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One Thousand Questions in California Agriculture Answered by E.J. Wickson

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will live twenty to thirty years or more if pruned in the head to get
enough new wood and the trunk is kept from sunburn. Aside from this
choose the almond root for the almond.

Pollination of Almonds.

I have Drake's Seedling almonds. Some people have told me that I must
plant some hardshell variety between them, otherwise they will not bear.

It is not necessary to plant hardshell almonds near Drake's Seedling
trees in order to have them bear. Some varieties of almonds will set few
nuts unless they are cross-pollinated, but these are the paper-shell
varieties, as a rule - the Nonpareil, IXL and Ne Plus Ultra - and for
these the Drake's Seedling or Texas Prolific is planted as a pollenizer.
The highest-priced nut of all is the Nonpareil, and it is also a good
bearer when in a good location and planted with Drake's or Texas

Stick-tight Almonds.

I have leased seven acres of bearing almond trees which have the
appearance of being reasonably well cared for. I notice a few trees that
still have almonds on ("stick-tights"). What is the cause and remedy?

The occurrence of stick-tights is generally due to lack of moisture and
thrifty growth, although some trees may be weak from some other cause
and therefore deficient in sap-flow, which manifests itself in that way.
Single nuts may also fall into that condition of malnutrition. We know
no remedy except to keep the trees in good thrift by cultivation or by
the use of irrigation if necessary.

Shy-bearing Apricots.

Why do my apricot trees not bring fruit? They seem healthy and are
vigorous-looking trees. Five large trees have not borne 100 pounds of
fruit in three years. The trees are not over six years old.

You may have a shy-bearing kind of apricot, of which there are many, or
the trees may have grown too fast to hold the fruit, or the frost or
north wind may have blasted the bloom. Stop winter pruning, and summer
prune to prevent excessive growth; reduce irrigation; try to convince
the apricot that it is not a "green bay tree" and see what will happen.

Pruning Apricots.

In pruning apricots, if there should be a hollow center of a big branch
in center of a seven-year-old tree, should it be cut out with summer
pruning? Should heavy growing apricots be summer pruned? Would it be all
right to thin out a dense growth of wood in the prune trees in

It is always desirable to cut below a hollow in a limb if possible.
Where, however, this would necessitate cutting below the desirable
laterals, the cavity may be filled with cement and thus rendered
serviceable for some years. Summer pruning of the apricot is desirable
if the growth is heavy and the tree has reached a bearing age. Thinning
out of prune trees can be undertaken in the autumn, providing the tree
has practically finished its growth, as indicated by the change in the
color and pose of the leaves.

Apricot Propagation.

Can Royal apricots be grafted into seedling apricots? Do the scions do
well? What is the best time to graft them?

The apricot is grafted readily by the ordinary cleft grafting,
amputating above the forks if the tree is low-headed enough to allow you
to work into the limbs instead of the trunk. Grafts will take all right
in the trunk by bark grafting, but working in smaller limbs makes a
stronger tree. This is for old trees and the grafting is done during the
winter. Younger seedlings can be cleft or whip grafted in the stems, but
it is better to bud into the young seedlings with plump buds of the
current year's growth, in June, and by shortening in the seedling above
the buds as soon as they have taken, get a growth on the bud in the
latter half of the same growing season. In nursery practice, trees are
usually made by budding in July or August into seedlings which are then
growing from the seed planted the previous winter. Little seedlings from
under old trees may be carefully transplanted to nursery rows in the
spring and budded the same summer. Cultivated well and irrigated if
necessary, they will not suffer from this transplanting.

Renewing Old Apricots.

Shall I prune back heavily a 15 to 20-year-old apricot tree which did
not mature its fruit this season, I think on account of neglect? It was
very poorly cultivated and not irrigated, consequently looks very sick.

Cut back all the main branches to six or eight feet from the ground,
leaving on whatever small growth there may be below that height. Paint
the stubs and thin out the shoots next summer to get the right number of
new branches properly distributed. Whether you will get a good renewal
of the head depends upon whether the sickness is in the root or not. Cut
back just before the buds swell toward the end of the dormant season.

Summer Pruning of Apricots.

Is it feasible to prune five-year-old apricot trees in August? They seem
in good growth and have been irrigated three times this season, though
they have never been pruned very closely.

Summer pruning would be perfectly proper and advisable. Summer pruning
immediately after the fruit is picked, has become much more general, and
winter pruning has proportionately decreased. Young trees are winter
pruned to promote low branching and short, stout limbs; bearing trees
are summer pruned to promote fruit bearing and check wood growth - the
excess of bearing shoots being removed by thinning during the winter.

Wild Cherries.

Where do the Mahaleb and Mazzard cherries grow naturally? How large are
the trees, and what kind of fruit do they bear?

The Mazzards, of which there are many, and some of them wild in the
Eastern States, are counted inferior seedlings of the species avium, and
are tall, large trees, the fruit being small and rather acrid and colors
various. The Mahaleb is a European type with a smaller tree, fruit
inferior to the Mazzards, and used as a root under soil and climatic
conditions under which the Mazzard is not hardy and vigorous. Neither of
the kinds are worth considering for their fruit.

Pruning Cherries.

I have some cherry trees that have not been pruned. They are beautiful
trees, but it a requires a 24-foot ladder to get near the top limbs. The
side limbs reach from tree to tree. They had a splendid crop this year.
People here tell me never to prune cherry trees. One man who claims
considerable experience with fruit says prune them as soon as the crop
is off.

Your cherry trees should have been pruned for the first two or three
years quite severely, in order to secure better branching and strength
in the main branches. If this is done, and the trees come into full
bearing, very little pruning has to be done afterward, except removing
diseased, interfering or surplus branches, if there are too many. It is
perfectly safe to cut back the trees which you now have as you have been
advised to do, after the leaves have fallen or after they have begun to
turn yellow. The trees can be safely topped and thinned, for the cherry
accepts pruning very readily. Even considerable amounts of the tops have
been cut off at fruit-picking time from trees which have been running
too high, so that the fruit could be secured, and this has not injured
the trees, according to our own experience and observation. Cherries can
be summer-pruned to check excessive growth and to promote fruit-bearing,
but as your trees have already begun to bear well, this treatment does
not seem to be necessary. You should do fall and winter pruning for the
shape of the trees.

Training Cherry Grafts.

I have grafted a lot of seedling cherries, leaving two or three buds on
each piece of grafted wood. In planting these out, shall I put the union
under ground (they are grafted at the crown of the root) and shall I
loosen the cloth a little later when they start to grow? How can I get
the head for the tree? Should I let only one shoot form, and when it is
as high as I want it, cut it off as I would a tree gotten from a

If you have used waxed cloth in your grafting, it will be necessary to
loosen it after the tree gets a good start. Common unwaxed cloth could
be trusted to decay soon enough, probably, but it should be looked at to
see that it is not binding. The union should not be placed much below
the ground surface, although it can be safely covered, and the future
stem may look the better for it. One shoot could be allowed to grow from
each graft, choosing the best ones and pinching the others so that they
will stop extension and hold leaves during the first season. These can
be cleanly removed at the first winter pruning at the time you head back
the main shoot to the proper height.

Restoring Cherry Trees.

I have about two acres of cherry trees in Sonoma county said to be about
20 years old. They are in a very neglected condition and I am desirous
of putting them in good shape for next year's crop. They are in a very
light sandy loam sail which is easily worked.

Cherry trees under good growing conditions and proper care are very long
lived in California and bear abundant crops when thirty and more years
of age. In the San Jose district and elsewhere there are orchards
considerably older than the limit stated and are still very profitable.
If your trees have been so neglected that the branches have died back,
the trees should be pruned, of course, cutting out all dead wood and
shortening weak or dying branches to a point where a good strong shoot
can be found. Then a good application of farmyard manure plowed in
during the rainy season, followed by summer cultivation for moisture
retention. Although the cherry is very hardy, it is quite likely to
suffer on light soils which become too dry. On such soils as yours there
is little if any danger of too much water in the winter, unless the land
lies low, but the injury to the tree comes from the lack of moisture
during the summer time, and this, with your abundant rainfall, you can
probably assure by thorough summer cultivation.

Renewing Cherry Trees.

