Part 1 out of 9
This eBook was produced by David Schwan .
One Thousand Questions in California Agriculture Answered
By E. J. Wickson
Professor of Horticulture, University of California; Editor of Pacific
Rural Press; Author of "California Fruits and How to Grow Them" and
"California Vegetables in Garden and Field," etc.
This brochure is not a systematic treatise in catechetical form intended
to cover what the writer holds to be most important to know about
California agricultural practices. It is simply a classified arrangement
of a thousand or more questions which have been actually asked, and to
which answers have been undertaken through the columns of the Pacific
Rural Press, a weekly journal of agriculture published in San Francisco.
Whatever value is claimed for the work is based upon the assumption that
information, which about seven hundred people have actually asked for,
would be also interesting and helpful to thousands of other people. If
you do not find in this compilation what you desire to know, submit your
question to the Pacific Rural Press, San Francisco, in the columns of
which answers to agricultural questions are weekly set forth at the rate
of five hundred or more each year.
This publication is therefore intended to answer a thousand questions
for you and to encourage you to ask a thousand more.
E. J. Wickson.
Part I. Fruit Growing
Part II. Vegetable Growing
Part III. Grain and Forage Crops
Part IV. Soils, Irrigation, and Fertilizers
Part V. Live Stock and Dairy
Part VI. Feeding Animals
Part VII. Diseases of Animals
Part VIII. Poultry Keeping
Part IX. Pests and Diseases of Plants
Part X. Index
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
Coal Tar and Asphaltum on Trees.
What is the effect of coal tar or asphaltum applied to the bark of
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 volley 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mildew on Apple Seedlings.
Why do young apple plants in the seed bed became mildewed? They are in a
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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