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|Part I. Fruit Growing
Depth of Soil for Fruit.
Would four feet of good loose soil be enough for lemons?
Four feet of good soil, providing the underlying strata are not charged with alkali, would give you a good growth of lemon trees if moisture was regularly present in about the right quantity, neither too much nor too little, and the temperature conditions were favorable to the success of this tree, which will not stand as much frost as the orange.
Temperatures for Citrus Fruits.
What is the lowest temperature at which grapefruit and lemons will succeed?
The grapefruit tree is about as hardy as the orange; the lemon is much more tender. The fruit of citrus trees will be injured by temperature at the ordinary freezing point if continued for some little time, and the tree itself is likely to be injured by a temperature of 25 or 27° if continued for a few hours. The matter of duration of a low temperature is perhaps quite as important as the degree which is actually reached by the thermometer. The condition of the tree as to being dormant or active also affects injury by freezing temperatures. Under certain conditions an orange tree may survive a temperature of 15° Fahrenheit.
Roots for Fruit Trees.
I wish to bud from certain trees that nurseries probably do not carry, as they came from a seedling. Is there more than one variety of myrobalan used, and if so, is one as good as another? If I take sprouts that come up where the roots have been cut, will they make good trees? I have tried a few, now three years old, and the trees are doing nicely so far, but the roots sprout up where cut. I am informed that if I can raise them from slips they will not sprout up from the root. Will apricots and peaches grafted or budded on myrobalan produce fruit as large as they will if grafted on their own stock?
Experience seems to be clear that from sprouts you will get sprouts. We prefer rooted cuttings to sprouts, but even these are abandoned for seedling roots of the common deciduous fruits and of citrus fruits also. The apricot does well enough on the myrobalan if the soil needs that root; they are usually larger on the peach root or on apricot seedlings. The peach is no longer worked on the myrobalan in this State. One seedling of the cherry plum is about as good a myrobalan as another.
What Will the Sucker Be?
I have a Japanese plum tree which bears choice plums. Three years ago a strong young shoot came up from the root of it, which I dug out and planted. Will it make a bearing tree in time and be of like quality with the parent?
It will certainly bear something when it gets ready. Whether it will be like the parent tree depends upon the wood from which the sucker broke out. If the young tree was budded very low, or if it was planted low, or if the ground has been shifted so as to bring the wood above the bud in a place to root a sucker, the fruit will be that of the parent tree. If the shoot came from the root below the bud, you will get a duplication of whatever stock the plum was budded on in the nursery. It might be a peach or an almond or a cherry plum. Of course you can study the foliage and wood growth of the sucker, and thus get an idea of what you may expect.
Tree Planting on Coast Sands.
I wish to plant fruit trees on a sandy mesa well protected from winds about a mile from the coast. The soil is a light sandy loam. I intend to dig the holes for the trees this fall, each hole the shape of an inverted cone, about 4 feet deep and 5 feet across, and put a half-load of rotten stable manure in each hole this fall. The winter's rains would wash a large amount of plant food from this manure into the ground. In March I propose to plant the trees, shoveling the surrounding soil on top of the manure and giving a copious watering to ensure the compact settling of the soil about and below the roots. The roots would be about a foot above the manure.
On such a light sandy soil you can use stable manure more safely than you could elsewhere, providing you have water handy to use if you should happen to get too much coarse matter under the tree, which would cause drying out of the soil. If you do get plenty of water to guard against this danger, you are likely to use too much and cause the trees to grow too fast. Be very sure the manure is well rotted and use one load to ten holes instead of two. Whether you kill the trees or cause them to grow aright depends upon how you use water after planting.
A Wrong Idea of Inter-Planting.
What forage plant can I grow in a newly planted orchard? The soil is on a gently inclined hillside - red, decomposed rock, very deep, mellow, fluffy, and light, and deep down is clayish in character. It cannot be irrigated, therefore I wish to put out a drought-resisting plant which could be harvested, say, in June or July, or even later. I find the following plants, but I cannot decide which one is the best: Yellow soja bean, speltz, Egyptian corn, Jerusalem corn, yellow Milo maize, or one of the millets. What do you think?
Do not think for a moment about planting any such plant between orchard trees which are to subsist on rainfall without irrigation. Your trees will have difficulty enough in making satisfactory growth on rainfall, and would be prevented from doing so if they had to divide the soil moisture with crops planted between them. The light, deep soils which you mention, resulting from decomposed rock, are not retentive enough, and, even with the large rainfall of your region, may require irrigation to carry trees through the latter summer and early fall growth.
What Slopes for Fruit?
I want to plant some apples and berries. One man says plant them on the east or south slope of the hill and they will be ripe early. Another man says not to do that, for when the sun hits the trees or vines in the morning before the frost is off, it will kill all the blossoms, and as they would be on the warm side of the hill they would blossom earlier and there will be more frosts to injure them. I am told to plant them on the north or west side of the hill, where it is cold, and they will blossom later and will therefore have less frosts to bother them, and the frost will be almost off before the sun hits them in the morning.
Fruit is grown on all slopes in our foothills, depending on local conditions. On the whole, we should choose the east and north slopes rather than the east and south, because there is less danger of injury from too great heat. In some cases what is said to you about the less danger of injury from frosts on the north and west slopes would be true. All these things depend upon local conditions, because there is so much difference in heat and frost and similar slopes at different elevations and exposures. There can never be a general rule for it in a State so endowed with varying conditions as California is.
Trees Over Underflow.
I have planted fruit trees near the creek, where they do not have to be irrigated as the ground there holds sufficient moisture for them, but a neighbor tells me that on account of the moisture being so near the surface the trees will not bear fruit well, although they will grow and have all the appearances of health.
Shallow soil above standing water is not good for fruit trees. A shallow soil over moving water or underflow, such as you might expect from a creek bank, is better. The effect of water near the surface depends also upon the character of the soil, being far more dangerous in the case of a heavy clay soil than in the case of a light loam, through which water moves more readily and does not rise so far or so rapidly by capillary action. If the trees are thrifty they will bear when they attain a sufficient age and stop the riotous growth which is characteristic of young trees with abundant moisture. If trees have too much water for their health, it will be manifested by the rotting of their roots, the dying of their branches, the cropping out of mushroom fungi at the base and other manifestations of distress. So long as the tree is growing well, maintains good foliage to the tip of the branches and is otherwise apparently strong, it may be expected to bear fruit in due time.
The "June Drop."
I am sending four peaches which are falling off the trees. Can you tell me how to prevent falling of the fruit next year and what causes it?
It is impossible to tell from the peaches which you send what caused their falling. Where fruit passes the pollination stage successfully, as these fruits have, the dropping is generally attributed to some conditions affecting the growth of the tree, which never have been fully determined. It is of such frequent occurrence that it is called the June drop, and it usually takes place in May in California. As the cause is not understood no rational preventive has been reached. A general treatment which consists in keeping the trees in good growing condition late enough during the previous season, that is, by seeing to it that they do not suffer from lack of moisture which causes them to close their growing season too soon before preparation for the following year's crop is made, is probably the best way to strengthen the tree for its burden.
Trees Over a Gravel Streak.
I have an apricot orchard seven years old. Most of the land is a fairly heavy clay with a strip of gravel in the middle running nearly north and south. The trees on the clay bear good crops, but those on the gravel are usually much lighter in bearing and this year had a very light crop. Can you tell me of anything I can do to make them bear? The trees are large and healthy looking, and grow big crops of brush.
We should try some water in July on the gravel streak, hoping to continue activity in the tree later to induce formation of strong fruit for the following year. On the clay loam the soil does this by its superior retentiveness.
Fruit and Overflow.
I have 16 acres of rich bottom-land that overflows and is under water from 24 to 48 hours. I would like to set the ground to fruit trees, either prunes, pears, apricots, or peaches. Would it be safe to set them on such land?
Fruit trees will endure overflowing, providing the water does not exclude the air too long and providing the soil is free enough so that the soil does not remain full of water after the surface flow disappears. If the soil does not naturally drain itself and the water is forced to escape by surface evaporation, probably the situation is not satisfactory for any kind of fruit trees. Overflow is more likely to be dangerous to fruit trees during the growing season than during the dormant season, and yet on well-drained soil even a small overflow may not be injurious on a free soil, if not continued too long. Prunes on plum root, and pears will endure wet soil better than apricots or peaches.
Fruit Trees and Sunburn.
How long is it wise to leave protection around young fruit trees set out in March in this hot valley? The trees are doing well, but we could not tell when to take away protection.
It is necessary to maintain the protection from sunburn all through the autumn, for the autumn sun is often very hot, and as the sap flow lessens, the danger of burning is apparently greater. The bark also must be protected against the spring sunshine, even before the leaves appear. So long as the sun has a chance at the bark, you must protect it from sunburn.
Replanting in Orchard.
Is it considered a good plan to set the tree at once in the place where one has died, or is it better to wait a year before replacing?
It is not necessary to wait a year in making a replanting. Get out all the old roots you can by digging a large hole, fill in with fresh soil, and your tree will accept the situation.
Whole Roots or Piece Roots.
For commercial apple orchards which is preferable, trees grafted on piece roots or on whole roots? On behalf of the piece-root trees it is claimed they sprout up less around the tree. On the other hand, it is claimed they never make a vigorous tree. What is the truth?
Value depends rather upon what sort of a growth the tree makes afterward than upon what it starts upon. Theoretically perhaps a whole-root tree may be demonstrated to be better; practically, we cannot see that it becomes so necessarily, because we have trees planted at a time when the root graft on a piece was the general rule in propagation. After all, is it not more important to have soil conditions and culture of such character that a great root can grow in the orchard than to have a whole nursery concentrated in the root of the yearling tree? As for the claim that a root graft on a piece-root never makes a vigorous tree, we know that is nonsense.
Planting Deciduous Fruit Trees.
In order to gain time, I have thought of planting apples and pears this fall, in the belief I would be just that much nearer a crop, than though I waited until next spring. The land is sandy loam; no irrigation. Would you advise fall or spring planting? If fall, would it be best to plow the land now, turning in the stubble from hay crop, or wait until time to plant before plowing?
You will not be any nearer a crop, for next summer's growth will be the first in either case. On land not liable to be too wet in winter, it is, however, best to plant early, say during the month of December, if the ground is in good condition and sufficiently moist. If the year's rainfall has been scant, wait until the land is well wet down, for it is never desirable to plant when the soil is not in the right condition, no matter what the calendar may say. On a sandy loam early planting is nearly always safe and desirable. On lands which are too wet and liable to be rendered very cold by the heavy January rains, planting had better be deferred until February, or as soon as the ground gets in good condition after these heavy rains. Whenever you plant, it will be desirable to plow the land either in advance of the rains, if it is workable, or as soon as rain enough comes to make it break up well. It is very seldom desirable to postpone plowing until the actual time of planting comes.
Budding Fruit Trees.
Is it better to bud in old bark of an old tree or in younger wood bark? How do you separate old bark without breaking it in lifting the bark?
Buds may be placed in old bark of fruit trees to a certain extent. The orange and the olive work better that way than do the deciduous trees, although buds in old bark of the peach have done well. They should, however, be inserted early in the season while the sap flow is active and the old bark capable of lifting; if the bark sticks, do not try budding. In spite of these facts, nearly all budding of deciduous trees is done in bark of the current year's growth.
Starting Fruit Trees from Seed.
How shall I start, and when, the following seeds: Peach, plums, apricots, walnuts, olives and cherries? In the East we used to plant them in the fall, so as to have them freeze; as it does not freeze enough here, what do I have to do?
Do just the same. In California, heat and moisture cause the parting of the seed-cover, more slowly perhaps, but just as surely as the frost at the East. Early planting of all fruit pits and nuts is desirable for two reasons. First, it prevents too great drying and hardening and other changes in the seed, because the soil moisture prevents it; second, it gives plenty of time for the opening and germination first mentioned. But early planting must be in ground which is loamy and light rather than heavy, because if the soil is so heavy as to become water-logged the kernel is more apt to decay than to grow. Where there is danger of this, the seed can be kept in boxes of sand, continually moist, but not wet, by use of water, and planted out, as sprouting seeds, after the coldest rains are over, say in February. Cherry and plum seeds should be kept moist after taking from the fruit; very little is usually had from dry seeds. The other fruits will stand considerable drying. Very few olives are from the seed, because of reversion to wild types - also because it is so much easier to get just the variety you want by growing trees from cuttings.
Which is the best way to send scions by mail?
Wax the ends of mature cuttings, remove the leaves and enclose in a tight tin canister with no wet packing material.
Nursery Stock in Young Orchard.
How will it do to raise, for two or three years, a lot of orange seedlings between the rows of young three-year-old orange trees? I see that a nurseryman near me has done this, and his trees are more flourishing than mine.
It can be done all right, as your own observation affirms. The superior appearance of the trees may be due to the additional water, and fertilizer probably, used to push the seedlings; possibly also to extra cultivation given them. It all depends upon what policy is observed in growing the seedlings; if something more than usual is done for their sakes, the trees may get their share and manifest it. If not, the trees will be robbed by the seedlings, and there is likely to be loss by both. There is no advantage in the mere fact that both are grown; there may be in the way they are grown. Whether there is money value in the operation or not depends upon how many undertake it.
Square or Triangular Planting.
What is your opinion on triangular planting as compared with square planting?
Planting in squares is the prevailing method. The triangular plan is not a good one when one contemplates removing trees planted as fillers. The orchard should either be planned in the square or quincunx form. In the latter case individual trees can be easily removed; in the other case rows can be removed - leaving the rows which you wish to keep equidistant from each other.
Killing Stumps by Medication.
Will boring into green stumps and inserting a handful of saltpeter kill the roots and cause the stump to readily burn up a few months later?
We have tried all kinds of prescriptions and have never killed a stump which had a mind to live. Many trees can be killed by cutting to stumps when in full growth, whether they are bored or not. Others will sprout in spite of all medicinal insertions we know of when these are placed in the inner wood of the stump. We believe a stump can be killed by sufficient contact with the inner bark layer of arsenic, bluestone, gasoline, and many other things, but it is not easy to arrange for such sufficient contact, and it would probably cost more than it would to blow or pull out the stump. One reader, however, assures us that he has killed large eucalyptus stumps by boring three holes in the stump with an inch auger, near the outer rim of the stump, placing therein a tablespoonful of potassium cyanide and saltpeter mixture (half and half), and plugging tightly. Another says: Give the stumps a liberal application of salt, say a half-inch all over the top, and let the fog and rain dissolve and soak down, and you will not have much trouble with suckers.
Planting Fruit Trees on Clearings.
We wish to plant orchard trees on land cleared this winter: manzanita and chaparral, but also some oaks and large pines and groves of small pines. We have been told that trees planted under such conditions, the ground containing the many small roots that we cannot get out, would not do well. Are the bad effects of the small roots liable to be serious; also, would lime or any other common fertilizer counteract the bad effects?
Proceed with the planting, as you are ready for it, and take the chances of root injury. It may be slight; possibly even absent. Carefully throw out all root pieces, as you dig the hole, and exclude them from the earth which you use in filling around the roots, and in the places where large trees stood, fill the holes with soil from a distance. Much depends upon how clean the clearing was. No considerable antiseptic effect could be expected from lime and the soil ought to be strong enough to grow good young trees without enrichment. The pear, fig and California black walnut are some of the most resistant among fruit-bearing trees, and these may usually be planted with safety. The cherry is the most resistant of the stone fruits. The "toadstool" disease occasionally affects young apple trees recently set out, but it is not usually serious on established trees.
Dipping Roots of Fruit Trees.
In planting an almond orchard would it be of any benefit to dip the young trees in a solution of bluestone and lime dissolved?
We doubt if it would serve any good purpose. If done at all the dip should be carefully prepared in accordance with the formula for bordeaux mixture, for excess of bluestone will kill roots. Healthy trees do not need such treatment, and we doubt if unhealthy ones can be rendered safe or desirable by it.
Preparing for Fruit Planting.
What effect will a crop of wheat have on new cleared land, to be planted in fruit trees later on?
One crop of wheat or barley will make no particular difference with the cleared land which you expect to plant to fruit later. It would be better to grow a cultivated crop like corn, potatoes, beets, squashes, etc., because this crop would require summer cultivation which would kill out many weeds or sprouts and leave your land in better shape for planting.
Depth in Planting Fruit Trees.
I have been advised to plant the bud scar above ground in a wet country. Is that right?
On ordinary good loam, plant the tree so that it will stand about the same as it did in the nursery: a little lower, perhaps, but not much. The bud scar should be a little above the surface. It is somewhat less likely to give trouble by decay in the upset tissue. If the soil is heavy and wet, plant higher, perhaps, than the nursery soil-mark, but not much. In light, sandy soil, plant lower - even from four to six inches lower - than in the nursery sometimes. In this case the budscar is below the surface, but that does not matter in a light, dry soil which does not retain moisture near the surface.
Fruit Trees in a Wet Place.
One part of my orchard is low and wet, much scale and old trees loose. Will much spraying be a cure and can I use posts to hold the old trees firm, or would you take out and put in Bartlett pears!
Spraying would kill the scale but no spraying will make a tree satisfactory in inhospitable soil. As pears will endure wet places better than apples, it would seem to be wise to make the substitution, providing the situation is not too bad for any fruit tree. In that case you can use it for a summer vegetable patch.
Cutting Back at Planting.
I have planted a lot of one-year-old cherry trees and would like to know if I should cut them down the same as the apple tree? I have also planted a lot of walnut trees. Shall I cut them off?
Yes for the cherries and no for the walnuts - although we have to admit that some planters hold for cutting back the walnuts also. If you do cut back the walnuts, let them have about twice the height of stem you give the cherries and cover the exposed pith with wax or paint.
Branching Young Fruit Trees.
It is the practice in this locality to wrap all young trees to a point 24 inches above the bud, for the purpose of protection against rabbits, to protect the bark from the sun and to prevent growth of sprouts. These wrappings are kept on indefinitely, the rule being that no sprouting is to be permitted below the 24-inch murk. Is there any virtue in this, and why is it done?