We have cherry trees set out diamond shape about 16 feet apart. We
cannot take out every other tree and have any order, so we ask you if it
would be possible to cut the trees back and keep them pruned down to a
smaller size. The trees are about 20 years old and are dying back quite

If the trees are dying for lack of summer moisture it is idle to do much
for them until you can give them irrigation right after the fruit
ripens. The cherry tree takes kindly to cutting back and will give good
new fruit-bearing shoots if the roots are in good condition. It is
desirable to remove surplus branches entirely rather than to cut back
everything to a definite height, the branches to be removed being those
which show disposition to die back and those which are running out too
far so as to reduce the space between the trees or to interfere with
branches from other trees. Branches which are failing above can in some
cases be cut back to a strong thrifty lateral branch below.
Shortening-in branches high up is less desirable because it forces out
too much new growth in the top of the tree and carries the fruit so high
that picking would be expensive. All cuts of any size should be painted
to prevent the wood from checking.

Pruning Cherries.

I have cherry trees in their third season which have been given the
usual winter pruning. The trees are putting forth a great many more
branches than are required, and naturally many of the branches are
growing across the tree. In cutting these extra branches, I am informed
that there is a way to trim them so that they will eventually form fruit
spurs. I had an idea that in order to do this it would be well to cut
about one inch from the main branch. Some one has told me that this
would merely cause the little branch to sprout again.

Cherry shoots which are not required or desired for branch-forming can
be transferred into fruit spurs, if the tree is of bearing age, by
shortening them in. Do not, however, cut at an arbitrary distance of one
inch from the starting point, but rather save one or two buds at
whatever distance from the starting point these may be growing. If the
tree is too young to bear, only growth shoots may appear from these
buds, but they are likely to be short and will support fruit spurs
later. This practice should not be carried to excess or you will have
too many small shoots which will not get light enough to bear good
fruit, even if fruit spurs should appear.

Pollination of Black Tartarian.

There are many old Tartarian cherry trees around our district that have
only borne a few cherries in years. There are Bing, Royal Ann and Early
Purple Guignes here with these, but they seldom, if ever, bloom with the
Tartarian at the proper time to pollinate. What varieties would cause
the trees to bear?

Sterility of the Black Tartarian is rather unusual. In the coast
regions, Bing, Black Tartarian and Early Purple Guigne are all
considered pollinizers for the Royal Ann. Inversely all these should be
pollinizers for the Black Tartarian, if that variety requires such
assistance, which we have all along supposed that it did not.

Treatment of Fig Suckers.

A few young fig trees are not growing from the tops, but are sending out
suckers, in some cases above and others below the point of grafting. Had
I better let these suckers grow and see what comes from them or plant
new trees?

Graft near the ground all those which are sending suckers from below the
graft. Suckers from above grafting point can be trained into trees by
selecting the best, tying to stakes to straighten up and removing all
other suckers but the one selected.

No Gopher-proof Fig Roots.

Is it necessary that figs should be grafted in some other roots to keep
the gophers from destroying the trees? What root should I order?

Figs are not grown on any other than fig roots and are generally
propagated by rooted cuttings for the purpose of avoiding the expense of
grafting. The fruit must then be protected by killing the gophers rather
than by an effort to get the tree upon a gopher-proof root.

Pollination of Bartletts.

Would Clapp's Favorite be a good pollinizer for the Bartlett as well as
the White Doyenne?

The white Doyenne and the Clapp's Favorite usually begin to bloom three
or four days later than the Bartlett, but the Bartlett period extends
about ten days into the blooming period of the others. Therefore, your
question is to be answered in the affirmative; that is, if the Bartlett
needs pollination, it will be likley to get it from either of these

Comice Pears.

Would you plant Comice pears instead of Bartletts, and why? What is
their behavior as to bearing? Do they require any different treatment
than Bartletts? What roots? Do they need other varieties for

Do not plant Cornice instead of Bartletts except for those who have
tested out the Cornice to their production and selling. Though
satisfactory in some places, it makes no such wide record of success as
the Bartlett and should be planted only on the basis of experience with
it. Its propagation and culture are the same as other pears. It takes to
the quince all right if you want dwarf trees. We have no record of its
pollination needs, but as the Bartlett in California defies its Eastern
reputation for self-sterility, it is likely that Cornice may also take
care of itself, for it is not handicapped by such Eastern condemnation.

No Pears on Peach.

I saw, the other day, some Bartlett pear grafts in Salway peach trees,
and the party informed me that he had seen three-year-old grafts that
had pears last season. I would like your opinion, as I always thought
that such a union was not possible.

Our opinion is like yours, and seeing some pear grafts set in peach
branches would not convince us that they would grow or bear fruit.

Pigs in the Orchard.

I have an orchard of Bartlett pears about fifteen years old, located on
sediment land. I desire to set this to alfalfa, and to feed the alfalfa
by letting hogs eat it off, thereby leaving the droppings on the land.
What I wish to know is this: Will this crop be beneficial or injurious
to the trees?

Alfalfa can be successfully grown in an orchard, providing you have
irrigation water so that the alfalfa shall not rob the trees of
moisture; otherwise it is a very dangerous practice. The practice of
running animals of any kind in an orchard is to be condemned. Pigs are
particularly liable to injure trees by gnawing the bark, and we have
seen fig trees barked clean as high as a pig could reach by standing on
his hind legs. Of course, if you try an experiment for your own
satisfaction, you will have to watch the pigs very carefully. It is true
that growing pasture crops in an orchard and grazing, it off is
injurious to trees, because the land lacks proper aeration, and good
orchard cultivation is even more necessary in this State than in humid
climates. Therefore, unless you are sure of a good water supply for
irrigation, it would be altogether safer to give the whole land to the
trees and keep them cultivated well, or else dig out the trees and use
the land for other purposes.

Dwarf Pears Not Commercially Grown.

Will you kindly give the experience of pear growers in California who
have grown the dwarfs? If you can give me the data or refer me to
persons who can give data showing that the growing of dwarf pears can be
made a commercial success the information will be of great value.

There is no commercial growing of dwarf pears in this State, except some
trees owned by the A. Block Company, Santa Clara. The late Mr. Block had
an old orchard of dwarf trees, planted perhaps forty or fifty years ago,
which he converted into an approach to a standard orchard by removing
alternate rows, and the trees being otherwise treated like standards
have been satisfactorily producing pears for many years. How far these
trees are still on the dwarf roots and how far they have supplied
themselves with roots from the variety growth above, we do not know.
There is no disposition whatever to plant dwarf trees in this State
except among a few amateurs who are making home fruit gardens. In view
of the successful growth of standard trees in this State, there seem to
be no adequate reasons for recourse to dwarf trees.

Yield in Drying Pears.

What is the loss of weight in drying Bartlett pears?

They run from 7 to 8 lbs. of fresh pears to 1 lb. hard dried. There is
quite wide variation according to condition of the fruit. Probably about
7 1/2 to 1 would be as near a realizable ratio as you could get by
arbitrary estimate.

Pear Problems.

Kindly let me know the advisability of grafting Bartlett pears onto
apple trees. In replanting pears in young orchard, how would it do to
take rooted pear suckers, graft the Bartlett on them, and save the cost
of nursery stock? Last year my five-year-old Bartlett orchard was full
of blossoms, but, though many pears became as large as white beans, the
majority of them dropped.

The pear and apple do not make a good union. The grafts may grow for a
while, but finally fail. Do not use suckers as stocks. You can dig up
some year roots and use them as starters by making root-grafts with
Bartlett scions and do better than with suckers, but a good pear
seedling is the proper thing either for budding or root grafting. Unless
you have some experience in such work, it will be cheaper in the end to
buy good nursery trees. The nonbearing of your young trees is probably
due to their youth and vigor.

Bees and Pear Blight.

A few years ago, I planted alfalfa between my pear trees and the trees
bore a very heavy crop that year. Then blight made its appearance, and
it was claimed that the bees carried the blight. I therefore plowed
under the alfalfa and destroyed what few beehives I had. If the theory
that the bees carry the blight from tree to tree is not correct, I will
experiment with alfalfa again this year.

