time; and also by the fact that certain varieties in some localities are swept off by it, when others escape. A case was mentioned to us, a short time ago, by a gentleman at Lockport, in which Glout Mor-eeaus, planted alternately in rows with other varieties, were uniformly destroyed, while the others escaped. Passe Colmar and Stevens' Genesee are among varieties that we have repeatedly heard classed with those particularly liable, and Seckel and Virgalieu among those least liable to its attacks. For our own part, we have seen one variety suffer in one season and in one locality, and escape in others, so much that we do not place much weight on such cases, though they certainly should be carefully taken into account in studying this malady.
Allow me to ask you a few questions, which, if you will answer through the Horticulturist, will oblige me much.
In root-grafting, is it better to wind with waxed paper, or leave them unwound ? (1)
What is the best substance to pack grafts in for winter keeping ? I used sawdust (2)
Give me your opinion of nursery tree roots for root-grafting. I put out 10,000, and did not get over 8,000. The ground is low, and clay subsoil, but will raise good corn. (8)
What course should I take to raise the Mountain Ash ? (1)
(1) Winding with waxed paper keeps the graft in its place, - a matter of some importance.
(2) We keep them in sand - sawdust will do very well.
(8) We can recommend nothing but the roots of healthy seedlings one or two yean old, and then to use the whole root, setting the graft on the collar.
(4) Wash out the seed and mix it with earth, and let it lay for a year, before sowing.
(5) The Manetti, and the common Michigan are both good stocks; as a general thing we prefer.
Mr. Euan's views (given in another part of this number,) and our own, on the subject of pear blight, are substantially the same, and we therefore look to Prof. Turner for further proofs of the insect origin of the disease. Any one who will compare the health and hardiness of the pear tree on the eastern shore of Maryland - where the climate is extremely uniform as compared with the western states, will find satisfactory reasons for the great prevalence of blight at the west - a country with over fertile soil and the greatest extremes of temperature.
Our own opinion, expressed before, is that the pear tree will never he thoroughly acclimated in the west, till a race of eeedlinge is originated in the valley of the Mississippi - which seedlings, by the very circumstance of their origin, are as much better adapted to those rich bottoms and prairies as the Hoosiers and Buckeyes are better adapted than Yorkshire-men or the natives of Bordeaux.
This disease has been very prevalent the past year throughout the West. The varieties most subject to it have been the Flemish Beauty, Vicar of Winkfield, Louise Bonne de Jersey and Easter Beurre; White Seckel, Ott, Tysonand Stevens' Genesee, have generally escaped.
All theories of cause or cure, or prevention, have most signally failed, so far as my observation goes. Root pruning, the favorite remedy of Dr. Hull, of the Prairie Farmer, certainly has not always succeeded; neither has top pruning, as recommended on page 25 of Horticulturist. Well cultivated trees, trees that have had only moderate culture, trees grown in sod and grass, trees pruned and trees unpruned, mulched and without mulch, drained and undrained, - have all been more or less affected by the disease. So that, having no theory of my own, 1 have grown quite distrustful of all theories on the subject.
The Rural Messenger says a correspondent checked pear blight by digging down to roots of his trees and throwing a quantity of scrap iron, and covering all over.