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 the Horticulturist of August, in a paper upon hybridising and kindred matters, Mr. Jacob Moore, of Rochester, N. Y., thinks the strange specimen of fruit from Mr. Arnold, described in the Gardener's Monthly of February last, as an apparent hybrid between the apple and pear, could not have been produced by the influence of apple-pollen fertilizing the blossoms of the pear. It seems to me, if we admit the fact that such a fruit was produced upon a pear tree, differing entirely from its natural fruit, and which " much more resembled apples and pears, both in flavor and appearance," and though it had seeds like the pear, had "apple pulp most undoubtedly," we shall be very much at a loss to account for it upon any other supposition than that it was produced by cross-fertilization from pollen of the apple.
Though I have been engaged in hybridizing and crossing grapes and other fruits, flowers and vegetables for many years, I have never tried to cross-breed the pear and apple, nor have 1 seen any indication that it was practicable; but I have noted several instances where the pollen of fruits and vegetables, especially corn, apparently influenced the products of the same year they were fertilised. I well know, however, that this is not the usual condition, and fully recognise such cases as abnormal, or as variations or " sports " familiar to most florists and horticulturists.
The first fact bearing upon this subject which came under my personal observation, was the following Two apple trees standing near each other, bore fruit entirely dissimilar. One was bright red and oblong-conic or pointed in shape; the other oblate or flattened, greenish yellow, with no shade of red. Upon one of the small upper branches of the red apple tree, within the space of eighteen inches, there grew some half dozen of the small yellow apples, oblate in form, and in all respects like those of the other tree. Upon either side of them, both next the tree, and at the end of the branch were the red apples, of their natural form and color. My first impression was that this limb had been budded or grafted; but the most careful examination gave no such indication. And if so, a double operation would have been required: first, the yellow apple scion, and this afterwards regrafted with the red Possible, certainly, but I think not without 4eaving marks or traces of the process, as the limb where this strange freak occurred was only about half an inch in diameter.
A subsequent occurrence impressed me at the time as affording at least presumptive evidence of the direct influence of foreign pollen upon the fruits of the same year. A cluster of the Logan grape which I had hybridized with pollen from the Black Hamburgh, had larger berries, and colored earlier than the others upon the vine. When they seemed well matured, I gave this bunch to a little invalid son, telling him to eat the grapes, but save me the seeds. He ate them with great relish, saying they were very nice. A week later, when the remaining clusters seemed fully ripe he asked for more of them ; but these he pronounced sour and distasteful, and not at all like the others. Nor could I induce him to eat any more from that vine, as he persisted that they were wholly unlike the first, or hybridized bunch. I am, however, compelled to say I have not since been able to verify this impression by observations of my own.
Mr. Moore also does not believe corn will under any circumstances mix, so as to produce apparent change the same year. As to the corn, I am obliged to confess myself somewhat "mixed ;" but I feel quite prepared to take either, or both sides of that question, as the following experience will show:
I have been for several years endeavoring to produce a sweet, or sugar corn earlier, and with larger ears and larger grains than any of the early sorts heretofore grown. To this end I first planted the earliest kind of sweet corn I could procure; when this was a few inches high, I planted an extra early small white variety known as "Early Garden Corn," beside it. Upon the ripening of this corn, I certainly found, in the first year, many grains of the sweet corn mixed upon the ears of the small white variety. These grains I carefully saved, and the following year planted them in a row adjoining the "Early Garden," but at the same date. They apparently matured at the same time, and both were mixed. The ears of the sugar corn had a few of the hard, white grains of the garden corn; and the latter, in the row nearest it had also some grains of the sugar corn, though each mainly retained its distinctive character.
The grains and ears of both these kinds were quite small, and wishing to make an improvement in these respects, the next year I planted the "Farmers' Club," a medium early sugar corn of excellent quality, having very large grains ; and when it had grown about a foot high, planted near it a few grains selected from the earliest of my small sweet corn. This I watched very closely, and as soon as the tassels appeared, and before any pollen was formed, they were cut clean out from every stalk. When the silk afterward appeared it was carefully dusted with the tassels from the Farmers' Club corn. When the ears thus fertilized were matured, the size of the grains, and whole appearance was precisely that of the Farmers' Club, and quite unlike the small variety planted. It could not have been previously impregnated with the Farmers' Club corn, for this was the first I had grown, and in the first year of its introduction.
This corn was planted the next season, and the result was truly gratifying. No vestige of the "Early Garden Corn" was apparent; but instead, a very early true sugar corn, ready for the table just seventy days from planting, with large, full ears, large grains and very small eob, and with one exception entirely unmixed.
The exception above alluded to, is a puzzler. This corn was selected and planted with my own hands, and none but the largest and most perfect grains of true sugar corn were used; and no other corn grew near it. During its growth, however, I observed one stalk much stronger and taller than the rest, also considerably later. From this stalk I carefully cut the tassels before pollen had formed, and upon the appearance of the silk carefully dusted it with pollen from the surrounding tassels of unquestionable sweet corn. My surprise, and I may also add disgust, may be imagined, when I found the result to be an ear of the most common yellow field corn, pure and unadulterated; not a sweet corn grain upon it! I intended to have planted this yellow corn and noted the results the present season, but in the multiplicity of other occupations neglected it. I still expect to do so another year, as I have carefully saved it.
The character of the early sugar corn produced as above described seems permanent. I tested it the present season with Brills' early, and extra early from Bliss & Sons, and am happy to say it came out triumphant a week to ten days ahead of all.
Delaware, Ohio. George W. Campbell.