It is true that bees carry pear blight. It is also true that you are not
likely to get many pears without bees to pollinate the blossoms. You
cannot escape the carriage of the pear blight by removing tame bees,
because wild bees are abundant in all parts of the State. The way to
overcome the blight is to pursue it by amputation of diseased branches
continually, so that there may be no contamination for the bees to
carry. You are certainly warranted in continuing your alfalfa growing
without regard to this question, using water enough to keep the alfalfa
growing well without saturating the soil to the injury of the trees or
inducing too much summer growth on them.

Forage Under Sprayed Trees.

Is it safe to use arsenical sprays in a pear orchard in which alfalfa is
raised between the trees and afterward cut and fed to cattle?

It was fully demonstrated by experiment about 25 years ago that herbage
under trees sprayed with paris green at the rate of 1 pound to 160
gallons of water was not injurious to animals pasturing upon it. We are
not aware that such an experiment has been made with the more recently
used arsenates - which can be used with a much higher amount of arsenic
to the gallon because they do not injure the foliage - to determine
whether the herbage below would be poisonous or not. Presumably not,
because modern spraying does not admit as much loss from run-off as was
the case with old Spraying methods.

Pears on Quince.

I saw some time ago a report of some French experiments in grafting the
pear onto quince root. The report said the fruit produced was much
larger than on any other root.

Most of our common pears will take readily when grafted on the quince,
but the quince transforms them into dwarfed trees. Such trees do
produce, with proper care, very fine fruit. The remark about their being
better than on standard trees refers, however, to other climates than
ours, for California grows just as large pears on standard trees as can
possibly be grown, while where conditions are harder the higher culture
of the dwarf tree and the protection which it requires from climatic
hardships, gives the dwarf tree the advantage. You can get pears on
quince roots from most of our California nurseries.

Pollination of Pears.

Is it necessary in growing the Comice pear successfully, to put some
other pear near for the purpose of pollination in order to make it
successful? Will the ordinary Bartlett pear do for pollination?

The Comice pear blooms with the Bartlett, and would therefore presumably
be of pollinizing benefit to the Bartlett if the latter should require
such treatment. Common experience in California, however, is that the
Bartlett is self-fertile and not self-sterile as it is commonly reported
in Eastern publications. California practice is, then, to plant
Bartletts solidly without reference to preparation for pollination.
Taking the matter the other way around, the Bartlett will do for
pollination of the Comice probably, if that should be necessary.

Lye-Peeling Peaches.

Please give the formula for peeling peaches by dipping them in caustic
soda or lye.

Lye for peeling peaches is used at the rate of half to one pound to the
gallon of water, according to the strength of the lye, which you can
determine by the quickness with which it acts. The lye water is kept
boiling, and the fruit is dipped in wire baskets, only being allowed to
remain in the lye a few seconds, and is then plunged at once into fresh
water. You must be careful to keep the lye boiling hot, also either to
use running water for rinsing or change it very frequently, for you have
to rely on fresh water to remove the lye, or the fruit is likely to be

Aged Peach Trees.

What should be done with peach trees 35 years old which are becoming
unthrifty, bearing only at the ends of the limbs, etc.?

Old peach trees become bark-bound and need to be cut back to just above
the crotch for the forcing out of new branches, this being facilitated,
of course, by application of manure, good cultivation of the soil, use
of water during the dry season, etc. The peach is, under most
conditions, not a long-lived tree, and if your trees are 35 years of
age, it is probable that best results could be obtained by grubbing them
out and replanting with young trees on new soil if possible. The
profitable life of the Eastern peach tree is put down at five or six
years. In California the profitable life of the peach sometimes reaches
twenty or more years, if growing under exceptionally good conditions;
but 35 years would seem to be at least on the borders of decrepitude.
Growing at the tips shows that you have not pruned annually to induce
the growth of new wood lower down.

Renewing Peach Orchard.

Which is the best way to renew an old peach orchard? The trees are about
18 years old, Muirs and Fosters, and are yielding good crops, but some
of the trees show decline. Is it best to replace the old ones with new
trees or to plant a new orchard in between the old trees and cut out old
ones when new trees are three or four years old?

If the trees have sound bodies and are not badly injured by sunburn
borers, do none of the things you mention, but would cut back for a new
head. Cutting back should be done during the latter half of the dormant
period and thinning of shoots to proper balance a new head should be
carefully done the following winter. It is a hard job to get young trees
to start among old trees and you are apt to get a mixed lot of trees
which you will not be proud of. Cut back as suggested or rip out, plow
deeply and start anew, placing the rows midway between the old rows.

Will He Have Peaches?

I have a young orchard between five and six years old, mostly of the
Lovell variety. I didn't have much of a crop this year. Should I have a
good crop next year?

You ought to be able to tell now how full a set of fruit buds you have.
If you do not know what the fruit buds are, ask some neighbor who knows
peaches to point them out. If you have a good show of fruit buds, the
question in California is not whether they will winter-kill or not, but
whether the leaves held late enough the preceding summer and therefore
the tree had strength enough to make good strong fruit buds. The late
action of the leaves shows that the trees had enough autumn moisture.
You will soon learn to recognize the condition also from the plumpness
of the wood which carries the fruit buds. If all has gone well so far,
the next point is to spray with the bordeaux mixture in November or
December so that the new wood shall not be attacked by the peach blight
or shothole fungus. This disease comes on early in the winter, sets the
the new bark to gumming and endangers the crop. Then if you have San
Jose scale, or if your trees showed much curl-leaf last spring, you
ought to spray before the blossom buds show color with the lime-sulphur
wash. Supposing that you have good buds now and are willing to protect
them as suggested, your trees may be expected to come through with a
good crop if seasonal moisture conditions are right.

Peach Fillers in Apple Orchard.

I have heard some talk against planting peach fillers in an apple
orchard. What is your opinion on the subject?

There is no objection providing the peach is profitable in the locality;
and that point you must look into. The peach trees will not injure the
apples unless they are allowed to stand too long. In that case they
would interfere with the development of the apple.

Grafting Peach on Almond.

May I expect to get good results by grafting some kind of peach to
19-year-old almond tree? If so, what kind of peach will be best? When
shall I do grafting?

Peaches take to the almond all right. Cut off and graft in the branches
above the main forking of the tree; leaving at least one large branch to
be grafted later or to be cut out entirely if you have peach growth
enough to fill the top sufficiently. Graft in any kind of peach you find
to be worth growing. Graft toward the latter part of the dormant season,
say when the buds are swelling for a new start.

Peaches on Apricot.

I have a three-year-old peach orchard grafted or budded on apricot
roots, and interspersed through the orchard are young apricot trees,
from half-inch to inch and a half in diameter, which sprang from the
root, the peach bud or graft having died. I budded these over to peaches
in summer, but the buds all died for some cause. What is now the best
course to transform them into peach trees? If a graft, what form of
graft, and approximately when should it be made?

You can graft peach scions into the apricot sprouts by taking the peach
scions of the varieties you desire while the tree is perfectly dormant,
keeping them in a cool place and putting in the grafts just as the buds
are beginning to swell on the apricot stock. The scions can be buried in
the earth in the shade of a fence or building, selecting a place,
however, which is moist enough and yet where the water does not gather.
The ordinary form of top grafting in stems an inch or more in diameter
will work well. The half-inch stems can be whip-grafted successfully.
You will have to wax well and see that the wax coating is kept sound
until the growth starts.

Replanting After Root-knots.

In digging out some old peach trees, I find now and then a tree affected
with root knot. I am burning the root, of course, but as these trees are
scattered in the orchard, I wish to plant young trees in same locations,
thus preserving the rows. Can new stock be safely put in the earth from
which the old tree is removed? If treatment of the soil is essential,
what is recommended?

Dig a good large hole, removing the earth, and fill with new earth from
between the rows, and in this way healthy growth ought to be obtained,
although there is always a disposition in some trees to put on knots.
They should be looked at from time to time and all those affecting the
larger stem should be removed and the wound painted with bordeaux

Buds in Bearing Trees.

In budding over some old peach trees, should I cut away the branch above
the bud when the latter seems to have taken?

The sap flow to the upper part of the branch should be checked by part
girdling or by part breaking or bending the top above the bud, after the
bud is seen to have set or taken. Do not remove the whole top until the
growth on the bud has started out well or else you will "drown it" with
excessive sap flow.

Pollen Must Be of the Same Kind.

Do peaches, nectarines and apricots set fruit with the pollen of one
another, and are the various peaches, nectarines and apricots
self-sterile, or will most kinds set fruit with their own pollen?

