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.
As the period for planting fruit trees will soon be here, a few words on the subject of varieties might be proper at this time; for no matter how well the ground may be prepared, how well the planting may be performed, or how well the trees are cultivated and attended to afterward, if the varieties selected are not suited to the locality or soil, the planter's expectations will be likely to be disappointed when the trees come to fruit. With regard to the varieties suited to each locality, I may Bay, after all that has been recommended by penological societies and others, there is no certain guide but experience. Hence, each one intending to plant should look in his own locality and neighborhood, and see what varieties succeed there, and plant principally of those varieties; - or if he wishes a larger variety, plant a few of those recommended by friends and others by way of experiment; if they succeed, he has gained something for himself and others; if they fail, his experience will be of value to his neighbors if not to himself.
As a case in point of planting without local experience, it was stated at the last Pomological convention in New York, by a member from a Western State, that his section had sustained great loss by planting apple trees of varieties recommended by the Pomological Society, that were chiefly of Northern or Eastern origin, naming five or six considered in the North and East as their best apples, as having foiled to do well West. An apple that has originated in a certain locality and is found to suit in quality, time of ripening and bearing properties, forces itself as it were into notice, and is extensively planted; but if the same apple had originated in another section, it would never have attained the popularity it has in its native locality, because the time of ripening, its keeping, and very likely other properties which made it valuable where it originated, would be changed. For instance, the Baldwin and New England Russet are the best and most popular apples in New England, much valued for their long keeping. Now, if they had originated in Virginia, they never would have been much planted for their keeping qualities, for they are there a fall or early winter variety.
So with those of Southern origin, as the Raul's Jennet and others; if they had originated in the North, they would not have been propagated, because they do not come to perfection there. Hence, if we want apples that will do well here, we must look principally to those varieties that belong to this section of country. Among the apples originated in Eastern Pennsylvania, and found to do well here, may be named the Townsend origin Bucks county, a good-sized striped apple, ripens late in summer; Calf Pasture, by some called Seek-no-Farther - but not the Rambo, which also goes under that name - a great bearer, and a good apple, ripens in early autumn; Cornell's Fancy, a very valuable apple, tree upright and of good growth, one of the best of its season; mid autumn; - Smith's Cider, which originated near Wrightstown, Bucks county; it was a chance seedling that came up in the woods on the property of one of the Smiths, and has for the last forty years been the most popular variety in Bucks county; an early and abundant bearer, and is well known in this section and should constitute one of the principal standard varieties in setting out an orchard here.
A friend who planted an orchard of one hundred and fifty apple trees of selected fruit, about thirty-five or forty years ago, stated that he thought the twenty trees he planted of this variety had produced one-third of all the apples that grew in the orchard since it was planted. The Fomwalder, the Princely, and the Smokehouse, also do well here. There is one variety said to have originated in Virginia, and extensively planted out West, which appears, as far as tested, to do well here; that is, Raul's Jennet or Nevcrfail; the latter name has been given from the circumstance of the tree not putting out or blossoming until eight or ten days after the general blossoming of other varieties; hence the fruit often escapes being injured by the late frosts; it is a very pro-ductive and good keeping variety; and is wry valuable in a season like the past one, when there has been nearly a total failure of apples of this variety, judging from the young trees that I have of this kind which are just coming into bearing, would have produced a crop, when all others blooming before this variety were cut off by the frost.
The Ridge Pippin and Cooper's Redling are also valuable for their late keeping.
It is better, particularly for market purposes, to plant a few varieties of good bearing trees, ripening in succession, of fair quality, than a large number of fancy kinds, which perhaps are very good, but are not reliable. What I desire in the above remarks, is, to impress it on planters not to be too much taken by foreign fruits, with long names and captivating titles, which are often pushed into notice by interested parties and tree pedlars; and overlook those of home origin which are reliable.
The labors of fruit-book writers can hardly be estimated, when we remember or acknowledge that there are over three thousand varieties of apples named and distributed; over two thousand of pears; nearly two hundred of cherries; more than that of peaches and plums; and of strawberries, untold numbers. Let us look forward with a hope that some of our Horticultural Societies will make a bold push and a first step toward checking the introduction of a new sort without some real superior merit to demand for it a place in the list of those worthy general attention.