The wrapping is desirable both to protect them from rabbits and from sunburn, and either this or whitewash or some other form of protection should certainly be employed against the latter trouble. It is not desirable to have all the branches emerge at the same point, either 24 from the ground or at some lower level, as is preferable in interior situations, but branches should be distributed up and down and around the trunk so as to give a strong, well-balanced, low-headed tree. So far as wrapping interferes with the growth of shoots in this manner it is undesirable.
Coal Tar and Asphaltum on Trees.
What is the effect of coal tar or asphaltum applied to the bark of trees?
The application of coal tar to prevent the root borers of the prune which operate near the surface of the ground was found to be not injurious to the trees, although there was great apprehension that there would be. The application of asphaltum, what is known as "grade D," has been also used to some extent in the Santa Clara valley without injury. Of course, in the use of any black material, you increase the danger of sunburn, if applied to bark which is reached by the sun's rays.
Whitewashing Fruit Trees.
When is the proper time to whitewash walnut trees to prevent sun scald? How high up is it advisable to apply the wash?
Whitewash after heavy rains are over and before the sun gets very hot; near the coast see that it is on early in April; in the interior it should be in place in March. Do not wait until all the rains are over, because there is a great chance of bark-burning between rains in the spring. Whitewash the trunk and the larger limbs - wherever the sun can reach the bark; being careful to keep the surface white where the 2 o'clock sun hits it. Be particular to whitewash, or otherwise protect by "protectors" or burlap wrappings, all young trees; the young tree is more apt to be hurt than an old one, but bark seems never to get too old to burn if the sun is hot enough.
Shaping a Young Tree.
In shortening back long, slim limbs the side shoots come out, and one soon has a lot of ugly, crooked limbs to look at. There are a number of orchards here being spoiled in that way. How is this avoided?
You cannot secure a low-heading, well-shaped tree without cutting back the branches. Afterward you can improve the form by selecting shoots which are going in directions which you prefer, or you can cut back the shoots afterward to a bud which will start in the direction which you desire. In this way the progressive shaping of the tree must be pursued. If you only have a few trees and can afford the time, you can, of course, bend and tie the branches as they grow, so that they will take directions which seem to you better, but this is not practicable in orcharding on a commercial scale. There is no disadvantage in crooked branches in a fruit tree, but they should crook in desirable directions, and that is where the art in pruning comes in.
What is the best time to prune the French prune and most other trees? In Santa Clara valley they prune as soon as leaves are off; in the mountains they prune later, say in February and March, and finish after bloom is started and of course when sap is up. Which is right?
You can prune French prunes and other deciduous trees at any time during the winter that is most convenient to you. It does not make any particular difference to the tree, nor does it injure the tree at all if you should continue pruning after the bloom has started. In fact, it is better to make large cuts late in the winter, because they heal over more readily at the beginning of the growing period than at the beginning of the resting season. It is believed that early pruning may cause the tree or vine to start growth somewhat sooner and this may be undesirable in very frosty places.
How shall I make grafting wax for grafting fruit trees?
There are many "favorite prescriptions" for grafting wax. One which is now being largely used in fruit tree grafting is as follows: Resin, 5 lbs.; beeswax, 1 lb.; linseed oil, 1 pint; flour, 1 pint. The flour is added slowly and stirred in after the other ingredients have been boiled together and the liquid becomes somewhat cooler. Some substitute lampblack for flour. This wax is warmed and applied as a liquid.
Plowing in Young Orchard.
How near can I plow to two-year-old orange trees safely?
You can plow young orange orchards as close to the trees as you can approach without injuring the bark, regulating depth so as not to destroy main roots. Destruction of root fibers which have approached too near the surface is not material. It is very desirable that the soil around and near the tree be as carefully worked as possible without injury to the bark of the tree. How far that can be done by horse work and how much must be done by hand must be decided by the individual judgment of the grower.
Crops Between Fruit Trees.
What would be best to grow between fruit trees, while the trees are growing, and what to alternate each season, so as not to use up the soil without putting back into it?
Where one is bringing along a young orchard, without irrigation, it is doubtful whether it is not better policy to give the trees all the advantage of clean cultivation and ample moisture than to undertake intercropping. If you live on the place and wish to grow vegetables between the rows, the thorough cultivation to bring the vegetables along satisfactorily would help to preserve moisture enough both for the vegetables and for the trees, but this is very different from growing a field crop by ordinary methods of cultivation. Select a crop which will require summer cultivation, like corn, potatoes, squashes, and beans, and never a hay or grain crop which takes up moisture without working the soil for the greater moisture conversation which hoed crops require. In choice of hoed crops be governed by what you can use to advantage, either for house or the feeding of animals, or what you can grow that is salable with least loss of moisture in the soil. The choice is governed entirely by local conditions, except that leguminous plants - peas, beans, vetches, clovers, etc. - do take nitrogen from the atmosphere and can thus be grown with least injury and sometimes with a positive benefit to the fertility of the soil.
Regular Bearing of Fruit Trees.
How can trees be induced to bear regularly instead of bearing excessively on alternate years?
The most rational view is that in order to bear regularly the tree must be prevented from overbearing by thinning of the fruit; also that the moisture and plant-food supply must be regularly maintained, so that the tree may work along regularly and not stop bearing one year in order to accumulate vigor for a following year's crop. There is some reason to believe that some trees which seem to overbear every year can be prolonged in their profitable life and made to produce a moderate amount of fruit of large size and higher value by sharp thinning to prevent overbearing at any time. This is found clearly practicable in the cases of the apricot, peach, pear, apple, table grape, shipping plum, etc., because the added value of larger fruits is greater than the cost of removing the surplus.
Scions from Young Trees.
I have bought some one-year-old apple trees that are certified pedigree trees. Would it be practical to take the tops of these trees and graft on one-year seedlings and get the same results as from the trees I bought? Will they bear just as good, or is it necessary to take the scions from old bearing trees?
They will bear exactly the same fruit as the young trees will, but you cannot tell how good that will be until you get the fruit. The advantage of scions from bearing trees is that you know exactly what you will get, for, presumably, you have seen and approved it.
Will I do injury to my peach trees if I delay pruning until the last of February, or until the sap begins to run and the buds to swell?
It will not do any particular harm to let your peach pruning go until the buds swell or even after the leaves appear. Late pruning is not injurious, but rather more inconvenient.
Avoiding Crotches in Fruit Trees.
How can I avoid bad crotches in fruit trees?
Crotches, which means branches of equal or nearly equal size, emerging from a point at a very acute angle, should be prevented by cutting out one or both of them. The branching of a lateral at a larger angle does not form a crotch and it usually buttresses itself well on the larger branch. That is a desirable form of branching. Short distances between such branchings is desirable, because it makes a stronger and more permanently upright limb, capable of sustaining much weight of foliage and fruit. Build up the young tree by shortening in as it grows, so as to get such a strong framework.
Crotch-Splitting of Fruit Trees.
I have a young fig tree that is splitting at the crotches. I fear that when the foliage appears, with the force of the winds the limbs will split down entirely.
Perhaps you have been forcing the trees too much with water and thus secured too much foliage and weak wood. Whenever a tree is doing that, the limbs ought to be supported with bale rope tied to opposite limbs through the head, or otherwise held up, to prevent splitting. If splitting has actually occurred, the weaker limb should be cut away and the other staked if necessary until it gets strength and stiffens. If the limbs are rather large they can be drawn up and a 3/16 inch carriage bolt put through to hold both in place; but this is a poor way to make a strong tree. We should cut out all splits and do the best we could to make a tree out of what is left. Then do not make them grow so fast.
Strengthening Fruit Trees.
I have read that some trees are propped by natural braces; that is, by inter-twining two opposite branches while the tree is young, so that in time they grow together. What is your idea regarding the practicability of such an idea in a large commercial orchard?
Twining branches for the purpose indicated is frequently commended, but it seems best for the use of ingenious people with plenty of time and not many trees. To prune trees to carry their fruit so far as one can foresee, and to use props or other supports when a tree manifests need of a particular help which was not foreseen is the most rational way to handle the proposition on a large commercial scale.
Time for Pruning.
What is the proper time for pruning pear and apricot trees?
Ordinary deciduous fruit trees can be successfully pruned from the time the leaves begin to turn yellow and fall, until the new foliage is appearing in the late winter or spring.
What is the proper time for planting grape vines?
Grape vines are most successfully planted after the heavy rains and low temperatures are over and before the growth starts: This will usually be whenever the soil is in good condition, during the months of February and March.
Covering Tree Wounds.
What is the best stuff to use on wounds and large cuts on my fruit trees? I have used grafting wax, but it is expensive and not altogether satisfactory.
Amputation wounds on trees can be more successfully treated with lead and oil paint than with grafting wax. Mixed paint containing benzine would not be so good as pure lead and oil mixed for the purpose and then carefully applied as to amount so as not to run. "Asphaltum Grade D" may also be used in the same way.
Covering Sunburned Bark.
Would asphaltum do to use an sunburned bark?
Owing to the attraction of the heat by the black color, asphaltum would increase the injury by absorption of more heat. Some white coating is altogether best for sunburn injuries, because it will reflect and not absorb heat, and a durable whitewash applied as may be needed to keep the white covering intact is undoubtedly the best treatment. Where the bark has been actually removed, white paint would be superior to whitewash to keep the wood from checking while the wound was being covered laterally by the growth of new bark.
Too Much Pruning.
Same peach trees entering the third year were pruned early in the winter very severely. The pruner merely left the trunk and the three or four main laterals, the latter about one foot in length. A large proportion of these trees have not sprouted as yet, though alder and better pruned trees are all sprouted in the same vicinity. The bark is green and has considerable sap. Will the trees commence to grow?
The trees will sprout later, after they have developed latent buds into active form. The pruning probably removed all the buds of recent growth. After starting they will make irregular growth, starting too many shoots in the wrong places, etc., and considerable effort will be necessary to get well-shaped trees by selection of shoots in the right places and thinning out those which are not desirable.
For Broken Roots.
When the root of an orange or other fruit tree is exposed or brakes by the cultivator, what is the best way to treat that root?
Where a root is actually broken it is best to cut it off cleanly above the break. This will induce quick healing over and the sending out of other roots. Where there is only a bruise on one side, all the frayed edges of the wound should be cleanly cut back to sound bark, which will have a tendency to promote healing and prevent decay.
Pruning in Frosty Places.
This appears to be a frosty section. Pruners are at work continuously from the time the apricots are harvested until spring arrives. From what is said in "California Fruits?" I judge late winter pruning would be best far apricots and peaches. Am I correct?
In frosty places it is often desirable to prune rather late, because the late-pruned tree usually starts later than the early pruned, and thus may not bloom until after frost is over.
Low Growth on Fruit Trees.
Should the little twigs an the lower parts of young fruit trees be removed or shortened?
An important function which these small shoots and the foliage which they will carry perform is in the thickening of the larger branches to which they are attached and overcoming the tendency of the tree to become too tall and spindling. This can be done at any time, even to the pinching of young, soft shoots as they appear. It must be said, however, that in ordinary commercial fruit growing little attention is paid to these fine points, which are the great enjoyment of the European fruit-gardeners and are of questionable value in our standard orcharding. It is, however, a great mistake to clear away all low twigs, for such twigs bring the first fruit on young trees.
Are Tap-Roots Essential?
Is it better to plant a nut or seed or to plant a grafted root; also is it better to allow the tap-root to remain or not in event of planting a grafted root?
It does not matter at all whether the tree has its original tap-root or not. All tap-roots are more or less destroyed in transplanting and the fact that not one per cent of the walnut trees now bearing crops in California consist of trees grown from the nut itself planted in place, is sufficient demonstration to us that it is perfectly practicable to proceed with transplanting the trees. It is more important that the tree should have the right sort of soil and the right degree of moisture to grow in than that it should retain the root from which the seedling started. The removal of the tap-root does not prevent the tree from sending out one or several deep running roots which will penetrate as deeply as the soil and moisture conditions favor. This is true not only of the walnut but of other fruit trees.
Transplanting Old Trees.
Can I transplant fruit trees 2 to 3 inches through the butt, about one foot from the ground? Varieties are oranges, lemons, pears, apples and English walnuts nearly 4 inches through the butt. I wish to move them nearly a mile. What is the best way and what the best month to do the work, or are trees too large to do well if moved?
The orange and lemon will do better in transplanting than the others. Take up the trees when the soil becomes warmed by the sun after the coldest weather is over. This may be in February. Cut back the branches severely and take up the trees with a good ball of earth, using suitable lifting tackle to handle it without breaking. Settle the earth around the ball in the new place with water, and keep the soil amply moist but not wet. Whitewash all bark exposed to the sun by cutting back. You can handle the walnut the same way, but it would, however, probably get such a setback that it might be better to buy a new tree two or three years old and plant that. The apples and pears we would not try to transplant, but would rather have good new yearlings than try to coax them along. Transplanting deciduous trees should be done earlier in the winter than evergreens.
Dwarfing a Fruit Tree.
I am told that by pruning the roots of a young tree after the root system is well started (say three years old) that as a result this will produce a tree that is semi-dwarfed or practically a dwarfed fruit tree.
Yes; cutting back the roots in the winter and cutting back the new growth in the summer will have a dwarfing effect. The best way to get a dwarfed garden tree is to use a dwarfing root. You can get trees on such roots at the nurseries.
I have been growing seedlings from the pits of some extra fine peaches and plums with a view to planting them. A man near San Jose advised me that I would get good results, but since then I have met others who say that the fruit trees that spring from planted seeds yield only poor fruit.
It is the tendency of nearly all improved fruit to revert to wild types, more or less, when grown from the seed. The chances are, then, that nine-tenths or more of the seedlings which you grew for fruiting might be worthless. A few might be as good as the fruit from which you took the pits; possibly one might he better. For these reasons the growing of fruit trees from pits and seeds is only used for the purpose of getting a root from which a chosen variety may be gotten by budding and grafting.
I did a little grafting last spring, and as it was my first attempt,
about ten per cent of the scions failed to grow. Now shall I saw the
stub off lower down and try again, or bud into one of the sprouts that
have grown around the cut end? The trees are pear and cherry.
You did very well as a beginner not to lose more than one-tenth. Saw off
below and graft again. You might have budded into one of those shoots
last July, and if you fail again, bud into the new shoots next summer.
Filling Holes in Trees.
I have a number of trees that, on account of poor pruning and improper care, are decaying in the center. Many of them are hollow for a foot or more down the trunk.
Excavate all the decayed wood with a chisel or gouge or whatever cutting tool may work well and fill the cavity with Portland cement in such a way as to exclude moisture. This will prolong the life and productiveness of the trees for many years if other conditions are favorable.
Deferring Bloom of Fruit Trees.
Have any experiments ever been carried on definitely to decide what causes early blossoming of fruit trees? For instance, have adjacent trees of the same variety been treated definitely by putting a heavy mulch around one to hold the cold temperature late in the spring, leaving the other tree unmulched so the roots could warm up?
It has been definitely determined by the experiments of Professor Whidden of the Missouri Experiment Station that the swelling of the buds and starting of the foliage of fruit trees is due to the action of heat upon the aerial parts of the trees; that is, growth is not caused by increasing the temperature of the ground and cannot be retarded by cooling the ground. Experiments with the use of snow and ice under trees by which the ground has been kept at a low temperature have not prevented the activity of the tree. The only way known to retard activity is to spray the tree with whitewash so that the white color may reflect the heat and prevent the absorption of it by the bark, which is usually of a dark color and therefore suited to heat absorption. Retarding of growth is possible in this way for a period of six to ten days, which, of course, in some cases might be of value, but the lengthened dormancy is probably too small to constitute it of general value. In whitewashing, to determine what advantage there is in it in retarding growth, the tree should be thoroughly sprayed with whitewash so as to cover all the wood some time before the buds swell. In fact, it is to prevent the early swelling of the buds that the whitewashing is resorted to. It is better to make the application, therefore, a little too early than too late. A specific date cannot be given for it that would be right in all localities.
Repairing Rabbit Injuries.
Your book says in Pruning young trees for the first time, about four main branches should be left and these cut back to 10 or 12 inches. Now, where the rabbits have pruned back to 4 or 5 inches the very ones I wanted, what should be done? Some say, cut these back to the stem, allowing new shoots to start from the base of branches so removed.
Cut back to a bud near the stem, or if you do not see any, cut back near to the stem, but not near enough to remove the bark at the base of the shoot, for there are the latent buds which should give you the growth. This should be watched, and the best shoot selected from each point to make a strong branch, pinching back or removing the others.
For a Bark Wound.
What is best to do with an apricot or prune tree when it has been hit with an implement and the bark knocked off?
Cut around the bark wound with a sharp knife so as to remove all frayed edges. Cover the exposed wood with oil and lead paint to prevent cracking, and the wound will soon be covered with new bark from the sides.
Bridging Gopher Girdles.
How shall I make the bridge-graft or root-graft over the trunks of trees girdled by gophers? Has this method proved successful in saving trees three or four inches in diameter, and how is it done?
The bridging over of injury by mice by grafting has been known to be successful for decades in countries where this trouble is encountered. Undoubtedly the same plan would work in the case of all bark injuries which can be bridged. The plan is to take good well-matured shoots which are a little longer than the injury which has to be spanned, making a sloping cut on both ends, also a cut into the healthy bark above and below the injury, and slip the cut ends of the cutting into the cuts in the bark so that the ends go under the bark above and below, and the cut ends are closely connected with the growing layer of the stock. If the cutting is made a little longer than the distance to be spanned, the tendency of the cutting by straightening is to hold itself in place. When in place, the connections should he covered with wax to prevent drying out.
Soil-Binding Plant for Winter.
What would be the best to plant in an orchard on ground of a light sandy sediment which, after plowing, will move with the strong winds? I would like to plant something that will benefit the ground. The winds are the strongest from December to April. This is in the irrigated district and I need something that will make a sod during that period.