We do not count upon pollination between different kinds of fruit. Most
fruits are self-fertile, else we could not attain the practical results
we do, because it is only in the planting of almonds, cherries, pears
and apples that any regard is paid to the association of varieties for
that cross-fertilization. Some fruits are more apt to be self-fertile in
this State than in other States where the growing conditions are not so

Peach Budding.

Which is easier with the peach, grafting or budding?

The peach is rather a difficult tree to graft, and budding, on the other
hand, is quite easy. You can bud into new shoots of this season's growth
in July, and, if necessary, you can improve the slipping of the bark by
irrigation a few days before budding. Buds can also be successfully
placed in June in the old bark of the peach, providing it is not too
old. For this select well-matured buds from the larger shoots and use
rather a larger shield than in working into new shoots. When the buds
are seen to have taken, the top growth beyond it can be reduced
gradually and some new growth forced on the buds the same season, if the
sap flow continues as it might be expected to do on young trees well
cared for.

Grafting on the Peach.

Will pears do to graft on the peach, or will plums do well on the peach?
How soon ought they to bear when grafted on the peach which is past
three years old?

Pears cannot be grafted on peaches. Plums generally do well on the
peach, and if the grafts are taken from bearing trees, should come into
fruit the second season. The peach is more difficult to graft than other
fruit trees, because of the drying back of the bark. Be extra careful in
the waxing and be sure that the waxing remains good until the growth
starts out well the following summer.

Young Trees Failing to Start.

Some peach and almond trees set out last spring lived, but made no
growth. Should they be replaced with new stock? If not, what may be
expected of them?

If your inactive trees have good plump dormant buds (though they may not
be large buds), they may make good growth the coming summer, if the land
is good and the moisture right for free growth.

Peach Planting in Alfalfa Sod.

Is it advisable to plant canning peaches in April, and will I gain time
in growth and development? I want to set out eight acres in Tuscans or
Phillips on deep rich soil near Yuba City. I have a pumping plant and
can irrigate. The land has been in alfalfa for several years. I have in
mind setting out trees without disturbing the alfalfa - until next
plowing season. Do you think it advisable to use commercial fertilizer
on ten-year-old Muirs?

Planting the best canning peaches on good peach soil near Yuba City
seems to be about the safest line of fruit investment which can be
undertaken. We doubt that you can get much growth from trees planted in
an old stand of alfalfa without some effort to kill out the plant which
now occupies the ground. Still, by deep digging, throwing out all the
alfalfa roots and thorough hoeing during the growing season and keeping
the alfalfa mowers from sawing off the tops of them, the trees may make
a good start. As the alfalfa will have to be irrigated, April may not be
too late to start the trees, providing you can find nursery stock which
is still quite dormant. Probably ten-year-old peach trees will be very
much improved by commercial fertilizers.

Prune on Almond.

What root is considered best for prune trees? The ranch lies above the
creek. A friend is very partial to the almond root instead of the
myrobalan, but I understand that the prune tree sometimes outgrows the
almond root.

If you have a deep rather light soil which drains well and which there
is, therefore, no danger of water standing during the rainy season, the
almond root is perfectly satisfactory for the prune. It is a
strong-growing root and keeps pace with the top growth well. The prune,
in fact, is more apt to overgrow the myrobalan than the almond, and the
myrobalan will not do well on light soils likely to dry out as the
almond will.

Re-grafting Silver Prunes.

I have five acres of Silver prunes which produce very little fruit. The
trees are strong and healthy. French prune trees adjoining bear
regularly and heavily. Can I graft French prunes on the Silver trees?
Will Silver prune trees take other grafts, such as apricots or apples?

The Silver prune is often unsatisfactory for reason of shy bearing. It
is perfectly feasible to graft over the tree to the French prune and
this has been done for years by different growers. Apricots will usually
take on the plum stock, but are apt to over-grow it or else be dwarfed
themselves, but the apricot is often worked upon a plum stock. Apples
have no grafting affinity whatever for the plum.

French or Italian.

In the prune-growing district around Salem, Oregon, Italian prunes are
grown exclusively for drying purposes. French prunes were considered
worthless. Here in Sutter county, California, a great many French prunes
are grown and we are advised to plant them, but would rather plant the
Italian prune. Which would you advise us to set out in this part of the

The Italian or Fellenberg prune was grown to some extent in California
40 years and abandoned; it was not so sure in bearing as the French, and
it was not the type of prune which we had ambition to excel with. The
prune which we grow as the French is the true prune or plum of Agen. We
should plant it and let the Oregon people have the Italian.

Myrobalan Seedlings.

I am sending two small plums which I am told are Myrobalan plum. I
desire to grow seedlings on which later to bud and graft French prunes.
If these are Myrobalan plums, will trees from them be as good as trees
from pits that were imported?

The fruits are Myrobalan plums, and their seedlings would be suitable
for the French prune, providing the trees which bear them are strong,
thrifty growing trees. There is great variation in the colors of the
Myrobalan seedlings, from light yellow to dark red, and it is the
satisfactory growth of the tree rather than the character of the fruit
which one has to bear in mind when growing seedlings from selected trees
instead of depending so largely on imported seedlings.

Drying Plums and Prunes.

I have plum trees of various kinds that are loaded with fruit. I do not
know if any are of the variety used for drying as prunes: I know nothing
of the process of making or drying prunes. One man suggests that I dip
them for four or live minutes in a 3 or 4 per cent solution of lye and
then place them in the sun.

Dipping your plums is right providing they are very sweet, as they will
dry like prunes without removing the pit. If they are plums that are
commercially used for shipping, without enough sugar to dry as prunes,
the pit must be removed. Drying in this way, you do not need to use lye,
which is simply for the purpose of cracking the skin so that the
moisture can be more readily evaporated. There is no danger in using the
necessary amount of lye. Less is used than in making hominy.

The Sugar Prune.

What is the commercial value of the Sugar prune? Is there any other
early ripening variety better than the Sugar?

It is selling very well as a cured prune, and growers in the northern
bay counties especially have done so well that they are extending their
plantings. It is coarser in flesh than the French and generally flatter
in flavor when cooked and thus falls below the ideal of a cured prune,
but it has compensating characters, such as early ripening, with which
no other prune compares. The Sugar is also valuable as a shipping plum
to Eastern markets.

Glossing Dried Prunes.

Will you give the method for giving the gloss to dried French prunes?

There are various methods. One pound of glycerine to 20 gallons of
water; a quick dip in the mixture very hot gives a good finish. Where a
clear bloom rather than a shine, is desired, five pounds of common salt
to 100 gallons of water, also dipped hot, gives a good effect. Some use
a thin syrup made by boiling small prunes in water (by stove or steam)
and thinning with water to produce the result desired. Steam cooking
avoids bad flavor by burning. The salt dip is probably the most widely

Price of Prunes on a Size Basis.

Explain the grading in price of prunes. For instance, if the base price
is, say, five and three-fourths cents, what size does this refer to, and
how is the price for other sizes calculated? Also, what is the meaning
of the phrase "four-size basis"?

Prunes, after being sold to the packer, are graded into different sizes,
according to the number required to make a pound, and paid for on that
basis. The four regular sizes are 60-70s, 70-80s, 80-90s, and 90-100s,
which means that from 60 to 70 prunes are required to make a pound, and
so on. The basis price is for prunes that weigh 80 to the pound. When
the basis price is 5 3/4 cents, 80-90s are worth 1/4 cent less than this
amount, or 5 1/2 cents. The next smaller size, 90-100s, are worth 1/2
cent less, or 5 cents, while prunes under this size are little but skin
and pit and bring much less to the grower. For each next larger size
there is a difference of 1/2 cent in favor of the grower, so that on the
5 3/4-cent basis 70-80s are worth 6 cents, and 60-70s 6 1/2 cents. This
advance continues for the larger sizes, 30-40s, 40-50s, etc., but these
quite often command a premium besides, which is fixed according to the
supplies available and the demand for the various sizes. The sizes for
which no premium or penalty is generally fixed are those from 60 to 100,
four sizes, so that this basis of making contracts and sales is called
the "four-size basis." The advantage that results in having this method
of selling prunes can be seen by the fact that on a 5 3/4-cent basis the
smallest of the four sizes will bring but 5 cents a pound, while 30-40s
would bring, without any premium, 8 1/2 cents, and with 1 cent premium,
9 1/2 cents. This size has this season brought as high as 10 and 11
cents a pound. It may be noted here that no prunes are actually sold at
just the basis price, as they are worth either less or more than this as
they are smaller or larger than 80 to the pound. No matter what the
basis price is, there is a difference of one-half cent between each size
and the sizes nearest to it.

