Home -> Pacific Rural Press -> 2nd 1000 Questions Answered in California Agriculture -> Part I - Fruit Growing

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Part I. Fruit Growing

Trees Do Not Grow Up.

A friend is setting twenty acres of walnuts, and is going to head them two feet from the ground, so that when they reach maturity the head will be four feet from the ground. Have you found this to be so or would you rather head them at four feet to begin with?

Your friend is wrong in the head. A tree does not grow up from the ground. Unless some one shifts the ground in cultivation or otherwise, the head draws nearer to the surface because the branches enlarge in diameter. That is, the center of each branch remains just where the bud, from which it grew, started on the stem; the lower side being nearer the ground, therefore, by one-half the diameter of the branch. This amounts to a great deal with trees which reach such size and thickness of limb as the walnut and fig. If you wish the lowest limb something less than four feet start the limb at four feet and the under-side of it will draw nearer to the ground later.

Growing Fruit Trees in Alfalfa.

How shall I plant alfalfa in a young orchard? The ground was leveled before trees were planted, but will require checking now to control the water. If I throw up border checks along the tree rows will this work any injury to the trees from being in the ground that much deeper?

It depends upon the kind of soil and how much deeper. It is less dangerous in a light soil, but if there is much dirt shifted around the tree it usually does harm. In such a case the tree should have been planted a little higher, and yet not so high as to be liable to injury on a dry levee. But trees in alfalfa should usually have a cultivated strip to themselves, at least while young, the levee being turned up three or four feet from the trees.

Sour Sap in the Root.

My peach trees put out a few leaves and then within a few days the leaves turned brown and dry before unfolding. Some of the trees set out last spring died. The trees planted two years ago are first showing it now.

There has been too much water standing in the soil. It has destroyed the root-hairs and they could not furnish sap to keep up the growth which started from the sap in the main roots and stems. Cut back the trees, and those not too badly injured will start again later,
if the tree is able to re-establish its connection with soil-moisture by the growth of new roothairs. The prevention for such a condition is under-drainage so that there shall be no water standing in the soil. The two-year-old trees were not hit before because there was not rainfall enough to fill the soil with standing water.

Root-Action After Transplanting.

A neighbor, while I was planting some peach trees, said I was not pruning the roots sufficiently. He took a tree and pruned off all the roots and rootlets except three or four of the largest ones, and these he cut back. He said the rootlets would not survive the transplanting, and only served to keep the earth from being packed well about the main roots. Was he right?

The finer roots and rootlets, like threads and strings, are often worthless, as your neighbor says. They might better be cleared away, but, because of the work required, they are usually allowed to remain. Roots one-eighth of an inch in thickness there is no object in removing, if the planting and earth-pressing about them is being carefully done. Your neighbor is a little too radical, but trees will grow his way if moisture is ample. In our climate and in our soil which favor surface drying more than the humid climate, where this root-docking originated, it is better to retain longer roots in transplanting - merely making a new cut at the ends of them as they come from the nursery. This applies to what may be called average moisture conditions at planting. If the conditions of heat and moisture are ideal, and if the rootlets have not dried during transportation, they do not die but may be first to start growth. We once took up a Junebud peach, planted a month before, and found that the first new rootlets were starting from the string-like roots and nothing had put out from the larger ones.

Treatment of Trees After Submergence.

A prune orchard on peach root was covered with seepage water some three months and now some 500 trees are dead, and the remainder look very badly. What can I do for the remaining trees, what killed the ones that died, and would they have died had they been on myrobalan root?

The trees were killed by water standing in the soil. The peach is quite subject to such injury. The myrobalan root resists it - although we do not know exactly how much submergence it will endure. There is no treatment for trees suffering from standing water except cutting back the top to reduce the evaporation and thus enable the injured roots to re-establish themselves, if their injury has not gone too far. Prevention of injury can be secured by under-drainage of such lands.

Disinfecting Tree Holes.

I have blown out about 40 stunted Bartlett pears as the roots and stumps were badly decayed. I desire to replant with Gravenstein apples. Can I disinfect the holes without transporting too muck water (as copper sulphate solution)? The bottoms of the holes are tilled with manure, and as soon as ground settles will fill with new soil.

Probably a good whitening of the hole with air-slaked lime, before putting in the new soil, will do as much good as anything. We should count most upon the use of good soil from a distance. Put a good deal of soil between the roots and the manure. We would prefer to put the manure on top after planting. If your blasting shattered the old subsoil so as to furnish better under-drainage the apples may come through all right. Otherwise they will follow the pears probably, after awhile. Rotten root is usually the result of planting in a place naturally defective.

Replanting After Crown Gall.

I have an old peach orchard full of crown gall or black knot. Would it be safe to plant to new orchard without disinfection and is any particular variety of fruit trees immune from this disease?

Work the land deeply, getting out and removing all root-fragments and replant on lines between the old rows with trees free from knots and sign of their removal and watch the crowns and main roots by uncovering once a year the base of the trees - cleanly cutting away and Bordeauxing the wound, if any knots are found. Peach and almond roots are most subject; cherries, apricots and plums next; pears and apples least-according to our observation.

Replanting Apples and Pears.

I have taken out an old orchard, and desire to set it out again. Would it be advisable to set pears and apples again in the same soil?

It is practicable providing the soil is good and suited to apples and pears as shown by the trees you removed. It would be better to manure well and run the land in alfalfa, beans or peas for two or three years or even to some other cultivated crop with deep plowing but it is not necessary to do so. Get out all the old roots you can and plant the new rows midway between the old rows, if the old distances were right.

Manure and Tree Planting.