We would, in all the valleys, advise a fall irrigation (if the rains are late) and the sowing of burr clover, which when started in September will have the ground well covered by December, if you keep the moisture right to push it. Disking or plowing this under in March (or April, according to locality) will hold the sand and afterward enrich it. You can do this every year, but probably you will not need to seed it more than once.
Bananas in California.
Is there any reason why bananas would not grow and bear in the vicinity of Merced if they had plenty of water? Or would the cool nights at certain seasons keep them from bearing? Would they do better in the Imperial valley?
Bananas would suffer too severely from frost to be profitable at any point in the interior valleys of California. A plant would be killed to the ground at least every year unless under glass or other protection. There are a few places practically frostless where bananas can be grown in this State, but there is no promise in commercial production because they can be so cheaply imported from the tropics.
Carobs in California.
Will the carob tree (St. John's Bread) do well in the Sacramento valley, and is it a desirable tree for lining a driveway?
Carobs have been grown in California for thirty years or more and they will make a handsome driveway and give a lot of pods for the kids and the pigs - for they are "the husks which the swine did eat," and both like them. They ought to be much more widely planted in California because they grow well and are good to look upon.
Spineless Cactus Fruit.
I have about two acres of high land in Fresno county that can't be irrigated. It is red adobe soil and there is hardpan in it. Which kind of fruit trees will grow and pay best? How near may the hardpan be to the surface before I have to blast it?
It is a hard fruit proposition. Try spineless cactus, the fruits of which are delicious. Blasting would help if there is a moist substratum below the hardpan and might enable you to grow many fruits. If your land is hard and dry all the way down, blasting would not help you unless you can get irrigation. Presumably your rainfall is too small for fruit unless you strike underflow below the hardpan.
Cleaning Fruit Trays.
What do you advise for killing and removing the whitish mold that forms on trays used for drying prunes? Would sunning the trays be effective, or washing in hot water, or is there some suitable fungicide?
Good hot sun and dry wind will kill the mold. The spores of such a common mold are waiting everywhere, so that your fruit would mold anyway if conditions were right. Still, scalding the trays for cleanliness and a short trip through the sulphur box for fungus-killing is commended.
Killing Moss on Old Trees.
I have some Bartlett pear trees that are covered with moss and mold, and the bark is rough and checked. I have used potash (98%), 1 pound to 6 gallons spray. It kills the long moss, but the green mold it does not seem to affect. The trees have been sprayed about one week. Some trees have been sprayed with a 1 pound to 10 gallons solution by mistake. Shall I spray these again with full strength, and when?
You have done enough for the moss at present. Even the weaker solution ought to be strong enough to clean the bark. Wait and see how the bark looks when the potash gets through biting; it will keep at it for some time, taking a fresh hold probably with each new moisture supply from shower or damp air. The spray should have been shot onto the bark with considerable force - not simply sprinkled on.
I have some apple trees 10 and 12 years old that do not bear satisfactorily, but persist in making 5 to 6 feet of new wood each year. If not cut back this winter, will they be more likely to make fruit buds?
Yes, probably. Certainly you should try it. You should also cultivate less and slow down the growth. If they then take to bearing, you can resume moderate pruning and better cultivation. This is on the assumption that your trees are in too rich or too moist a place. But you should satisfy yourself by inquiry and observation as to whether the same varieties do bear well in your vicinity when conditions are such that slower growth is made. If the variety is naturally shy in bearing, or if it requires cross-pollination, the proposed repressive treatment might not avail anything. In that case you can graft over the tree to some variety which does bear well or graft part of the trees to another variety for cross-pollination.
No Apples on Quince.
How large a tree will the Yellow Bellefleur apple make if grafted or budded on quince root at the age of 15 years? I have been trying to get some information about dwarf fruit trees, but it is difficult to get.
No wonder the information is hard to get. The Yellow Bellefleur will not grow upon the quince at all, or at least not for long. In growing dwarf apples the Paradise stock is used, while the quince is used for dwarfing the pear, and many varieties of pears will accept the quince root which the apple rejects.
Stock for Apples.
Do you recommend French seedling stock as greatly to be preferred to that grown in this country?
French seedling stock is generally used because it is graded and furnished in uniform sizes; also, because it can usually be purchased for less than seedlings can be grown under our labor conditions. Locally grown apple seedlings are apt to be irregular in size and, as already stated, cost more than the properly graded imported stock.
Apples and Alfalfa.
I have recently come across a proposition to sow apple orchards in the interior of southern California with alfalfa. The apples are said to be superior and the crop heavier, to say nothing of a half or two-thirds of an alfalfa crop in addition to the crop of apples. What do you know about it? Is alfalfa being used by others in this way?
It is perfectly rational to grow alfalfa in fruit orchards if the water supply is ample for both the trees and the intercrop and the owner will not yield to the temptation to waterlog his trees for the sake of getting more alfalfa. It is even more desirable in the interior than near the coast, probably. In Arizona some growers have for a number of years practiced growing alfalfa in orchards, cutting the alfalfa without removing it, counting that clippings are worth more to them through their decay and the increase of the humus content of the soil. Even where this is not done, the alfalfa will add to the humus of the soil by its own wastes both from root and stem. The presence of an alfalfa cover reduces the danger of leaf and bark burning either by reflected or radiated heat from a smooth ground surface, and some trees are very much benefited by this protection in regions of high temperature. This might be expected to be the case with the apple, which is somewhat subject to leaf burning in our interior valleys.
In grafting over apple and pear trees to some other variety, is it advisable to cut off and graft the entire tree the first year where the trees are from 7 to 15 years old, or would it be better to cut off only a part of the top the first year and the rest the following year?
In the coast region it is a good practice to graft over the whole tree at one time, cutting, however, above the forks and not into the main stem below the forking. This gives many scions which seem able to take care of the sap successfully. In the interior valleys, it is rather better practice to leave a branch or two, cutting them out at the following winter's pruning, for probably the first year's grafts will give you branches enough. This has the effect of preventing the drowning out of the scions from too strong sap-flow. Cutting back and regrafting of old trees should be done rather early, before the most active sap-flow begins. The later in the season the grafting is done, and the warmer the locality, the more desirable it seems to be to leave a branch or two when grafting.
What is the best time to bud apples?
Apples are budded in July and August and remain dormant until the following spring.
Mildew on Apple Seedlings.
Why do young apple plants in the seed bed became mildewed? They are in a lath house.
Because too much moisture was associated with too much shade. More sunshine would have prevented mildew, and if they had enjoyed it the seedlings could have made better use of the water probably.
Young apple trees set two years ago were cut back to 14 to 18 inches and cared for as to low branching, proper spacing, etc., but the desired branches were allowed to make full growth to the present time. They have mode great growth and if allowed to continue will make too tall trees.
We understand that your trees have made two summers' growth since pruning. We should cut back to a good lateral wherever you can find one running at the right direction at about three to four feet from the last cut, and shorten the lateral more or less according to the best judgment we could form on sight of the tree. In this way you can take out the branches which are running too high and make the framework for a lower growth. Do not remove the small twigs and spurs unless you have too many such shoots.
Cutting Back Apples and Pears.
"California Fruits" says the "apple does not relish cutting back, nor is it desirable to shorten in the branches." But when a three-year-old tree gets above 12 feet high, as many of mine are doing, what are you going to do? I cut these back same last year, but up they go again with more branches than ever. The pears are getting too tall, also. Should not both apple and pear trees be kept down to about ten feet?
The quotation you make refers to old bearing trees, and indicates that their pruning is not like that of the peach, which is continually shortened in to keep plenty of new wood low down. Of course, in securing low and satisfactory branching on young apples, pears, etc., there must be cutting back, and this must be continued while you are forming the tree. If you mean that these trees are to be permanently kept at ten feet high, you should have planted trees worked on dwarfing stocks. Such a height does not allow a standard tree freedom enough for thrift; as they become older they will require from twice to thrice the altitude you assign to them, probably. Pears can be more successfully kept down than apples, but not to ten feet except as dwarfs.
Pruning Old Apple Trees.
How would you prune apple trees eight or nine years old that have not been cut back? There are a great many that have run up 20 feet high with twelve or fifteen main limbs and very few being more than two or three inches in diameter.
Remove cross branches which are interfering with others and thin out branches which seem to be crowding each other at their attachments to the trunk, by removing some of them at the starting point. Having removed these carefully so as not to knock off spurs from other branches, study the tree as it is thus somewhat opened up and see where remaining branches can be shortened to overcome the tendency to run too high. Do not shear off branches leaving a lot of stubs in the upper part of the tree, but always cut back a main branch to a lateral and shorten the lateral higher up if desirable. This will keep away from having a lot of brush in the top of the tree. Study each tree by itself for symmetry and balance of branches and proceed by judgment rather than by rules anyone can give you.
Can I graft over a few Ben Davis apple trees 25 years old or thereabouts, but thrifty and vigorous?
It is certainly possible, by the old top-grafting method which has been used everywhere with apples for centuries. Graft during the winter. Work on the limbs above the head so as to preserve the advantage of the old forking, using a cleft graft and waxing well. It is usually best to graft over a part of the limbs and the balance a year later.
Will the Apples Be the Same Kind?
I have a mixed orchard, mostly Gravensteins, and I want to graft all the other trees into a Gravenstein top if I can do so and at the same time get the early Gravenstein bloom and the fruit would be as satisfactory as though on other roots.
The new tree grown from the grafts will behave just like the tree from which the scions were taken if similarly thrifty.
Places for Apples.
What quality is it in the soil in the vicinity of Watsonville that makes that country peculiarly adapted to the culture of apples? Are there not other portions of the State where apples could be produced on a commercial basis?
It is not alone quality in the soil, but character of the climate that underlie success in the Watsonville district. Apples can be and are grown on a commercial scale through the coast district of Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties; also in suitable situations in the coast counties south of Santa Cruz county. Along the coast, as far as deep retentive soil and the cool air of the ocean extend, one may expect to get apples similar to those produced in the Watsonville district. In the interior valleys, on suitable soils with adequate moisture, early apples are profitably grown, while in the higher foothill and mountain valleys in all parts of the State, where moisture is sufficient, late keeping apples of high quality are produced.
Will summer pruning cause apple trees to bear fruit instead of growing so much new wood?
Over-growth can be repressed by summer pruning, and if done just at the right time bearing is increased and late new growth is avoided, but it is not easy to determine exactly the right time, and it has to be fixed according to local conditions of length of growing season and growth condition of the tree itself also. It is better for some varieties than others, and, in fact, has to be done wisely. A summer slashing of apple trees, simply because some one says so, is not only expensive, but may do more harm than good. Therefore, those inclined to it, should try a few trees at first and note results.
Grafting Apple Seedlings in Place.
I want to plant apple trees for home use. I have an idea to plant apple seeds instead of trees: planting three or four seeds for each hill, right in the place where I would grow the trees, and select the best one to graft on. I will take seed of Bellefleurs, which are vigorous growers. What do you think? Will the seed germinate readily and when is the right time to plant?
Select plump, well ripened seed, keep them in damp sand until the ground begins to get warm in January or February, according to location. But such an undertaking will cost you vastly more in time, in labor, and waste of land than it would to buy well-grown nursery trees budded with the variety which you desire. Such trees would give you practically a uniform lot of trees in your orchard while planting seedlings and grafting afterward would give you very irregular and for the most part unsatisfactory results - providing you get any seeds to grow at all in the open ground, which is doubtful.
Resistant Apple Roots.
A few apple trees which are almost dead from ravages of the woolly aphis. I am going to dig them out and plant in their places other apple trees on woolly aphis-proof root. Will it be necessary to use measures to exterminate the woolly aphis in the old roots or their places in the ground before planting new trees in the places of the removed trees?
It is not necessary to undertake to kill aphis in the ground when you are planting apple trees on resistant roots. It will give your trees a better start to dig large holes, throw out the old soil, and fill in with some new soil from another part of the land to be planted, but it has been demonstrated that these roots are resistant, no matter if planted in the midst of infestation.
Apples and Cherries for a Hot Place.
What kind of apple do you think would do best in a dry, hot climate? What do you think of the Early Richmond cherry in such a place?
Apples most likely to succeed in a dry situation are those which ripen their fruit very early. The Red Astrachan is on the whole the most satisfactory, but there are many places which are altogether too dry and hot for any kind of apple. Whether cherries would succeed or not you can only tell by trying. Possibly the trees would not live through the summer if your soil becomes very dry. The most hardy cherries are the sour or pie cherries and the Early Richmond is one of this group.
Die-back of Apple Trees.
What causes the death of the top shoots in apple trees?
New wood is sometimes diseased by mildew, but die-back is usually due to two different causes: One, the accumulation of water in the soil during the excessive rains of mid-winter; second, the occurrence of low temperatures, including frosts, after the sap has risen. Which of these causes operate in a certain case depends, of course, upon whether the soil was heavy and inclined to retain standing water too long, or whether there were such frosts at about the time when the leaves should start. Sometimes, of course, both of these conditions worked in the same place; sometimes one and sometimes the other, but certainly both of them are capable of causing the trouble. There seems to be no specific disease; it is rather a matter of unfavorable conditions for growth.
Storage of Apples.
We desire to store two or three thousand boxes of apples for three or four months and propose to do it in this way: Make an excavation in dry earth, putting at the bottom of the excavation straw. Upon this straw place the apples, then dry straw over the apples, and upon the top of this two or three feet of dry earth. Will it be a good plan to pour on water from time to time over the top of this to keep the apples and all wet, or should the apples be kept dry?
Putting down loose apples in a straw-lined pit would be very expensive. It would invite decay by bruising the fruit, and the result would probably be a worthless mixture of rotten fruit and straw. The fruit should be stored in boxes or shallow trays to reduce pressure and promote ventilation, and not in bins or large piles. Apples will keep for a long time in good condition if the boxes are put in piles in the shade, covered with straw, which should be slightly moistened from time to time; but in that case there would not be such an accumulation of moisture and there would be ventilation at all times. Apples should be kept dry, but they will shrivel and become unmarketable unless the air in which they are stored is kept reasonably moist. This is generally accomplished by making apple houses with double walls and roof to exclude heat and with an earth or concrete floor which can be sprinkled from time to time with a hose.
I have an old apple orchard and would like to have two or three of the best varieties positively identified, so that I can order these kinds from the nursery for next year's planting.
Old California apple orchards have many varieties no longer propagated largely. If you greatly desire to have a few trees of exactly the varieties which you are now growing, you run some risk of mistake in ordering by name, but if you make some root-grafts by taking a piece of the smaller roots of the tree, which you can dig out, say about the size of a pencil, and graft scions upon them, you can secure root-grafts for planting in nursery this year and in that way be sure to have trees of exactly the same kind. Root-grafts can be made in the winter, placed in sand which is kept moist and not wet, planted out as soon as the ground warms up, and you will get immediate and very satisfactory growth in that way.
Pruning Old Apple Trees.
I have an old orchard containing some apple trees about 40 years old - trees well shaped but with plenty of main branches and limbs all very long. The trees bear profusely in alternate years but the fruit is small. In pruning would you advise cutting out some main limbs where there are over three or four and thus making a big wood reduction (where sunburn protection can still be guarded) or would you only shorten in the branches and thin the fruit severely?
Do not remove main branches unless they are clearly too numerous or have been allowed to grow to interference with each other or have become weakened or feeble in some way. In such cases the space is worth more than the branch. If the tree has a fair framework do not disturb it in order to get down to an arbitrary limit of three or four main branches; sometimes the tree can carry more. If the tree is too thick, thin it out by removing side branches of more or less size - saving the best, judging by both vigor and position. Work through the whole top in this way until you reach the best judgment you can form of enough space and light for good interior foliage and fruit. Apple branches should seldom be shortened, and when this seems desirable, cut to a side branch and not to a stub which will make a lot of weak shoots or brush in the top of the tree.
Pruning Apple Trees.
There is a great difference of opinion here regarding the pruning of three-year or older apple trees. Many people cut back three, four and five-year-old trees half the season's growth; others only cut back six inches.
Apple trees are cut back during their early life to cause branching and to secure short distances between the larger laterals on the main branches. This secures a lower, stronger tree. Cutting back twice or three times should secure a good framework of this kind, and then the apple should not be regularly and systematically cut back as the peach and apricot are. It is not possible to prescribe definite inches, because cutting back is a matter of judgment and depends upon how thick the growth is, what its position and relation to other shoots, etc. The chief point in cutting back is to know where you wish the next laterals to come on the shortened shoot, and if you do not wish more laterals at once; do not cut back at all. Treatment, of laterals which come of themselves is another matter. Do not clip the ends of shoots unless laterals are desired. If you keep clipping the ends of apple twigs, you will get no fruit from some varieties.
Grafting Almond on Peach.
I had good success with the peach trees which I grafted to almond last spring, getting about 95 per cent of a stand, and many of the grafts now are one and one-half inches diameter. In each of the trees I left about a quarter of the branches, to keep up the growing process of the tree. The universal practice around here in grafting is to cut the whole top off the tree at the time of grafting, but the increased growth and vigor of the grafts I have has proved to me and other growers around, that much better results are obtained by leaving part of the top on the tree at the time of grafting.
You did exceedingly well with your grafting. It seems a more rational way to proceed than by a total amputation, and yet ample success is often attained by grafting for a whole new top at once.
Should the main branches be shortened in a three-year-old almond tree? Of course, I intend to thin out the branches. Some growers here advise me to shorten the main branches; others say do not shorten them, as it tends to give the trees a brushy top.
Although some growers are contending for regular shortening - in of the almond as is practiced on the peach, it is not usual to cut back almond trees after they have reached three years of age and have assumed good form. Of course, if cutting back is done, the shoots coming from near the amputation must be thinned out to prevent the brushiness your adviser properly objected to.
Budding and Grafting Almonds.