Pollinizing Plums.

How many rows of Robe de Sergeant prune trees should be alternated with
the French prune (the common dried prune of commerce) to insure perfect
fertilization of the blossoms?

The French prune is self-fertile; that is, it does not require the
presence of other plum species for pollination of the blossoms. It is
the Robe de Sergeant prune which is defective in pollination and which
is presumably assisted by proximity to the French prune. If you wish to
grow Robe de Sergeant prunes your question of interplanting would be
pertinent, but if you desire only to grow French prunes you need not
plant the Robe de Sergeant at all.

Cultivating Olives.

How deep should an olive orchard be plowed? I was told that by plowing
deep I would injure my trees, in cutting up small rootlets and fibres
which the olive extends through the surface soil. Is this so or not?

Plowing olives is like plowing other trees, the purpose being to get a
workable soil deep enough to stand five or six inches of summer
cultivation, usually. If you have old trees which have never been deeply
plowed, you would destroy a lot of roots by deep plowing, and you should
not start in and rip up all the land at once. You can gradually deepen
the plowing, sacrificing fewer roots at a time, without injuring the
trees if they are otherwise well circumstanced. Small rootlets and
fibres in the surface soil do not count; they are quickly replaced, and
if you do not destroy them, the whole surface soil, if moist enough,
will be filled with a network of roots which will subsequently make
decent working of the soil impossible.

Moving Old Olive Trees.

Would there be anything gained by transplanting old olive trees 6 to 8
inches in diameter over nursery stock? They would have to be shipped
from Santa Clara to Butte county and grafted. Would they come into
bearing any sooner and be as good trees? Could the large limbs be used
to advantage? Would the fact that they are covered with smut cause any

Old olive trees can be successfully moved a long distance by cutting
back, taking up a ball of earth, and possibly a short distance with bare
roots if everything is favorable. But do not for a moment think them
worth such an outlay for labor, freight and hauling which such a
movement as you mention involves. The trees on arrival would probably
only be firewood, and if they lived, the time required in getting a good
growth and grafting, etc., would perhaps be as great as in bringing a
young tree of the right kind to bearing, and the latter would be a
better tree in every way. Large limbs can be split and used as cuttings,
but the tree would be growth on one side and decay on the other. Use the
smaller limbs for hard-wood cuttings and the balance for firewood. The
smut shows that the trees are covered with scale insects and might
indicate that it is better to burn up the whole outfit unless you learn
to fight them.

Darkening Pickled Olives.

Is there anything that will make olives keep their black color when put
into lye? When I put my first picking of ripe olives in lye, a large
part of them turn green, the black leaving the fruit. My formula is one
pound of lye to five gallons of water. Have you any better formula?

By exposing the olives to the light and air, either during the salting
or immediately after, ripe olives may be given a uniformly black color.
Also, fruit which is less ripe and which shows red and green patches
after processing with lye, becomes an almost uniform dark brown color.
To do this, the olives are removed from the brine and exposed to light
and air freely for one or two days. Your lye was stronger than
necessary. With ripe olives it is desirable to use salt and lye together
to prevent softening, and the common prescription is two ounces of
potash lye and four ounces of salt to the gallon of water after the
bitterness is largely removed by using one or two treatments with two
ounces of lye to the gallon without the salt. It is necessary to draw
off the solution, rinse well, and put on fresh solution several times
during the process to get the best results.

Seedling Olives Must Be Grafted.

Will olive trees grown from the olive seed be the right thing to plant?
Will they be true to the parent tree or will they have to be grafted?

Olives which a seedling olive tree will bear will be, as a rule, very
inferior and generally of the type of the wild olive. All such trees
must be grafted in order to produce any particular variety which you

Olives, Oranges and Peppers.

We have been told that olive trees easily become infested with a fungus
disease which they then impart to the orange tree. The same objection is
raised to the planting of pepper trees. May this be true in some parts
of the State and not in others?

The fungus of which you have heard is the "black smut." It is a result,
not a cause. It grows on the honey dew exuded from scale insects and if
your trees have no scale they have no fungus. The olive trees and pepper
trees may communicate this trouble to citrus trees, or vice versa -
whichever gets it first gives it away to the other. If you will work
hard enough to kill the scale wherever it appears you can have all these
trees, but, of course, it costs a lot to fight scale on big pepper
trees, and it is, therefore, wisest usually to choose an ornamental tree
not likely to accept the scale.

Budding Olive Seedlings.

I have planted olive seeds which are just sprouting now. Can these be
budded next June or July in the nursery row, or can they be
bench-grafted the following winter?

Your seedlings may make growth enough to spur-bud this summer. The
ordinary plate-bud does not take freely with the olive. Some of them may
do this; other seedlings may be slow and have to be budded in the second
summer. Watch the size and the sap flow so that the bark will lift well
- which may not be at just the time that deciduous trees are budded. It
may be both earlier or later in the season. Graft evergreens like the
olive in the nursery row; not by bench grafting.

Budding Old Olives.

I have seedling olive trees, set out in 1904, which I wish to change
over to the Ascolano variety. Which is the best way to do it, by budding
or grafting, and what is the proper time?

Twig-budding brings the sap of the stock to bear upon a young lateral or
tip bud, which is much easier to start than dormant buds used either as
buds or grafts. A short twig about an inch and a half in length is taken
with some of the bark of the small branch from which it starts, and both
twig and bark at its base are put in a bark slit like an ordinary shield
bud and tied closely with a waxed band, although if the sap is moving
freely it would probably do with a string or raffia tie. Put in such
buds as growth is starting in the spring.

Olives from Small Cuttings.

In the rooting of small soft-wood olive cuttings is it necessary to
cover same with glass - say perhaps prepare a cold-frame and put stable
manure in the bottom with about eight inches of sand on top?

It ceases to be a cold-frame when you cover in manure for bottom heat;
it becomes a hotbed. Varieties of olives differ greatly in the readiness
with which they start from small cuttings. Some start freely and grow
well in boxes of sand under partial shade - like a lath house or cover.
Some need bottom heat in such a hotbed as you describe with a cloth
over; some start well in a cold-frame with a lath cover. To get the best
results with all kinds, it is safer to use some more heat than comes
from exposure to ordinary temperatures - either by concentration, as in
a covered frame, or by a mild bottom heat. If you have glass frames or
greenhouse, they are, of course, desirable, but much can be done without
that expense.

Olives from Large Cuttings.

I am about to take olive cuttings from one-half to one inch thick and 54
to 20 inches long, and wish to root them in nursery rows. Please advise
me if it is necessary to plant under half shade? Also, can same be
planted out right away, or should they be buried in trenches for a while
before setting out? Would it be best to strip all leaves or branches
off, or leave one on? How many buds should be left above ground?

Plant in open ground in the coast district generally; in the interior a
lath (or litter shade not too dense) is desirable in places where high
dry heat is expected and where sprinkling under the cover may be
desirable. Plant out when the soil is right as to warmth and moisture,
which is usually a little later than this in the central and northern
parts of the State. Remove all leaves and twigs and plant about
three-quarters of the length in the soil, which should be a well-drained
sandy loam. The cuttings can be taken directly from the trees and need
not be bedded. If the cuttings come some distance and get end-dried,
make a fresh cut at planting. If shriveled at all, soak a few hours in
water before planting out.

Trimming Up Olives.

Limbs are shooting out too low on my olive trees. Would it be right to
trim them up while dormant this winter, or should I let them grow
another year before doing so? I think I want the first limbs to start at
18 to 20 inches above the ground.

Take off the lower shoots whenever your knife is sharp. Do not let them
grow another year. Theoretically, the best time to remove them is toward
the end of the dormant season, but if they are not large as compared
with the whole growth of the tree, go to it any time.

Canning Olives.

What is the recipe for preserving olives by heat, and how long do they
have to remain in the heated state?