Which is the best way to use manure in setting out trees: to dig the holes about three feet and then fill about ten inches of manure and about one foot of dirt? Or just dig the holes as you want them and then mix the dirt and manure well together and fill the hole with it?

As a rule it is not a good thing to put manure in the hole with the tree - either below it or mixed with the earth in filling. Of course, if the manure is thoroughly decomposed, it may be put below as you suggest and covered with dirt, but unless you are irrigating there will be danger of the soil becoming too dry. If the manure is not decomposed, it will ferment and heat as well as dry the tree roots dangerously. Besides, it costs altogether too much to dig such holes. As for mixing the manure with the soil in filling around the roots, the same dangers are likely to be encountered, and besides, too much manure may come into direct contact with the roots. Plant the tree in clean soil and spread the manure on top after filling the hole. The rains will leach the richness and distribute it through the soil, and the balance can be worked in with the spring cultivation or left around the tree to reduce evaporation of moisture.

Transplanting Date Palms.

Can date palms be successfully transplanted? I have been told by nurserymen that they will not live unless they are transplanted without disturbing the roots.

Palm roots should not be cleared of the soil enclosing them, but they are really very easy to move, because they have rope-like roots which hold a ball of earth together. It is not likely to break and fall apart as in the case of moving other trees. Trench around the plant with a sharp spade so that the inside of the trench shall be a foot or more (according to size of plant) from the base of the palm. Go down a foot or two feet (according to size of plant, again) and then cut under with the spade, until the plant stands in a loose ball of earth. Lift out, with tackle if necessary; settle the earth in the new place with water and keep moist. Remove a good part of the leaves before moving.

Advantages of Planting in Squares.

Is there any objection to using the hexagonal system instead of the square system on rolling land, and would not the hexagonal system give greater yields from this acreage than if planted any other way?

We would prefer laying out in squares, especially on uneven ground, because it gives wider areas for working, although it does not favor working in so many directions. We have never seen demonstration that the few more trees in the hexagonal planting made the acre yield greater. The theoretical advantage of actually equal division of land and the consequent setting of a few more trees, is either not realized or is counter-balanced by the greater inconvenience in working. As for the trees getting the use of all the land we have no doubt they do that, even if the roots have to go a little farther for it.

Do Not Graft Apples on Pears.

I have twenty acres in pears which are about 25 years old, the main trunks of the trees being in perfect condition, but the branches and limbs are bad, due to the continued cutting out of the pear blight. Can I graft apples on them?

Apples have no durable affinity for pears and vice versa. Sometimes considerable growth is secured, but sooner or later the scions die. Besides the pear blight attacks apples - sometimes more virulently than it does pears.

Carrying Power of the Scion.

I have some large nine-year-old Emperors which I am thinking of grafting over with Thompson scions. I hear that seedless varieties will not do well on roots which produce seeds.

The scion does, in all save very rare cases of variation, have the power to carry over its own character and to thoroughly dominate the stock. If this were not so, all our vast nursery interests and our great commercial fruit growing enterprises would fly into confusion, and all our modern agitation for selection of buds from growths of the best types would be unwarranted. You are wrongly advised. Thompson will be Thompson, surely enough for all commercial purposes. Our seedless grapes may once in a while show seeds, but it would be easier to shoot them in with a gun than to grow them in from the root.

Lifting Trees Planted too Deeply.

I have trees that were planted from eight inches to a foot too deep. I would like to plant these trees right this next season. Can this be done without serious damage and if so, the best time to do it?

You can pull the trees upward several inches when the ground is well soaked with rain - if the soil is a light loam. If, however, they have grown well since planting work the soil away from the trees this winter and let them go. If they have suffered from such deep planting and have not made much growth, replant properly with vigorous new trees.

Fruit-Thinning and Natural Drop.

At what stage should the peach and apricot be thinned? Is it true that if the pit has colored any, it is too late and more damage results than good? Just what is meant by the "natural drop"? Will this occur if the crop has been thinned early in the season?

It does not matter to the tree except that it is likely to make more wood growth or to make the remaining fruits larger when its load is lessened. No damage is done by late thinning, but it may be too late to enlarge the remaining fruits much. Therefore thin just as soon as you are sure the tree will keep too many after it has thrown down what it will by the "natural drop," and that is what those words mean. This will occur more or less even if you have thinned, therefore it is usual to do thinning after it has occurred.

Shortening Shoots to Thin Fruit.

Do you advise in thinning peaches, removing or shortening surplus shoots during May? I have tried pruning part of the fruit off, but found that it stunted the growth of the tree and worked injury to the orchard. I find, however, I can get the new growth thinned out at little expense when we are thinning the fruit.

We would reduce surplus shoots by removing them cleanly at their starting point rather than shorten them in May, for that would induce them to send out sprays of laterals and fill the tree with brush. The same thing would follow shortening shoots which you do need to retain, above the fruit. We believe in thinning away surplus shoots by complete removal of them and hand-thinning fruit, without summer-shortening, those desirable to retain. This seems to give stronger wood for the next season's fruiting - subject to the regular winter pruning against too great branch extension.

Cutting Back at Planting.

Some people cut their trees after planting to 18 to 20 inches above the ground. When the tree sprouts it leaves a short dead stump in the center between limbs. Other people leave two or three short limbs about two or three inches long which does away with the dead stump between limbs, leaving them about the same height from the ground as the first method. With a dead stump between limbs would the tree be more liable to get diseased?

