Several other species of nuts have been tried without success. Two trees of the red hickory were set out several years ago, but they failed to leaf out. Four young trees of the golden chinkapin of the Pacific Coast were planted and grew well the first summer, but all four were killed by the first freeze in the fall. About a pound of nuts of the Turkish tree hazel were planted several years ago; these failed to come up the first year. The next winter the mice and rabbits discovered them and ate up most of the planting. A few germinated, but most of these were lost in transplanting, and today only two are left of the entire lot.
MR. CHASE: Thank you, Mr. Clarke.
MR. SHERMAN: I'd like to say, just before you leave this subject, that the speaker barely mentioned the fertilization experiment that was started in Pennsylvania on black walnuts. I think the members of the nut survey stuck their necks out and got their heads hit a little bit when we said that the black walnut as an orchard industry in Pennsylvania was sick. We hadn't been able to find crops of black walnuts. We found individual trees, but we couldn't find orchards of black walnuts, and as a result of that, this fertilization experiment was started, in a 55-acre black walnut orchard with Ohio, Stabler and Thomas varieties.
The owner, Truman Jones, said, "I don't care what you do with the Stablers, you can't hurt them, anyway; they are no good to begin with." But this orchard, evidently from all outward appearances, has been growing very slowly for quite a number of years. It isn't the size it should be, and we think the main trouble there is lack of fertility, and that's the reason why this fertilization experiment was started.
It's quite an ambitious experiment. It takes in about 93 trees in the center of a 55-acre planting of black walnuts. They haven't had a crop, I think, for five or six or seven years. They don't have a crop this year, but we are hoping that some of them next year will have a crop, but if not then the year following.
They are asking about the cultivation. There has been no cultivation there in the orchard for a number of years. It's down in a pretty heavy bluegrass sod. In a portion of that we put the disc in on the tractor and disced and redisced until we got what we thought was a pretty fair seedbed. They found that vertical profile a mixture, and we are hoping to have clover sod instead of bluegrass sod. That's combined with fertility work. I won't take time to go into that, but I think this group is interested in knowing that there is quite an extensive fertility experiment on black walnuts to see why the large plantings are not producing.
I might say in this connection, Mr. Hostetter isn't here this afternoon, hasn't been here, but he has a dandy bang-up nice crop of nuts this year, and Ohio and Thomas are his main varieties.
MR. CRAIG: Did he use any fertilizers?
MR. SHERMAN: Yes, the fertilizer was disced in, and he tried to disc under that bluegrass sod and get that rotting under there. There are quite a few ramifications to that program.
MR. CORSAN: Did you mention Turkish tree hazel?
MR. CLARKE: Yes, we have two trees of it left.
MR. CORSAN: It takes two years to sprout from the time you plant the seed. Have you tried the European beechnuts in your locality?
MR. CLARKE: No, we haven't.
MR. CORSAN: It will produce far more than the American beechnut and is more successful in every way. They can be gotten from Holland quite cheaply. They sell the European beech, and they are beautiful and loaded with nuts and the Europeans think far more of them than the Americans do. The cut-leaf beech is an European beech, and I have seen the tree in Southern Michigan and at the Old Soldiers' Home at Dayton, Ohio, loaded with nuts. And frequently, not just once in every 13 years, like our beechnut. And they are a bigger nut.
Nut Tree Culture in Missouri
T. J. TALBERT, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.
The wide interest now being shown in the planting of nut trees throughout the State emphasizes the need of information on nut culture. Although nut trees may be grown with less care and attention than fruit trees, yet to be successful in starting plantings a knowledge of successful practices developed by the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station at Columbia should prove of great value.
The information which follows applies particularly to the native black walnuts, butternuts, hardy northern pecans, hickories, chinkapins, and hazelnuts. All these nut plants are native to Missouri and may do well if given proper attention in the various districts of the state to which they are adapted.
NUTRITIVE VALUE OF NUTS
Nuts are now given in the diet a higher rating than ever before. This is true because recent studies in nutrition show that they supply not only the elements needed for health and growth, proteins, oils, and carbohydrates but also an abundance of vitamins A, B1, and G. In fact, the nuts compare very favorable with meats in rankings for the above vitamins. Most of the nuts are especially noteworthy in high vitamin A and B1 content. It is also believed generally that nuts contain nearly all of the mineral essentials demanded for the promotion of healthy nutrition.
Moreover, nuts are usually palatable in the raw stage and are prized most highly for dessert purposes. The black walnut is particularly outstanding because it retains its flavor after cooking. Nuts now have a very extensive use in the preparation of confectioneries, cakes, breads, and salads. They enhance the flavor of many other foods.
The value of nuts as food accessories has long been recognized. They also supply so much body fuel in so compact a form that they are particularly well suited for the use of mountain climbers, "hikers," and even soldiers engaged in long marches and maneuvers.
USES FOR NUT TREES
As Shade Trees—If during the past 40 or 50 years, a large portion of the shade trees planted had been nut trees like the native walnut, pecan, hickory, chestnut, and chinkapin of the better varieties, it is easy for anyone to see that great benefits would have resulted.
For Highway Planting—No other native trees lend themselves so admirably to highway use as the so-called northern or native pecan, the black walnut, and the hickories. These nut trees are all generally well-shaped, reach considerable heights particularly on fertile soils, are stately in appearance, and add beauty and attractiveness to the landscape wherever they are grown.
SOILS AND FERTILIZERS
Soils Needed for Good Growth—The nut trees adapt themselves to a very wide range of soil conditions. In fact, few other trees are capable of such a wide range of adaptability to soil types. The uplands usually planted to corn and wheat and the flood plains of the river basins may both be well suited to nut growing.
For good growth and production deep well-drained soils are required. Under proper conditions the trees develop rapidly, have an extensive root system, and eventually may reach a great age. Furthermore, nut trees cannot grow successfully on wet poorly-drained land where water stands on or just beneath the surface a considerable portion of the year. Lowlands which may be found well adapted to the growth of willow and gum trees, may be too wet and sour for the growth of nut trees. It would also be well to avoid dry, very thin, and very sandy soils.
In their native range the pecan, hickory, and walnut thrive on the alluvial soils of the Missouri and Mississippi River Valleys. They grow well also on the upland sandy loam soils adapted to the growth of corn, oats, and wheat. All of these nut trees are usually influenced more by the fertility, humus, and moisture content of the soil, than by any particular soil type.
Fertilizers for Nut Trees—The deep rich alluvial soils of river and creek valleys do not present the same fertilizer problems as light and heavy upland soils. Manure supplemented with superphosphate at the rate of about 20 to 30 pounds to a ton should prove to be a satisfactory fertilizer on depleted soils. It is spread in a circle around the trees extending out about twice the spread of the branches and plowed or harrowed into the soil. A moderate application would range from 8 to 12 tons to the acre.
Leguminous cover crops are particularly valuable for building up the nitrogen and humus content of the soil when plowed under. Their judicious use with non-leguminous cover crops and supplemented with commercial fertilizers to increase the tonnage for plowing under, will usually bring good returns in growth and production.
CARE OF THE PERMANENT PLANTINGS
Since but few diseases and insects attack nut trees in Missouri, very little if any spraying work will be required while the trees are young. As the trees grow older, however, it may be necessary to give pest control more attention. Caterpillars that infest the foliage of the trees in late summer and early fall can usually be destroyed by cutting off the comparatively few branches on which the worms have clustered and burning them. The pest may also be destroyed on high branches by means of torches. If the trees can be sprayed thoroughly, arsenicals and other insecticides used in spraying apple orchards will be found very effective while the worms are small.
As in the care of a young apple or peach orchard, it is important that the young trees for at least the first two or three years be given cultivation and some fertilization on lands of lower fertility if a good growth is not being made. A heavy mulch of straw or litter around the trees may prove very satisfactory.
Moreover, livestock should be kept away from the trees until they are established and the branches of sufficient height to be out of danger of injury. It is a serious mistake to plant or grow from seed small nut trees and leave them unprotected from farm animals. If the land is to be grazed, each tree may be guarded with strong posts and barbed or woven wire spaced about 8 to 10 feet from the trees.
Once the young nut orchard is thoroughly established and growing thriftily, grass may be grown beneath the trees and furnish nearly as much hay or pasture as though the trees were not present. If livestock is allowed to graze in the orchard, which is a questionable practice while the trees are young, the trees should be pruned and trained to fairly high heads.
Spacing for Nut Trees—The growing of nut trees for timber alone requires a spacing of about 25 to 35 feet apart with other species of trees common to the area growing up later between the nut trees to facilitate the development of tall clean trunks. Under such conditions nut production is inhibited and harvests may be comparatively small. Nut trees grown mainly for nut production rather than for timber may be planted 60 to 80 feet apart on the square plan.
The Thomas black walnut may bear a few nuts the second year following transplanting. Different varieties and species of grafted walnuts, pecans, and hickories often begin bearing from two to four years after setting. Chestnut seedlings may also bear in the second or third year. Black walnuts from seed sometimes bear a few nuts at 8 to 10 years of age. Profitable bearing, however, may not be expected in the average nut orchard until the trees are at least 10 to 12 years old.
PRUNING WALNUT, PECAN AND HICKORY NUT TREES
For the most part these nut trees do not require heavy pruning. Superfluous branches, dead limbs, and unsymmetrical ones, should be removed from time to time while the trees are young and becoming established. A uniform top is desirable. The pruning is begun when the trees are 2 or three years old by removing the lowest branches. The rule is to cut away only one branch a year. But trees making a very strong growth may stand more pruning and those making a poor growth may need none.
Cultivation and other orchard practices may be greatly simplified in commercial plantings by pruning and training the tree heads to heights of six or eight feet. Even then the lower branches will ultimately be pressed downward by the weight of nuts and foliage when bearing begins.