Canning olives is a process, not a recipe, and it has to be operated
with judgment. It resembles, of course, the common process of canning
other fruits and vegetables. It has been demonstrated that heating up to
175 Fahrenheit is effective to keep olives in sealed containers for
over two years. The heating was done in the jars in the usual canning
way for several minutes after 175 was reached, to be sure the contents
were heated through.

Renewing Olive Trees.

I have olive trees on first-class land; no pest of any kind is apparent.
The trees look healthy in every way, and average about 12 inches at the
butt and 30 feet high. They have borne fruit, but for the last three
years have not borne. I am advised to cut back to stumps, 5 or 6 feet
high, and start new tops.

Unsatisfactory olive trees may be cut back, but not to such an extent as
you mention. Thin out the branches if too thick and cut back or remove
those which interfere, but to cut back to a stump would force out a very
thick mass of brush which you would have to afterward go into and thin
out desperately. The branches which you decide to retain may be cut back
to twelve or fifteen feet from the ground. This would have the effect of
giving you plenty of new thrifty wood, which is desirable for the
fruiting of the olive, but we cannot guarantee that this treatment will
make the trees satisfactory bearers. Are you sure they are receiving
water enough? If not, give them more next summer. Also give the land a
good coat of stable manure and plow under when the land is right for the

Growing Olives from Seed.

How are seedlings grown from olive seeds?

Growing olives from seeds is promoted by assisting nature to break the
hard shell. This can be done by pinching carefully with ordinary wire
pliers until the shell cracks without injury to the kernel, or the shell
may be cut into with a file, making a very small aperture to admit
moisture. The French have specially contrived pliers with a stop which
admits cracking and prevents crushing. Olive seeds in their natural
condition germinate slowly and irregularly. They must be kept moist and
planted about an inch deep in sandy loam, covering with chaff or litter
to prevent drying of the surface. Before experimenting with olive pits,
crack a few to see if they have good plump kernels. Seedling olives must
be grafted, of course, to be sure of getting the variety you want. For
this reason growth from cuttings is almost universal.

Neglected Olive Trees.

I have a lot of olive trees which have grown up around the old stumps.
They are large trees and some of them have six or eight trunks. Should I
cut away all but one trunk or let them alone? There are some of the
trees with small olives; others none.

If the olive trees which were originally planted were trained at first
and still have a good trunk and tree form, the suckers which have
intruded from below should be removed. If, however, the trees have been
allowed to grow many branches from below, so that there is really no
single tree remaining, make a selection of four or five of the best
shoots and grow the trees in large bush form, shortening in the higher
growth so as to bring the fruit within easier reach and reduce the cost
of picking. You can also develop a single shoot into a tree as you
suggest. Of course, you must determine whether the trees as they now
stand are of a variety which is worth growing. If they are all bearing
very small fruit, it would be a question whether they were worth keeping
at all, because grafting on the kind of growth which you describe would
be unlikely to yield satisfactory tree forms, though you might get a
good deal of fruit from them.

Olives from Cuttings.

I have two choice olive trees on my place. I am anxious to get trees
from these old ones and do not know how to go about it. Can I grow the
young trees by using cuttings or slips from these old trees ? If so,
when is the proper time to select the cuttings, and how should they be

Take cuttings of old wood, one-half or three-quarters of an inch in
diameter, about ten inches long, and plant them about three-quarters of
their length in a sandy loam soil in a row so water can be run alongside
as may be necessary to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Such dormant
cuttings can be put in when the soil begins to warm up with the spring
sunshine. They can be put in the places where you desire them to grow in
one or two years. Olives, like other evergreen trees, should be
transplanted in the spring when there is heat enough to induce them to
take hold at once in their new places, and not during the winter when
dormant deciduous trees are best transplanted.

Water and Frost.

I have in mind two pieces of land well adapted to citrus culture. Both
have the same elevation, soil, climate and water conditions, except that
one piece is a mile of the Kaweah river, while the other is four or five
miles distant. In case of a frost, all conditions being about the same,
which piece would you consider to be liable to suffer the more? In the
heavy frost of last December, while neither sustained any great damage,
that portion of the ground nearer the river seemed to sustain the less.
Is this correct in theory? The Kaweah river at this point is a
good-sized stream of rapidly flowing water.

The land near the river, conditions of elevation being similar, would be
less liable to frost. There are a good many instances where the presence
of a considerable body of water prevents the lowering of the temperature
of the air immediately adjacent. It is so at various points along the
Sacramento river, and it is recognized as a general principle that
bodies of water exert a warming influence upon their immediate
environment even in regions with a hard winter. How much it may count
for must be determined by taking other conditions into the account also.

Thinning Oranges.

Is it advisable to thin fruit on young citrus trees? Our trees have been
bearing about three years, but they are still small trees. The oranges
and grape fruit ripen well and are large and of excellent quality, but
the trees seem overloaded.

The size of oranges on over-burdened trees can be increased by thinning,
just as other fruits are enlarged, but it is not systematically
undertaken as with peaches and apricots, because it is not so necessary
and because it is easy to get oranges on young trees too large and to be
discounted for over-sized coarse fruit. Removing part of the fruit from
young trees is often done - for the good of the tree, not for the good
of the fruit. It should be done after the natural drop takes place,
during the summer.

Wind-blown Orange Trees.

What would you do for citrus trees five years old that have been badly
blown out of shape?

Such trees must be trued up by pruning into the wind; that is, cutting
to outside buds on the windward side and to inside buds on the lee side;
also reducing the weight by pruning away branches which have been blown
too far to the leeward. Sometimes trees can be straightened by moving
part of the soil and pulling into the wind and bracing there by a good
prop on the leeward side, but that, of course, is not practicable if the
trees have attained too much size.

Handling Balled Citrus Trees.

I have some orange and lemon trees which were sent me with their roots
balled up with dirt and sacks. As we are still having frosts I have not
wanted to set them out. Would it not be better to let them stay as they
are and keep the sacks wet (they have a sack box over them) than to put
them out while the frosts last?

Your citrus trees will not be injured for a time unless mold should set
in from the wet sacks. Get them into the ground as soon as the soil
comes into good condition, and cover the top for a time after they are
planted to protect them against frosts. This would be better than to
hold them too long in the balls, but do not plant in cold, wet soil;
hold them longer as they are.

The Navel Not Thornless.

I have lately purchased some Washington navel orange trees, and upon
arrival I find they have thorns upon them. I thought the Washington
navels were thornless.

The navel orange tree is not thornless. It is described as a medium
thorny variety, so that the finding of thorns upon the trees would not
be in itself sufficient indication that they were not of the right

Over-size Oranges.

I have some orange trees in a disintegrated granite with a good many
small pieces of rock still remaining in the soil. What I wish to know is
whether it is probably something in the soil that makes them grow too
large, or is it probably the method of treatment? What treatment should
be adopted to guard against this excessive growth?

Young trees have a natural disposition to produce outside sizes of
fruit, and this is sometimes aggravated by excessive use of fertilizers,
sometimes by over-irrigation. We would cease to fertilize for a time and
to regulate irrigation so that the trees will have enough to be thrifty
without undertaking excessive growth. Such soil as you describe is
sometimes very rich at the beginning in available plant food, and
fertilization should be delayed until this excess has been appropriated
by the tree.

Budding or Grafting in Orange Orchard.

I have land now ready to be planted to oranges, but it is impossible for
me to buy the necessary budded stock now or even later this year. Would
you advise me to plant the "sour stock" as it comes from the nursery and
have it budded or crown-budded later? Are there any real objections to
this method, and, if so, what are they?

It is perfectly feasible to plant sour-stock seedlings and to graft them
afterward to whatever variety of oranges you desire to grow, but it is
undoubtedly better to pay a pretty good price for budded trees of the
kind you desire rather than incur the delay and the irregular growth of
young trees budded or grafted in the field. There is also danger of an
irregular stand from accidental injuries to new growth started in the
field without the protection which it finds in the nursery row.

Budding Oranges.

How late in the fall can budding of orange trees be done - plants that
are two years old - and what advantage, if any, is late budding? What
shall I do with some old trees that were budded about two months ago and
are still green but not sprouted yet? The budding was done on young

Late budding of the orange can be done as late as the bark will slip
well; usually, however, not quite so late as this. Such buds are
preferred because in the experience of most people they make stronger
growth than those put in in the spring. Such buds are not expected to
grow until the lowest temperatures of the winter are over. The buds
which you speak of as green but still dormant are doing just what they
ought to do. They will start when they get ready.

