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.
It is but a few years since our people became disabused of the idea that the pear, apple, and some other fruits, could not be successfully raised in the more southern States; yet, notwithstanding this once prevalent opinion, few of the Northern States can boast of a better or larger variety than Georgia. We now have over one hundred varieties of choice, and some of them superb, Southern seedling apples, whose character has become established and well known. Many of these were originated by the Cherokee and Creek Indians, who, it appears, were entirely ignorant of the process of propagating by grafting, but depended upon the sowing of seeds, which were collected in their intercourse with the whites. When the Indians left the country, their lands were occupied by our citizens, and since the enthusiasm for cultivating fruit has become awakened within the past ten years, these desirable varieties have been made public.
Amongst our best winter apples are the Equinetely, Tillaquah, or Big Fruit, Chestoa, or Rabbit's Head, Elarkee, and Cullawhee, all of Indian origin - the latter the largest apple known. Then we have Nickajack, Camak's Winter Sweet, Hoover, and Yahoola, with a host of quite modern date. Equinetely, Tillaquah, Nickajack, and Camak's Sweet, stand unrivalled in size, beauty, flavor, and keeping qualities. Being familiar with the best Northern varieties, such as Esopus, Spitzenberg, Newtown Pippin, Baldwin's Tandervere, and others, we do not hesitate in placing the before-mentioned Southern varieties superior to them in all respects. Amongst our summer and autumn varieties, the Julien, Batchellar, and Dichasoon, stand pre-eminent.
Pears, so far as tested, maintain as high a character for excellence here as in any of the Northern States or Europe. We have a number of Southern seedling varieties with excellent characters, bat not having fruited them myself, will forbear giving an opinion nntil I have done so.
The peach is almost indigenous to our country, springing up by thousands in fence corners and hedgerows, and having no diseases here except the attacks of the borer, who, however, does but little injury, as the trees generally grow so vigorously that he cannot kill them; for while he is eating on one side, the tree is gaining on him on the other.
The " yellows" is unknown in the Southern States. I have been a resident of Georgia some eighteen years, and never saw a single case of it, and presume it does not exist here at all.
Tour Northern peaches will not compare favorably with the same kinds grown here; besides, we have many excellent native varieties unknown at the North and West. Our negroes, I think, would hardly eat your peaches, for they eat none poorer than Early Crawfords or Late Admirables. I have little doubt it would be to the interest of your large cultivators of this fruit to procure their trees from the South, as they would prove to be more durable and healthy than those raised at the North.
So far as we have learned from our correspondents, there appears to be a peculiarity attaching to our Southern apple-trees which we were not prepared to expect, which is, that they withstand the severe cold of the North better than the Northern varieties. This fact has been communicated to us from the northern portions of Indiana and Kentucky: that while the Southern varieties escaped injury by freezing, Northern trees were cut down by it. Should this property prove uniform under further experience, it will be a somewhat difficult phenomenon to account for.
With all our advantages of climate and soil to the successful cultivation of all the fruits, we have a serious drawback, which is the universal prevalence of insects which prey upon them. We have ten where yon have one. Curculio, corpocapsi, and other fruit eaters, swarm here, and from whose ravages it is difficult to rid ourselves; not these alone, but, in years when peaches are abundant, the honeybees take to eating them by thousands, on the juice of which they get drunk, and, like human rowdies, do no work as long as their spree lasts, which is as long as they can find peaches to eat. Whether this is caused by the prussic acid they contain, or by alcohol, I do not know; probably, however, by the latter, for so soon as they have eaten a hole in a peach, fermentation commences. The consequence is, that when we have an abundant peach crop, we get but little honey, for drunken bees are like drunken men; they stagger about, make a great fuss, and do nothing.