Regular annual pruning is required generally to prevent the limbs from interfering with orchard practices. Furthermore, branches lower than six or eight feet high, should be subdued by cutting back while the trees are young. These limbs should be removed only when the trees have become anchored strongly enough in the soil to prevent the directions of the trunk being influenced by the prevailing winds.
THE BLACK WALNUT
There is something about the distinctive flavor of our native black walnut kernels that appeals to the American people. And there is much about the black walnut tree itself that makes it much admired and respected.
It grows rapidly, and yet it is one of our most valuable timber trees. It is an excellent tree for the grounds about the home. Not only does it yield an annual crop, but it is a lovely shade tree—beautiful to look at—and has the further advantage that the lawn grasses grow well beneath it.
Has Wide Distribution—It is a very cosmopolitan tree in that it will thrive almost anywhere if given half a chance. From lower Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, it may be found in various states of production. On the fertile lands, however, of the Mississippi and Ohio River basins it reaches perhaps its highest development. The 10 high ranking states in walnut lumber production are as follows, in order of their importance: Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, and Texas.
Valuable Timber Tree—Some of the main or principal uses of the wood may be enumerated as follows: For the making of gun stocks, it stands supreme. Since walnut does not warp or swell when wet it does not interfere with the action of the gunlock in gun stocks. The wood also may be made into a sharp edge and fit snugly against the metal parts, while the dark color and beautiful grain produces an attractive implement. It is a standard and a favorite for musical instruments notably pianos and organs; sewing machine tables, cases, small airplane propellers, picture frames, caskets, cabinet work, moldings and many forms of ornaments. The shells of the nuts were, during World War I, manufactured into carbon and used for gas masks.
The wood possesses unusual and rare combinations of qualities which make it superior in the manufacturing of the articles mentioned above. Its freedom from warping, checking, or splitting when subjected to alternate wetting and drying is an unusual quality. It works easily with all kinds of tools, has remarkable durability in the presence of wood-decaying fungi and insects. Moreover, it is hard, durable, heavy, stiff and strong. The dark color of the wood does not allow soiling stains to show and the grain of the wood and its texture make it easy to grip.
Produces a Nutritious Food—The kernels of the black walnut are now used not only in candy making but to a large extent in breads, cakes, salads, waffles, and other forms of food. In the cities the kernels are sold yearly in increasing amounts not only from wholesale and retail grocers but by street venders as well. One may often find the kernels for sale at food stands and in other places where fruits and vegetables are sold.
Changing Seedling Trees to Named Varieties—On nearly every farm, walnut trees are growing along ravines, fence rows, and on rough land which is more or less out of the way and inaccessible. Most of these may be top-worked by one or more methods to the named and more desirable kinds of black walnuts without imparing the value of the timber. In 5 to 7 years seedling trees ranging in age from 15 to 40, if topworked, may produce crops equal to untreated trees. Still younger and smaller trees from one to 10 or 12 years old, may generally be top-worked with less difficulty than older trees.
Results from Top-working Experiments—Cleft grafting work performed at the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station has been very successful. In fact, walnut top-working has been but little if any more difficult than apple or pear top-working. With reasonable care and fairly good technique the grafting operation is not difficult to perform. It is believed, however, that the common practice in top-working pecan, hickory, and walnut has been to dehorn too severely. This may induce insect and disease injury which often results in a very poor tree after 10 or 12 years. For good results, six inches in diameter should be the maximum size of the limb for top-working.
Encourages New Industry—A wider interest in black walnut kernels has caused a new industry to spring up. This consists of nut cracking or shelling establishments which have been located in the walnut growing districts. The plants in many instances buy walnuts in large quantities. The nut meats are removed and sold at wholesale, usually in barrel lots containing 180 pounds of nut meats. In most districts the new industry is in operation for most of the year.
Power driven machines feeding from large hoppers are used for cracking the nuts. Nearly all the workers pick the meats from the cracked nuts. Women are generally employed and are paid on a piece-work basis or by the pound. Moreover, employees are often given a premium for nut meats removed from the shells with the "halves" unbroken.
This new black walnut industry has increased and heightened the interest in planting the trees for both nut and timber production. Consequently, in the districts where these nut cracking mills have been established, many producers are planting either small or large blocks of black walnut trees. In some cases the plantings are made up of grafted or budded trees of named varieties, while in others the nuts are planted and the seedlings later top-worked to the kinds desired.
The named varieties and better seedling sorts bring the highest price in the form of nuts and as kernels. In fact, the nuts of the named varieties usually sell for twice the price paid for the average seedling nuts. Some of the chief varieties most highly prized for their thin shells, weight of kernels, cracking quality, and flavor are Thomas, Stabler, Tucker, Ohio, and Miller.
To obtain a marketable and paying product, care in the gathering, husking and extracting of kernels, is necessary. Culling the nuts and cracking none but the good ones are also important. Through such methods, many producers are able to supply city markets and roadside stands with kernels which sell readily and at good prices.
Returns from Trees—Walnut trees will give returns in general in proportion to the care given. They are fairly rapid growers under good culture. At an age of 20 years the trees may reach a height of 35 feet with 50 feet at 30 years and about 70 feet at 50 years. In other words, a growth of about 2 feet a year for 20 years is not unusual. After this age the trees slow down gradually to about a foot of growth a year.
It is estimated that walnut trees from 60 to 70 years of age will produce on the average from 100 to 150 board feet of lumber. Trees of such an age may also produce an average of all the way from four or five bushels of nuts per tree each year up to as many as ten to fourteen or more bushels per year.
Among our native walnuts the butternut is valued highly especially for home use. On the markets, however, the rough shell and comparatively small size of the kernel have in general tended to keep prices low and the demand limited. There are now prospects for the introduction and growing of superior hybrid varieties. Grafted varieties which bear particularly good nuts are becoming more available through nut nurseries.
The trees may become very large in height, spread and trunk diameter. They are attractive and stately in appearance and it is the hardiest member of the walnut genus as its native range extends well into Canada. The bark is gray in color and the wood is soft. Heartwood decay is common in old trees, although they may reach great age. The species has a rather restricted range within the Eastern states, but it occurs naturally as far west as eastern Kansas and Nebraska. In Missouri, its growth is confined largely to the central and northern areas where black walnuts are plentiful.
The nuts are oblong, sharp-pointed at the apex, cylindrical, bluntly rounded at the base, rough and jagged over the surface, and as a rule thick-shelled. In spite of this, some varieties have good shelling quality, and the kernels possess usually a rich, agreeable flavor. In confections the butternut kernel may compete successfully with the popular flavor of the black walnut kernels. The butternut may be propagated and grown successfully by adopting the practices suggested for the culture of the black walnut. As is true with the black walnut it may be inter-grafted upon other walnuts or used as a stock for them, but its propagation, particularly as an understock, is more difficult.
The pecan is a member of the hickory group and its range in this continent extends from Iowa to Mexico. Other hickories extend into Canada. The hickories are valuable for both nuts and timber. Fifteen different species of the hickory group have been recorded. Of these only three or four produce nuts of outstanding value. In nut production, the pecan hickory is the most important of all the hickories. For crop value of nuts it rivals the Persian (English) walnut and the tree is one of the largest east of the Rocky Mountains. The pecan tree is native to the south and south central parts of the United States and it is found in the forests as a native tree throughout Missouri.
Commercial production within the state may reach 800,000 pounds or more in good crop years, and according to the State-Federal Crop Reporting Service there are now about 88,000 pecan trees in the State of bearing age. All of these consist of seedling groves except the comparatively recent orchard plantings of the southeastern area. Commercial culture of standard varieties in the United States is confined largely to Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
The natural habitat is along streams and on river bottom lands. At the present time the commercial varieties consist mainly of the large so-called "paper-shell" sorts of southern origin. These require a comparatively long growing season for their development. Consequently the southern types may not be productive in the more northern regions.
The cultural range of the pecan may be divided into two rather large belts, known as southern and northern. In fact, pecan culture is sometimes designated as "southern" and "northern" due to differences in size of nut, thickness of shell, and time required for maturity of nuts. The approximate northern limit of the southern area is near the extreme southeastern boundary line between Missouri and Arkansas. The northern belt extends into Nebraska and Iowa and includes approximately the entire state of Missouri.
The chief difference between these areas is the length of the growing season. In general, the southern or "paper-shell" varieties require from 240 to 250 days to mature their nuts, while the northern varieties which produce usually nuts of smaller size with somewhat thicker shells need from 180 to 200 days.
There is no factor in pecan growing of greater importance than the proper selection of varieties for planting. Fertile soils and good culture will not make poor varieties profitable or low yielding kinds fruitful.
Only in southeast Missouri are the southern varieties such as Stuart, Pabst, Moneymaker, Success, Schley, and others a success. This is true because the fruit buds of these varieties in other sections of Missouri are generally killed by winter cold. Furthermore even if they escape the winter cold, the growing periods for all sections except southeast Missouri may not be long enough for the full maturity of the nuts.
Since none of the sorts adapted to the southern belt are sufficiently hardy to justify their planting in Missouri except in the southeastern section, growers in other parts of the state should confine their interests and selections to the so-called northern varieties. Some of the best of these are the Major, Niblack, Giles, Indiana, Busseron, Greenriver, and Posey.
Chance seedlings which have not been named are now and then found that may be equally as worthy or better for planting locally than any of the named varieties listed above. In fact, these suggested sorts were derived from chance seedling trees. Producers generally, therefore, should be on the lookout for seedling trees of merit. When so discovered, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station at Columbia will be glad to make tests free of charge and report upon the cracking percent, amount of kernel, appearance, flavor, texture, quality, oil content, etc.
The nuts produced by the hardy varieties adapted generally to Missouri conditions are usually smaller in size and have somewhat thicker shells but may possess equally as high or even higher oil content and kernel quality than the southern sorts. The better varieties of this group, however, rank high enough to compete favorably on the markets of the country in both shelled and unshelled state with the southern varieties.