When the new shoot starts below the top of the cut-back stem, the stub should be cut back to near the starting place of this top shoot, so the wound will quickly grow over. You can leave short pieces of the laterals in planting (say to the first bud) when planting conditions are good and the trees likely to make a quick start. If conditions are not so favorable it is usually better to cut back near to the stem, but not so close as to injure the dormant buds at the base of the lateral. If more than one of these dormant buds start, pinch off all but the best one. Always cut back dead stubs to live bark below so they can grow over quickly; they are likely to favor interior decay of the branch or stem.

Advantages of Fall Pruning.

Fruit buds on peach trees have not developed well, while wood growth is excessive where water has been supplied in any quantity. Would not a light early fall pruning be of advantage? What would be the particular precautions to take other than avoiding danger from sunburn?

If you cut hack when the tree is too dormant to break new lateral growth the energy will be expended in developing stronger buds on the wood which is retained. There are advantages in getting pruning done earlier, while the days are longer, the ground harder and weather conditions better for work, and more time left for spraying and tillage and a better chance to grow a cover crop also. The chief danger to avoid is the starting of new growth in the fall and therefore signs of coming dormancy are essential. Each tree must be pruned when it has assumed an autumn aspect and lost its summer exuberance. If this comes too early because of drying out of the soil, sunburn must be guarded against by spraying with whitewash. But trees to be thrifty and to bear well should be prevented, by irrigation, from yellowing their leaves too soon. No pruning can compensate for such a loss as that, though by reducing evaporating surface it may keep the tree alive until the rains come.

Skipping a Year's Pruning.

Would harm result from not pruning my orchard for one season? They are mixed trees, most of which are three years old, and which have been regularly pruned each season. There are some one year in orchard, which were cut back closely after planting.

You can skip a year with the older trees which have been stiffened by thrice cutting back. Next year you can cut into the older wood as seems desirable. A good many growers play the game that way. The trees only a year in the orchard should be pruned before second year's growth starts.

Pruning Almonds.

My almonds will be three years old next February. I have never pruned them. When is the proper time to prune, and would you advise me to prune? I believe they are too bushy.

They probably are too thick and have a lot of branches crossing each other or lying upon each other, and thus interfering with good foliage action. Your work would be chiefly thinning out surplus branching and cutting back to upright laterals branches which are drooping too much. You can begin this as soon as the foliage yellows and keep at it for the next two months or more. (See also Part I, Vol. I.)

Pruning Prunes.

How would you prune a French prune tree after second summer in orchard? Would you advise topping or cutting back main branches, and how many laterals would you allow to grow on main branches, and should the laterals be pruned?

Although there is some difference of opinion as to how a prune tree should be pruned after the third summer growth there is little difference among those who prune at all, as to the desirability of rather short cutting for the third summer's growth. Prune back to a length of one to two feet from the starting point of the second summer's growth, according to strength, situation and direction of the branch. There can be no rule of inches. It is a matter of judgment. As to number of laterals, two cut-back shoots of last summer's growth from each branch of the first summer's growth would be usually enough to fill the tree sufficiently by the end of next summer's growth.

Fruit Splitting.

What causes fruits to split? Is sandy soil more apt to cause splitting than heavier soil? I have a few trees, seven years old, on sandy soil, that are growing finely but the fruits split.

The causes of splitting have not been demonstrated. It is quite widely believed to be due to irregularity in moisture - either in the air or the soil or both - producing too rapid changes in the moisture conditions in the tissues. Some fruits are more liable than others; and some varieties of the same fruit more liable than other varieties. Theoretically more rapid changes would be expected in a sandy soil.

Slitting Bark-Bound Trees.

I have Comnice pear trees, four years old, which are "hide bound" at the union. The trees are good and healthy so far. Do you advise splitting the bark in four or five places and rubbing soft soap over the whole surface, i. e., between the upper roots and where it was budded?

We would slit but not split. Run a sharp knife up or down (not sideways) through the union, to the bark above and below it. This will allow expansion and a better joint. Soft soap may be all right but we would use whitewash.

Crude Oil and Bark Injuries.

Climbing cut-worms were eating our fruit buds at night, and I painted the trees below the fork with crude oil. The oil seems to have injured the trees. I have made cuts on the south side of trees and find the bark dry as if the sap had stopped running.

Heavy oils are dangerous if applied directly to tree bark. Whether it acted through sunburning and not otherwise, you can tell by cutting into the bark on the north side of the tree. If the inner bark is healthy in the shade, the presumption is that the injury is sunburn, and it may have been done before you put the oil on, though it is quite likely that the oil by darkening the bark increased the injury. Cover the oil with a coat of whitewash and see later how badly you are hit.

Non-Bearing Cherries.

I have black cherry trees, eight years old, in black loam, well drained, thrifty growers, healthy looking, bloom heavy, set fruit, but when fruit reaches size of a pea, it falls off. The limbs have been thinned out, but never cut back. Why does not the fruit mature, and what would you advise?

Cherries sometimes come to such age without holding fruit, when they are on rich land and are making too much wood-growth. Stop pruning and cultivation and see what they will do. Sometimes such behavior is due to lack of cross-pollination, but if you have other cherries near by this is doubtful in your case. If you have no others, graft one limb of each tree to a variety which bears well in your neighborhood. If you do have other satisfactory bearers graft over all the limbs to varieties which you have proved to be worth having. Top-grafting by the common method works easily with cherries.

Die-Back on Cherries.

Our cherry trees have died back on the ends of the top branches. Shall we cut back now or wait until after the fruit is gathered? We do not wish to injure our crop of cherries.

Cut back to sound wood whenever you see die-back, no matter what time of the year it is. Cutting back will not hurt fruit wood which is still healthy. But die-back usually indicates root trouble and cutting back may not stop it. Your trees probably need either irrigation or drainage, according to the soil they are growing in.

