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.
The past season I have fruited several Hybrid vines. Some of them have given fruit of fine flavor, and free of pulp. Several of these have been shown at different Horticultural exhibitions. As early as 1848 it was stated in print that I had planted an Isabella in a grapery, for the purpose of impregnation, with the expectation of obtaining a variety that would mature early and be an improvement upon the kinds of hardy Grapes which we already had in cultivation. At that time the seedlings, between forty and fifty in number, were growing, and presented such a marked variation of foliage, as to give good hope of success. Had this been otherwise, further trials by impregnation would have been made. Being aware of the incredulity of many, in the certainty of the origin of a seedling, particularly when it presented a great change from the parent, every means were taken to make the case certain. The parent vine was the only one at the time in the house, it being occupied with Peaches and Nectarines; part of these have since been removed and vines substituted. To be sure that bees or no external cause could effect the impregnation and thus defeat my efforts, the vine was forced in January and blossomed before vegetation commenced in the open air.
When the embryo bunch approached the time of blossoming, a few of the strongest were selected and the others, at least all near those bunches, were cut away. Before the blossoming the buds were thinned out, leaving only one fourth part of the strongest and best placed of them. As they expanded, they were constantly watched and the anthers at once cut away with sharp scissors. With a soft brush the pollen from the European kinds was applied. This was collected from a forcing house and was mixed together in a box, having been taken from Chasselas, Black Prince and Black Hamburg. When the impregnation took effect, the embryo swelled at once; when otherwise, it remained as it was. Thus I was assured that any seed obtained must produce a Hybrid vine. When the fruit ripened, the seed was collected and planted in soil which I felt certain could not have any other seed of Grapes sown accidentally. The young vines have always been under my care. I potted them and repotted them, and planted them out Those already fruited have proved black in color, all but one, and this being so remarkably early and a very sweet fine fruit, that I at once considered it an acquisition. The seedlings were exposed to the winter, after they had become somewhat grown.
The tender ones were killed out, leaving over twenty that have proved sufficiently hardy to withstand our winters, with a slight covering of straw around their roots. This Grape has been named Allen's Hybrid. It must be proved now in exposed situations before it can be fully known that it is adapted to culture in the open air in our climate.
The vines that have fruited have all been under glass, not forced however, and in a very favorable situation, fronting north of east, and shaded by large trees. It is questioned if Black Hamburgs or Chasselas would ripen in this house, There is no doubt of this Grape proving a valuable one for early forcing and the cold grapery. It has been questioned that this is the origin of this variety, and the fact that a white Grape can be produced from a black Grape denied.
It is said that a seed of some European variety moat hare been in the soil and produced this vine. I cannot deny that this may be the fact I do not think so, however, and the foliage shows every indication of a Hybrid. N. Lonvgworth, Esq., of Cincinnati, has raised white seedlings from our natives, and a fine white from the Catawba. He thinks so at least; the doubters probably will say in his ease, also, that he is deceived. The foliage of American kinds is so unlike the European, that the charge of a Chasselas or Sweetwater seed having been in the soil, can not apply in his case.
It will require two or three seasons yet before those Hybrid seedlings will be so tested as to warrant their introduction into cultivation in the open air.
If you consider these remarks relative to Grapes to be of any public value, you can make what use you please of them. Respectfully Yours, John Fisk Allen.