Under-pruning of Orange Trees.

My Washington Navels have a very heavy crop on the lower limbs, as is
usual. These branches are so low down that many of the oranges lie on
the ground, and it takes a good deal of time to prop them up so that
they will not touch the ground. What would be the result of pruning off
these low branches, after the fruit is off? Will the same amount of
fruit be produced by the fruit growing on the limbs higher up?

Certainly, raise the branches of the orange trees by removing the lowest
branches or parts of branches which reach to the ground. A little later
others will sag down and this under-pruning will have to be continuous.
It would be better to do this than to undertake any radical removal of
the lower branches. The progressive removal as becomes necessary will
not appreciably reduce the fruiting and will be in many ways desirable.

Keeping Citrus Trees Low.

My tangerines last fall shot up like lemon trees - a dozen to twenty
shoots two or three feet high. The trees are eight years old and are
loaded with bloom and some of the shoots have buds and bloom clear to
the top. Some shoots have no bloom. What should I do with these shoots?
Cut them back like lemons or let them remain?

You must shorten the shoots if you desire to have a low tree. This will
cause their branching and it will be necessary, therefore, to remove
some of the shoots entirely, either now or later, in order that the tree
will not become too compact.

Dying Back of Fruit Trees.

I have a few orange and lemon trees that are starting to die. One tree
has died on the top. What kind of spray shall I use?

The dying back of a tree at the top indicates that the trouble is in the
roots, and it is usually due to standing water in the soil, resulting
either from excessive application of water or because the soil is too
retentive to distribute an amount of water which might not be excessive
on a lighter soil which would allow of its freer movement. Dig down near
the tree and see if you have not a muddy subsoil. The same trouble would
result if the subsoil is too dry, and that also you can ascertain by
digging. If you find moisture ample, and yet not excessive, the injury
to the root might be due to the presence of alkali, or to excessive use
of fertilizers. The cause of the trouble has to be determined by local
examination and cannot be prescribed on the basis of a description of
the plant. It cannot be cured by spraying unless specific parasite is
found which can be killed by it.

Young Trees Dropping Fruit.

I have a few citrus fruit trees about three years old. They have made a
good growth and are between seven and eight feet high with a good shaped
top or head. I did not expect any fruit last year and did not have any.
This spring they blossomed irregularly at blooming time, but quite an
amount of fruit set and grew as large as marbles, some of it the size of
a walnut, but lately it has about all fallen off the trees.

There is always more or less dropping from fruit trees. Some years large
numbers of oranges drop. There may be many causes, and the trouble has
thus far not been found preventable. When the foliage is good and the
growth satisfactory, the young tree is certainly not in need of
anything. It is rather more likely that fruit is dropped by the young
trees owing to their excessive vegetative vigor, for it is a general
fact that fruit trees which are growing very fast are less certain in
fruit-setting. It is, of course, possible that you have been forcing
such action by too free use of water. You will do well to let your trees
go along so long as they appear thrifty and satisfactory, and expect
better fruiting when they become older.

Orange Training.

Is not a single leader in an orange tree more desirable than the
much-forked tree so commonly seen! Can a single-leader tree be made from
the nursery trees which have already formed their heads, by cutting off
the heads below so that only a straight stick without any branches is

An orange tree with a central leader would not be at all satisfactory if
it were carried very high. Of course, a central stem can be to advantage
taken higher than it is often done, but we would not think of growing an
orange tree with a central stem to the apex. The laterals would droop,
crowd down upon each other badly, open the center to sunburn, and
encourage also a growth of central suckers and occasion an amount of
pruning altogether beyond what is necessary with a properly branched
tree without a central stem.

Curing Citron.

I wish to know a way to cure citrons at home. I have a fine tree that
has borne very fine-looking fruit for the past two years.

An outline for the preparation of candied citron is as follows: The
fruit, before assuming a yellow color, and also when bright yellow, is
picked and placed in barrels filled with brine, and left for at least a
month. The brine is renewed several times, and the fruit allowed to
remain in it until required for use, often for a period of four or five
months. When the citrons are to be candied they are taken from the
barrels and boiled in fresh water to soften them. They are then cut into
halves, the seed and pulp are removed, and the fruit is again immersed
in cold water, soon becoming of a greenish color. After this it is
placed in large earthen jars, covered with hot syrup, and allowed to
stand about three weeks. During this time the strength of the syrup is
gradually increased. The fruit is then put into boilers with
crystallized sugar dissolved in a small quantity of water, and cooked;
then allowed to cool, and boiled again until it will take up no more
sugar. It is then dried and packed in wooden boxes.

Crops Between Orange Trees.

What crop can I plant between rows of young orange trees to utilize the
ground as well as pay a little something?

It depends not alone upon what will grow, but upon what can be
profitably sold or used on the place, and unless sure of that, it is
usually better not to undertake planting between young trees but rather
to cultivate well, irrigate intelligently, and trust for the reward in a
better growth and later productiveness of the trees. It is clear,
California experience that planting between trees except to things which
are demonstrated to be profitable should not be undertaken, and where
one does not need immediate returns is, as a rule, undesirable. The
growth of a strip of alfalfa, if one is careful not to submerge the
trees by over-irrigation, would be the best thing one could undertake
for the purpose of improving the soil by increasing the humus content,
reducing the amount of reflected heat from a clean surface, and is
otherwise desirable wherever moisture is available for it. You could
also grow cow peas for the good of the land if not for other profit. You
can, of course, grow small fruits and vegetables for home use if you
will cultivate well. Common field crops, with scant cultivation, will
generally cause you to lose more from the bad condition in which they
leave the soil than you can gain from the use or sale of the crop.

Navels and Valencias.

Navel trees are being budded to Valencias in southern California,
because of the higher price received for the late-ripening Valencias.
Are the orchards in central and northern California being planted in
Navels, and is there any difference in soil or climate requirements of
Navels and Valencias?

There is no particular difference in the soil requirements of Valencia
and Navel oranges. They are both budded on the same root. The
desirability of Navel oranges in the upper citrus districts arises from
the fact that the policy of those districts at the present time is to
produce an early orange. This they could not accomplish by growing the
Valencia. The great advantage of the Valencia in southern California, on
the other hand, lies in the very fact that it is late and that it can be
marketed in midsummer and early autumn when there are no Navels
available from anywhere.

Orange Seedlings.

What about planting the seed from St. Michael's oranges or of grapefruit
for a seed-bed to be budded to Valencias?

Good plump St. Michael's seeds would be all right if you desire to use
sweet seedling stock. Grapefruit seedlings are good and quite widely
used, though the general preference is for sour-stock seedlings.

Acres of Oranges to a Man.

In your opinion, is it possible for one man, of average strength, to
take perfect care of a twenty-acre citrus orchard? Are the services of a
man who takes the entire responsibility of an orchard (citrus) worth
more than those of a common ranch hand?

It depends upon the man, upon the age of the trees, upon the kind of
soil he has to handle, upon the irrigation arrangements and upon what
you mean by "perfect care." If you contract the picking and hauling of
fruit, the fumigation and allow extra help when conditions require that
something must be done quickly, whatever it may be, a man with good legs
and arms, and a good head full of special knowledge to make them go, can
handle twenty acres and if he does it right you ought to pay him twice
as much as an ordinary ranch hand.

Roots for Orange Trees.

What are the conditions most favorable to orange trees budded upon sour
stock; also upon sweet stock and trifoliata?

The sour stock is believed to be more hardy against trying conditions of
soil moisture - both excess and deficiency, and diseases incident
thereto. The sweet stock is a free growing and satisfactory stock and
most of the older orchards are upon this root, but it is held to be less
resistant of soil troubles than the sour stock, and therefore
propagators are now largely using the latter. The trifoliata has been
promoted as more likely to induce dormancy of the top growth during cold
weather, because of its own deciduous habit. It has also been advocated
as likely to induce earlier maturity in the fruit and thus minister to
early marketing. The objection urged against it has been a claimed
dwarfing of the tree worked upon it.

Citrus Budding.