Branch Failure of Prunes.

Some Imperial prune trees on myrobalan root, especially toward the top, did not leaf this spring, but some small leaves are just coming now; others are still bare, and are still alive. As the orchard is rather fiat, perhaps it is owing to the, water lying there too long during the winter.

The myrobalan ought to stand a good deal of standing waterstill it may have had too long soaking. But there is a chance of the cause being frost after the sap began to move to the top. If good leaves are coming now, the trees will probably pull through. All wood not yet starting should be pruned back to active parts.

Almonds on Heavy Soil.

Our soil is a clay loam of a depth from 18 to 30 inches, with yellow clay below. In your opinion, would almond trees do well on this soil?

On a heavy soil with a tight subsoil standing water may rot the root. On a deep heavy soil the tree may remain thrifty because the soil, though heavy, is well drained, or else the local rainfall is in such amount, or distributed in such a way, that the soil does not become waterlogged. If you can winter-plow very soon after a good rain the soil is well drained. If you have to keep the teams off some time, for fear they will mire down, it will be very dangerous for the almond and many other fruits.

Can Old Almonds Come Back?

Can 14-year-old almond trees on good soil, which have not been properly pruned, cultivated or sprayed for a number of years, be brought back to profitable bearing? Last year the red spider took off all their leaves.

Some old almonds are only firewood but a 14-year-old tree in good soil should come back with proper tillage, pruning and protection from pests. The trees should be considerably cut back, winter sprayed with lime-sulphur to clean the bark, a good watch kept for red spider next June, and the foliage kept alive all during the coming growing season with plenty of moisture and good cultivation.

Almonds Need Drainage.

Is it right to keep the ground soaked on young almond trees during the winter months?

If you mean soaked so that water will fill a hole (when you dig it to try), then they should certainly not be soaked. Standing water is apt to kill young almond trees. If they are on light soil, this is not likely to occur, because the soil drains itself: but there is no gain in keeping water running through it all the time. The almond should stand in soil which is moist, but not wet.

Young Trees in Old Orchards.

I have apricots 15 years old, the trees 30 feet apart. The soil is river-bottom land-sandy loam; irrigation in normal years is available. The land is practically in the frostless belt, and 45 lemon trees two years old do well. Shall I plant more citrus fruit trees between the apricots to have a bearing crop when the apricot trees may cease bearing?

If the apricot trees have grown as they do in good situations, they are almost meeting at fifteen years old, and it is not expected that the young trees of any kind could establish themselves well under their prior occupation of the sky and land. The lemon is pretty good at serving itself, and if it gets water enough can be brought along for a time by cutting back the apricots to give it light. Unless the apricots are profitable enough to keep, we should clear them out and give the land to lemons; or if they are worth keeping make the lemon plantation on other land.

Apricots at Elevations.

I have an apricot tree which has borne good crops every year for, the last four years. My elevation is about 2,000 feet. Would you advise me to plant apricots, and, if so, what varieties?

The behavior of your tree shows that the fruit is safe with you. Manifestly the variety which you now have is the proper one to plant and you can proceed safely by grafting or budding from this tree upon apricot or peach seedlings, whichever are available. Low winter temperatures do not injure the apricot, because the tree grows successfully even in some parts of the Eastern States. The danger lies in the spring frosts after the tree has become active. It is doubtful whether your apricot growing would be profitable in competition with the crops grown nearer to transportation on the valley and lower foothill lands. In local demand for the fruit, however, the advantage would be with you. We would advise planting only as local sale may be profitable.

Grape Vines from Cuttings.

Will pieces cut off from grape vines grow if taken off in the spring and put into the ground?

Surely: that is the way grapes are usually grown. Take a shoot which grew this year and cut up its more mature part (near to the old spur from which it grew) into pieces about eight inches long and plant them (same end up as they grew) with the bottom end about six inches under ground and one bud above the surface. Do not wait for the eastern "spring": do it in February if the ground is moist and not wet.

Which Side Up for Vine Cuttings?

Once I saw Italians rooting some grape cuttings and they had them all planted the top end down. They said they grew better. I found out the reason later on, and it was to get a grape with fewer seeds in it.

Grape cuttings are sometimes put in upside down because bringing the butts near the surface causes them to callus more quickly and therefore to be more sure to grow. The formation of callus is favored by heat, which, in the open ground in winter, is near the surface, which is touched by the sun. Therefore, in California and in Italy cuttings are aften inverted and buried wholly in the ground, if it is sandy and well drained. After being callused they are planted as they grew and as they are expected to grow. The Italians were right; they do grow better by such treatment, but they usually grow well enough the other way. As for turning the cuttings upside down to cause the seed to fall out of the fruit - we have no faith in it.

Tree Planting in Old Vineyard.

Some growers are removing phylloxerated grape vines and putting trees in same holes; saving expense of digging holes for trees. Would it not be better to put the trees between the rows where the vines were where the ground has been cultivated, and would it not be still better to remove vines this fall, cultivate the ground thoroughly and in the spring sow to alfalfa, or bur clover, and leave for one or two years before putting out the trees?

There is every reason to set the almond trees at points not previously occupied by the vines. There is not only a chance of reduction of fertility at that point but the soil has become hardened and has lost something also from the lack of aeration which cultivation promotes. We should plant midway between the vines in each alternate row, but far better would be complete clearing and growth of some other crop for a year or two, especially if legumes are grown as you suggest. If not, then a crop requiring deep plowing and good summer cultivation such as peas or beans or potatoes would bring the land into better shape for tree planting.

Uprooting Grape Vines.