A full crop of pecans would run from 30 to 35 carloads, the majority of which are produced along the Mississippi river in the bottom lands from Ste. Genevieve southward. Heavy shipments are made in a good year especially from Ste. Genevieve, St. Mary's, Menfro, Caruthersville and Hornersville, and in these sections are some of the largest and best nuts.
Pecans are found along the Mississippi river from St. Charles north to Hannibal, but too generally in that area the trees are scarce and the production smaller, with nuts of thicker shells.
Pecan trees are also found growing wild along the Missouri river bottom as far west as Lexington, and up the Grand river bottoms to Chillicothe, and the nuts in this area are about the size of those in the north Mississippi valley section, but are sweet with high oil content.
There is a pecan production district along the Osage river and the Kansas border, with heavy shipping section at Rockville and Schell City.
Missouri pecans are classed as Westerns in the commercial market. They are favored by the confectionery trade. A great many native trees are found in the south Mississippi section, but there is a growing interest in budded pecan trees, especially around Caruthersville.
The total of the budded varieties of pecan trees in Missouri does not constitute more than approximately one per cent of the total of growing trees.
Many years ago a large acreage of the bottom lands along the Mississippi river were thick with immense, heavy-producing pecan trees—but most of this pecan timber was cut down either for fuel wood or saw timber. Short-sighted people have been known to chop down trees simply to secure the nuts.
The native hickories of Missouri have been held in high esteem since early settlements were established. They are notorious on account of their slow rate of growth yet they offer greater possibilities to nut growers than is usually believed. As shade trees they have a high ranking.
Promising varieties may now be had by obtaining scions from superior bearing seedling trees and from young named and grafted trees in the nurseries of commercial concerns. Grafted trees may come into bearing in three or four years after the operation.
Perhaps as many as five species are native of Missouri. The big shellbark or kingnut is common to the south and southwest regions, but its range is not as wide as others. The shagbark which is the most valuable nut producer of all the hickories, is rather widely distributed particularly in northern and central Missouri. Numerous varieties have been described and named because of their particular merits. Shellbark nuts may be large and attractive, but are often poorly filled.
The pignut, mockernut, and bitternut have a rather general distribution especially in the central and northern parts of the state. These nuts are not considered of great value except for their hybrids with other species. Perhaps the most natural type of hybrid occurring among the hickories is crosses between the shagbark and shellbark, one of the best varieties of which is Weiker.
The pecan and shellbark hybrids include McAllister, Nussbaumer, and Rockville, while the Burton is believed to be a pecan-shagbark cross. The natural crosses of the pecan and hickory found in the wild have not been entirely satisfactory. The trees vary greatly in fruitfulness and the nuts in thickness of shells, size, shape, and kernel quality. A strong tendency to produce nuts with imperfect kernels is common among the pecan-shellbark crosses.
Local varieties selected from the wild may have merit for use in top-working hickories or pecans. The pecan is suggested because it makes a good stock for the hickories and as it grows more rapidly. Some of the best of the older named sorts for planting or for use in top-working appear to be the following: Barnes, Fairbanks, Stanley, Weiker, Kentucky, Swain, Laney, Kirtland, and Rieke.
The chinkapin is related closely to the chestnut and resembles it strikingly in most of the important characteristics. It occurs in two well known forms. West of the Mississippi River, the Ozark chinkapin tree may reach a height of sixty feet in good soil, while the other form (Allegany chinkapin) in the eastern range grows to a height of about 15 feet. Each may be grafted or budded upon the other without difficulty. Named varieties of the chinkapin are not available at this time. The Japanese, Chinese, and European chestnuts are introduced species.
The blight disease has almost wiped out the great American chestnut forests of the East. As yet, however, the malady has not been introduced into Missouri. (The oak wilt, however, has been found there.—Ed.) The chinkapin of this area is highly resistant to the blight and some of the hybrids carry the resistant quality and bear nuts of good size and high quality. The native chinkapin forests especially of southwest Missouri are valued highly not only for their nuts but particularly for post timber.
The native chinkapin tree in Missouri grows to large size in good soil and it may be found as one of the largest forest trees on the stony ridge lands of southwestern sections of the Ozark Mountains. The nuts are very much like those produced by chestnut trees except they are smaller. In flavor and quality the nuts may be found equal or superior to the chestnuts.
Both the chinkapin and chestnut may be grafted or budded one upon the other. In fact, the western chinkapin may be used successfully as a stock for the chestnut.
The European chestnut is very susceptible to the blight. A very large coarse nut is produced by the Japanese chestnut and it does not blight quite as readily as the American sorts. The Chinese chestnut is the most resistant to blight and it is admired for its beauty as a lawn tree. Promising varieties include Abundance, Nanking and Meiling.
Some desirable varieties of the American and hybrid chestnuts for growing in Missouri are as follows: Boone, Fuller, Paragon, Progress, Rochester, and Champion.
FILBERTS AND HAZELNUTS
The European filbert which is grown so successfully in Oregon and Washington has not been generally successful in Missouri. This has been due mainly to winter injury, resulting either in the killing of the staminate catkins by cold, or of the developing catkins by late spring freezes and frosts. For good fruiting they need cross pollination. Some of the well-known and popular filbert varieties are Barcelona, Du Chilly, Medium Long and Italian Red. Rush, Winkler, and others, are partly or purely American hazelnuts.
The native hazelnut which may be found throughout the State is hardy and generally a fairly regular cropper. Seedling nuts, while not as large usually as the Northwestern filbert, are found now and then that approach them closely in size and cracking quality. Furthermore, the native seedling nut kernels may excel occasionally in flavor and quality.
Interested nut growers are, therefore, urged to perpetuate the most promising hazelnuts of the wild by simple layerage. Until hardier varieties of the filbert are found, the chief attention may be well spent on the propagation and culture of the native seedling sorts of merit. As yet none of the Missouri native seedlings have been described, named and propagated for sale and distribution.
Tip or simple layering seems to be the most satisfactory method of propagating the hazelnut and filbert. Shoots or suckers, one-year old and arising from the base of the plant are used. They are left attached to the mother plant and are bent over until the ends of tips rest upon the soil.
To encourage root growth, the underside of the branch to be covered with soil is frequently notched or ringed. The part of the branch in contact with the moist soil is then covered leaving a small portion of the end protruding. The branches are sometimes pegged down with forked sticks or weighted with stones. After one season's growth, the branch should be established with roots and top. It is then cut from the parent and removed for transplanting to its permanent location.
Well, now, my good friends, I have talked about five or ten minutes longer than I intended to, but you just listened so attentively you encouraged me, so it's your fault. I am happy to be here. Show me an organization like the Northern Nut Growers Association, as full of vim and vigor and vinegar and going ahead, and I will show you a successful organization.
MR. CHASE: Thank you, Professor Talbert, for a very nice message.
I am still a little angry at Professor Talbert because I realize now that if he had accepted my invitation to come to another good southern state two years ago our meeting would have been a much better one at Norris.
Now, we have several papers here which deal with chestnuts, and there seems to be a good deal of interest among the membership concerning chestnuts this year, and perhaps before we get into chestnuts for nut production we might hear a short resume of Dr. Graves' breeding work for timber type chestnut. This problem of chestnut for timber purposes, of course, accounts for the presence of Chinese and Japanese chestnuts in the country today, and yet most of our efforts to establish chestnut plantings for timber purposes have been unsuccessful. You heard from Dr. Diller last year concerning these efforts.
This paper will deal with the breeding work which is now under way by Dr. Graves in Connecticut, and I have asked Dr. McKay to give us a brief digest of this paper.
Chestnut Breeding Work: Report for 1950
ARTHUR HARMOUNT GRAVES Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Conn. and Division of Forest Pathology, U.S.D.A. Plant Industry Station, Beltsville, Maryland
In southern Connecticut the 1950 season for vegetative growth and development was excellent except for the dry period in September. The chief fault lay in much more cloudy weather than usual, and the deficiency in sunlight coupled with a slightly lower average temperature in the spring, and cool nights, combined to delay the chestnut flowering season for as much as ten days. The main body of our cross pollination experiments did not begin until July 4, whereas last year it began on June 23 and 24, and was nearly completed by July 4.
 For example, the report of the U. S. Weather Bureau at New Haven, Conn., for May, 1950, says, "The feature of the month was the lack of sunshine which retarded the growth of crops in this area." See also report of the New York City Station for April, 1950.
This year 103 crosses were made, not all different combinations, but each one with either different or reciprocal parents. The principal combination was a cross of Japanese chestnut with Chinese-American or American-Chinese, a mixture that in recent years has given excellent results. This year also, as in the past, our CJA's were crossed with American chestnut.
Cooperation with Italy. A considerable part of the cross pollination work this year has been undertaken for the benefit of the Italian authorities, namely experiment stations at Florence and Rome. This has been done at the suggestion of the Division of Forest Pathology, Beltsville, Md., which has been working along the same line.
As is now generally known, the chestnut blight was discovered in Italy in 1938, and has been making rapid headway in a country 15 percent of whose forests are in chestnut. To the Italians the chestnut means much as an article of food. They use the timber also, and the various ages of coppice growth in many ways. Particular effort this year has been directed toward the breeding of promising nut-bearing types for them and especially resistant strains that bear large nuts like the cultivated European chestnut.
 Graves, Arthur Harmount. Breeding Chestnut Trees: Report for 1946 and 1947. 38th Ann. Rept. Northern Nut Growers Assn. p. 85. 1947.
Now, we have found that many of our Chinese chestnuts are practically immune to the blight. Even if the disease does appear, in most cases it is in the outer bark only, and is soon healed over. Moreover, the Chinese chestnut has a large nut, comparable in size to the cultivated Europeans with pollen from our best Chinese trees, and at the same successful crosses of the European and Chinese are made.