I wish to bud some Maltese blood orange trees to pomelos and lemons.
Will they make good stock for them, and, if so, is it necessary to cut
below the original bud?

It is possible to bud as you propose, and it is not necessary to go back
to the old stock. Work in above the forks.

No Citrus Fruits on Lemon Roots.

Would it be any advantage to bud the Washington Navel on grapefruit and
lemon roots?

The grapefruit or pomelo is a good root for the orange, and some
propagators prefer it. The lemon root is not used at present, because of
its effect in causing a coarse growth of tree and fruit and because it
is more subject to disease than the orange root. In fact, we grow nearly
all lemons on orange roots.

Budding Oranges.

My first attempt at budding, I cut 20 buds and immediately inserted in
stock of Mexican sour orange "Amataca." I left bands on them for ten
days at which time about half seemed to have "stuck," but after a few
days the bark curled away and the buds dried up and died. I then tried
again, but left the bands on for thirteen days and lightly tied strings
around below the bud to prevent the bark from curling, and also put
grafting wax in the cut and over the bud. These appeared fresh and green
at time of taking off the bands, but three weeks later I found them
rotted. The grafting wax used was made of beeswax, resin, olive oil and
a small amount of lard to soften it. Do you think that the action of the
lard on the buds would cause them to rot?

Consider first whether the buds which you use are sufficiently
developed; that is, a sufficient amount of hardness and maturity
attained by the twig from which you took these buds. Second, use a waxed
band, drawing it quite tightly around the bark, above and below the bud,
covering the bud itself without too much pressure for several days, then
loosening the band somewhat, but carefully replacing over all but the
bud point. It is necessary to exclude the air sufficiently, but not
wholly. The use of a soft fat like olive oil or lard is not desirable.
If you use oil at all for the purpose of softening, linseed oil, as used
by painters, is safer because of its disposition to dry without so much
penetration. Having used olive oil and lard together you had too much
soft fatty material.

Budding Orange Seedlings in the Orchard.

What are the objections or advantages of planting sour stock seedlings
where one wishes the trees and one or two years later bud into the
branches instead of budding the young stock low on the trunk?

Planting the seedling and at some future time cutting back the branches
and grafting in the head above the forks is an expensive operation and
loses time in getting fruit. You will get very irregular trees and be
disappointed in the amount of re-working you will have to do. Suckers
must be always watched for; that has to be done anyway, but a sucker
from a wild stock is worse in effects if you happen to overlook it.
Avoid all such trouble by planting good clean trees budded in nursery
rows. You may have to do rebudding later, if you want to change
varieties, and that is trouble enough. Do not rush at the beginning into
all the difficulties there are.

Grapefruit and Nuts.

Peaches, pears and plums predominate in this section, but would not
grapefruit, almonds and English walnuts be just as profitable? What is
your idea about English walnuts on black walnut root?

You can expect grapefruit to succeed under conditions which favor the
orange. Therefore, if oranges are doing well in your district,
grapefruit might also be expected to succeed on the same soils and with
the same treatment. Planting of almonds should proceed upon a
demonstration that the immediate location is suited to almonds, because
they are very early to start and very subject to spring frost and should
not be planted unless you can find bearing trees which have demonstrated
their acceptance of the situation by regular and profitable crops.
English walnuts are less subject to frosts because they start much later
in the season. They need, however, deep, rich land which will be sure
not to dry out during the summer. English walnuts are a perfect success
upon the California black walnut root.

Soil and Situation for Oranges.

Is it absolutely essential that orange trees be planted on a southern
slope, or will they thrive as well on any slope? What is the minimum
depth of soil required for orange trees? How can I tell whether the soil
is good for oranges?

Orange trees are grown successfully on all slopes, although in
particular localities certain exposures may be decidedly best, as must
be learned by local observation. How shallow a soil will suit orange
trees depends upon how water and fertilizer are applied; on a shallow
soil more fertilizer and more frequent use of water in smaller
quantities. Any soil which has grown good grain crops may be used for
orange growing if the moisture supply is never too scant and any excess
is currently disposed of by good drainage. There can be no arbitrary
rule either for exposure, depth or texture of soils, because oranges are
being successfully grown on medium loam to heavy clay loam, providing
the moisture supply is kept right.

Transplanting Orange Trees.

Can you transplant trees two years old with safety to another location
in same grove, same soil; etc.?

Yes; and you can move them a greater distance, if you like. Take up the
trees with a good ball of earth, transplanting in the spring when the
ground has become well warmed, just about at the time when new growth
begins to appear on the tree. The top of the tree should he cut back
somewhat and the leaves should be removed if they show a disposition to
wilt. You should also whitewash or otherwise protect the bark from
sunburn if the foliage should be removed.

Protecting Young Citrus Trees.

Is it necessary to have young orange trees covered or leave them
uncovered during the winter months?

It is desirable to cover with burlaps or bale with cornstalks, straw or
some other coarse litter, all young trees which are being planted in
untried places; and even where old trees are safe, young trees which go
into the frost period with new growth of immature wood should be thus
protected. Do not use too much stuff nor bundle too tightly.

Not Orange on the Osage.

Can the Navel orange be grafted on the osage orange? I understand it is
done in Florida, and would like to know if it has been tried in

It cannot. It has not been done in Florida nor anywhere else. The osage
orange is not an orange at all. The tree is not a member of the citrus

No Pollenizer for Navels.

I read that the flowers of the Navel orange are entirely lacking in
pollen, or only poorly supplied. If this is true, what variety of orange
would you plant in a Navel grove - to supply pollen at the proper time?

We would not plant any other orange near the Navel for the sake of
supplying it with pollen. Pollen is only needed to make seeds, and by
the same process to make the fruit set, and Navels do not make seeds,
except rarely, nor do they seem to need pollen to make the fruit set.

Water and Frost.

From how many acres could I keep off a freeze of oranges with 1000
gallons per minute? The water is at 65 degrees.

The amount of water will prevent frost over as large an area as you can
cover with the water, so as to thoroughly wet the surface, but the
presence of water will only be effective through about four degrees of
temperature and only for a short time. If, then, the temperature should
fall below 27 degrees and should remain at that point for an hour or
two, it is doubtful if the water would save your fruit. Water is only of
limited value in the prevention of frost, and of no value at all when
the temperature falls too low.

What to Do with Frosted Oranges.

What is the best plan of treatment for frosted orange trees? The crop
will be a total loss. It does not show any tendency to fall off the
trees, however. Should it be picked off, thrown on the ground and plowed
under? Should this be done right away or later?

Unsound fruit should be removed as soon as its injury can be
conveniently detected and worked into the soil by cultivation; never,
however, being allowed to collect in masses, which is productive of
decay and which may be injurious to roots. If trees are injured
sufficiently to lose most of their leaves, the fruit should also be
removed if it shows a disposition to hang on. This will be a
contribution to the strength of the tree and its ability to clothe
itself with new foliage.

Pruning Frosted Citrus Trees.

How shall I prune two-year-old orange orchard, also nursery stock buds
that are badly injured by frost; how much to prune and at what time?

As soon as you can see how far injury has gone down the branch or stem,
cut below it, so that a new shoot may push out from sound wood, and heal
the cut as soon as possible. This applies to growths of all ages. In the
case of buds, if you can only save a single node you may get a bud
started there and make a tree of that. In the case of trees, large or
small, it is always desirable to cut above the forkings of the main
branches, if possible, and when this much of the tree remains sound, a
new tree can be formed very quickly. If the main stem is injured, bark
cracked, etc., cut below the ground and put scions in the bark without
splitting the root crown; wax well or otherwise cover exposed wood to
prevent checking. If this is successfully done, root-rot may be
prevented and the wound covered with new bark while the strong new stems
are developing above.

Pruning Oranges.

Is it best to prune out orange trees by removing occasional branches so
as to permit free air passage through the trees? Some are advocating
doing so; but as I remember, the trees in southern California are
allowed to grow quite dense, so that we could see into the foliage but
very little.

It is a matter of judgment, with a present tendency toward a more open
tree than was formerly prescribed. Trees should be more thrifty and
should bear more fruit deeper in the foliage-wall if more air and light
are admitted. But this can be had without opening the tree so that free
sight of its interior is possible. We believe thinning of the growth to
admit more light and air is good, but we should not intentionally cut
enough to make holes in the tree.

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