Is it better to bud or graft bitter almond seedlings of one year's growth, and, as they must be transplanted, would it be proper to do the work this season or defer it for another year's growth?
Your almond seedlings should have been budded in July or August after starting from the nut, which would have fitted them for planting in orchard the following winter as dormant buds, as they cannot stay where they are another season. Now you can transplant to nursery rows in another place: cut back and graft as the buds are swelling, allowing a good single shoot to grow from below on those which do not start the grafts into which you can bud in June, and cut back the stock to force growth as soon as the buds have taken. In this way you will get the whole stock into trees for planting out next winter. Some will be large and some small, but all will come through if planted in good soil and cared for properly. Of course, you can plant out the seedlings and graft and bud in the orchard, but it will be a lot of trouble and you will get very irregular results.
Cutting Back Almonds.
I have some nice thrifty two-year-old almond trees which I did not "top" this spring. The limbs are from about four to seven or eight feet long. Would it not be best to "top" them yet?
Cut them back to a shoot of this year's growth, removing about a third of last year's growth, perhaps. This will give you lower and better branching.
I am contemplating the planting of about five to eight acres of almonds: what variety is best to plant?
Before planting so many almonds, you should determine how satisfactory the almond is in bearing in your location. Unless you can find satisfactory demonstration of this fact, it is hazardous to plant such an acreage. On the other hand, if you find that almonds are bearing satisfactorily, the kinds which are perhaps most satisfactory to plant are Nonpareil, Texas Prolific, Ne Plus Ultra and Drake's Seedling. The Texas Prolific and Drake's Seedling are abundant bearers and profitable because of the size of the crop, although the price is lower than the soft-shelled varieties, Nonpareil and Ne Plus Ultra. These two varieties are such energetic pollinizers that they not only bear well themselves, but force the bearing of the larger varieties mentioned. Every third row in your plantation should be either Texas Prolific or Drakes' Seedlings, which would give you two-thirds of the larger varieties and one-third of the smaller. There are, of course, other soft-shelled almonds which are worth planting and are being considerably planted in localities where they do well. This you can ascertain by inquiry among local growers and nurserymen. The planting of a good proportion of active pollinizers is the most important point.
My almond trees look healthy but the fruit seems to be diseased. Is it necessary to have male and female trees, and how can one distinguish them?
The almond is monoecious and has perfect blossoms, therefore, there is no such thing as male and female trees in the case of the almond, but most of the best soft-shelled almonds are self-sterile and need cross-pollination from another variety. This is discussed elsewhere in answer to another question.
Roots for the Almond.
Which is the best root to have the almond grafted on, peach or bitter almond? The soil is sandy.
The bitter almond and the hard-shelled sweet almond are both used and we are not aware that any particular advantage has been demonstrated for either of them. The almond does well on peach roots also, but the almond is a better root where the soil conditions suit it.
Longevity of Almond and Peach.
What is difference in life of peach and almond in California?
The almond is the longer-lived, but we have seen both assuming the aspect of forest trees in abandoned pioneer places. Both are apt to live longer than their planters, if soil and moisture conditions favor.
I have been told that almond trees raised from seed, no matter what kind of seed planted, will produce bitter almonds. Is this a fact?
It is not a fact. The majority will probably be hard-shell, sweet and bitter, but others will be soft-shell, medium-shell, paper-shell, and everything else you ever heard of in the almond line. The almond has the sportiest kind of seedlings.
Do Not Plant Almonds in Place.
I have 30 acres which I intend to plant to almonds and peaches, and I thought of planting the sprouted nuts and pits where I wanted my trees, and budding the same there in orchard form. As one or two years' use of the land is not considered, what is your advice? My idea is to plant in orchard at start so as not to disturb roots, as when grown in nursery and transplanted in orchard. Would it not progress as rapidly? Would you advise budding peaches on almond roots; if not, why? My idea is that it would give a longer-lived tree.
We would do nothing of the kind. If we decided it better to grow trees than to buy them, we would grow and bud the seedlings in nursery and not in the field. Field budding is open to all kinds of injuries and growth from it, when saved from cultivation and all kinds of intruders, is irregular and uncertain. As for starting the roots from the nut in plate, it is largely a fanciful consideration. We count it no gain for the walnut which makes a tap root, and still less gainful for the almond and peach, which, usually make spreading roots. To cut off a tap root does not prevent the tree from rooting deeply if the soil is favorable. As to use of the land, you lose time by growing the seedlings in place. The peach does well on the almond root if soil conditions favor the almond. Perhaps it gives longer life to the peach, but the profitable life of the peach tree in a proper soil does not depend on the root; it depends upon the treatment of the top in pruning for renewal of branches.
Almond and Peach.
With water-table at 18 feet, which root is best for almond trees? The experience around here is that the peach root starts best. Which root is most durable? What is the life of the peach root and of the almond?
It is not merely a question of depth to water, but of character of the soil above the water. Neither of the roots will stand heavy soil which holds water too long, and both enjoy a free loam which drains readily down to the water-table or bottom water. If the soil is rather sandy, letting the water down very quickly, the almond is better in getting to it than the peach. If it is finer and still well drained the peach will do well, and the almond enjoys that also. The almond probably can be counted on to stand coarser soil and greater drouth than the peach and under such conditions will outlive the peach, probably, but both of them will live twenty to thirty years or more if pruned in the head to get enough new wood and the trunk is kept from sunburn. Aside from this choose the almond root for the almond.
Pollination of Almonds.
I have Drake's Seedling almonds. Some people have told me that I must plant some hardshell variety between them, otherwise they will not bear.
It is not necessary to plant hardshell almonds near Drake's Seedling trees in order to have them bear. Some varieties of almonds will set few nuts unless they are cross-pollinated, but these are the paper-shell varieties, as a rule - the Nonpareil, IXL and Ne Plus Ultra - and for these the Drake's Seedling or Texas Prolific is planted as a pollenizer. The highest-priced nut of all is the Nonpareil, and it is also a good bearer when in a good location and planted with Drake's or Texas Prolific.
I have leased seven acres of bearing almond trees which have the appearance of being reasonably well cared for. I notice a few trees that still have almonds on ("stick-tights"). What is the cause and remedy?
The occurrence of stick-tights is generally due to lack of moisture and thrifty growth, although some trees may be weak from some other cause and therefore deficient in sap-flow, which manifests itself in that way. Single nuts may also fall into that condition of malnutrition. We know no remedy except to keep the trees in good thrift by cultivation or by the use of irrigation if necessary.
Why do my apricot trees not bring fruit? They seem healthy and are vigorous-looking trees. Five large trees have not borne 100 pounds of fruit in three years. The trees are not over six years old.
You may have a shy-bearing kind of apricot, of which there are many, or the trees may have grown too fast to hold the fruit, or the frost or north wind may have blasted the bloom. Stop winter pruning, and summer prune to prevent excessive growth; reduce irrigation; try to convince the apricot that it is not a "green bay tree" and see what will happen.
In pruning apricots, if there should be a hollow center of a big branch in center of a seven-year-old tree, should it be cut out with summer pruning? Should heavy growing apricots be summer pruned? Would it be all right to thin out a dense growth of wood in the prune trees in September?
It is always desirable to cut below a hollow in a limb if possible. Where, however, this would necessitate cutting below the desirable laterals, the cavity may be filled with cement and thus rendered serviceable for some years. Summer pruning of the apricot is desirable if the growth is heavy and the tree has reached a bearing age. Thinning out of prune trees can be undertaken in the autumn, providing the tree has practically finished its growth, as indicated by the change in the color and pose of the leaves.
Can Royal apricots be grafted into seedling apricots? Do the scions do well? What is the best time to graft them?
The apricot is grafted readily by the ordinary cleft grafting, amputating above the forks if the tree is low-headed enough to allow you to work into the limbs instead of the trunk. Grafts will take all right in the trunk by bark grafting, but working in smaller limbs makes a stronger tree. This is for old trees and the grafting is done during the winter. Younger seedlings can be cleft or whip grafted in the stems, but it is better to bud into the young seedlings with plump buds of the current year's growth, in June, and by shortening in the seedling above the buds as soon as they have taken, get a growth on the bud in the latter half of the same growing season. In nursery practice, trees are usually made by budding in July or August into seedlings which are then growing from the seed planted the previous winter. Little seedlings from under old trees may be carefully transplanted to nursery rows in the spring and budded the same summer. Cultivated well and irrigated if necessary, they will not suffer from this transplanting.
Renewing Old Apricots.
Shall I prune back heavily a 15 to 20-year-old apricot tree which did not mature its fruit this season, I think on account of neglect? It was very poorly cultivated and not irrigated, consequently looks very sick.
Cut back all the main branches to six or eight feet from the ground, leaving on whatever small growth there may be below that height. Paint the stubs and thin out the shoots next summer to get the right number of new branches properly distributed. Whether you will get a good renewal of the head depends upon whether the sickness is in the root or not. Cut back just before the buds swell toward the end of the dormant season.
Summer Pruning of Apricots.
Is it feasible to prune five-year-old apricot trees in August? They seem in good growth and have been irrigated three times this season, though they have never been pruned very closely.
Summer pruning would be perfectly proper and advisable. Summer pruning immediately after the fruit is picked, has become much more general, and winter pruning has proportionately decreased. Young trees are winter pruned to promote low branching and short, stout limbs; bearing trees are summer pruned to promote fruit bearing and check wood growth - the excess of bearing shoots being removed by thinning during the winter.
Where do the Mahaleb and Mazzard cherries grow naturally? How large are the trees, and what kind of fruit do they bear?
The Mazzards, of which there are many, and some of them wild in the Eastern States, are counted inferior seedlings of the species avium, and are tall, large trees, the fruit being small and rather acrid and colors various. The Mahaleb is a European type with a smaller tree, fruit inferior to the Mazzards, and used as a root under soil and climatic conditions under which the Mazzard is not hardy and vigorous. Neither of the kinds are worth considering for their fruit.
I have some cherry trees that have not been pruned. They are beautiful trees, but it a requires a 24-foot ladder to get near the top limbs. The side limbs reach from tree to tree. They had a splendid crop this year. People here tell me never to prune cherry trees. One man who claims considerable experience with fruit says prune them as soon as the crop is off.
Your cherry trees should have been pruned for the first two or three years quite severely, in order to secure better branching and strength in the main branches. If this is done, and the trees come into full bearing, very little pruning has to be done afterward, except removing diseased, interfering or surplus branches, if there are too many. It is perfectly safe to cut back the trees which you now have as you have been advised to do, after the leaves have fallen or after they have begun to turn yellow. The trees can be safely topped and thinned, for the cherry accepts pruning very readily. Even considerable amounts of the tops have been cut off at fruit-picking time from trees which have been running too high, so that the fruit could be secured, and this has not injured the trees, according to our own experience and observation. Cherries can be summer-pruned to check excessive growth and to promote fruit-bearing, but as your trees have already begun to bear well, this treatment does not seem to be necessary. You should do fall and winter pruning for the shape of the trees.
Training Cherry Grafts.
I have grafted a lot of seedling cherries, leaving two or three buds on each piece of grafted wood. In planting these out, shall I put the union under ground (they are grafted at the crown of the root) and shall I loosen the cloth a little later when they start to grow? How can I get the head for the tree? Should I let only one shoot form, and when it is as high as I want it, cut it off as I would a tree gotten from a nursery?
If you have used waxed cloth in your grafting, it will be necessary to loosen it after the tree gets a good start. Common unwaxed cloth could be trusted to decay soon enough, probably, but it should be looked at to see that it is not binding. The union should not be placed much below the ground surface, although it can be safely covered, and the future stem may look the better for it. One shoot could be allowed to grow from each graft, choosing the best ones and pinching the others so that they will stop extension and hold leaves during the first season. These can be cleanly removed at the first winter pruning at the time you head back the main shoot to the proper height.
Restoring Cherry Trees.
I have about two acres of cherry trees in Sonoma county said to be about 20 years old. They are in a very neglected condition and I am desirous of putting them in good shape for next year's crop. They are in a very light sandy loam sail which is easily worked.
Cherry trees under good growing conditions and proper care are very long lived in California and bear abundant crops when thirty and more years of age. In the San Jose district and elsewhere there are orchards considerably older than the limit stated and are still very profitable. If your trees have been so neglected that the branches have died back, the trees should be pruned, of course, cutting out all dead wood and shortening weak or dying branches to a point where a good strong shoot can be found. Then a good application of farmyard manure plowed in during the rainy season, followed by summer cultivation for moisture retention. Although the cherry is very hardy, it is quite likely to suffer on light soils which become too dry. On such soils as yours there is little if any danger of too much water in the winter, unless the land lies low, but the injury to the tree comes from the lack of moisture during the summer time, and this, with your abundant rainfall, you can probably assure by thorough summer cultivation.
Renewing Cherry Trees.
We have cherry trees set out diamond shape about 16 feet apart. We cannot take out every other tree and have any order, so we ask you if it would be possible to cut the trees back and keep them pruned down to a smaller size. The trees are about 20 years old and are dying back quite badly.
If the trees are dying for lack of summer moisture it is idle to do much for them until you can give them irrigation right after the fruit ripens. The cherry tree takes kindly to cutting back and will give good new fruit-bearing shoots if the roots are in good condition. It is desirable to remove surplus branches entirely rather than to cut back everything to a definite height, the branches to be removed being those which show disposition to die back and those which are running out too far so as to reduce the space between the trees or to interfere with branches from other trees. Branches which are failing above can in some cases be cut back to a strong thrifty lateral branch below. Shortening-in branches high up is less desirable because it forces out too much new growth in the top of the tree and carries the fruit so high that picking would be expensive. All cuts of any size should be painted to prevent the wood from checking.
I have cherry trees in their third season which have been given the usual winter pruning. The trees are putting forth a great many more branches than are required, and naturally many of the branches are growing across the tree. In cutting these extra branches, I am informed that there is a way to trim them so that they will eventually form fruit spurs. I had an idea that in order to do this it would be well to cut about one inch from the main branch. Some one has told me that this would merely cause the little branch to sprout again.
Cherry shoots which are not required or desired for branch-forming can be transferred into fruit spurs, if the tree is of bearing age, by shortening them in. Do not, however, cut at an arbitrary distance of one inch from the starting point, but rather save one or two buds at whatever distance from the starting point these may be growing. If the tree is too young to bear, only growth shoots may appear from these buds, but they are likely to be short and will support fruit spurs later. This practice should not be carried to excess or you will have too many small shoots which will not get light enough to bear good fruit, even if fruit spurs should appear.
Pollination of Black Tartarian.
There are many old Tartarian cherry trees around our district that have only borne a few cherries in years. There are Bing, Royal Ann and Early Purple Guignes here with these, but they seldom, if ever, bloom with the Tartarian at the proper time to pollinate. What varieties would cause the trees to bear?
Sterility of the Black Tartarian is rather unusual. In the coast regions, Bing, Black Tartarian and Early Purple Guigne are all considered pollinizers for the Royal Ann. Inversely all these should be pollinizers for the Black Tartarian, if that variety requires such assistance, which we have all along supposed that it did not.
Treatment of Fig Suckers.
A few young fig trees are not growing from the tops, but are sending out suckers, in some cases above and others below the point of grafting. Had I better let these suckers grow and see what comes from them or plant new trees?
Graft near the ground all those which are sending suckers from below the graft. Suckers from above grafting point can be trained into trees by selecting the best, tying to stakes to straighten up and removing all other suckers but the one selected.
No Gopher-proof Fig Roots.
Is it necessary that figs should be grafted in some other roots to keep the gophers from destroying the trees? What root should I order?
Figs are not grown on any other than fig roots and are generally propagated by rooted cuttings for the purpose of avoiding the expense of grafting. The fruit must then be protected by killing the gophers rather than by an effort to get the tree upon a gopher-proof root.
Pollination of Bartletts.
Would Clapp's Favorite be a good pollinizer for the Bartlett as well as the White Doyenne?
The white Doyenne and the Clapp's Favorite usually begin to bloom three or four days later than the Bartlett, but the Bartlett period extends about ten days into the blooming period of the others. Therefore, your question is to be answered in the affirmative; that is, if the Bartlett needs pollination, it will be likley to get it from either of these varieties.
Would you plant Comice pears instead of Bartletts, and why? What is their behavior as to bearing? Do they require any different treatment than Bartletts? What roots? Do they need other varieties for pollinizing?
Do not plant Cornice instead of Bartletts except for those who have tested out the Cornice to their production and selling. Though satisfactory in some places, it makes no such wide record of success as the Bartlett and should be planted only on the basis of experience with it. Its propagation and culture are the same as other pears. It takes to the quince all right if you want dwarf trees. We have no record of its pollination needs, but as the Bartlett in California defies its Eastern reputation for self-sterility, it is likely that Cornice may also take care of itself, for it is not handicapped by such Eastern condemnation.
No Pears on Peach.
I saw, the other day, some Bartlett pear grafts in Salway peach trees, and the party informed me that he had seen three-year-old grafts that had pears last season. I would like your opinion, as I always thought that such a union was not possible.
Our opinion is like yours, and seeing some pear grafts set in peach branches would not convince us that they would grow or bear fruit.
Pigs in the Orchard.
I have an orchard of Bartlett pears about fifteen years old, located on sediment land. I desire to set this to alfalfa, and to feed the alfalfa by letting hogs eat it off, thereby leaving the droppings on the land. What I wish to know is this: Will this crop be beneficial or injurious to the trees?
Alfalfa can be successfully grown in an orchard, providing you have irrigation water so that the alfalfa shall not rob the trees of moisture; otherwise it is a very dangerous practice. The practice of running animals of any kind in an orchard is to be condemned. Pigs are particularly liable to injure trees by gnawing the bark, and we have seen fig trees barked clean as high as a pig could reach by standing on his hind legs. Of course, if you try an experiment for your own satisfaction, you will have to watch the pigs very carefully. It is true that growing pasture crops in an orchard and grazing, it off is injurious to trees, because the land lacks proper aeration, and good orchard cultivation is even more necessary in this State than in humid climates. Therefore, unless you are sure of a good water supply for irrigation, it would be altogether safer to give the whole land to the trees and keep them cultivated well, or else dig out the trees and use the land for other purposes.
