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.
In all parts of the United States where the free growing sorts of cherries, classed under the heads of "Hearts," and "Biganreans," succeed well, the Early Black of Knight proves to be one of the very best of all the black varieties. I think it superior to the Black Tartarian in flavor, equally productive but less rapid and symmetrical in its growth. It is as good as the Black Eagle, and more productive.
It entirely supersedes the old Black Heart and several varieties of it that are in cultivation. The tree is hardy for its class, a moderate grower, forming like the Black Eagle a round regular head. The fruit, when well ripened, is nearly black, with that uneven surface which characterizes the Black Tartarian. The flesh or pulp is rather firm, deep purple, abounding in rich high flavored juice.
Knight's Early Black Cherry
Ripe here, lat. 43°, usually first week in July.; this season being late, 12th to 15th July. When I say ripe, I mean fully ripe, not half ripe, as cherries are usually picked and sold.
It is said to be, in common with the Black Eagle and Elton, a cross of Mr. Knight's, between the May Duke and Bigarrean or Yellow Spanish, but I have still doubted this. The Black Eagle and this variety are evidently from the same parents, as both trees and fruit have many common characteristics, but the Elton, as almost everybody knows, is altogether different. The tree in vigor, habit of growth, foliage, and all. The fruit in shape, color, flavor, and almost everything. My impression is that Mr. Knight, who was not infallible, any more than you or I, made a mistake here, and that the Black Eagle and Early Black were produced by a cross between the Bigarrean and Black Tartarian.
You will know by this time that the fruit growers of Western New York had a very interesting meeting at Syracuse, on the 27th and 28th days of June. The Country Gentleman, of the 10th July, contains a very good notice of the main points of proceedings.
Touching the subject of cherries, however, I find one branch of the discussion omitted; that was the best soil.
The great cherry difficulty in the West is a malady known as the Gum. Very little of it has been seen in Western New York, but the evidence adduced by cultivators at the meeting above referred to, rather proved that this disease was most prevalent in light sandy soils, and least so in strong and rather stiff gravelly loam. I think this is worthy of note as tending to show that this disease has its origin more in the soil than in climate. It agrees in the main with my own experience.
The Reine Hortense grows in favor, for although it is a moderate bearer, yet the fruit is so large, beautiful, and refreshing, having just enough acid, and the tree so hardy, belonging to the "Dukes," that it seldom fails to reward the cultivator. For the West, where only very hardy sorts can be grown, the Louis Philippe, a sort of early Morello, ripe July 10, will be found a great acquisition, I believe.
It is nearly as large as May Duke,.round deep red, acid but mild and very rich, as a kitchen and preserving fruit it is certainly first rate in its season. The Royal Duke is another noble fruit of the hardy sorts. Donna Maria, is earlier than any of these, and also valuable, of the Morello class.
The Monstreuse de Mezel is a magnificent fruit of the largest size, but an awkward tree. Governor Wood stands unrivalled among the sweet light red sorts of free growth.
Mr. Chas. Downing brought some of the great Bigarrean from West Chester half ripened, to Syracuse; they were on the branches, and gave evidence of great pro* ductiveness and size.
Mr. D. recommends it highly; he says he would have it in a small collection of six sorts. We have a bearing tree, but the crop this season was light and not promising, compared with others beside it The tree evidently wants age. I might spread this cherry gossip over several pages more, but this is enough for the present I will wily add, that cherry-trees suffered much here during the two winters last past Last winter the mercury was down to 10° or 12° below zero for many days, with a high wind blowing. A very small crop of fruit set, generally, and the trees for a long time looked ragged; for a Jong time the fruit did not promise to obtain more than half size, but the weather was favorable in June, and most varieties came fully up to the usual standard. Knight's Early Black I think finer than I ever saw it, though a week later.