Last fall, as a result of an article in the New Haven Register by Mr. A. V. Sizer, I learned of two European chestnut trees of bearing age in New Haven back yards. So, this summer we have crossed these Europeans with pollen from our best Chinese trees, and at the same time have taken the pollen from one of them (in the other the pollen was sterile) and applied it to the female flowers of our Chinese trees. Most of the resulting nuts have been sent to the Italian scientists in the hope that some of them will develop into desirable nut-producing, disease-resistant hybrids. Some will be retained for testing here. If the resulting trees are not sufficiently blight-resistant, they will be crossed again with the Chinese.
In the summer we received by air mail from Dr. Aldo Pavari, of the Stazione Sperimentale di Selvicoltura in Florence, Italy, two tubes of pollen of the European chestnut, Castanea sativa, of the varieties pistolese and selvatico. These pollens were also applied to our best Chinese trees. They resulted in 12 good nuts which have been shipped to Dr. Pavari.
Further, we have on our Sleeping Giant Plantation, Hamden, Conn., several hybrids, now 16 years old, of the Seguin and the Chinese chestnuts, the former species being also a native of China, but dwarf and everblooming and remarkably prolific. These hybrids are excellent as nut producers, since they inherit the large-sized nut of the mollissima parent, combined with the increased productivity of the Seguin parent. Furthermore they are extremely blight-resistant. These hybrids have therefore been intercrossed among themselves this year, chiefly for the benefit of the Italian people. One hundred and eight nuts from reciprocal crosses of these hybrids were shipped to Italy. Also, in response to a request, we sent nuts of our best Chinese and Japanese trees and of the mollissima-seguini hybrids to M. C. Schad of the Station d'Amelioration du Chataignier, Clermont-Ferrand, France.
 These hybrids will shortly be put on the market, under the sponsorship of the Conn. Agr. Expt. Sta. and the Division of Forest Pathology, U.S.D.A. As regards the everblooming habit of the Seguin parent, that character seems to be lost or at least partly suppressed. A second flowering of one of the hybrids usually occurs in August.
Other crosses. Two Chinese-American trees in our plantation at the White Memorial Foundation near Litchfield, Conn., bore a considerable number of female flowers this year for the first time. They have been crossed with the fine Japanese tree of Mr. A. N. Sheriff at Cheshire, Conn., figured in my report for 1948-49. (P. 92, fig. 3, of 40th Rept. of N.N.G.A.) From them, 75 nuts were harvested of the combination CAxJ. Four crosses were made on the trees at Redding Ridge, Conn., in the cooperative plantation of Mr. Archer M. Huntington, resulting in 73 nuts. Also, the resistant Americans on Painter Hill, Roxbury, Conn., were again crossed with CJA's and Chinese from our Sleeping Giant Plantation and from these were obtained 247 nuts. Finally, we have this year succeeded in making a cross between Castanea henryi, the Henry Timber Chinkapin from southern and central China, which is said to attain a height of 90 feet, and C. mollissima, the Chinese chestnut. Since henryi blooms very early, much before our mollissima, the Division of Forest Pathology mailed us pollen of C. mollissima, which reached us just in time to be applied to henryi. Seven good nuts of this cross were gathered.
Altogether, as the overall result of our cross pollination work, we harvested 1259 nuts, more than twice as many as obtained in any other year since we began this work in 1930.
——————————————————————————— TABLE 1
Heights of Some of Largest Trees, as of Oct. 1, 1950. All at Sleeping Giant Plantation, Hamden, Conn.
Species or Height Hybrid Location Age in yrs. in ft. Remarks ———————————————————————————————————- J x A Row 4 Tree 10 19 30 Repeatedly inarched J x A " 4 " 4 14 33 Grafted on Jap. stock, Apr. 1937 J x A " 4 " 12 19 29 Repeatedly inarched J " 7 " 5 20 23 C " 1 " 4 24 30-3/4 CJA " 60 " 39 13 29 CJA " 61 " 48 13 24 CJA " 8 " 8 4 14 Grafted on Chinese stock, spring, 1947. Fruited this yr. 1st time. ———————————————————————————————————— J=Castanea crenata A=Castanea dentata C=Castanea mollissima
Nuts, Scions and Pollen Received. During the fall of 1949 we received nuts from New Hampshire, Mass., Conn., N. Y., N. J., W. Va., N. C., Ohio, and Ill. Scions were received in March and April from Mr. R. M. Viggars of the Bartlett Tree Expert Co. station at Wilmington, Del. (C. dentata); and from Messieurs Schad and G. A. Solignat, Centre de Recherches Agronomiques, Clermont-Ferrand, France, (C. crenata and sativa.) During June and July, pollen of C. dentata came from Mr. E. J. Grassmann, Elizabeth, N. J., Mr. Paul Maxey, Montcoal, W. Va., Mr. Malcolm G. Edwards, Asheville, N. C.; C. mollissima and dentata from the Division of Pathology, U.S.D.A.; C. sativa, vars. pistolese and selvatico from Dr. Aldo Pavari, Stazione Sperimentale di Selvicolture, Florence, Italy; and C. pumila and dentata from Mr. Alfred Szego, Flushing, N. Y. This list is presented as evidence of the widespread interest in our work. It is a pleasure to acknowledge this cooperation and to thank the many donors. We are especially glad to report that several "catches" have been made with the C. sativa scions from France and those of the tall mollissimas at Mt. Cuba, Del., from Mr. Viggars.
May I again caution those who send us nuts not to allow them to become dried out. The embryos, when dried, are killed. The nuts should be wrapped in moist cotton, peat moss, or something similar, and mailed to me not later than a few days after harvesting, at 255 South Main Street, Wallingford, Conn.
Insects, bad and good. The cankerworms were rather destructive in May at our Sleeping Giant Plantation (not at the others) but fortunately later than usual. The mite, Paratetranychus bicolor, attacked the leaves of some of the trees on the Sleeping Giant Plantation rather late in the season, so that on September 8 we sprayed with the Station's power sprayer, using Aramite effectively. Shade and humidity seem to favor the spread of this pest. Japanese beetles appeared but have never been very destructive with us. As happened last year, we sprayed twice for the weevils, August 14 and September 8, with excellent results.
This spring in early June, four hives of bees were placed in one of our Sleeping Giant Plantations by bee experts of the staff of the Conn. Expt. Station. Improved results in pollination and the resulting nut harvest cannot be affirmed with only one season's trial.
A Method of Controlling the Chestnut Blight on Partially Resistant Species and Hybrids of Castanea
ARTHUR HARMOUNT GRAVES Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven and Division of Forest Pathology, U.S.D.A. Plant Industry Station, Beltsville, Maryland
This method has been in use since 1937 on our chestnut plantations, and has been so remarkably successful that we believe all chestnut growers should be thoroughly acquainted with it.
Whenever chestnut trees are attacked by the blight fungus, suckers arise below the lesion, and if the lesion is at or near the base of the tree, as often happens, these suckers grow from the base of the tree, i.e. at the root collar. It is then a simple matter to cut out the diseased bark of the lesion with a sharp knife, paint over the wound, and graft the tip of one or more of these suckers above the lesion, into the healthy bark. Of course the sucker must be long enough to reach the healthy part of the bark above the lesion. It is measured roughly by the eye and then cut off at a proper length, usually a little longer than seems necessary. The tip is then sharpened into two beveled surfaces coming up to a thin sharp transverse edge like a long wedge. (Fig. 1a.) The tip edge must be very sharp in order to push up easily between the bark and wood. Now, or rather, before trimming the sucker, in the healthy bark above the blight lesion cut an inverted T, making the cut into the bark as far as the wood and then cut a gradual slope from the surface of the bark down to the horizontal part of the inverted T. Next, lift the bark gently from the wood above the horizontal cut and insert the end of the sucker. If the sucker, or scion, is slightly longer than the upper end of the cut, it can be bent outward at the same time that the scion is being inserted and thus a spring is secured making it easier to force the scion up between bark and wood. I should add that if the lesion is not at the base of the tree, suckers usually arise just below it in any case, and these can be inarched in the same way as the basal shoots.
[Illustration: Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Showing inarching method of controlling the chestnut blight a Chinese-Japanese hybrid chestnut, 13 yrs. old, infected toward base with Chinese type of blight, i.e. in outer bark only. Right: sucker inarched in spring of 1946; left, inarched spring of 1950. (The black figure resembling an arrow, about half way up, is accidental, being a cluster of labels.) b. Grafted tree (the large tree of Japanese-American chestnut on Japanese stock); graft made in 1937 where finger is pointing; left: inarch of 1947, itself inarched near base in 1950; right, inarch of 1949. c. Japanese-American hybrid chestnut with principal inarch made in 1943; other later inarchings showing in part. All photos by Louis Buhle, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and loaned courtesy of the Garden.]
The next step is to bind together the parts being grafted, winding strong, cotton string firmly around the cut with its scion enclosed, covering practically all of the vertical cut of the inverted T. Finally, melted paraffin—not too hot—is applied to the union, every part being carefully covered in order to exclude air and thus prevent drying out. We use Clarke's melter which, with adjustment of the flame, will keep the paraffin at a temperature slightly above the melting point and thus will not get too hot. Grafting wax may also be used instead of paraffin. The best time to perform the operation in Connecticut is during April or early May.
Our first scions or inarches, grafted in 1937, are now 6 inches in diameter at ground level and constitute the main tree. If they become blighted, other suckers are inarched into them, and so on. The purpose of the inarching is to restore the communication between leaves and roots, which is so essential to the life and health of the tree, and which the diseased bark of the blight lesion interrupts, eventually causing girdling and death of the trunk or branch attacked. A series of these inarchings of different ages is shown herewith. (Fig. 2.) On our plantations we no longer dread the chestnut blight, since we can usually circumvent it by this method. However, with the American chestnut, because the fungus advances rapidly in this species, the girdling is often completed before the scions can take hold. Therefore, with that species or with the least resistant hybrids the method is often though not always ineffectual.