Which is the best and cheapest way to remove the vines? Do you advise blasting?

The most rapid arrangement for pulling vines is what is called the "vine puller," made of a pair of strong wagon wheels with a long pole, four by six pine scantling 12 ft. long, with strong iron hook on one end. Allow the end with the hook to project 18 in. beyond the axle of the wheel and bolt the pole down to the axle. Hitch a short chain around the vine stump; hook into this chain by raising the long end of the pole; start the horse to pull down the pole which lifts the vine and it is dragged out as the wheels proceed. If the soil is very heavy or if there is hardpan beneath a loamy top soil, blasting is desirable.

Bees and Grapes.

We let an apiarian put hives of bees under some trees in the middle of our 90-acre vineyard. Our Italian workingmen say that the bees will pierce the skin of the grapes for the sugar and those gropes so injured will dry up and cause us a loss of at least 20 tons before time for harvesting the crop. Is this true?

All careful experiments known to us have demonstrated that honey bees will not, and perhaps cannot, puncture the whole skin of a grape, but if the skin is broken, even with a pin-puncture they will help themselves to the contents, if other food is not available. The inference would be that if other insects, birds, etc., are present and puncture the skin, the bees will do the rest.

Pruning Neglected Vines.

I have rented for one year only a vineyard of wine grapes that was not pruned last year. Tell me how to prune them to get a crop this year. They are 9 years old and in fairly good shape.

To get fruit this year you must save the lowest cane which grew last year; shorten that to save the two lowest buds and cut away all the two-year-old cane which grew beyond the point where it started. You can prune the vine just as you would have pruned it the year before, but if you do that you will get cane growth where it ought to be but you will get no fruit this year. You will get a great break of new canes from the old wood probably and should rub off all but the best ones for the subsequent building of the vine.

Treating Vine Stakes.

Do you believe that an asphaltum-crude-oil-coated-stake would be injurious to young vine roots one year old?

No; and we are not sure how much good it will do the stake. Whatever preservative effect there may be will be increased by treating the stakes some time in advance and allowing them to dry thoroughly in the sunshine. The same process will also set free some volatile matters in the oil and remove danger of injuring the roots.

Resistance of the Tokay.

Are Tokay vines more resistant to phylloxera than other grape vines?

The Tokay vine usually resists phylloxera longer than other vinifera vines. It does not have very high resistance as compared with resistant vines of the American class, but it is surely to be found surviving and bearing fruit in phylloxerated districts after other vines of its species, which are grown in this State, have succumbed to the insect.

Fig Wasp for Bearing.

What must be done with a Smyrna fig to make it bear? Small figs come on and before they get ripe they fall off. Some say that we will have to get a wasp to sting the figs before they will remain on and get ripe.

A small, almost microscopic, wasp grows in wild or capri figs and in summer while the Smyrna figs are on the tree they go out of the fig they grew in and go into young Smyrnas. They do not sting them at all, they simply carry pollen into the fig and that makes the seeds mature and the figs stay on and ripen. You should get some capri figs at the right time from some Smyrna fig grower or grow some yourself. If one has only a single Smyrna tree it might be possible to graft some capri figs on the branches and the work would look after itself and space would be saved, though this is not to be advocated for orchards.

Figs from Cuttings.

Which is the most successful method to propagate fig trees, and the proper time to do it?

Put in, about February, good cuttings of last year's well-matured shoots. They usually root freely.

Summer Cover in Olive Orchard.

Is there a leguminous crop which can be grown in summer with irrigation ordinarily given olive trees?

The cow pea is the most available summer-growing legume. But with the irrigation "ordinarily given to olive trees" you would not get much growth of cow peas and you would spoil the olive crop - coming into the autumn with weary-looking trees and shriveled fruit, which might plump-up with the rains, but never get to be first-class. Do not go in for summer cover crops unless you are sure you have an excess of soil moisture. Irrigate and cultivate well and give the trees all the advantage you can.

Planting-Out Rooted Olives.

I have about 30,000 olive tip cuttings, all rooted. Would you advise me to plant them in the nursery now? I figure they have a month or more to establish themselves in the ground before frost.

The planting can be successfully done in the autumn providing the ground is moist enough to protect the little plants from drying up before the rains come. Such planting is safer in places where frosts are absent or very light but there would he much less risk in planting out in February or later when the ground becomes warm and permanently moist.

Do Not Plant Olive Trees in Mud.

Intending to transplant 3-year-old olive trees, I dug holes and found that water filled them up in about 15 minutes. Shall I bale out the water and plant with plenty of earth tamped in around the tree, or had I better find out in summer time how far back from the adjacent ditch the moisture will soak through the ground, which consists of sand, loam and gravel?

You should not transplant olives until everything begins to warm up and the buds look like starting a new growth. This may be in April or even in May. By that time you can see if there is still too much water, etc. A short stand of water in such soil will not hurt an olive, but if there is always as much water there, it is no place for an olive or any other fruit tree.

What Is Citron?

Where can I get seeds of the plant producing the candied citron which they sell in stores? Is it a fruit tree or a vine?

The true citron of commerce grows upon an evergreen fruit tree just as an orange does, and budded trees can be had from the nurseries. There is a member of the melon family called the pie melon, which is also called "citron" in parts of the world where citrus fruits cannot grow, because the rind of it is preserved so that it has some distant resemblance to the true candied rind of the citron fruit. It has no commercial importance. (Curing of true citron is described in Part I, Vol. 1 of this issue.)

Causes of Coarse Oranges.

Why are oranges rough, with thick rind at the upper or stem end? Is there any danger of applying too much manure to orange and lemon trees?

