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.
Mr. Down-iso - Dear Sir: We have had an unusual cold winter here, destroying every peach bud west of the mountains. As far as I can learn, the crop is entirely destroyed in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky and Tennesse. The fall season was very mild, having no cold weather till the 22d and 23d of December, two very cold days, thermometer down to eight degrees below zero, lower by two degrees, than I have seen it for 18 years past. On examining peach buds they were not injured; we hadanoth-er cold interval on the 12th and 13th of January, but not so cold j no buds were hurt, but the next fall of temperature, on Monday the 19tb, brought intense cold. At daylight on the morning of the 20th of January, the thermometer stood at 18 degrees below zero, but I supposed it had been much colder through the night, which killed every peach blossom bud, not leaving one, and nearly all the heart cherry blossom buds and fine plums are destroyed, except a few kinds - Damsons which are not hurt, nor Morello cherries; it has been stated by close observers, that the germ of the peach blossom buds would perish at 14 degrees below zero.
I never believed it before this winter, as I knew peaches were raised north where the thermometer frequently went down to 80 degrees below zero; but I now suspect whenever the thermometer went below 12° or 18° below zero, the buds were killed. I don't suppose it would be of any benefit to us, but it would be a satisfaction for us to know, precisely what degrees of cold the peach bud will stand. By collecting some facts, we might ascertain, very nearly, the degree of cold peach buds will bear. I think if you would collect all the facts you can, and publish an article in the May or June number of the Horticulturist, I feel very confident it would be interesting and valuable. The peaches west of the mountains, and north of 87 degrees latitude, are all destroyed. If you would make a memorandum of the range of the thermometer of the different places, and next summer compare the thermometer, and places where peaches bear, we may ascertain very nearly what degree of cold they will stand. I give you the lowest fall of thermometer as far as I know:
Cincinnati and southern Ohio,....
City Of Washington,.....
The above was all on the morning of the 20th January, at daylight. The buds were in perfectly good condition to stand the lowest point of depression of the thermometer, as the fall and winter had been very dry, and the wood was perfectly matured; at the time of extreme cold, there was no sleet on the buds, and had been no thaw to excite the sap.
A few days since I learnt from a friend in my neighborhood, that it was much colder on Mon-day night, January 19th, than I had supposed; this gentleman was a distiller, and was up through the night watching his pipes from free zing, and found the thermometer down to 21 degrees below zero, between one and two o'clock in the morning of the 20th January, and had risen to 13° below zero at daylight, which exactly corresponded with my own; it is thought the coldest weather ever known in this country.
I should like to see some information in the Horticulturist, in regard to the effects of the winter on fruit buds east of the mountains, in New-Jersey, and "Western New-York. It would be very interesting to all persons interested in fruit culture, to see a statement in the Horticulturist, of the lowest degree of thermometer, from various parts of the country.
Such information might be easily obtained of each subscriber of the Horticulturist, by giving notice of such request in the next number, post-paid. It would certainly be quite interesting to the readers of your valuable Journal:
Cherries of the fine kinds, will not stand this climate, unless the body of the tree is protected with straw, to keep the sun from the tree. A board should be set on the south side of the stems in summer, and well wrapped round the body in winter. With this care they do finely; otherwise, it is better not to plant. The only kinds, out of some 60 varieties I have, that are not killed in the bud, are the following: - May-duke, Belle de Choisy, Late Duke, Black Eagle, and Holman's Duke. The latter is one of the hardiest, fruit and trees, I have - earlier and finer than Mayduke - bears abundantly, and is excellent.
The buds of our fine Plums are generally killed, except the following: - Peach Plum, unhurt, stands this climate first rate. Corse's Notabene, as hardy as a Damson, and very fine. Sharp's Emperor, Downton, Imperatrice, Bleeker's Yellow Gage; Coe's Golden Drop stands any degree of frost here - and the Jefferson, too, which is altogether one of our very finest plums. I think the apples and pears are not injured as yet. The weather is as balmy as May, to-day; frost all out of the ground, and quite spring-like. Yours respectfully, Joseph Claer. Lewis, Brown Co., Ohio, Feb. 28,1852.
The state of Ohio seems to have suffered more from the excessive cold of the past extremely "hard" winter, than any part of the country. The peach crop here is wholly destroyed in some places - but has quite escaped in others. Wherever the thermometer has fallen 12° below zero, the germ peach bud is destroyed - but, as usual, the orchards on the hills have escaped, while those in the valleys have suffered.
We shall be glad to have accounts from all parts of the country, of the precise effects of the past winter - admitted, we believe, to be the most severe for 40 years. It will be interesting to ascertain what plants and trees have suffered most; what have been destroyed; and the soils and sites that have best preserved the trees, Sec., growing on them. It is singular, that young trees in the nurseries have suffered far less from the effects of the cold, the past winter, than they did from the freezing and thawing of the previous one - though a mild winter. Antwerp Raspberries, after being killed by a mild winter, appear perfectly uninjured, where they have been left without covering, in our garden.