This method of grafting is not new. It is similar to bridge grafting and has been known and practiced for centuries. The only credit we can claim is for its application to the chestnut blight as a method of control.
MR. CHASE: We will now hear from Mr. George Salzer, Rochester, New York, "Experiences with Chestnuts in Nursery and Orchard in Western New York." Mr. Salzer.
Experiences with Chestnuts in Nursery and Orchard in Western New York
GEORGE SALZER, Rochester, New York
My work with Chinese chestnut trees during the past ten years has been most interesting. The first trees were grown in our back-yard garden; then, when more seed was available locally, a building lot was purchased for use as a nursery. Seed is planted in the spring because when fall planting was tried, the rodents took most of the nuts.
Up until last year, chestnut seed was stratified in perforated cans in the open ground with fairly good results. Last fall, we tried the method used and described by Dr. Crane and Dr. McKay in the 1946 report of this Association. Crimp top cans were used with nail holes in the top and bottom. Instead of using regular storage facilities, the cans were stored in a concrete block storage pit built below the floor of the garage. This proved very successful. Not only were the nuts in excellent condition for eating in the spring, sweet and of good flavor, but a much larger percentage of the seed germinated. This storage pit also serves to hold trees dormant and in good planting condition from digging time in March until early June.
Last year, many young seedlings were lost during the dry weather and hand weeding between the trees was next to impossible. This spring, we tried the method of planting used and described by Mr. Sam Hemming in the 1947 report of this Association. We planted the seed in a narrow trench two inches deep; then filled the trench with saw dust; level with the surface. The saw dust serves as a mulch to hold moisture for the young seedlings and hand weeding between trees is reduced to a minimum. It is also possible to use the wheel cultivator between the saw dust marked rows before the shoots appear. This was a great help in controlling early weed growth.
We were troubled with cutworms cutting off the new seedlings close to the ground, the same as they cut off young tomato plants. We controlled them by using a poison-bran bait as described in Leaflet Number Two issued by the Department of Agriculture.
All trees are grown from seed of trees growing in the Rochester area. These had their origin from north of Pekin, China. Most of the trees are three years old when sold and have been transplanted at least once. This gives us a good sized tree that transplants well and should bear some chestnuts in three or four years. Sales are to people in our locality, although a few mail orders have been filled. So far, we have had no complaints. These are all seedling trees and until grafting or budding of named varieties becomes stabilized, I believe we should concentrate on growing large numbers of seedlings at a price within the reach of all who want chestnut trees.
This spring some large chestnut seed received from a southern grower was planted for experimental purposes. I will bring them into bearing to learn whether they will bear as large a nut in our climate as they do in the southern states, and whether the kernel will be as sweet and have as good flavor as those grown in upstate New York. I have yet to see a tree growing in the Rochester area bearing as large a nut as those grown in the southeast, and all the large nuts I have tasted did not seem to be as sweet as ours. Probably the old saying "the smaller the nut, the sweeter the nut" is true. Of course these are all seedling trees, but by this time we should know whether size of nut and sweetness of kernel are determined by climate or individual trees.
Our largest trees are eleven-year old seedlings of unknown origin. One is, I believe, outstanding. It started bearing when four years old and has consistently been a good producer. The nut is real chestnut in color and good size, running about seventy to the pound. I have not found a tree in this area bearing a larger nut. The kernel is sweet and the flavor excellent. The tree has good shape and limb structure, always sending up a central leader. This is the tree I would like to propagate.
Small Nuts Sell Better
Last fall, I tried a selling experiment with chestnuts for eating, and sold small quantities of small and medium sized nuts at the rate of $1.50 a pound. However, no one seemed interested in the larger ones. They thought they were European chestnuts that sold here for $.25 a pound. I did not have many for sale, but I am convinced there is a market for good sweet chestnuts. It seems useless to compete with those imported from Italy. Ours are far superior, and many who remember the American chestnut, will, I believe pay a luxury price for good quality chestnuts.
In 1946, we purchased a 10-1/2 acre piece of land, 16 miles southwest of Rochester for the purpose of planting a chestnut orchard. This land had not been worked for about twelve years. The soil is heavy and fertile, typed as Poygan clay loam. Bed rock is sixty feet below the surface. The following spring, we planted about 300 trees and each year more are set out. There are now about 700 trees from two to five years old, and most of them are growing well.
The rows are twenty feet apart and the trees stand fifteen to twenty feet apart, in the row. I know this will be too close when the trees are full grown, but we have the trees and I want to bring as many into bearing as possible, searching for the ideal tree. We also expect to lose some trees through wild life and other causes.
Many of the first trees planted were lost the following year due to excessive rainfall, poor surface drainage, rabbit and meadow mouse damage. In 1948 two 400 foot drainage ditches were dug across the property. This made it possible to plant trees successfully on most of the land. However, another ditch is needed to eliminate a low spot, then all of the land can be used.
The meadow mouse that girded so many trees could not be controlled by the use of poison bait and the rabbit also did considerable damage. Through the wild life service of the Department of the Interior, we obtained a repellant that was effective. It is distributed in the eastern states by the Rodent Control Fund of the University of Massachusetts. We have used it now for two years and have no more mouse or rabbit damage.
The woodchuck does considerable damage even though we have eliminated all their dens on our land. They come in to feed from the neighboring areas and will have to be controlled by shooting. Deer are also present but have as yet caused no damage. Probably, they are waiting for the trees to grow larger.
Last spring, new growth on the trees was killed by a late freeze—a most unusual occurance for this area. This was caused by an excessively warm April, followed by below-freezing temperature in the middle of May. It was the first time in the memory of the oldest residents that black locust and native black walnut trees were damaged by a spring freeze. However, most of the trees recovered, but their growth was retarded.
This spring several of the trees blossomed, but set no burs. In a few years, I hope to have more to report on this orchard project.
(Here was shown a chestnut tree picture.)
MR. SALZER: If anyone has any comments, if they think it has good limb structure, that's what we are looking for.
MR. SHERMAN: We could tell you better if we could see it when it's dormant.
MR. WEBER: What sort of a cultivator do you use?
MR. SALZER: Wheel cultivator.
MR. WEBER: Why don't you get a Wheelmaster? You may not want to cultivate as often as if you had a power one.
MR. CHASE: We shall now have another chestnut paper by Alfred Szego of Long Island.
Chestnuts in Upper Dutchess County, New York
ALFRED SZEGO 77-15A 37th Ave., Jackson Heights, New York City
Pulvers' Corners, a collection of farmhouses, a gas station and ice cream parlor is located about 8 miles from the northern Connecticut border not too far from the southwestern tip of Massachusetts.
The Berkshire hills roll through here and at this point we find ourselves at approximately the northern limits of the deciduous hardwood forest belt.
Here the American chestnut is native formerly growing in great abundance until stricken a mortal blow by the invincible chestnut blight.
Just a few hundred feet north of here on a hilltop, I started in 1945, a different kind of nut tree plantation.
Placing main emphasis on the chestnut, a start was made on the cultivation of the thousands of sprouts and seedlings on my 43 acre coppice forest.
A cluster of Castanea dentata seedlings that appeared promising was selected. The following practices proved fairly successful in keeping a few trees healthy, and bringing one into bearing in 1950. For the interest of fellow members working along a similar line, I enumerate the following practices.
1. Clean and thorough tree surgery, cutting out blight cankers immediately upon discovery.
2. Removal of all very blight susceptible nearby sprouts and the burning of all infected branches and material.
3. Artificial watering during drought periods.
4. Application of superphosphate, muriate of potash and trace elements. Es-Min-El was used in our case. Our soil tests high in nitrogen.
5. Removal of all overstory trees and other interfering growth.
It may be noted that the importance of hygiene and sanitation cannot be stressed too strongly.
Our own native chinkapin, Castanea pumila when brought up north proves itself a delightful subject. Outside of the weevil-infested area, it becomes a hardy producer of superb little chestnuts. This species offers great promise to the plant breeder because of its very early bearing (3-4 years from seed). Perhaps hybridization with Castanea mollissima varieties may bring something very fine and valuable. This species is tender during its first year but perfectly hardy afterwards. Northern growers require special techniques to grow chinkapins from seed.
The strains of Chinese chestnut, Castanea mollissima in most cases do not seem extremely happy here. The trees appear to sustain varying degrees of winter injury. The tips of the branches often freeze. Usually the branch comes into leaf on the lower part first and then upwards. However, a few individuals appear perfectly hardy. The outlook is excellent for the discovery of exceptional individuals suitable for the northern zones.
The Japanese chestnut, Castanea crenata shows very good adaptation to this region. Although my trees of this species are young, very vigorous growth indicates some value here. Unfortunately, the nuts have a bad after-taste when eaten raw thus limiting its commercial possibilities. I have noticed this undesirable characteristic in tasting hybrid nuts derived from trees possessing Castanea crenata parentage. I was informed at Beltsville that the hybrid known as S8, a cross between Castanea pumila and C. crenata, was rejected for its poor quality nuts.
I have established many other species of chestnuts and their hybrids. Some of these are from seed obtained from the Bell experimental plot of the U.S.D.A. at Glenn Dale, Maryland. Seed from this source has produced a much better grade of seedlings than those from anywhere else.
A somewhat different version of the tin can planting method is now being used here. Number two size and larger tin cans have a few punctures made with a hammer and nail in the bottom. These have their tops removed, of course, and after being filled with loose soil, are used as pots in which to start chestnuts.
In the early spring germinating chestnuts are removed from jars, kept in my refrigerator. One is planted in each can flat side down, barely beneath the soil level.
After the season has warmed up these "canned plants" are set out in a trench, buried to the rim. Rock wool is placed around the stems of the seedlings covering the soil and the nut. This has acted as a rodent deterrent.