Oranges may become too coarse when growing on brash suckerwood or they sometimes come that way on young trees which naturally have great vegetative energy; or they may be forced into such excess growth by too free use of stable manure or other nitrogenous manures; or the bud taken to make the tree from may have bad ancestry. There is, therefore, danger in using too much stable or other nitrogenous manure. If it has already been done, use a fertilizer of potash and phosphate alone, or use none and wait for the growth to calm down.

When to Pick Oranges and Lemons.

When is the best time to pick oranges and lemons? Is it best to leave them on the trees to get as ripe as possible (just so they do not freeze), or should they be picked and stored away to ripen?

Oranges should be picked whenever the price is good, after they get the proper relation of sugar and acid in the juice. This is now being determined by experts for the packing houses or by the growers themselves, before shipping. Oranges are handled fresh from the trees, and do not improve by storage though they may be held a limited time without cold storage in a place which is cool and not too dry. Lemons can be picked when of satisfactory size without reference to ripeness and allowed to get toughness and silkiness of skin before shipping or selling.

Tubbing Orange Trees.

Could I take up orange trees, one year old from bud, this fall, put in tubs and set in greenhouse? I am afraid of frost.

You surely can. Let the new growth on the bud stop and harden somewhat; take up with a ball of earth on the roots and fill around the ball in the tub with good, friable loam. Have ample drainage hole in the tub bottom and then do not over-irrigate until new growth is starting, when water may be more freely used. Presumably you intend to grow the trees henceforward in the tubs; if not, we would burlap them as they stand and transplant to orchard next spring when the ground has become well warmed.

Hardy Orange for Blossoms.

I wish to get orange blossoms in a place where citrus fruits are not grown. How shall I try?

The most ornamental orange in foliage, bloom and fruit is the Seville or bitter orange. It is what is called the "sour stock" in our citrus propagation and it is quite hardy. The fruit is inedible except in marmalade.

Grafting Lemon on Orange.

Can one graft lemon onto orange? If so, when should it be done; are there any particular ways of doing it?

Most of our lemon trees are on orange roots - such trees being made by shield budding in the nursery. Top grafting of older trees is done with the ordinary cleft graft method but better waxing is essential, as evergreen trees do not start scions as briskly as deciduous trees. Grafting is done later in the spring when the tree shows signs of starting a new growth, which requires a higher heat in citrus than deciduous trees.

Growing Orange Trees.

We want to plant some orange seeds in boxes in a lath house. Will they do to bud this summer, and what time if planted in February? What fertilizer would be good to force them along? Would the bud make any growth this year? Will they do better in a lath house or in open ground?

Although it is possible to grow orange seedlings in boxes in a lath house, it is more common to broadcast the seed in the ground under the lath covering rather than in boxes. When the seedlings are about a foot high they are transplanted to nursery rows and when about a third of an inch in diameter they are budded. This may be done from spring to fall - when in the fall the buds stay dormant until spring heat starts them out. The seedlings range from one to two years old at the time the bud starts growth, and at least one year's growth is allowed on the bud before planting in permanent place.

Oranges in Cold Soil.

Some of my orange trees are on lower ground than others. They seem to bloom a couple of weeks later. What can be done to make them bloom earlier?

Underdrain the land or move the trees to higher ground.

Winter Pears.

What is the best variety of winter pear for market use?

Winter pears chiefly grown in California are Winter Nelis, Easter Beurre and P. Barry.

Seedling Japanese Persimmons.

Can you grow edible fruit from the seed of Japanese persimmons?

Yes: but it will generally be inferior to the fruit from which the seed is taken; therefore, to secure particularly desirable varieties, the plants must be grafted just as other fruits are.

Replanting Peach Orchard.

Can I plant young almond trees between the rows and let the peach trees grow for two years and then root them out? I can water the young trees in the rows if needed.

Plant good yearling almond trees between the rows, cutting back the peaches to give the almonds plenty of light and getting a couple of good crops of large peaches on the cut-back trees. Then use water enough to keep both lines growing well. In planting, furrow out well and run a subsoiler along the line of the new rows so as to plant in root-free ground, otherwise the young trees will be hard to start.

Apricot on Peach Roots.

Can an apricot be grafted to a peach? Will it make a good union and fruit well?

It surely can be: on a good peach soil there is probably no better root for the apricot. We have seen such trees over 40 years old still in good condition. This refers to trees worked over young. If you refer to grafting over old peach trees that is a more difficult matter, for old peach bark is contrary and extra care is required in grafting.

Almond on Peach.

Can almonds be grafted on peach trees ten years old, in good shape, roots and trunks all right, with success so they will stick, grow and produce crops later?

Cut off the main branches above the forks and put in side-grafts without splitting the limb-ends, waxing extra well, for the peach bark shrinks and dies back badly if not covered. If you do this, let good shoots grow from all stubs on which the grafts do not take and bud into them near their bases in June. The objection is that amputations do not easily bark over and unless you watch and keep the ends painted the old wood will begin to decay and you may have a sad lot of rotten trunks below the thrifty almond branches, and this does not make for longevity.

Moving Yearling Peach Trees.

Should I transplant peach trees next spring that were planted last spring, or should I get new ones?

Cut off about two-thirds of the tops and move them this winter. They will endure the transplanting all right. But if they have been stunted by dryness or disease or injury, new trees would be more profitable.

Thinning Peach Growth in Summer.

If five-year-old peach trees make a dense growth of wood would it be advisable to thin this growth to keep it from smothering the fruit buds for the following year?

