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.
ONE of the most important efforts of the American Pomo-logical Society, has been to ascertain what varieties of fruit are suited for general cultivation, and what varieties for special localities. The list recommended for general cultivation has been objected to in some of its varieties in particular localities; and attempts were made at the late meeting of the Society in New York to .have the list corrected. The fact was admitted, that most of the varieties recommended might be objected to, in a few places in our widely extended country with its difference of soil and climate; yet as they were so generally adopted, it was thought best to let them stand at. present; still it was acknowledged that the time was coming when it would be proper and right for the Society to prepare a list for every prominent section of our country.' It was thought that the Society did not at present possess sufficient data to make such an one now, but that at some future time it wonld be able to do so, with the information it was yearly acquiring.;
There are a number of influences operating to effect the profitable growth of fruit in our varied soil and climate. Some varieties do best in a strong clay soil, particularly if of limestone origin, while others thrive best in one of more' sandy texture. Elevation has a very important bearing on temperature, as well as the vicinity of large bodies of water. It is said that the immediate vicinity of the Hudson river, the south shore of Lake Ontario and Erie, as well as the numerous lakes of western New York, are favorable places for fruit-growing, the temperature being there modified so as to be seldom injured by spring frosts. The ranges of mountains, running as they do from northern Alabama through all the states to the British possessions of Nova Scotia, seriously affect the temperature of the States through which they pass. Virginia, for example, on her southern border, can raise cotton, while on her northern mountain valleys they have to cultivate an early variety of corn, similar to what they raise in New England. The lines of equal temperature are very different fr6m the lines of latitude. It as fair to presume that the same kind of fruit would succeed in all localities where there was a similar soil, and the summer temperature was the same.
This is a view of the subject that must be looked into, before we can prepare a list that will suit any extended region of our country.
In the patent office report for 1856, is a rather lengthy article from Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian Institute, on meteorology, accompanied by a map,; showing lines of. equal temperature across this continent. These in some instances vary greatly from latitude: for instance, the line of the average summer temperature of 70° crosses Long Island, and runs north to Albany, then turns west to Buffalo, to Detroit, to Milwaukie,-then crosses the Mississipi river above the mouth of the Wisconsin, then pursuing a north-western direction to the upper branches of the Missouri, in latitude 49°, crossing the Rocky Mountains and down the Columbia river to below its main forks, then turns south down the coast nearly parallel to it, to latitude 34°, before entering the Pacific. The line of the average winter temperature of 30° crosses Long Island at about the same point, then direct to Lake Erie, then south-west to the southern line of Iowa, then to Council Bluffs, then north-west, and reaches the Pacific far north of the limits of the United States. These observations show a remarkable uniformity of temperature on the western coast, while on our eastern coast the extremes of temperature are great.
These lines, however, representing that temperature, supposes the level of tide-water, and to bring any point to its actual temperature, we must make the allowance due to elevation. This allowance is estimated at one-degree of Farenheit's scale, for every 333 feet of elevation, or 3° for 1000 feet. By knowing the elevation of any section, we can then approximate very near to its temperature.
Let us apply these principles to Virginia, and ascertain, if possible, what are her prospects for fruit-growing. This State is divided into four prominent features, as regards her physical geography. First, the tide-water region, reaching to the head of tide on her principal rivers; second, the Piedmont region, reaching to the Blue Ridge; third, the valley section, reaching from the Blue Ridge to the Alleghany Mountains; fourth section, all west to the Ohio river. In regard to fruit-growing, I propose to divide the State somewhat differently. First, to include the tide-water region, and about one-half of the Piedmont region, as being very similar in soil and elevation; second, the western half of the Piedmont region, being more elevated, and that part of the valley between the Blue Ridge and the North Mountain, or the great limestone valley. This second division includes a belt of the best farming lands in the State; third domain, to extend from the western edge of the limestone valley to the western slopes of the Alleghany mountains.
This is a high mountainous region, with narrow valleys of excellent land; fourth, all of the State west of the mountains sloping to the Ohio river.
Here, then, are four distinct divisions,with very different elevation. Very little of the first division has an elevation of 400 feet above tide. The second reaches from 400 feet to 1500 feet, leaving out the mountain ranges, which often rise from 300 to 700 feet above their immediate base; and in some instances, much higher. The Peaks of Otter are 6000 feet above tide. In the third division, the valleys in the immediate vicinity of the Potomac and James rivers may be estimated at say 700 feet above tide, and then up to 2500 feet, or perhaps near 3000 feet in some of the higher valleys. Many of these valleys are limestone land, and of excellent quality, while most of the mountains are of poor quality of soil. The fourth region slopes to the Ohio, and we might suppose it equally well adapted for fruit-growing, to similar situations of soil and elevation in other parts of the Ohio Valley.