The "canned plants" are then, at leisure, set out in their permanent places. Just before doing this an ordinary beer can opener is used to enlarge the punctures in the bottom of the can to permit the roots to penetrate better. In a few years the can should disintegrate entirely and at no time will interfere with root growth.
By holding the chestnuts under refrigeration and not planting in the fall I have kept my plantings free of the chestnut weevils.
I found that by planting the flat side down, the stem seems to go down very easily, and the sprout coming up from it seems to go up more easily, also.
MR. RICK: Are they planted permanently in the can?
MR. SZEGO: Yes, they are planted in the can. The can will disintegrate in two or three years.
MR. RICK: Don't you have those in rows?
MR. SZEGO: No, I sometimes place them on the grass. The morning dew seems to provide enough moisture to carry through the dry spells. But, again, I live in a mountainous area. This may not apply out in Oklahoma.
MR. CHASE: Next on the program is a demonstration of his method of propagating nut trees in pots in the greenhouse by Mr. Bernath, who has been very successful with this method. Mr. Bernath.
Demonstration of Method of Propagating Nut Trees in Greenhouse
STEPHEN BERNATH, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
Here is the way I handle the nut trees when we propagate under glass in the greenhouse. These are two-year seedlings potted up. That root is cut away and any large lateral roots that are too large to bend well we cut them off, and we take all the fibrous roots we can and put them in this pot. Put your soil around it first, and when you have it nearly full, just the same as if you take your son and lay him on your knee and spank the butt good and put the soil around the roots. Then pack it with your thumb and your potting is done.
(Taking scion) I use only one bud. One bud is good as a dozen. (Cutting-with pruning knife.)
MR. WEBER: How do you cut above the bud that you use above the graft?
MR. BERNATH: If the nodes are far enough apart I put it farther, but I like to put it as short as I can but allow not less than half inch or an inch or more on top, and you cut it away after the union has taken and the growth started. Sometimes some of them may have a growth of two inches before you take them out of the case. They are not uniform. Some of them are way in advance of some of the others. Some of them are tardy, slow.
This is my budding knife, here, which is about 40 years old.
MR. CHASE: The question is asked, this isn't the time of year that you would do this, is it?
MR. BERNATH: No, sir. I start in January. You can continue into April. You can take a batch out and put another batch in.
MR. RICK: How many weeks, usually, before you graft, after these are put in the case?
MR. BERNATH: I would say that with most of your varieties it's from four to six weeks, with the exception of ornamentals. That will take six to eight, sometimes longer, but nut trees generally come on quickly. I have known them to have two inches of growth, I think, in three weeks. (Sharpening knife.)
A MEMBER: You are like the violinist. You have to tune up first.
MR. BERNATH: Yes, and never forget to wipe your knife. And remember not to put your finger on the fresh cut. (Cutting). Here is the cut before I insert the scion. In cutting your scion wood, now here is the butt. Cut on the inside. When you cut on this side it throws the bud a little bit far out because it's on an angle. You know about the depth of the cut here, and you go like this: (Cutting).
A MEMBER: Do you come down to a pretty good point?
MR. BERNATH: (Holding up scion.)
A MEMBER: Is that a side graft you are making there?
MR. BERNATH: Yes. (Inserting scion in cut.) Now, on this one I am going to use a rubber strip.
DR. MacDANIELS: Hold it up so we can see the whole thing as you have it stuck in there. That is a side graft with the bud next to the stock.
MR. BERNATH: That's right.
MR. RICK: The scion was cut on both sides, was it, or one side?
MR, BERNATH: Yes, on both sides.
MR. WEBER: Wedge shape.
MR. KINTZEL: An inch below the bud.
MR. BERNATH: (Wrapping graft) Here is where your thumb comes into play. As you put this on, start right here (stretching rubber). See how far that can stretch? You cross it and you can take your finger off. Now release it. Have your finger on it. Put this finger right here. All right, you see you get under, pull right up there. There it is, the graft is done.
MR. EMERSON: You don't use any wax?
MR. BERNATH: No wax whatsoever. Never use any.
MR. CORSAN: Or any latex?
MR. BERNATH: No, nothing at all.
MR. RICK: How do you slope this?
MR. BERNATH: I have a little, miniature box here, and that would represent a bench in the greenhouse. (Demonstrating).
Here is another one (taking another scion).
MR. CORSAN: That's used by dentists and plastic surgeons.
MR. BERNATH: Now watch the difference. If the scion wood happened to be smaller than your stock, you cut accordingly. In other words, you are not going in as far. See (showing). Or else you can cross it. Now, just a minute, we will get that (making cut in stock; slicing scion off diagonally). You don't go up as high on this side. Now, then, you take it, if you are a pretty good hand with a knife. That's all right, even if it's not shaped at all. There it is (inserting in cut). But one thing—I want to warn you, if you want to follow this, be careful not to rub the bud off in handling it. If you do, you might as well throw it away, because you are licked.
MR. WEBER: That is one reason for having the bud face the stock?
MR. BERNATH: No, but makes a better growth.
Persian walnut, I find, unless it's way far down on the trunk of a tree, will not form adventitious buds. Now, you can do it with a chestnut. You can rub the main bud off and you will find two or three of them coming, or more, right around that place. But one of these walnuts will not form an adventitious bud, so you might as well throw it away, or if you knock off even the new growth on it, you might as well dump it, because it will not form a tree.
Now here is a tape that I use.
MR. KINTZEL: Rubber tape?
MR. BERNATH: No, no, cloth.
MR. STOKE: That's about the same as surgical tape?
MR. BERNATH: Made especially for grafting, Mr. Stoke.
Now, you have to watch it closely because this is a tricky thing.
MR. CORSAN: This is not called Scotch Tape?
MR. BERNATH: No, this is made especially for grafting. You can get this from some of the boys.
MR. WEBER: A. M. Leonard and Son, Piqua, Ohio.
MR. RICK: That will require more attention than the rubber. The rubber takes care of itself, where this one you have to take off.
MR. WEBER: No, this decays.
MR. BERNATH: You start right here on the stock. Now you make sure that the scion—
MR. WEBER: You start at the top?
MR. BERNATH: The top, always on the top.
MR. WEBER: And that has a tendency to keep the scion worked down, whereas if you started at the bottom you might push it up.
MR. BERNATH: You have quite a pressure right around there—watch it, because it will tear, and if it tears with you, why, it's so hard to get straightened out—and then press together.
MR. WEBER: And you don't wax either the top, or anything?
MR. BERNATH: No. Now, the reason for leaving this under stock that long: if you are not careful, fungus growth will set in. If you cut right here, then the whole thing is affected with it, see. Wrap it firmly and that is there on both sides, and when the union forms and the growth begins here, when you take them out of the case, for instance, now, you take a sharp pair of shears and cut as close as you can. (Removes top of understock.) Never mind if you cut the cloth, it doesn't make any difference. Just cut it right there. Snip it right off. But that is when you take them out of the grafting case.
A MEMBER: Wouldn't it also be all right to leave that stub on to tie your sprout to so it won't want to break?
MR. BERNATH: No, you might be better off if you had a stake. Put a stake on the side of it. When everything is right that surface will callus over right quickly. It may not seem so. It does make a perfect union unlike a graft of some other types.
MR. WEBER: When you make that cut of the excess understock, you don't even wax?
MR. BERNATH: No. You can if you want to, but I don't wax. Just leave it like that.
Now the next operation. Here is this miniature greenhouse. It's moist peat. That's just about the right substance. Would anybody like to look at this? Don't get it too wet. Just walk right up here.
MR. WEBER: It feels as if it's ground up.
MR. BERNATH: It is.
MR. CORSAN: Mr. Bernath, would that be the right stuff to put sweet chestnuts in in the fall?
MR. BERNATH: You mean for sprouting?
MR. CORSAN: Yes.
MR. BERNATH: That would be all right.
MR. CORSAN: That's not too damp?
MR. BERNATH: No.
MR. CORSAN: I have put it in that and had the greatest success.
MR. CHASE: Now, folks, let's everybody sit down, and please keep quiet and try to absorb what's going on here. We can't have 10 or 15 individual conversations going on.
MR. BERNATH: Now here we have two pots grafted. Now, of course, the bench in the greenhouse is wider and longer. Here is what you do. You start the first row, just move the peat back like that, and you lay them in like that, one after the other, the pots on the side.
MR. WEBER: With the bud side up?
MR. BERNATH: That's right. Now, you go right along. When you come to the next row, here is what you do (piling up peat) like that. If you want to cover the scion, all right; if you don't, perfectly all right. You can put electric heating coils under it.
MR. RICK: Is there any advantage in sloping the top? Would it matter if it was flat?
MR. BERNATH: No, no, doesn't matter. This just happened to be an old melon box. I had started melons early in the spring.
Now, while the grafts are in the process of forming the unions, that is, when the cambium begins to form, you do not water until you take these out of the case. Add no more water, but make sure your pots are moist enough. For instance, in this one, there is plenty of moisture for the period of incubation.
MR. KINTZEL: How long? Couple of weeks?
MR. BERNATH: No. Sometimes they start to grow in three weeks, but generally four weeks, maybe a little over. Sometimes less; depends on everything.
MR. SHERMAN: What temperature in the greenhouse?
MR. BERNATH: Well, if you note in the springtime when the trees are beginning to grow, you know the night temperature goes down, while daytime may go up to 75, 80 in the spring. All right, you follow nature, and you'll never go wrong.
Now, the temperature, at night, if it does go down around the fifties, or even less, doesn't do any harm. That's the house temperature. But under the benches where you have your heat coils, that's of course, at least 60, maybe a little better, and, of course, in daytime it may—well, it's all right if it goes up to 70, 75. Then, of course, you have to ventilate through the house, and as a matter of fact, under the benches. Take a lot of bags and nail them along the walk to keep the heat under the benches. That gives you the bottom heat.