It is sometimes desirable to thin as you propose, not because it smothers fruit buds, but because it may make interior shoots stronger and more likely to bear good fruit. It should be done as soon as you decide the growth is becoming too dense. Such summer pruning is seldom necessary or desirable on trees which have been properly winter-pruned.

Pear on Quince.

It seems to me that pear, top-worked upon old quince stumps, does not make a very dependable union, and may break down in a few years. If I put these pears upon quince root by budding in nursery, will they bear early and abundantly?

You will get the same results and a stronger union by working on a younger stock. Put in cuttings when the new growth of the quince becomes dormant. Make them about ten inches long and put three-quarters of their length in the ground. Allow one shoot to grow from each cutting, and if it gets large enough, put in a pear bud next August to remain dormant until the following spring. If the growth is too thin to put in a bud in the fall, allow it to grow all the season and graft the following February in the nursery row. Get one summer's growth on the bud or graft and transplant. (See also Vol. I, Part I.)

Grafting Over Young Prune Trees.

I have severed prune trees from which I wish to propagate about 200 young trees. I desire to get bearing trees in the quickest and most satisfactory way.

Buy either myrobalan seedlings or budded French prune trees on myrobalan - whichever you can get most handily from the nursery. Plant these in orchard form. Select small but thrifty trees and when the swelling buds indicate the beginning of activity, whip or tongue graft them about 18 inches from the ground, with scions from the trees you wish to reproduce. Wrap the whip grafts with a waxed band and whitewash over all, from below the ground to the top of the scion, and look out for suckers which may take too much sap. Those grafts which grow will make you the trees you desire. Grow shoots from all stumps on which the grafts fail, and bud them soon as you can get plump buds to work with, which will be in June, and when the buds have taken, reduce the growth above them to start growth. In this way you ought to get a full stand of the kind you want (on all transplants which start at all) the first summer in the orchard.

Quince Growing.

I have land that seems especially adapted to growing quinces. Trees began bearing at three years and in the fourth year were heavily laden with fine large quinces. I would plant largely to these trees if I were sure of a market.

The demand for quinces is limited and largely local. Thirty years ago there was an idea that many more could be grown for Eastern sale, but experience showed that only small shipments can he made to the East. Although the California quince is larger and handsomer than the Eastern, they do not care to pay more for a fruit which loses its form in preparation for use. Such quinces as are now grown pay about as well as apples, but if we should largely increase the product no use could be found for it.

Replacing Old Fruit Trees.

Is it good policy to replant prunes in an old prune orchard which is dying out? The soil is sandy loam. Could apricots be planted on this same land?

Why are the old trees dying? Trees in good soil and well taken care of do not die of old age in this State. If you propose to change conditions in some way so that the cause of the death of the old trees will be ruled out, you can replant the ground with the same fruit, if you wish. There is no advantage demonstrated yet of rotation of fruits. Their requirements are too much alike to allow the soil to get advantage from a change. On sandy loam, if deep and well-drained, your prunes ought to be on peach or almond root, probably. Apricots will thrive on the same soil, if on peach, or their own seedling roots.

Budding and Grafting Plums.

I have Bartlett plums which I wish to work over to Climax, Wickson or Tragedy. Would you advise budding now, or wait till spring to graft, or pull them out?

We would get in buds in properly situated new shoots this summer, arranging for the right number of new branches. Where buds do not take you can put in grafts next spring and thus get a full stand. We would not sacrifice stems and roots by pulling out.

Bearing of Blackberries.

Do blackberries bear on new wood only?

Of those commercially grown, all but Himalaya bear on wood which grew the previous summer. The Himalaya bears for years on laterals sent out from wood more than a year old.

An Amateur's Strawberry Bed.

I am anxious to have an ideal strawberry patch. The soil is light. How shall I have the ground prepared to get the best results? I am willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain an abundance of early, midseason and late berries.

Spread a good amount of stable manure and dig in the full depth of the spade or fork. As the soil is light, enclose the patch with a levee to be six or eight inches high when the ground settles, and irrigate by flooding the check to get even distribution. Keep the surface cleanly hoed this summer to kill weeds and retain moisture. Work up well after the rains and plant Longworth Prolific, Dollar, Jessie, Melinda, and Brandywine - if you wish quite a variety to draw from. The length of your bearing season will depend upon how well you use water. A "complete fertilizer" such as is sold for fruit purposes, is right for strawberries. Be careful not to fertilize too heavily or you will get mostly leaves, an enormous growth of runners and little disposition to fruit.

Garden Strawberries.

My strawberries are growing vigorously and are beginning to blossom. Shall I let them bear this year? How many runners shall I allow them to grow this fall? Or shall I pinch off all blooms and runners until next year?

As an amateur, likely to give the plants good growing conditions all summer, you can let the plants fruit without injuring them, and you can grow them as singles for several fruiting seasons unless you wish some more plants for your own use. If so, limit the runners to meet your needs and husband the fruit capacity of the parent plants thereby. Fruiting singles instead of making matted rows is also a commercial method if one is willing to give the plants the attention required.

Walnuts in the San Joaquin.

On flat valley land in the Fresno region will walnuts stand the temperature and the tree make a good growth? If so, what varieties are best? Would hardpan land do, provided the hardpan was blasted through? There are no commercial plantings, but a few isolated trees are thrifty, and yield good nuts.

On soils sufficiently deep and free from alkali, the walnut is satisfactory in your valley, if it is grown upon the California black walnut root. The Franquette and Mayette seem to be least liable to sunburn. If the land has a thin layer of hardpan which can be disposed of by digging through or blasting, with a subsoil free from alkali, it is probably suitable for walnut growing.

Walnut Scions.