Dwarf Pears Not Commercially Grown.
Will you kindly give the experience of pear growers in California who have grown the dwarfs? If you can give me the data or refer me to persons who can give data showing that the growing of dwarf pears can be made a commercial success the information will be of great value.
There is no commercial growing of dwarf pears in this State, except some trees owned by the A. Block Company, Santa Clara. The late Mr. Block had an old orchard of dwarf trees, planted perhaps forty or fifty years ago, which he converted into an approach to a standard orchard by removing alternate rows, and the trees being otherwise treated like standards have been satisfactorily producing pears for many years. How far these trees are still on the dwarf roots and how far they have supplied themselves with roots from the variety growth above, we do not know. There is no disposition whatever to plant dwarf trees in this State except among a few amateurs who are making home fruit gardens. In view of the successful growth of standard trees in this State, there seem to be no adequate reasons for recourse to dwarf trees.
Yield in Drying Pears.
What is the loss of weight in drying Bartlett pears?
They run from 7 to 8 lbs. of fresh pears to 1 lb. hard dried. There is quite wide variation according to condition of the fruit. Probably about 7 1/2 to 1 would be as near a realizable ratio as you could get by arbitrary estimate.
Kindly let me know the advisability of grafting Bartlett pears onto apple trees. In replanting pears in young orchard, how would it do to take rooted pear suckers, graft the Bartlett on them, and save the cost of nursery stock? Last year my five-year-old Bartlett orchard was full of blossoms, but, though many pears became as large as white beans, the majority of them dropped.
The pear and apple do not make a good union. The grafts may grow for a while, but finally fail. Do not use suckers as stocks. You can dig up some year roots and use them as starters by making root-grafts with Bartlett scions and do better than with suckers, but a good pear seedling is the proper thing either for budding or root grafting. Unless you have some experience in such work, it will be cheaper in the end to buy good nursery trees. The nonbearing of your young trees is probably due to their youth and vigor.
Bees and Pear Blight.
A few years ago, I planted alfalfa between my pear trees and the trees bore a very heavy crop that year. Then blight made its appearance, and it was claimed that the bees carried the blight. I therefore plowed under the alfalfa and destroyed what few beehives I had. If the theory that the bees carry the blight from tree to tree is not correct, I will experiment with alfalfa again this year.
It is true that bees carry pear blight. It is also true that you are not likely to get many pears without bees to pollinate the blossoms. You cannot escape the carriage of the pear blight by removing tame bees, because wild bees are abundant in all parts of the State. The way to overcome the blight is to pursue it by amputation of diseased branches continually, so that there may be no contamination for the bees to carry. You are certainly warranted in continuing your alfalfa growing without regard to this question, using water enough to keep the alfalfa growing well without saturating the soil to the injury of the trees or inducing too much summer growth on them.
Forage Under Sprayed Trees.
Is it safe to use arsenical sprays in a pear orchard in which alfalfa is raised between the trees and afterward cut and fed to cattle?
It was fully demonstrated by experiment about 25 years ago that herbage under trees sprayed with paris green at the rate of 1 pound to 160 gallons of water was not injurious to animals pasturing upon it. We are not aware that such an experiment has been made with the more recently used arsenates - which can be used with a much higher amount of arsenic to the gallon because they do not injure the foliage - to determine whether the herbage below would be poisonous or not. Presumably not, because modern spraying does not admit as much loss from run-off as was the case with old Spraying methods.
Pears on Quince.
I saw some time ago a report of some French experiments in grafting the pear onto quince root. The report said the fruit produced was much larger than on any other root.
Most of our common pears will take readily when grafted on the quince, but the quince transforms them into dwarfed trees. Such trees do produce, with proper care, very fine fruit. The remark about their being better than on standard trees refers, however, to other climates than ours, for California grows just as large pears on standard trees as can possibly be grown, while where conditions are harder the higher culture of the dwarf tree and the protection which it requires from climatic hardships, gives the dwarf tree the advantage. You can get pears on quince roots from most of our California nurseries.
Pollination of Pears.
Is it necessary in growing the Comice pear successfully, to put some other pear near for the purpose of pollination in order to make it successful? Will the ordinary Bartlett pear do for pollination?
The Comice pear blooms with the Bartlett, and would therefore presumably be of pollinizing benefit to the Bartlett if the latter should require such treatment. Common experience in California, however, is that the Bartlett is self-fertile and not self-sterile as it is commonly reported in Eastern publications. California practice is, then, to plant Bartletts solidly without reference to preparation for pollination. Taking the matter the other way around, the Bartlett will do for pollination of the Comice probably, if that should be necessary.
Please give the formula for peeling peaches by dipping them in caustic soda or lye.
Lye for peeling peaches is used at the rate of half to one pound to the gallon of water, according to the strength of the lye, which you can determine by the quickness with which it acts. The lye water is kept boiling, and the fruit is dipped in wire baskets, only being allowed to remain in the lye a few seconds, and is then plunged at once into fresh water. You must be careful to keep the lye boiling hot, also either to use running water for rinsing or change it very frequently, for you have to rely on fresh water to remove the lye, or the fruit is likely to be stained.
Aged Peach Trees.
What should be done with peach trees 35 years old which are becoming unthrifty, bearing only at the ends of the limbs, etc.?
Old peach trees become bark-bound and need to be cut back to just above the crotch for the forcing out of new branches, this being facilitated, of course, by application of manure, good cultivation of the soil, use of water during the dry season, etc. The peach is, under most conditions, not a long-lived tree, and if your trees are 35 years of age, it is probable that best results could be obtained by grubbing them out and replanting with young trees on new soil if possible. The profitable life of the Eastern peach tree is put down at five or six years. In California the profitable life of the peach sometimes reaches twenty or more years, if growing under exceptionally good conditions; but 35 years would seem to be at least on the borders of decrepitude. Growing at the tips shows that you have not pruned annually to induce the growth of new wood lower down.
Renewing Peach Orchard.
Which is the best way to renew an old peach orchard? The trees are about 18 years old, Muirs and Fosters, and are yielding good crops, but some of the trees show decline. Is it best to replace the old ones with new trees or to plant a new orchard in between the old trees and cut out old ones when new trees are three or four years old?
If the trees have sound bodies and are not badly injured by sunburn borers, do none of the things you mention, but would cut back for a new head. Cutting back should be done during the latter half of the dormant period and thinning of shoots to proper balance a new head should be carefully done the following winter. It is a hard job to get young trees to start among old trees and you are apt to get a mixed lot of trees which you will not be proud of. Cut back as suggested or rip out, plow deeply and start anew, placing the rows midway between the old rows.
Will He Have Peaches?
I have a young orchard between five and six years old, mostly of the Lovell variety. I didn't have much of a crop this year. Should I have a good crop next year?
You ought to be able to tell now how full a set of fruit buds you have. If you do not know what the fruit buds are, ask some neighbor who knows peaches to point them out. If you have a good show of fruit buds, the question in California is not whether they will winter-kill or not, but whether the leaves held late enough the preceding summer and therefore the tree had strength enough to make good strong fruit buds. The late action of the leaves shows that the trees had enough autumn moisture. You will soon learn to recognize the condition also from the plumpness of the wood which carries the fruit buds. If all has gone well so far, the next point is to spray with the bordeaux mixture in November or December so that the new wood shall not be attacked by the peach blight or shothole fungus. This disease comes on early in the winter, sets the the new bark to gumming and endangers the crop. Then if you have San Jose scale, or if your trees showed much curl-leaf last spring, you ought to spray before the blossom buds show color with the lime-sulphur wash. Supposing that you have good buds now and are willing to protect them as suggested, your trees may be expected to come through with a good crop if seasonal moisture conditions are right.
Peach Fillers in Apple Orchard.
I have heard some talk against planting peach fillers in an apple orchard. What is your opinion on the subject?
There is no objection providing the peach is profitable in the locality; and that point you must look into. The peach trees will not injure the apples unless they are allowed to stand too long. In that case they would interfere with the development of the apple.
Grafting Peach on Almond.
May I expect to get good results by grafting some kind of peach to 19-year-old almond tree? If so, what kind of peach will be best? When shall I do grafting?
Peaches take to the almond all right. Cut off and graft in the branches above the main forking of the tree; leaving at least one large branch to be grafted later or to be cut out entirely if you have peach growth enough to fill the top sufficiently. Graft in any kind of peach you find to be worth growing. Graft toward the latter part of the dormant season, say when the buds are swelling for a new start.
Peaches on Apricot.
I have a three-year-old peach orchard grafted or budded on apricot roots, and interspersed through the orchard are young apricot trees, from half-inch to inch and a half in diameter, which sprang from the root, the peach bud or graft having died. I budded these over to peaches in summer, but the buds all died for some cause. What is now the best course to transform them into peach trees? If a graft, what form of graft, and approximately when should it be made?
You can graft peach scions into the apricot sprouts by taking the peach scions of the varieties you desire while the tree is perfectly dormant, keeping them in a cool place and putting in the grafts just as the buds are beginning to swell on the apricot stock. The scions can be buried in the earth in the shade of a fence or building, selecting a place, however, which is moist enough and yet where the water does not gather. The ordinary form of top grafting in stems an inch or more in diameter will work well. The half-inch stems can be whip-grafted successfully. You will have to wax well and see that the wax coating is kept sound until the growth starts.
Replanting After Root-knots.
In digging out some old peach trees, I find now and then a tree affected with root knot. I am burning the root, of course, but as these trees are scattered in the orchard, I wish to plant young trees in same locations, thus preserving the rows. Can new stock be safely put in the earth from which the old tree is removed? If treatment of the soil is essential, what is recommended?
Dig a good large hole, removing the earth, and fill with new earth from between the rows, and in this way healthy growth ought to be obtained, although there is always a disposition in some trees to put on knots. They should be looked at from time to time and all those affecting the larger stem should be removed and the wound painted with bordeaux mixture.
Buds in Bearing Trees.
In budding over some old peach trees, should I cut away the branch above the bud when the latter seems to have taken?
The sap flow to the upper part of the branch should be checked by part girdling or by part breaking or bending the top above the bud, after the bud is seen to have set or taken. Do not remove the whole top until the growth on the bud has started out well or else you will "drown it" with excessive sap flow.
Pollen Must Be of the Same Kind.
Do peaches, nectarines and apricots set fruit with the pollen of one another, and are the various peaches, nectarines and apricots self-sterile, or will most kinds set fruit with their own pollen?
We do not count upon pollination between different kinds of fruit. Most fruits are self-fertile, else we could not attain the practical results we do, because it is only in the planting of almonds, cherries, pears and apples that any regard is paid to the association of varieties for that cross-fertilization. Some fruits are more apt to be self-fertile in this State than in other States where the growing conditions are not so favorable.
Which is easier with the peach, grafting or budding?
The peach is rather a difficult tree to graft, and budding, on the other hand, is quite easy. You can bud into new shoots of this season's growth in July, and, if necessary, you can improve the slipping of the bark by irrigation a few days before budding. Buds can also be successfully placed in June in the old bark of the peach, providing it is not too old. For this select well-matured buds from the larger shoots and use rather a larger shield than in working into new shoots. When the buds are seen to have taken, the top growth beyond it can be reduced gradually and some new growth forced on the buds the same season, if the sap flow continues as it might be expected to do on young trees well cared for.
Grafting on the Peach.
Will pears do to graft on the peach, or will plums do well on the peach? How soon ought they to bear when grafted on the peach which is past three years old?
Pears cannot be grafted on peaches. Plums generally do well on the peach, and if the grafts are taken from bearing trees, should come into fruit the second season. The peach is more difficult to graft than other fruit trees, because of the drying back of the bark. Be extra careful in the waxing and be sure that the waxing remains good until the growth starts out well the following summer.
Young Trees Failing to Start.
Some peach and almond trees set out last spring lived, but made no growth. Should they be replaced with new stock? If not, what may be expected of them?
If your inactive trees have good plump dormant buds (though they may not be large buds), they may make good growth the coming summer, if the land is good and the moisture right for free growth.
Peach Planting in Alfalfa Sod.
Is it advisable to plant canning peaches in April, and will I gain time in growth and development? I want to set out eight acres in Tuscans or Phillips on deep rich soil near Yuba City. I have a pumping plant and can irrigate. The land has been in alfalfa for several years. I have in mind setting out trees without disturbing the alfalfa - until next plowing season. Do you think it advisable to use commercial fertilizer on ten-year-old Muirs?
Planting the best canning peaches on good peach soil near Yuba City seems to be about the safest line of fruit investment which can be undertaken. We doubt that you can get much growth from trees planted in an old stand of alfalfa without some effort to kill out the plant which now occupies the ground. Still, by deep digging, throwing out all the alfalfa roots and thorough hoeing during the growing season and keeping the alfalfa mowers from sawing off the tops of them, the trees may make a good start. As the alfalfa will have to be irrigated, April may not be too late to start the trees, providing you can find nursery stock which is still quite dormant. Probably ten-year-old peach trees will be very much improved by commercial fertilizers.
Prune on Almond.
What root is considered best for prune trees? The ranch lies above the creek. A friend is very partial to the almond root instead of the myrobalan, but I understand that the prune tree sometimes outgrows the almond root.
If you have a deep rather light soil which drains well and which there is, therefore, no danger of water standing during the rainy season, the almond root is perfectly satisfactory for the prune. It is a strong-growing root and keeps pace with the top growth well. The prune, in fact, is more apt to overgrow the myrobalan than the almond, and the myrobalan will not do well on light soils likely to dry out as the almond will.
Re-grafting Silver Prunes.
I have five acres of Silver prunes which produce very little fruit. The trees are strong and healthy. French prune trees adjoining bear regularly and heavily. Can I graft French prunes on the Silver trees? Will Silver prune trees take other grafts, such as apricots or apples?
The Silver prune is often unsatisfactory for reason of shy bearing. It is perfectly feasible to graft over the tree to the French prune and this has been done for years by different growers. Apricots will usually take on the plum stock, but are apt to over-grow it or else be dwarfed themselves, but the apricot is often worked upon a plum stock. Apples have no grafting affinity whatever for the plum.
French or Italian.
In the prune-growing district around Salem, Oregon, Italian prunes are grown exclusively for drying purposes. French prunes were considered worthless. Here in Sutter county, California, a great many French prunes are grown and we are advised to plant them, but would rather plant the Italian prune. Which would you advise us to set out in this part of the State?
The Italian or Fellenberg prune was grown to some extent in California 40 years and abandoned; it was not so sure in bearing as the French, and it was not the type of prune which we had ambition to excel with. The prune which we grow as the French is the true prune or plum of Agen. We should plant it and let the Oregon people have the Italian.
I am sending two small plums which I am told are Myrobalan plum. I desire to grow seedlings on which later to bud and graft French prunes. If these are Myrobalan plums, will trees from them be as good as trees from pits that were imported?
The fruits are Myrobalan plums, and their seedlings would be suitable for the French prune, providing the trees which bear them are strong, thrifty growing trees. There is great variation in the colors of the Myrobalan seedlings, from light yellow to dark red, and it is the satisfactory growth of the tree rather than the character of the fruit which one has to bear in mind when growing seedlings from selected trees instead of depending so largely on imported seedlings.
Drying Plums and Prunes.
I have plum trees of various kinds that are loaded with fruit. I do not know if any are of the variety used for drying as prunes: I know nothing of the process of making or drying prunes. One man suggests that I dip them for four or live minutes in a 3 or 4 per cent solution of lye and then place them in the sun.
Dipping your plums is right providing they are very sweet, as they will dry like prunes without removing the pit. If they are plums that are commercially used for shipping, without enough sugar to dry as prunes, the pit must be removed. Drying in this way, you do not need to use lye, which is simply for the purpose of cracking the skin so that the moisture can be more readily evaporated. There is no danger in using the necessary amount of lye. Less is used than in making hominy.
The Sugar Prune.
What is the commercial value of the Sugar prune? Is there any other early ripening variety better than the Sugar?
It is selling very well as a cured prune, and growers in the northern bay counties especially have done so well that they are extending their plantings. It is coarser in flesh than the French and generally flatter in flavor when cooked and thus falls below the ideal of a cured prune, but it has compensating characters, such as early ripening, with which no other prune compares. The Sugar is also valuable as a shipping plum to Eastern markets.
Glossing Dried Prunes.
Will you give the method for giving the gloss to dried French prunes?
There are various methods. One pound of glycerine to 20 gallons of water; a quick dip in the mixture very hot gives a good finish. Where a clear bloom rather than a shine, is desired, five pounds of common salt to 100 gallons of water, also dipped hot, gives a good effect. Some use a thin syrup made by boiling small prunes in water (by stove or steam) and thinning with water to produce the result desired. Steam cooking avoids bad flavor by burning. The salt dip is probably the most widely used.
Price of Prunes on a Size Basis.
Explain the grading in price of prunes. For instance, if the base price is, say, five and three-fourths cents, what size does this refer to, and how is the price for other sizes calculated? Also, what is the meaning of the phrase "four-size basis"?