Now, as I understand, some of our members have tried this method, but they applied too much heat. They burned them. If they didn't burn them, fungus growth set in, because there's high humidity in that box. You will see the moisture condensation on the glass. Drops of water accumulate, and that's a thing you will have to guard against. So every morning give it at first about a 5-minute period when you take a dry cloth and wipe the surface moisture off the glass, the under side, to prevent the water from dripping on the unions here, to keep it dry. Then as you go along you can increase that period, but not over 15 minutes, until around the fourth week, you can generally put a stick under the glass to give more ventilation. When you see that the union is formed and everything is all right, take the glass off, take your grafts out and stand them up straight, and from there on you can water them, but not before.
And then you cut these stocks off right there as close as you can get it, sort of an upward movement, like that (demonstrating with knife).
MR. WEBER: It doesn't make any difference if you cut the rubber band that's on it or not?
MR. BERNATH: No, not too much, if it's callused up good, if the union is hard enough. And then, of course, you put the glass on, and then you keep these grafts in the greenhouse. But don't forget now, something that is important, when you graft these. Here we have a greenhouse over us. This little box represents the batch of grafts. Don't forget you have to shade them. If you didn't shade these, they would burn to a crisp. I have lost several hundred blue spruce grafts by going away on a day when it was cloudy and I forgot to tell Mrs. Bernath, "If the sun comes out, raise the sash." When I came home, this part of the greenhouse was shaded; now, in this corner here I think it was around 250 beautiful grafts but the next day I was going to take them out. They were burnt to a crisp. I saved a few trees right where it was shady.
MR. CALDWELL: The blue spruce are grafted by the same method?
MR. BERNATH: Yes, I use this method for inside grafting for everything.
MR. CALDWELL: Use this method for shagbarks the same way?
MR. BERNATH: Yes, same way with hickories and oaks.
MR. WEBER: What sort of shading element do you use? Anything real tight, or how?
MR. BERNATH: Yes, air tight. The grafting case has got to be air tight.
MR. WEBER: The shade?
MR. BERNATH: Oh, any kind of cloth, cheesecloth, muslin. I know that will do it.
MR. CHASE: Whitewash?
MR. BERNATH: That's all right, too. If you use whitewash, I would recommend using white lead with gasoline and just spray it on. That will help a lot, but I generally use a cloth for shade.
MR. O'ROURKE: Why do you place the scions so that the bud is on the inside?
MR. BERNATH: It makes a straighter tree. The other way it's inclined to grow out this way (indicating). It grows toward the stock, makes a straighter tree.
MR. STOKE: I think there is one more advantage there. On the edge next to the stock you get a better contact than you do on that lip on the outside, and it leads more directly into the bud.
DR. CRANE: Less danger, too, that that bud will rub off.
MR. BERNATH: Keep them shaded, but only 50 per cent shade. And then in about two weeks you take the shade off, let the sun shine on it. It doesn't hurt—over the glass. And then you take these pots when danger of frost is over, plant them out, in nursery rows, or, if you want to put them in permanent places, it's perfectly all right. Take this, put your finger under like that (demonstrating), give her a tap, and the ball comes out of the pot in your hand. And if it's permanent, plant it down to here; cover the union.
MR. WEBER: And the scion eventually forms its own root?
MR. BERNATH: It will. You will find that pot will be filled up with fibrous root.
MR. SZEGO: When do you take the tape off?
MR. BERNATH: Don't take it off at all. It will decay.
MR. MILLER: But the same graft can't be used outside without grafting wax, can it?
MR. BERNATH: Yes, you have to wax outside. That's right, you have to use wax. Otherwise the grafting method is the same for top-working.
MR. MILLER: Because in there you have it air tight. Outside you have to wax.
MR. BERNATH: You can't do it without wax, not outside. But budding you can do without wax outside.
This is a whole plant right here. That's a whole plant root, and this is right in this four-inch pot. That tap root is cut away and all the lateral roots, finer roots, put right in there and put in soil like any transplanted plant.
DR. ROHBACHER: When do you put that stock in the house?
MR. BERNATH: If you want to start work in January, towards the end of December after the understock has had the rest period. You can store them, unless you are in a place where you don't get much frost in your ground.
DR. ROHBACHER: You have to dig those up in the fall?
MR. BERNATH: You have to dig these up about three weeks before you want to graft. There is another point I should have been wide awake enough to tell you in the beginning: when you put these in the bench put them in peat moss like that, because otherwise it would be next to impossible to keep those plants moist enough.
MR. WEBER: That's standing upright.
MR. BERNATH: Upright until you graft. That's only the understock. Watch them closely, say about two weeks, and you may test it. In other words, knock these out and examine the root system. When you see those little white rootlets beginning to grow like thin macaroni, white, most of them, that's a sign that you had better get busy grafting.
MR. WEBER: But not until you see the edges of those roots poking through.
MR. RICK: And the stock isn't in the case until you are ready to graft?
MR. BERNATH: They are in the benches, but not in the case. No outside cover except just the glass of the house.
That's about all there is to it. It isn't much.
MR. RICK: It's been a wonderful demonstration.
MR. SZEGO: When do you cut your scion wood?
MR. BERNATH: Oh, I get scion wood from December on, late December, January and February.
MR. RICK: It would be all right just to go out to the tree and cut your scions and bring them in and the next day graft?
MR. BERNATH: Yes. Well, no. I like to store them a little bit, for the reason that the starches will form. It's amazing how wood will act after you cut it, provided it doesn't dry out. All those cells, you know, in that they form what we call a certain type of starch. You can do it all right with apple trees and pear trees. You can put it right on the tree right from the tree, but I wouldn't advise it on the nut trees.
MR. RICK: Do you keep your scions cool until you are ready to use them?
A MEMBER: My way of keeping it is in fresh sawdust. That's the best means.
MR. WEBER: Do you dampen it any?
MR. BERNATH: Yes. And I have nothing but an earth cellar where I store my scion wood, and they keep well until June.
MR. RICK: To prevent fungus would it be a good idea to dip them in a weak solution of Bordeaux?
MR. BERNATH: I never tried it. I couldn't say. That's one reason why sometimes some of our members here wonder why I write and say, "Please do not wax." I do not want a waxed scion. As far as I am concerned, I would throw them right out. I wouldn't bother to graft them.
MR. CORSAN: You just put them in damp sawdust?
MR. BERNATH: Yes, put them in damp peat or even damp newspaper, wrap it and ship it.
(Newspaper is very good for this purpose.—J. C. McD.)
MR. CORSAN: And no waxing.
MR. BERNATH: No.
MR. STOKE: I agree with you. I got some scions that were waxed, and the scion was beautifully green and every bud was dead.
MR. BERNATH: That's it again. The reason for that is that you have to heat the wax to make it thin enough, and the reaction of the heat is bad for the scion wood.
MR. STOKE: I don't believe it's that alone. I believe a bud can't go without air for a great length of time. It is a living organism and needs the air. Those scions had come from Europe, and every one was dead.
MR. BERNATH: Mr. Silvis will tell you how he keeps his scions good.
MR. SILVIS: Through Goodrich Chemical Company I was interested in what Dr. Shelton, another Ohio member who is a chemist, had available, an emulsion called "Goodrite Latex VL-600." That's the agricultural and horticultural designation for its use. Otherwise, industrially it's known as Geon 31 XX, and some other names.
MR. CORSAN: That is the latex that congeals quickly?
MR. SILVIS: Yes. It's water soluble and makes a very stiff; impervious water barrier on everything it becomes attached to. Therefore, if you dipped the entire scion—usually I go out and cut scion wood and maybe even as late as the next day dip it in the latex. Then after it's dried for five minutes, I can take and throw it in the garage and leave it there until June, July and August, and I can take it to the refrigerator, the same thing. I think the refrigerator is the best place.
MR. SHERMAN: You know last March, at the Ohio meeting there was some wood dipped there, and the latter part of May I came through and picked up a piece and brought it in to Harrisburg in the back of my car in the window where it was cooked in transportation, and it made two inches of growth in the Harrisburg office just lying on my desk.
MR. SILVIS: I have seen it happen, and it doesn't restrict the growth. I have had it on filberts, Persian walnut, and hickory. Then when I cut my stock by using a simple splice graft, in grafting it I use a rubber band, same rubber band they used here, tie it and just forget about it. You don't need the additional shading, and you don't need additional waxing.
DR. MacDANIELS: Can you use that material as a wax? Do you put on additional wax?
MR. SILVIS: It isn't necessary in a splice graft, because you have got a good union.
DR. MacDANIELS: Suppose you haven't got a good union?
MR. SILVIS: I wouldn't use it anyway, because you are covering the cut portion pretty well anyhow.
MR. RICK: Is this outside or inside?
MR. SILVIS: I would say outside. You dip the wax at 70 degrees temperature. Any colder than that would allow it to congeal. It's thick. I am not sure about this, but I think you can dilute it with about eight parts water, if you wish, six or eight parts water to one part latex. It still will make a complete coverage.
That's for scion storage, and it does eliminate making boxes in some places where they have storage problems. It eliminates the storage problem and eliminates waxing immediately after grafting.
MR. WEBER: Your method completely shuts off the air from the bud the same as waxing would do.
MR. SILVIS: And any water going in.
MR. STOKE: I was wondering how long you kept it. You said it was soluble in water. You mean before it sets up?
MR. SILVIS: Before it sets up.
MR. LOWERRE: That's if it's a suspension. It is some time before the water sets up.
MR. STOKE: Retaining moisture and yet being soluble, and that's the thing I wanted to clarify.
MR. SILVIS: If you leave it out, it is a dispersal, let's call it, but it appears like shellac after it is dry.
(Editor's Note: See fuller discussion in 1949 Report, pp. 30-37.)
