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 of late been perusing the horticulturist, which to me is very interesting. Among other things that particularly attracted my attention, was a notice of fruit buds being destroyed by the extreme cold weather of the past winter. It has frequently been asserted that 12 degrees below zero destroys peaches and some other fine fruit. As I have had some experience in fruit raising for twenty years past, I have had an opportunity of making some observations to my own satisfaction, and as you have requested notice from different parts of the country, respecting the prospect of fruit, I send you some facts from this section. Although I have to refer to other persons to determine the state of the weather, still I have reason to believe the statements correct. The thermometer records a number of days the past winter, ranging from 14 to 26 degrees below zero. Now does that degree of cold kill the fruit? Nature answers the question. The spring with us Is quite hack-ward, but it gives us full evidence that there shall be no failure in the promise of regular seed time and harvest. Though the elements may yet prove destructive, the prospect is promising. Peaches, plums, and cherries, are now coming out, clothed with their pink and white, even to the covering of their branches.
Does this look like their being frozen to death - other proofs we have, last year 1850 and 51, the cold ranged from 18 to 27 below zero and there has not been so large a crop of peaches for eight years; plums were mostly destroyed by the curculio, cherries quite plenty. I have some 125 pouch trees, set last season, one year from the bud, quite a share of them are now filled with blossoms; and plums, from six to eight feet high, are clothed In bloom. I have some dwarf pears standing from two and a half to three feet high, set for a dozen fruit each - so much for our prospects in this cold region.
I raise all my fruit trees, perhaps I may at some leisure moment send you my manner of cultivation. Charles Smith. Shelburns, Franklin co., Mass., May 24, 1662.
[The irregular effects of the winter are very difficult to understand. It has been supposed that 12° below zero in variably killed the blos som buds - but there are many examples the post winter of their surviving a greater cold un-injnred - -while In some portions of the country they were quite destroyed with less cold. Probably more depends on the thawing after the severe frost than on the cold itself. Ed].