Prunes, after being sold to the packer, are graded into different sizes, according to the number required to make a pound, and paid for on that basis. The four regular sizes are 60-70s, 70-80s, 80-90s, and 90-100s, which means that from 60 to 70 prunes are required to make a pound, and so on. The basis price is for prunes that weigh 80 to the pound. When the basis price is 5 3/4 cents, 80-90s are worth 1/4 cent less than this amount, or 5 1/2 cents. The next smaller size, 90-100s, are worth 1/2 cent less, or 5 cents, while prunes under this size are little but skin and pit and bring much less to the grower. For each next larger size there is a difference of 1/2 cent in favor of the grower, so that on the 5 3/4-cent basis 70-80s are worth 6 cents, and 60-70s 6 1/2 cents. This advance continues for the larger sizes, 30-40s, 40-50s, etc., but these quite often command a premium besides, which is fixed according to the supplies available and the demand for the various sizes. The sizes for which no premium or penalty is generally fixed are those from 60 to 100, four sizes, so that this basis of making contracts and sales is called the "four-size basis." The advantage that results in having this method of selling prunes can be seen by the fact that on a 5 3/4-cent basis the smallest of the four sizes will bring but 5 cents a pound, while 30-40s would bring, without any premium, 8 1/2 cents, and with 1 cent premium, 9 1/2 cents. This size has this season brought as high as 10 and 11 cents a pound. It may be noted here that no prunes are actually sold at just the basis price, as they are worth either less or more than this as they are smaller or larger than 80 to the pound. No matter what the basis price is, there is a difference of one-half cent between each size and the sizes nearest to it.
How many rows of Robe de Sergeant prune trees should be alternated with the French prune (the common dried prune of commerce) to insure perfect fertilization of the blossoms?
The French prune is self-fertile; that is, it does not require the presence of other plum species for pollination of the blossoms. It is the Robe de Sergeant prune which is defective in pollination and which is presumably assisted by proximity to the French prune. If you wish to grow Robe de Sergeant prunes your question of interplanting would be pertinent, but if you desire only to grow French prunes you need not plant the Robe de Sergeant at all.
How deep should an olive orchard be plowed? I was told that by plowing deep I would injure my trees, in cutting up small rootlets and fibres which the olive extends through the surface soil. Is this so or not?
Plowing olives is like plowing other trees, the purpose being to get a workable soil deep enough to stand five or six inches of summer cultivation, usually. If you have old trees which have never been deeply plowed, you would destroy a lot of roots by deep plowing, and you should not start in and rip up all the land at once. You can gradually deepen the plowing, sacrificing fewer roots at a time, without injuring the trees if they are otherwise well circumstanced. Small rootlets and fibres in the surface soil do not count; they are quickly replaced, and if you do not destroy them, the whole surface soil, if moist enough, will be filled with a network of roots which will subsequently make decent working of the soil impossible.
Moving Old Olive Trees.
Would there be anything gained by transplanting old olive trees 6 to 8 inches in diameter over nursery stock? They would have to be shipped from Santa Clara to Butte county and grafted. Would they come into bearing any sooner and be as good trees? Could the large limbs be used to advantage? Would the fact that they are covered with smut cause any trouble?
Old olive trees can be successfully moved a long distance by cutting back, taking up a ball of earth, and possibly a short distance with bare roots if everything is favorable. But do not for a moment think them worth such an outlay for labor, freight and hauling which such a movement as you mention involves. The trees on arrival would probably only be firewood, and if they lived, the time required in getting a good growth and grafting, etc., would perhaps be as great as in bringing a young tree of the right kind to bearing, and the latter would be a better tree in every way. Large limbs can be split and used as cuttings, but the tree would be growth on one side and decay on the other. Use the smaller limbs for hard-wood cuttings and the balance for firewood. The smut shows that the trees are covered with scale insects and might indicate that it is better to burn up the whole outfit unless you learn to fight them.
Darkening Pickled Olives.
Is there anything that will make olives keep their black color when put into lye? When I put my first picking of ripe olives in lye, a large part of them turn green, the black leaving the fruit. My formula is one pound of lye to five gallons of water. Have you any better formula?
By exposing the olives to the light and air, either during the salting or immediately after, ripe olives may be given a uniformly black color. Also, fruit which is less ripe and which shows red and green patches after processing with lye, becomes an almost uniform dark brown color. To do this, the olives are removed from the brine and exposed to light and air freely for one or two days. Your lye was stronger than necessary. With ripe olives it is desirable to use salt and lye together to prevent softening, and the common prescription is two ounces of potash lye and four ounces of salt to the gallon of water after the bitterness is largely removed by using one or two treatments with two ounces of lye to the gallon without the salt. It is necessary to draw off the solution, rinse well, and put on fresh solution several times during the process to get the best results.
Seedling Olives Must Be Grafted.
Will olive trees grown from the olive seed be the right thing to plant? Will they be true to the parent tree or will they have to be grafted?
Olives which a seedling olive tree will bear will be, as a rule, very inferior and generally of the type of the wild olive. All such trees must be grafted in order to produce any particular variety which you desire.
Olives, Oranges and Peppers.
We have been told that olive trees easily become infested with a fungus disease which they then impart to the orange tree. The same objection is raised to the planting of pepper trees. May this be true in some parts of the State and not in others?
The fungus of which you have heard is the "black smut." It is a result, not a cause. It grows on the honey dew exuded from scale insects and if your trees have no scale they have no fungus. The olive trees and pepper trees may communicate this trouble to citrus trees, or vice versa - whichever gets it first gives it away to the other. If you will work hard enough to kill the scale wherever it appears you can have all these trees, but, of course, it costs a lot to fight scale on big pepper trees, and it is, therefore, wisest usually to choose an ornamental tree not likely to accept the scale.
Budding Olive Seedlings.
I have planted olive seeds which are just sprouting now. Can these be budded next June or July in the nursery row, or can they be bench-grafted the following winter?
Your seedlings may make growth enough to spur-bud this summer. The ordinary plate-bud does not take freely with the olive. Some of them may do this; other seedlings may be slow and have to be budded in the second summer. Watch the size and the sap flow so that the bark will lift well - which may not be at just the time that deciduous trees are budded. It may be both earlier or later in the season. Graft evergreens like the olive in the nursery row; not by bench grafting.
Budding Old Olives.
I have seedling olive trees, set out in 1904, which I wish to change over to the Ascolano variety. Which is the best way to do it, by budding or grafting, and what is the proper time?
Twig-budding brings the sap of the stock to bear upon a young lateral or tip bud, which is much easier to start than dormant buds used either as buds or grafts. A short twig about an inch and a half in length is taken with some of the bark of the small branch from which it starts, and both twig and bark at its base are put in a bark slit like an ordinary shield bud and tied closely with a waxed band, although if the sap is moving freely it would probably do with a string or raffia tie. Put in such buds as growth is starting in the spring.
Olives from Small Cuttings.
In the rooting of small soft-wood olive cuttings is it necessary to cover same with glass - say perhaps prepare a cold-frame and put stable manure in the bottom with about eight inches of sand on top?
It ceases to be a cold-frame when you cover in manure for bottom heat; it becomes a hotbed. Varieties of olives differ greatly in the readiness with which they start from small cuttings. Some start freely and grow well in boxes of sand under partial shade - like a lath house or cover. Some need bottom heat in such a hotbed as you describe with a cloth over; some start well in a cold-frame with a lath cover. To get the best results with all kinds, it is safer to use some more heat than comes from exposure to ordinary temperatures - either by concentration, as in a covered frame, or by a mild bottom heat. If you have glass frames or greenhouse, they are, of course, desirable, but much can be done without that expense.
Olives from Large Cuttings.
I am about to take olive cuttings from one-half to one inch thick and 54 to 20 inches long, and wish to root them in nursery rows. Please advise me if it is necessary to plant under half shade? Also, can same be planted out right away, or should they be buried in trenches for a while before setting out? Would it be best to strip all leaves or branches off, or leave one on? How many buds should be left above ground?
Plant in open ground in the coast district generally; in the interior a lath (or litter shade not too dense) is desirable in places where high dry heat is expected and where sprinkling under the cover may be desirable. Plant out when the soil is right as to warmth and moisture, which is usually a little later than this in the central and northern parts of the State. Remove all leaves and twigs and plant about three-quarters of the length in the soil, which should be a well-drained sandy loam. The cuttings can be taken directly from the trees and need not be bedded. If the cuttings come some distance and get end-dried, make a fresh cut at planting. If shriveled at all, soak a few hours in water before planting out.
Trimming Up Olives.
Limbs are shooting out too low on my olive trees. Would it be right to trim them up while dormant this winter, or should I let them grow another year before doing so? I think I want the first limbs to start at 18 to 20 inches above the ground.
Take off the lower shoots whenever your knife is sharp. Do not let them grow another year. Theoretically, the best time to remove them is toward the end of the dormant season, but if they are not large as compared with the whole growth of the tree, go to it any time.
What is the recipe for preserving olives by heat, and how long do they have to remain in the heated state?
Canning olives is a process, not a recipe, and it has to be operated with judgment. It resembles, of course, the common process of canning other fruits and vegetables. It has been demonstrated that heating up to 175° Fahrenheit is effective to keep olives in sealed containers for over two years. The heating was done in the jars in the usual canning way for several minutes after 175° was reached, to be sure the contents were heated through.
Renewing Olive Trees.
I have olive trees on first-class land; no pest of any kind is apparent. The trees look healthy in every way, and average about 12 inches at the butt and 30 feet high. They have borne fruit, but for the last three years have not borne. I am advised to cut back to stumps, 5 or 6 feet high, and start new tops.
Unsatisfactory olive trees may be cut back, but not to such an extent as you mention. Thin out the branches if too thick and cut back or remove those which interfere, but to cut back to a stump would force out a very thick mass of brush which you would have to afterward go into and thinout desperately. The branches which you decide to retain may be cut back to twelve or fifteen feet from the ground. This would have the effect of giving you plenty of new thrifty wood, which is desirable for the fruiting of the olive, but we cannot guarantee that this treatment will make the trees satisfactory bearers. Are you sure they are receiving water enough? If not, give them more next summer. Also give the land a good coat of stable manure and plow under when the land is right for the plow.
Growing Olives from Seed.
How are seedlings grown from olive seeds?
Growing olives from seeds is promoted by assisting nature to break the hard shell. This can be done by pinching carefully with ordinary wire pliers until the shell cracks without injury to the kernel, or the shell may be cut into with a file, making a very small aperture to admit moisture. The French have specially contrived pliers with a stop which admits cracking and prevents crushing. Olive seeds in their natural condition germinate slowly and irregularly. They must be kept moist and planted about an inch deep in sandy loam, covering with chaff or litter to prevent drying of the surface. Before experimenting with olive pits, crack a few to see if they have good plump kernels. Seedling olives must be grafted, of course, to be sure of getting the variety you want. For this reason growth from cuttings is almost universal.
Neglected Olive Trees.
I have a lot of olive trees which have grown up around the old stumps. They are large trees and some of them have six or eight trunks. Should I cut away all but one trunk or let them alone? There are some of the trees with small olives; others none.
If the olive trees which were originally planted were trained at first and still have a good trunk and tree form, the suckers which have intruded from below should be removed. If, however, the trees have been allowed to grow many branches from below, so that there is really no single tree remaining, make a selection of four or five of the best shoots and grow the trees in large bush form, shortening in the higher growth so as to bring the fruit within easier reach and reduce the cost of picking. You can also develop a single shoot into a tree as you suggest. Of course, you must determine whether the trees as they now stand are of a variety which is worth growing. If they are all bearing very small fruit, it would be a question whether they were worth keeping at all, because grafting on the kind of growth which you describe would be unlikely to yield satisfactory tree forms, though you might get a good deal of fruit from them.
Olives from Cuttings.
I have two choice olive trees on my place. I am anxious to get trees from these old ones and do not know how to go about it. Can I grow the young trees by using cuttings or slips from these old trees ? If so, when is the proper time to select the cuttings, and how should they be planted?
Take cuttings of old wood, one-half or three-quarters of an inch in diameter, about ten inches long, and plant them about three-quarters of their length in a sandy loam soil in a row so water can be run alongside as may be necessary to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Such dormant cuttings can be put in when the soil begins to warm up with the spring sunshine. They can be put in the places where you desire them to grow in one or two years. Olives, like other evergreen trees, should be transplanted in the spring when there is heat enough to induce them to take hold at once in their new places, and not during the winter when dormant deciduous trees are best transplanted.
Water and Frost.
I have in mind two pieces of land well adapted to citrus culture. Both have the same elevation, soil, climate and water conditions, except that one piece is a mile of the Kaweah river, while the other is four or five miles distant. In case of a frost, all conditions being about the same, which piece would you consider to be liable to suffer the more? In the heavy frost of last December, while neither sustained any great damage, that portion of the ground nearer the river seemed to sustain the less. Is this correct in theory? The Kaweah river at this point is a good-sized stream of rapidly flowing water.
The land near the river, conditions of elevation being similar, would be less liable to frost. There are a good many instances where the presence of a considerable body of water prevents the lowering of the temperature of the air immediately adjacent. It is so at various points along the Sacramento river, and it is recognized as a general principle that bodies of water exert a warming influence upon their immediate environment even in regions with a hard winter. How much it may count for must be determined by taking other conditions into the account also.
Is it advisable to thin fruit on young citrus trees? Our trees have been bearing about three years, but they are still small trees. The oranges and grape fruit ripen well and are large and of excellent quality, but the trees seem overloaded.
The size of oranges on over-burdened trees can be increased by thinning, just as other fruits are enlarged, but it is not systematically undertaken as with peaches and apricots, because it is not so necessary and because it is easy to get oranges on young trees too large and to be discounted for over-sized coarse fruit. Removing part of the fruit from young trees is often done - for the good of the tree, not for the good of the fruit. It should be done after the natural drop takes place, during the summer.
Wind-blown Orange Trees.
What would you do for citrus trees five years old that have been badly blown out of shape?
Such trees must be trued up by pruning into the wind; that is, cutting to outside buds on the windward side and to inside buds on the lee side; also reducing the weight by pruning away branches which have been blown too far to the leeward. Sometimes trees can be straightened by moving part of the soil and pulling into the wind and bracing there by a good prop on the leeward side, but that, of course, is not practicable if the trees have attained too much size.
Handling Balled Citrus Trees.
I have some orange and lemon trees which were sent me with their roots balled up with dirt and sacks. As we are still having frosts I have not wanted to set them out. Would it not be better to let them stay as they are and keep the sacks wet (they have a sack box over them) than to put them out while the frosts last?
Your citrus trees will not be injured for a time unless mold should set in from the wet sacks. Get them into the ground as soon as the soil comes into good condition, and cover the top for a time after they are planted to protect them against frosts. This would be better than to hold them too long in the balls, but do not plant in cold, wet soil; hold them longer as they are.
The Navel Not Thornless.
I have lately purchased some Washington navel orange trees, and upon arrival I find they have thorns upon them. I thought the Washington navels were thornless.
The navel orange tree is not thornless. It is described as a medium thorny variety, so that the finding of thorns upon the trees would not be in itself sufficient indication that they were not of the right variety.
I have some orange trees in a disintegrated granite with a good many small pieces of rock still remaining in the soil. What I wish to know is whether it is probably something in the soil that makes them grow too large, or is it probably the method of treatment? What treatment should be adopted to guard against this excessive growth?
Young trees have a natural disposition to produce outside sizes of fruit, and this is sometimes aggravated by excessive use of fertilizers, sometimes by over-irrigation. We would cease to fertilize for a time and to regulate irrigation so that the trees will have enough to be thrifty without undertaking excessive growth. Such soil as you describe is sometimes very rich at the beginning in available plant food, and fertilization should be delayed until this excess has been appropriated by the tree.
Budding or Grafting in Orange Orchard.
I have land now ready to be planted to oranges, but it is impossible for me to buy the necessary budded stock now or even later this year. Would you advise me to plant the "sour stock" as it comes from the nursery and have it budded or crown-budded later? Are there any real objections to this method, and, if so, what are they?
It is perfectly feasible to plant sour-stock seedlings and to graft them afterward to whatever variety of oranges you desire to grow, but it is undoubtedly better to pay a pretty good price for budded trees of the kind you desire rather than incur the delay and the irregular growth of young trees budded or grafted in the field. There is also danger of an irregular stand from accidental injuries to new growth started in the field without the protection which it finds in the nursery row.
How late in the fall can budding of orange trees be done - plants that are two years old - and what advantage, if any, is late budding? What shall I do with some old trees that were budded about two months ago and are still green but not sprouted yet? The budding was done on young shoots.
Late budding of the orange can be done as late as the bark will slip well; usually, however, not quite so late as this. Such buds are preferred because in the experience of most people they make stronger growth than those put in in the spring. Such buds are not expected to grow until the lowest temperatures of the winter are over. The buds which you speak of as green but still dormant are doing just what they ought to do. They will start when they get ready.
Under-pruning of Orange Trees.
My Washington Navels have a very heavy crop on the lower limbs, as is usual. These branches are so low down that many of the oranges lie on the ground, and it takes a good deal of time to prop them up so that they will not touch the ground. What would be the result of pruning off these low branches, after the fruit is off? Will the same amount of fruit be produced by the fruit growing on the limbs higher up?
Certainly, raise the branches of the orange trees by removing the lowest branches or parts of branches which reach to the ground. A little later others will sag down and this under-pruning will have to be continuous. It would be better to do this than to undertake any radical removal of the lower branches. The progressive removal as becomes necessary will not appreciably reduce the fruiting and will be in many ways desirable.
Keeping Citrus Trees Low.
My tangerines last fall shot up like lemon trees - a dozen to twenty shoots two or three feet high. The trees are eight years old and are loaded with bloom and some of the shoots have buds and bloom clear to the top. Some shoots have no bloom. What should I do with these shoots? Cut them back like lemons or let them remain?
You must shorten the shoots if you desire to have a low tree. This will cause their branching and it will be necessary, therefore, to remove some of the shoots entirely, either now or later, in order that the tree will not become too compact.
Dying Back of Fruit Trees.
I have a few orange and lemon trees that are starting to die. One tree has died on the top. What kind of spray shall I use?
The dying back of a tree at the top indicates that the trouble is in the roots, and it is usually due to standing water in the soil, resulting either from excessive application of water or because the soil is too retentive to distribute an amount of water which might not be excessive on a lighter soil which would allow of its freer movement. Dig down near the tree and see if you have not a muddy subsoil. The same trouble would result if the subsoil is too dry, and that also you can ascertain by digging. If you find moisture ample, and yet not excessive, the injury to the root might be due to the presence of alkali, or to excessive use of fertilizers. The cause of the trouble has to be determined by local examination and cannot be prescribed on the basis of a description of the plant. It cannot be cured by spraying unless specific parasite is found which can be killed by it.