Should walnut scions be cut a few weeks before using them? How should they be kept during this time? Does the bleeding of the stumps affect the growth of the grafts?

Walnut scions should be cut and stored in a cold place if there is danger of becoming too active. The stock should be a little more advanced than the scion. In grafting large trees, sometimes bleeding "drowns" the scion. It can be checked by boring a quarter-inch hole into the stump near the ground.

Grafting Walnuts.

When is the best time to topgraft walnuts?

Walnuts should be grafted rather late in the winter in order to avoid drying out of the scion before it starts to grow. Some successful grafters think walnut grafting should not be done until within a month before the spring sap flow loosens the bark. February and March are good months. There should not be enough sap so that the bark loosens when the scion is driven in unless one is "grafting in the bark" without splitting the stock.

Protecting Walnut Grafts.

I have lost many of my walnut grafts by frost when the shoots for the scions were out about four inches. Could I slip large paper bags over the scion and tie same to the stump below cleft without having to remove the bags on warm days? This latter method might also protect the wax from wind and sun.

Edwin Gower commends hooding the stump with burlap, tying it around the stump and punching holes above for the new shoots to grow through. A white paper bag could be used for a time without injuring growth unless the wind should blow the outfit over and break the tender shoots. Such bags would offer considerable resistance to the wind.

Pith-Rot in Walnuts.

Some of my walnut trees planted last year, and now four to six feet high, have the stem hollow. I took it first for the work of borers, but on cutting some of the trees down two or even three feet to the "green" heart have found no borer or other insect at either end. Now even two or three feet above the point where the apparently dead center stops there are green shoots. Am I doing right in cutting the stem back to the "green" heart, even where good healthy shoots are growing above it?

The pith exposed by cutting back at planting should have been immediately covered with grafting wax, asphaltum or simple lead and oil paint. This would have excluded water and prevented pith rot. You can close up the hole now, keep the shoots which are coming on the hollow stem and trust the injury to grow over this summer, or cut back now below the extension of the rot and and cover the wound at once. Choice of method depends upon whether there are good strong shoots below to make a well-shaped tree. We would rather take the chance of the healing over than to cut to dormant buds which might make your branching-head too low. Decay from the pith is not likely to invade adjacent active tissue on small shoots if they grow actively. The enlargement of the branch, by laying on of tissue on the outside will make a strong branch in which the early decay of which you speak will merely appear as a central black line, if you cut if off a few years hence to look at it.

Walnut Bleaching.

I wish to know how to bleach about 200 pounds of walnuts. The electrical process is out of my reach.

The amount of walnuts is too small to warrant fitting up any bleaching process. If you have a sulphur box such as is used in fruit drying, you can brighten the nuts by sulphuring. Let them get thoroughly dry after gathering, then moisten the surface of the shell by very light spraying, using a spraying nozzle and not a sprinkler. When thus slightly moistened on the exterior of the shell, they are treated to sulphur fumes in the same way that cut fruit is before drying. Sulphur carefully, for an overdose is not desirable.

Polishing Pecans.

Please inform me how to polish pecans.

Pecans are polished by putting them in a revolving barrel only partly filled, so that as the barrel turns they fall upon and rub each other, producing a beautifully smooth surface. When it is desired to give an artificial color, a little "Spanish brown" dry paint is put into the barrel. If the natural coloring is desirable, a little sharp sand put into the barrel assists in the scouring and produces the desirable uniformity of color. This barrel is rigged up like a revolving churn, with a side door in the staves and a gudgeon on each head which is fitted into proper bearings on two posts; proper arrangement being made for a pulley or crank by which the apparatus is turned either by hand or motor power.

Making Cider, Wine and Brandies.

Would it be profitable to make cider and wine and to distill all kinds of fruit brandies? What regulations have to be complied with?

The establishment of a distillery for all kinds of fruit brandies would require so much capital and would have to be so carefully located in order to be sure of a supply of fruits that the undertaking would be hazardous. Cider and wine, which do not require distillation, can be made without reference to the revenue department, but whenever you distill anything, you must make registration. You can get information about the manufacture of denatured alcohol from various waste products by writing to the Division of Chemistry, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. It is very hard, to say the least of it, to make it cheaply enough to be profitable.

Fruit Blossom Honey.

Do almond blossoms make bitter honey?

Honey more or less bitter, though not always objectionable to all tastes, is made from deciduous fruit blossoms. Citrus fruit blossoms yield a fine grade of honey.

Planting Willow Posts for Growth.

What is the best time of the year to plant willow posts to have them grow?

Towards the end of the dormant period as the ground is becoming warm and still has plenty of moisture.

Starting Acacia Seed.

What is the proper time and manner of planting the seed, and the care and cultivation of the plants during the growing season?

Acacia seed has a hard shell and the germ has to be helped out. During the rainy season, pour actually boiling water on the seed and let it stand till cool. Then sow in sandy loam in seed boxes or in the open ground, partly shaded from too much sun at first by a brush or lath cover. Cover the seed lightly and keep the soil moist, but not wet. Keep the surface mellow after the seedlings appear and irrigate during the first summer.

Maple Trees from Cuttings.

Can I start trees from maple branches planted in a wet sandy place as one does willows or poplar trees?

Yes; many maple species start readily from cuttings - not so responsively usually as willows and poplars, but quite well. Take well-matured wood of the previous year's growth and put them in such a place as you describe toward the end of winter when the ground has lost its danger of standing water and begun to warm up a little. The cuttings should be dormant. But maples grow so readily and quickly from seed, that the cutting method is not much used. We would prefer to sow in the fall such fresh, well-ripened seed as we could gather than to depend on cuttings.

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