Young Trees Dropping Fruit.
I have a few citrus fruit trees about three years old. They have made a good growth and are between seven and eight feet high with a good shaped top or head. I did not expect any fruit last year and did not have any. This spring they blossomed irregularly at blooming time, but quite an amount of fruit set and grew as large as marbles, some of it the size of a walnut, but lately it has about all fallen off the trees.
There is always more or less dropping from fruit trees. Some years large numbers of oranges drop. There may be many causes, and the trouble has thus far not been found preventable. When the foliage is good and the growth satisfactory, the young tree is certainly not in need of anything. It is rather more likely that fruit is dropped by the young trees owing to their excessive vegetative vigor, for it is a general fact that fruit trees which are growing very fast are less certain in fruit-setting. It is, of course, possible that you have been forcing such action by too free use of water. You will do well to let your trees go along so long as they appear thrifty and satisfactory, and expect better fruiting when they become older.
Is not a single leader in an orange tree more desirable than the much-forked tree so commonly seen! Can a single-leader tree be made from the nursery trees which have already formed their heads, by cutting off the heads below so that only a straight stick without any branches is left?
An orange tree with a central leader would not be at all satisfactory if it were carried very high. Of course, a central stem can be to advantage taken higher than it is often done, but we would not think of growing an orange tree with a central stem to the apex. The laterals would droop, crowd down upon each other badly, open the center to sunburn, and encourage also a growth of central suckers and occasion an amount of pruning altogether beyond what is necessary with a properly branched tree without a central stem.
I wish to know a way to cure citrons at home. I have a fine tree that has borne very fine-looking fruit for the past two years.
An outline for the preparation of candied citron is as follows: The fruit, before assuming a yellow color, and also when bright yellow, is picked and placed in barrels filled with brine, and left for at least a month. The brine is renewed several times, and the fruit allowed to remain in it until required for use, often for a period of four or five months. When the citrons are to be candied they are taken from the barrels and boiled in fresh water to soften them. They are then cut into halves, the seed and pulp are removed, and the fruit is again immersed in cold water, soon becoming of a greenish color. After this it is placed in large earthen jars, covered with hot syrup, and allowed to stand about three weeks. During this time the strength of the syrup is gradually increased. The fruit is then put into boilers with crystallized sugar dissolved in a small quantity of water, and cooked; then allowed to cool, and boiled again until it will take up no more sugar. It is then dried and packed in wooden boxes.
Crops Between Orange Trees.
What crop can I plant between rows of young orange trees to utilize the ground as well as pay a little something?
It depends not alone upon what will grow, but upon what can be profitably sold or used on the place, and unless sure of that, it is usually better not to undertake planting between young trees but rather to cultivate well, irrigate intelligently, and trust for the reward in a better growth and later productiveness of the trees. It is clear, California experience that planting between trees except to things which are demonstrated to be profitable should not be undertaken, and where one does not need immediate returns is, as a rule, undesirable. The growth of a strip of alfalfa, if one is careful not to submerge the trees by over-irrigation, would be the best thing one could undertake for the purpose of improving the soil by increasing the humus content, reducing the amount of reflected heat from a clean surface, and is otherwise desirable wherever moisture is available for it. You could also grow cow peas for the good of the land if not for other profit. You can, of course, grow small fruits and vegetables for home use if you will cultivate well. Common field crops, with scant cultivation, will generally cause you to lose more from the bad condition in which they leave the soil than you can gain from the use or sale of the crop.
Navels and Valencias.
Navel trees are being budded to Valencias in southern California, because of the higher price received for the late-ripening Valencias. Are the orchards in central and northern California being planted in Navels, and is there any difference in soil or climate requirements of Navels and Valencias?
There is no particular difference in the soil requirements of Valencia and Navel oranges. They are both budded on the same root. The desirability of Navel oranges in the upper citrus districts arises from the fact that the policy of those districts at the present time is to produce an early orange. This they could not accomplish by growing the Valencia. The great advantage of the Valencia in southern California, on the other hand, lies in the very fact that it is late and that it can be marketed in midsummer and early autumn when there are no Navels available from anywhere.
What about planting the seed from St. Michael's oranges or of grapefruit for a seed-bed to be budded to Valencias?
Good plump St. Michael's seeds would be all right if you desire to use sweet seedling stock. Grapefruit seedlings are good and quite widely used, though the general preference is for sour-stock seedlings.
Acres of Oranges to a Man.
In your opinion, is it possible for one man, of average strength, to take perfect care of a twenty-acre citrus orchard? Are the services of a man who takes the entire responsibility of an orchard (citrus) worth more than those of a common ranch hand?
It depends upon the man, upon the age of the trees, upon the kind of soil he has to handle, upon the irrigation arrangements and upon what you mean by "perfect care." If you contract the picking and hauling of fruit, the fumigation and allow extra help when conditions require that something must be done quickly, whatever it may be, a man with good legs and arms, and a good head full of special knowledge to make them go, can handle twenty acres and if he does it right you ought to pay him twice as much as an ordinary ranch hand.
Roots for Orange Trees.
What are the conditions most favorable to orange trees budded upon sour stock; also upon sweet stock and trifoliata?
The sour stock is believed to be more hardy against trying conditions of soil moisture - both excess and deficiency, and diseases incident thereto. The sweet stock is a free growing and satisfactory stock and most of the older orchards are upon this root, but it is held to be less resistant of soil troubles than the sour stock, and therefore propagators are now largely using the latter. The trifoliata has been promoted as more likely to induce dormancy of the top growth during cold weather, because of its own deciduous habit. It has also been advocated as likely to induce earlier maturity in the fruit and thus minister to early marketing. The objection urged against it has been a claimed dwarfing of the tree worked upon it.
I wish to bud some Maltese blood orange trees to pomelos and lemons. Will they make good stock for them, and, if so, is it necessary to cut below the original bud?
It is possible to bud as you propose, and it is not necessary to go back to the old stock. Work in above the forks.
No Citrus Fruits on Lemon Roots.
Would it be any advantage to bud the Washington Navel on grapefruit and lemon roots?
The grapefruit or pomelo is a good root for the orange, and some propagators prefer it. The lemon root is not used at present, because of its effect in causing a coarse growth of tree and fruit and because it is more subject to disease than the orange root. In fact, we grow nearly all lemons on orange roots.
My first attempt at budding, I cut 20 buds and immediately inserted in stock of Mexican sour orange "Amataca." I left bands on them for ten days at which time about half seemed to have "stuck," but after a few days the bark curled away and the buds dried up and died. I then tried again, but left the bands on for thirteen days and lightly tied strings around below the bud to prevent the bark from curling, and also put grafting wax in the cut and over the bud. These appeared fresh and green at time of taking off the bands, but three weeks later I found them rotted. The grafting wax used was made of beeswax, resin, olive oil and a small amount of lard to soften it. Do you think that the action of the lard on the buds would cause them to rot?
Consider first whether the buds which you use are sufficiently developed; that is, a sufficient amount of hardness and maturity attained by the twig from which you took these buds. Second, use a waxed band, drawing it quite tightly around the bark, above and below the bud, covering the bud itself without too much pressure for several days, then loosening the band somewhat, but carefully replacing over all but the bud point. It is necessary to exclude the air sufficiently, but not wholly. The use of a soft fat like olive oil or lard is not desirable. If you use oil at all for the purpose of softening, linseed oil, as used by painters, is safer because of its disposition to dry without so much penetration. Having used olive oil and lard together you had too much soft fatty material.
Budding Orange Seedlings in the Orchard.
What are the objections or advantages of planting sour stock seedlings where one wishes the trees and one or two years later bud into the branches instead of budding the young stock low on the trunk?
Planting the seedling and at some future time cutting back the branches and grafting in the head above the forks is an expensive operation and loses time in getting fruit. You will get very irregular trees and be disappointed in the amount of re-working you will have to do. Suckers must be always watched for; that has to be done anyway, but a sucker from a wild stock is worse in effects if you happen to overlook it. Avoid all such trouble by planting good clean trees budded in nursery rows. You may have to do rebudding later, if you want to change varieties, and that is trouble enough. Do not rush at the beginning into all the difficulties there are.
Grapefruit and Nuts.
Peaches, pears and plums predominate in this section, but would not grapefruit, almonds and English walnuts be just as profitable? What is your idea about English walnuts on black walnut root?
You can expect grapefruit to succeed under conditions which favor the orange. Therefore, if oranges are doing well in your district, grapefruit might also be expected to succeed on the same soils and with the same treatment. Planting of almonds should proceed upon a demonstration that the immediate location is suited to almonds, because they are very early to start and very subject to spring frost and should not be planted unless you can find bearing trees which have demonstrated their acceptance of the situation by regular and profitable crops. English walnuts are less subject to frosts because they start much later in the season. They need, however, deep, rich land which will be sure not to dry out during the summer. English walnuts are a perfect success upon the California black walnut root.
Soil and Situation for Oranges.
Is it absolutely essential that orange trees be planted on a southern slope, or will they thrive as well on any slope? What is the minimum depth of soil required for orange trees? How can I tell whether the soil is good for oranges?
Orange trees are grown successfully on all slopes, although in particular localities certain exposures may be decidedly best, as must be learned by local observation. How shallow a soil will suit orange trees depends upon how water and fertilizer are applied; on a shallow soil more fertilizer and more frequent use of water in smaller quantities. Any soil which has grown good grain crops may be used for orange growing if the moisture supply is never too scant and any excess is currently disposed of by good drainage. There can be no arbitrary rule either for exposure, depth or texture of soils, because oranges are being successfully grown on medium loam to heavy clay loam, providing the moisture supply is kept right.
Transplanting Orange Trees.
Can you transplant trees two years old with safety to another location in same grove, same soil; etc.?
Yes; and you can move them a greater distance, if you like. Take up the trees with a good ball of earth, transplanting in the spring when the ground has become well warmed, just about at the time when new growth begins to appear on the tree. The top of the tree should he cut back somewhat and the leaves should be removed if they show a disposition to wilt. You should also whitewash or otherwise protect the bark from sunburn if the foliage should be removed.
Protecting Young Citrus Trees.
Is it necessary to have young orange trees covered or leave them uncovered during the winter months?
It is desirable to cover with burlaps or bale with cornstalks, straw or some other coarse litter, all young trees which are being planted in untried places; and even where old trees are safe, young trees which go into the frost period with new growth of immature wood should be thus protected. Do not use too much stuff nor bundle too tightly.
Not Orange on the Osage.
Can the Navel orange be grafted on the osage orange? I understand it is done in Florida, and would like to know if it has been tried in California.
It cannot. It has not been done in Florida nor anywhere else. The osage orange is not an orange at all. The tree is not a member of the citrus family.
No Pollenizer for Navels.
I read that the flowers of the Navel orange are entirely lacking in pollen, or only poorly supplied. If this is true, what variety of orange would you plant in a Navel grove - to supply pollen at the proper time?
We would not plant any other orange near the Navel for the sake of supplying it with pollen. Pollen is only needed to make seeds, and by the same process to make the fruit set, and Navels do not make seeds, except rarely, nor do they seem to need pollen to make the fruit set.
Water and Frost.
From how many acres could I keep off a freeze of oranges with 1000 gallons per minute? The water is at 65 degrees.
The amount of water will prevent frost over as large an area as you can cover with the water, so as to thoroughly wet the surface, but the presence of water will only be effective through about four degrees of temperature and only for a short time. If, then, the temperature should fall below 27 degrees and should remain at that point for an hour or two, it is doubtful if the water would save your fruit. Water is only of limited value in the prevention of frost, and of no value at all when the temperature falls too low.
What to Do with Frosted Oranges.
What is the best plan of treatment for frosted orange trees? The crop will be a total loss. It does not show any tendency to fall off the trees, however. Should it be picked off, thrown on the ground and plowed under? Should this be done right away or later?
Unsound fruit should be removed as soon as its injury can be conveniently detected and worked into the soil by cultivation; never, however, being allowed to collect in masses, which is productive of decay and which may be injurious to roots. If trees are injured sufficiently to lose most of their leaves, the fruit should also be removed if it shows a disposition to hang on. This will be a contribution to the strength of the tree and its ability to clothe itself with new foliage.
Pruning Frosted Citrus Trees.
How shall I prune two-year-old orange orchard, also nursery stock buds that are badly injured by frost; how much to prune and at what time?
As soon as you can see how far injury has gone down the branch or stem, cut below it, so that a new shoot may push out from sound wood, and heal the cut as soon as possible. This applies to growths of all ages. In the case of buds, if you can only save a single node you may get a bud started there and make a tree of that. In the case of trees, large or small, it is always desirable to cut above the forkings of the main branches, if possible, and when this much of the tree remains sound, a new tree can be formed very quickly. If the main stem is injured, bark cracked, etc., cut below the ground and put scions in the bark without splitting the root crown; wax well or otherwise cover exposed wood to prevent checking. If this is successfully done, root-rot may be prevented and the wound covered with new bark while the strong new stems are developing above.
Is it best to prune out orange trees by removing occasional branches so as to permit free air passage through the trees? Some are advocating doing so; but as I remember, the trees in southern California are allowed to grow quite dense, so that we could see into the foliage but very little.
It is a matter of judgment, with a present tendency toward a more open tree than was formerly prescribed. Trees should be more thrifty and should bear more fruit deeper in the foliage-wall if more air and light are admitted. But this can be had without opening the tree so that free sight of its interior is possible. We believe thinning of the growth to admit more light and air is good, but we should not intentionally cut enough to make holes in the tree.
Would you advise planting of pecans in commercial orchards here? Walnuts in their proper location constitute some of California's best improvements. After visiting some bearing paper-shell pecans here in Fresno county, I believe a pecan orchard of choice variety would be more desirable than a walnut orchard.
Pecans do well on moist rich land in the interior valleys where there are sharper temperature changes than in the coast valleys, except perhaps near the upper coast. Such planting as you propose seems promising on lands having moisture enough to carry the nuts to full ripening.
Please give information about growing filberts.
Filberts have been largely a disappointment in California and no product of any amount has ever been made. Good nuts have been produced in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Range. Theoretically, the places where the wild hazel grows would best suit the filbert, and so far this seems to be justified by the little that has actually been done, but there is very little to say about it beyond that. It requires much more experience to lift the nut out of the experimental state.
Early Bearing of Walnuts.
Please inform me if young walnut trees grafted on black walnut stock will produce fruit within 18 months after being planted.
It is true that the French varieties of English walnuts have produced fruit the second summer of their growth. This does not mean, however, that you can count upon a crop the second year. These are usually grafts in nursery rows, and one would have to wait longer, as a rule, for trees planted out in orchards with a chance to make a freer wood growth. This is rather fortunate, because it is better to have a larger tree than to have the growth diverted into bearing a small amount of fruit while the tree is very young. We do not know any advantage in getting nuts the second year except it be to see if you really have secured the variety you desire to produce later.
Handling Walnut Seedlings.
What is the best time to transplant seedlings of the black walnut?
Transplant during the dormant season (as shown by absence of leaves) when the soil is in good condition. Handle them just as you would an apple tree, for instance.
How to Start English Walnuts.
In starting English walnuts, shall we get nursery stock grafted on California black, or shall we start our black walnut seedlings in nursery plats, or plant the nuts where the tree is wanted, and graft them at two or three years? What is the advantage, if any, of the long stock from grafting high, over the grafted root?
If we had the money to invest and were sure of the soil conditions, etc., we should buy grafted trees of the variety we desired, just as we would of any other kind of fruit. If we were shy of money and long on time, we would start seedlings in nursery, plant out seedlings, and graft later, because it is easier to graft when the seedling is two or three years in place. We count the planting of nuts in place troublesome and of no compensating advantage. The chief advantage known to us of grafting high and getting a black walnut trunk is the hardier bark of the black walnut.
I am planning to plant walnuts on rather heavy soil. I have been told to put the nut six inches below the surface, but think that too deep, as soil is rather heavy.
In a heavy soil we should not plant these nuts more than three inches below the surface, but should cover the surface with a mulch of rotten straw to prevent drying out.
Pruning Grafted Walnuts.
Should English walnut trees be pruned? I have along the roadside English walnuts grafted on the California black, and they have grown to very large size and the fruit seems to be mostly on the outside of the trees.
English walnuts are not usually pruned much, though it is often desirable, and of course trees can be improved by removing undesirable branches and especially where too many branches have started from grafts, it is desirable that some be removed. They should be cleanly sawed off and the wound covered with wax or thick paint to prevent the wood from decaying.
When is the best time to remove large limbs from walnut trees?
This work with walnuts or other deciduous fruit trees should be done late in the winter, about the time the buds are swelling; never mind the bleeding, it does no harm, and the healing-growth over the wound is more rapid while the sap is pushing.
In cleft grafting walnuts is it necessary to use scions with only a leaf bud, or with staminate or pistillate buds? Is cutting the pith of the scion or stock fatal to the tree?
In grafting walnuts it is usual to take shoots bearing wood buds, and not the spurs which carry the fruit blossoms, although a part of the graft containing also a wood bud can be used, retaining the latter. Cutting into the pith of the scion or of the stock is not fatal, but it is avoided because it makes a split or wound which is very hard to heal. For this reason it is better to cut at one side of the pith in the stock, and to cut the scion so that the slope is chiefly in the wood at one side of the pith and not cutting a double wedge in a way to bring the pith in the center.
Grafting Nuts on Oaks.
I have 10 to 15 acres of black oak trees which I wish to graft over to chestnuts. Can grafting be done successfully?
Some success has been secured in grafting the chestnut on the chestnut oak, but not, so far as we have heard, on the black oak. But grafts on the chestnut oak are not permanently thrifty and productive, though they have been reported as growing for some time. The same is true of English walnut grafts on some of the native oaks.
Grafting Walnut Seedlings.
Would it be proper to graft one-year California black walnut seedlings that must also be transplanted?
As the seedlings must be moved, plant in orchard and graft as two or three-year-olds, according to the size which they attain.
Pruning the Walnut.
What is the proper time for pruning the walnut? Is it bad for the tree to prune during the active season? I have recently acquired a long-neglected grove in which many large limbs will have to be removed in order to allow proper methods of cultivation to be practiced, and I am in doubt as to the wisdom of doing this during the rise of sap.
The best time to remove large limbs to secure rapid growth of bark from the sides of the cut, is just at the time the sap is rising. There will be some outflow of sap, but of no particular loss to the tree. As soon as the large wounds have dried sufficiently, the exposed surface should be painted to prevent cracking of the wood.
Eastern or California Black Walnuts?
I am told that the Eastern black walnut is a more suitable root for the low lands in California than the California black. Is this true?
There has been no demonstration that the Eastern black walnut is more suitable to low moist lands than the California black walnut. Our grandest California black walnut trees are situated on low moist lands. Walnut Grove is on the edge of the Sacramento river with immense trees growing almost on the water's edge. Walnut Creek in Contra Costa county is also named from large walnut trees on the creek bank land. We have very few Eastern black walnut trees in California and although they do show appreciation of moist land, they are not in any respect better than the Californian.
Ripening of Walnuts.
I send you two walnuts. I am in doubt if they will mature.
The nuts are well grown, the kernel fully formed in every respect. Whether they will attain perfect maturity must be determined by an observation of the fact and cannot be theoretically predicated. Where trees are in such an ever-growing climate as you seem to have, they must apparently take a suggestion that the time has arrived for maturity from the drying of the soil. The roots should know that it is time for them to stop working so that the foliage may yellow and the nuts mature. It is possible that stopping cultivation a little earlier in the season may be necessary to accomplish this purpose.
Cutting Below Dead Wood.
I have some seedling English walnut trees which are two years old, but they are not coming out in bud this year. They are about three feet high, and from the top down to about 10 inches of the ground the limbs are dark brown, and below that they are a nice green. I cut the top off of one of them to see what is the matter that they do not leaf out, and I found that there is a round hole right down through the center of the tree down to the green part. The hole is about three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. The pith of the limbs has been eaten away by some kind of a worm from the inside. Would it be better to cut the tree down to the green part, or let them alone?
It is the work of a borer. Cut down to live wood and paint over the wound or wax it. Protect the pith until the bark grows over it or you will have decay inside. If buds do not start on the trunk, take a sucker from below to make a tree of. You could put a bud in the trunk, but it is not very easy to do it.
Walnuts in Alfalfa.
Will the walnut trees be injured in any way by irrigating them at the same time and manner as the alfalfa - that is, by flooding the land between the checks? Will the walnuts make as good a growth when planted in the alfalfa, and the ground cultivated two or three feet around the tree, as though the alfalfa was entirely removed? Is it advisable to plant the trees on the checks rather than between the checks?
Walnut trees will do well, providing you do not irrigate the alfalfa sufficiently to waterlog the trees; providing also that you do use water enough so that the trees will not be robbed of moisture by the alfalfa. This method of growing trees will be, of course, safer and probably more satisfactory if your soil is deep and loamy, as it should be to get the best results with both alfalfa and walnuts. It would be better to have the trees stand so that the water does not come into direct contact with the bark, although walnut trees are irrigated by surrounding them with check levees. Planting walnut trees in an old stand of alfalfa is harder on the tree than to start alfalfa after the trees have taken hold, because the alfalfa roots like to hang on to their advantage. In planting in an old field, we should plow strips, say, five feet wide and keep it cultivated rather than to try to start the trees in pot-holes, although with extra care they might go that way.
Walnuts in the Hills.
Will walnuts grow well in the foothill country; elevation about 600 feet, soil rich, does not crack in summer and seems to have small stones in it?
Walnuts will do well providing the soil or subsoil is retentive enough. If you have water available for irrigation in case the trees should need it, they would do well, but if the soil is gravelly way down and likely to dry out deeply and you have no water available an opposite result might be expected. It is a fact that on some of the uplands of the coast mountains there is a lack of moisture late in the season which interferes with the success of some fruit trees.
To Increase Bearing of Walnuts.
We have a walnut orchard which does not bear enough nuts. The trees are all fine, even trees, 10 and 12 years old, and we are told that the crop was light this year because the trees were growing so vigorously and put most of their energy into the new wood. Is there any special fertilizer which will make the trees bear more and not prompt such heavy growth?
If your adviser is right that the trees are not bearing because of excessive growth, it would be better not to apply any fertilizer during the coming year, but allow the trees to assume more steady habit and possibly even to encourage them to do so by using less cultivation and water. If you wish to experiment with some of the trees, give them an application of five pounds of superphosphate and two pounds of potash to each tree, properly distributed over the land which it occupies. You certainly should not use any form of nitrogen.
Temperature and Moisture for the English Walnut.
What amount of freezing and drouth can English walnuts stand? Under what conditions is irrigation necessary?
The walnut tree will endure hard freezing, providing it comes when the tree is dormant, because they are successfully grown in some parts of the Eastern States, though not to a large extent; but the walnut tree is subject to injury from lighter frosts, providing they follow temperatures which have induced activity in the tree. On the Pacific Coast the walnut is successfully grown as far north as the State of Washington, but even in California there are elevations where frosts are likely to occur when the tree is active, and these may be destructive to its profit, although they may not injure the tree. You are not safe in planting walnuts to any extent except in places where you can find trees bearing satisfactorily. Planting elsewhere is, of course, an enterprising experimental thing to do, but very risky as a line of investment. Irrigation is required if the annual rainfall, coupled with the retentiveness of the soil and good cultivation, do not give moisture enough to carry the tree well into the autumn, maintaining activity in the leaves some little time after the fruit is gathered.
Walnuts from Seed.
There is a reliable nursery company selling seedling Franquette walnut trees on a positive guarantee that they will come true to type. Are orchards of this kind satisfactory?
Walnuts do come truer to the seed than almonds and other fruits and the Franquette has a good reputation for remembering its ancestry. Until recently practically all the commercial walnut product of California was grown on seedling trees. But these facts hardly justify one in trusting to seedlings in plantings now made. The way to get a walnut of the highest type is to take a bud or graft from a tree which is bearing that type.
What is the advantage of a high-grafted walnut? I am about ready to plant 10 acres to nuts and do not know whether to purchase Franquette grafted high on California Black or not.
The advantage of grafting English walnut high on California Black walnut consists in securing a main trunk for the tree, which is less liable to sunburn and probably hardier otherwise than is the stem of the English walnut, and the present disposition toward higher grafting or budding seems therefore justified and desirable.
Grafting and Budding the Mulberry.
What is the most approved manner of grafting mulberry trees? Am told that they are very difficult to successfully graft.
Most propagators find the mulberry difficult by ordinary top and cleft grafting methods. A flute or ring graft or bud does well on small seedlings - that is, removing a ring or cylinder of the bark from the stock and putting in its place a cylinder from the variety desired, cut to fit accurately. For large trees this would have to be done on young shoots forced out by cutting back the main branches, but when this is done ordinary shield budding in these new shoots would give good results. Cut back the trees now and bud in the new shoots in July or August.
Hardiness of Hybrid Berries.
How much cold will Phenomenal, Himalaya and Mammoth blackberries stand in winter? Is it safe to plant where the temperature goes below 32 degrees?
These berries are hardy to zero at least, for they are grown in northern parts of this coast where they get such a touch once in a while. They have also endured low temperatures in the central continental plateau States and eastward. Whether they can endure the lowest temperatures of the winter-killing regions of the northern border cannot be determined in California, for we do not have the conditions for such tests. The berries are very hardy while dormant, and probably their value in colder regions would depend rather more upon their disposition to remain dormant than upon what they can endure when in that condition.
Shall the old wood be cut away in pruning Himalayas?
All the old wood which has borne fruit should be cut out in the fall and new shoots reduced to three or four from each root, and these three or four shoots should be shortened to a length of ten or twelve feet and be trained to a trellis or fence, or some other suitable support. Vines which are allowed to grow riotously as they will, are apt to be deficient in fruit bearing.
Strawberries with Perfect Flowers.
Has Longworth Prolific an imperfect bloom? I have Longworths in bearing which apparently are perfect. Is there another strain of Longworth that are not self-fertilizing?
The Longworth Prolific strawberry has both staminate and pistillate elements. Possibly some other variety, because of its resemblance to Longworth and the popularity of it, may have been wrongly given its name. Most of the varieties which are largely grown in California are perfect in blossom, though some of the newer varieties need association with pollinizers.
Should the new shoots of Loganberry vines, which come out in the spring, be left or cut away? If cut, will more shoots put out in the fall and be sufficient for the next year's crop?
The Loganberry shoots which are growing should be carefully trained and preserved for next year's fruiting. The old canes should be cut away at the base after the fruit is gathered. The plant bears each year upon the wood which grew the previous summer.
Should I plant strawberries in the spring or fall?
Whether it is wise to plant strawberry plants in the fall depends on several things, such as getting the ground in the very best of condition, abundance of water at all times, splendidly rooted plants, and cool weather (which is very rare at the time plants are to be planted, August and September). Plants may be taken with balls of earth around the roots, and water poured in the hole that receives the plant. After planting, each plant should be shaded from the sun; after this the ditches must be kept full of water so the moisture will rise to the surface; this must be done till the plant starts growth. This method can only be used in small plantings, as it is too expensive for large plantings, as is also the potted plant method where each plant is grown in a small pot and transplanted by dumping out the earth as a ball with the plant and putting directly in the ground. From potted plants, set out in the fall, one may count on a fine crop of berries the following spring. Strawberry plants are never dormant till midwinter, and there is no plant more difficult to transplant when roots are disturbed in the hot season, which usually prevails in the interior valleys of California. To have a long-lived strawberry field and to get best results, planting must be done in the spring, as soon as the soil can be put in best condition to receive plants. From this a fall crop can be expected - Answer by Tribble Bros., Elk Grove.
Blackberries for Drying Only.
What variety of blackberries or raspberries are the best for drying purposes? Are berries successfully dried in evaporators? This is a natural berry country. Wild blackberries are a wonder here. Transportation facilities do not allow raising for the city market. In your opinion, would the planting of ten acres in berries for drying be a success?
The blackberries chiefly grown in California are the Lawton, Crandall and the Mammoth. The raspberry chiefly grown is the Cuthbert. There are very few of these berries dried. It would be better to dry them in an evaporator than in the sun, but little of it is done in this State. It is doubtful whether it would pay to plant blackberries for drying only, because there is such a large product flow in various places where the berries are either sold fresh or sold to the cannery, and drying is only done for the purpose of saving the crop if the prices for the other uses are not satisfactory. To grow especially for drying would give you only one chance of selling to advantage, and that the poorest.
Planting Bush Fruits.
What is the best time to set out blackberries and Loganberries?
Any time after the soil is thoroughly wet down and you can get good, mature and dormant plants for transplanting. This may be as early as November and may continue until February or later in some places.
Growing Strawberry Plants.
In a patch of strawberries planted this spring, is it advisable to cut off runners or root some of them?
In planting strawberries in matted rows, it is usual to allow a few runners to take root and thus fill the row. It is the judgment of plant growers that plants for sale should not be produced in this way, but should be grown from plants specially kept for that purpose.
Strawberries in Succession.
Is there any reason, in strawberry culture, when the vines are removed at the end of the fourth year, why the ground may not be thoroughly plowed and again planted to strawberries?
It is theoretically possible to grow strawberries continuously on the same land by proper fertilization and irrigation. Practically, the objection is that certain diseases and injurious insects may multiply in the land, and this is the chief reason why new plantations are put on new land and the old land used for a time for beans or some root crop, so that the soil may be cleaned and refreshed by rotation and by the possibility of deeper tillage.
Limitations on Gooseberries.
Why is it that gooseberries are not grown more in California? Is there any reason, climatic or other, why the gooseberry should not be as successfully grown in California as elsewhere?
There are two reasons. First, the gooseberry does not like interior valleys, although with proper protection from mildew or by growing resistant varieties, good fruit can be had in coast or mountain valleys. Second, practically no one cares for a ripe gooseberry in a country where so many other fruits are grown, and the demand is for green gooseberries for pies and sauce, and that is very easily oversupplied.
Dry Farming with Grapes.
I have heard that they are planting Muscat grapes on the dry farming plan. Will it be successful?
Grapes have been grown in California on the dry farming plan ever since Americans came 60 years ago. Grapes can be successfully grown by thorough cultivation for moisture retention, providing the rainfall is sufficient to carry the plant when it is conserved by the most thorough and frequent cultivation. Unless this rainfall is adequate, no amount of cultivation will make grape vines succeed, because even the best cultivation produces no moisture, but only conserves a part of that which falls from the clouds. Whether grapes will do depends, first, upon what the rainfall is; second, upon whether the soil is retentive; third, upon whether you cultivate in such a way as to enable the soil to exercise its maximum retentiveness. These are matters which cannot be determined theoretically - they require actual test.
Cutting Back Frosted Vine Canes.
Vines have been badly injured by the late frosts, especially the young vines which were out the most. Is there anything to be done with the injured shoots now on the vines so as to help the prospects of a crop?
If shoots are only lightly frosted they should be cut off at once as low as you can detect injury. This may save the lower parts of the shoot, from which a later growth can be made. Frosted parts ferment and carry destruction downward, and therefore should be disposed of as soon as possible. Where vines have run out considerably and badly frosted, the best practice usually is to strip off the frozen shoots so as to get rid of the dormant buds at the base, which often give sterile shoots. A new break of canes from other buds is generally more productive.
Dipping Thompson Seedless.
What is the process of dipping and bleaching Thompson seedless grapes?
One recipe for dipped raisins is as follows: One quart olive oil; 3/4-pound Greenbank soda and 3 quarts water are made into an emulsion, and then reduced with 10 gallons water in the dipping tank, adding more soda to get lye-strength enough to cut the skins, and more soda has to be added from time to time to keep up the strength. The grapes are dipped in this solution and sulphured to the proper color. This is the general outline of the process. The ability to use it well can only be attained by experience and close observation.
The Zante Currant.
Is the currant that grows in the United States in any way related to the currant that grows in Greece? If so, could it be cured like the currant that comes from Greece?
The dried currants of commerce are made in Greece and in California (to a slight extent) from the grape known as the grape of Corinth. They are not made from the bush currant which is generally grown in the United States, and the two plants are not in any way related.
Grape Vines for an Arbor.
How shall I prune grape vines, viz: Tokay, Black Cornichon, Muscat, Thompson Seedless, Rose of Peru, planted for a grape arbor?
You can grow all the vines you mention with high stumps reaching part way or to the top of the arbor as you desire side or top shade or both. You can also grow them with permanent side branches on the side slats of the arbor if you desire. Each winter pruning would consist in cutting back all the previous summer's growth to a few buds from which new canes will grow for shade or fruiting, or you can work on the renewal system, keeping some of these canes long for quick foliage and more fruit perhaps and cutting some of them short to grow new wood for the following year's service, as they often do in growing Eastern grapes.
Pruning Old Vines.
I have some Muscat grape vines 30 years old. Can I chop off most of the old wood with a hatchet and thereby bring them back to proper bearing?
Not with a hatchet. If the vines are worth keeping at all, they are worth careful cutting with a saw and a painting of all cuts in large old wood. If the vines have been neglected, you can saw away surplus prongs or spurs, reserving four or five of the best placed and most vigorous, and cut back the canes of last summer's growth to one, two or three buds, according to the strength of the canes - the thicker the canes, the more buds to be kept. It is not desirable to cut away an old vine to get a new start from the ground, unless you wish to graft. Shape the top of the vine as well as you can by saving the best of the old growth.
Topping Grape Vines.
Is topping grape vines desirable?
Topping of vines is in all cases more or less weakening. The more foliage that is removed, the more weakening it is. Vines, therefore, which are making a weak growth from any cause whatever can only be injured by topping. If the vines are exceptionally vigorous, the weakening due to topping may be an advantage by making them more fruitful. The topping, however, must be done with discretion. Early topping in May is much more effective and less weakening than later topping in June. Very early topping before blossoming helps the setting of the blossoms. Topping in general increases the size of the berries.
Will pruning grape vines when they bleed injure them?
It has been demonstrated not to be of any measurable injury.
Vines and Scant Moisture.
Would it be well to sucker vines and take also some bearing canes off, or in a dry year will they mature properly as in other years if the ground is in good condition?
Vines usually bear drouth-stress better than bearing fruit trees. On soils of good depth and retentiveness, they are likely to give good crops in a dry year with thorough cultivation; still, lightening the burden of the vines is rational. Suckering and cutting away second-crop efforts should be done. Whether you need to reduce the first crop can be told better by the looks of the vines later in the season.
Sulphuring for Mildew.
For two years I have not sulphured my vineyard and had no mildew. My vines seem as healthy and thrifty as any of the neighbors' that were duly sulphured. Have I lost anything by not sulphuring?
Certainly not. In sections where mildew is practically sure to come, sulphur should be used regularly as a preventive without waiting for the appearance of the disease. There are, however, many locations, especially in the interior valley, where the occurrence of mildew is rare in sufficient volume to do appreciable harm, and then sulphuring should depend upon the weather, which favors mildew or otherwise. But be always on the watch and have everything ready to sulphur immediately; also learn to recognize the conditions under which appearances of mildew become a menace.
Grape Sugar in Canned Grapes.
How can I prevent the formation of grape sugar in canned grapes?
Take care that the syrup is of the same density as the juice of the grape when the fruit and the juice are placed together in the can. The density of the syrup and the juice are, of course, to be obtained by the use of the spindle, the same arrangement employed for determining when the percentage of sugar in the grape juice is right for raisin-making or for wine-making. Whatever the density of the juice, make the syrup the same by the use of the right amount of sugar.