MR. CHASE: I think we all owe Mr. Bernath a vote of thanks for showing us this. (Applause.) We will visit his place tomorrow, and if you have additional questions, I am sure he will be glad to answer them for you. He has left the grafting case over here for anyone to see.
MR. SHERMAN: In case of heavy rain tomorrow, what are the plans?
MR. SALZER: Wear rubbers.
MR. CHASE: We are not going to have any rain tomorrow.
(He was right.—Ed.)
We have a short paper here that I have asked Dr. Anthony to summarize for us, "Experiences in Nut Growing Near Lake Erie," by Ross P. Wright, Erie, Pennsylvania.
DR. ANTHONY: Mr. Wright is a very interesting man and has a very interesting plantation. He is a manufacturer and fortunately has a son who is mature and married and as interested in the work as he, so there is a continuity that we are pretty sure of.
Experiences in Nut Growing Near Lake Erie
ROSS PIER WRIGHT, Erie, Pennsylvania
This report should be made by my son Richard Wright. He is in charge of the farm but is on a trip to Europe with his family and will not return in time for your meeting.
The farm is located in the Chautauqua Grape Belt; due to the proximity of Lake Erie, which acts as a heat reservoir, it is not as a rule bothered by the late frosts in the Spring or early frosts in the Fall, this making it a very satisfactory climate for Concord grapes. Peaches are also grown commercially.
The village of Westfield is located on the main road between Erie and Buffalo, and the Wright family has lived there for the past 136 years. We have several hundred acres and really started the endeavor more with the idea of seeing if nuts might be profitably grown, without any idea of going into the nut business.
In 1915, 35 years ago, we planted a three acre plot with several varieties of nut trees obtained from nurseries. They were black walnuts, hickories, hazel nuts, pecans, English walnuts, and Japanese heartnuts.
The black walnuts are native of Westfield and the trees we planted have done well. The only hickories that survived were two Siers hickories. We did not think much of them until recently as they did not fill out any too well, but the last three or four years they have for some reason decided to fill better. Due to the extremely thin shell they are very easily cracked and at the moment we think quite highly of these Siers hickories.
We have a nut cracker made by the Dazey Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri, which costs $5.00 or $6.00. It is very effective with the Siers but does not crack thick shelled hickories very well. On the other hand it is ideal for pecans and English walnuts.
The filberts in this field are not very satisfactory, with the exception of the Winkler hazel. These usually bear very well. The trouble with the filberts is that the catkins are quite prone to winter kill but the Winkler hazel seems to be more hardy. There again we think more of them since we have used the Dazey Nut Cracker. The Winkler nuts are rather small and have quite a hard shell and if a hammer is used it is quite likely to crush the kernel.
The English walnuts we planted at that time were not of a hardy type and were prone to winterkill. There are really only two stunted trees left.
The pecans do not winterkill but the nuts do not fill.
The Japanese heartnuts we planted were successful. One of them we consider very satisfactory and is worthy of propagation. We call it the Lobular heartnut.
In the Spring of 1923, 27 years ago, we obtained a half bushel of heartnuts from our representative in Japan and planted them. Three years later we interplanted some of the trees in a four acre field in which we were planting as permanent trees some Snyder and Thomas black walnuts. Reporting on that field as it is today we will say that these walnuts and heartnuts, up to five years ago, bore very well indeed and the nuts filled properly, but the last few years the nuts have not filled properly although they have received nitrate of soda. We are somewhat in a quandry as to the reason for it.
Adjoining the field is a black walnut tree, probably 150 years old, which always bore nuts and they have always filled up to the last few years. In this field where the majority of the seedling heartnuts have been planted there was the usual interesting difference in the nuts. Some were of the true heartnut variety, some had the rough shaggy shell and shape of a butternut and others were round and looked like English walnuts. Some of the heartnut trees have developed a disease called witches'-broom or bunch disease. There does not, to date, seem to be any cure for it. We used some heavy applications of zinc sulphate and thought the trouble had improved but the improvement seems to have been only temporary.
In this field also are the trees which Clarence Reed designated as the Wright heartnut and the Westfield heartnut.
In 1933 to 1935, 15 to 17 years ago, we grafted about 35 hickories with various varieties. They were grafted in a grove of hickories which were on our farm and which were perhaps eight inches in diameter. This endeavor did not prove to be much of a success. Some of the grafts died after a year or two and the others which have continued to live do not appear to bear to any extent. We would have to mark that particular endeavor down as very close to a failure.
Perhaps if we had given the grafting endeavor more attention we might have had different results but we are in the manufacturing business in Erie, Pennsylvania, and really look upon the Westfield, New York, farm as a type of relaxation. In those years 1933 to 1935 industry was experiencing a major distress and I am afraid most of our attention was given to our factory rather than our farm. In fact, that situation applies very largely to all of our nut endeavors. There is an old Scotch saying "The eye of the master fattens the kine," and during the last 15 or 20 years when we in industry have experienced a tremendous depression followed by a war it has meant that those interested have had to watch their manufacturing plants to the detriment of their other interests regardless of how much they regretted it.
In 1934, 16 years ago, we became interested in chestnuts as a possible commercial crop. We purchased a quantity from J. Russell Smith, interplanting them in a vineyard we expected to pull out as it was getting too old. Two years later, through the cooperation of Clarence Reed, Dr. Gravatt, also others at Beltsville, Maryland, we got some 2,000 seedlings of various types, some being hybrids. As some of these bore we planted what we thought were the best nuts in a nursery and at present have about 3000 chestnut trees ranging from three years old up to 16 years. There is some blight occasionally showing which appears to be on the hybrids. About 35 acres of the chestnuts were interplanted in vineyards which we were planning to pull out. During the war, however, the price of grapes was quite high and we left the grapes, pulling the last of them out this Spring. Due to cultivation of the grapes an appreciable number of the nut trees were cut out accidentally, and have later been filled in with seedlings, with the result that the orchard has a rather peculiar appearance. The mature trees, this year, have been doing, we think, very well, and a great majority of them are bearing from a light crop to a rather heavy crop.
Up to date we have had no trouble with worm in our chestnuts. In fact we have not found a single wormy chestnut. This interests us appreciably, as when the old American chestnuts were common on our farm it would seem as if hardly a chestnut escaped a worm hole if you kept them long enough. If you ate the chestnuts immediately it wasn't so bad—the worms were probably too small to be observed.
We understand that in some sections Chinese chestnuts are attacked by worms but I repeat we haven't had one to date.
Our chestnuts are planted largely in Volusia clay loam on fields where chestnuts formerly flourished. This soil is not fertile, as soils go, and the trees will probably not grow as large nor will they grow as fast as if planted in a more fertile soil. At first we used a spacing of 36 feet but we now use 24 feet, which we think will be satisfactory for our farm.
Since the chestnuts have come into bearing and the project has become to some extent a commercial one, we are more interested in doing what we can for the trees. We are convinced that the mulching process is to be recommended. There is some sawdust to be obtained in this section and as far as it goes we have covered the ground under the branches of the trees with a mulch of sawdust about five or six inches deep. We will not know how successful that is for a few years.
We have planted the fields with a cover crop of rye grass and orchard grass, and this month are cutting it and throwing it under the trees. We have some adjoining fields which were in hay but which had rather run out. We are cutting these likewise and throwing the hay under the trees. We believe if we keep this practice up for a few years we will have a reasonable mulch under the trees. We have become interested in Reed canary grass. We have had a few sample patches of it and are going to plant a couple of outside fields with it to be used for mulch. It grows stronger than any other northern grass with which we are conversant, and therefore would produce more mulch. We are also giving the land two rather heavy applications of mixed fertilizer each year.
We think the chief thing we have learned about chestnuts is that the first few years the trees should be cultivated, fertilized, watered, and mulched. You cannot handle them the way you could, for instance, Christmas trees by simply sticking them in a field of grass. The first year they should be watered every ten days if they require it, and watered the second year if there is a real drought.
In closing we would say that as far as our immediate section is concerned, it is our guess that chestnuts are the only nuts which might appear to have commercial possibilities. Of course, at present, the nuts sell at quite a high price and I fear beyond their value. What will happen when the numerous orchards which have been planted in the last few years come into bearing is any man's guess.
We do not believe that the black walnuts would ever prove a commercial success here, although they normally do well. Of course the trouble is the competition of the wild nuts from other sections. On the other hand, if some one had the time to give to working up a market for the improved black walnuts, he might get some profit out of it.
If I were younger, I might want to try growing a number of Winkler hazel nuts. I think hazel nuts covered with chocolate make a very attractive candy, and here, in this section, the Winkler seems to be immune to blight and other troubles. This year, for the first time in our recollection, the frost got them and the crop is very light.
I do not know just what to say about the heartnuts. They might not have enough flavor to suit some people, but when eaten with salt I think they are delicious. They are very free cracking. We have one, the Lobular, which as soon as they are cracked can be shaken out of the shell. I am disturbed however over the bunch disease to which some of them are subject.
Please note that our remarks in regard to the commercial possibilities of these various nuts has reference to our farm at Westfield and to no other place.
I regret I am not going to be at your meeting to endeavor to answer any question which might be asked.
Discussion of Mulches
DR. ANTHONY: Mr. Sherman and I were there a few years ago, and he has very definitely given up the heartnut and black walnut. Many trees in this area are affected with this bunch disease, which caused failure to set, and he has very definitely decided that he is out of those two nuts.
MR. FRYE: That sawdust, how old must it be, and how green have you used?
DR. ANTHONY: We have used sawdust in our fruit tree work. There is a period when I don't like it. When it's raw and going down, it uses a good deal of nitrogen. Also, if it gets dry, it will blow. Also when it gets dry it will run off with the water, and I would like to use it pretty well rotted down when I get it, and usually you can find old rotted piles. If you do use it on trees where nitrogen is a factor, you probably will have to use additional nitrogen.
Now, with the chestnut where you want to mature them fairly early in the fall, it might work all right, because it will withhold the nitrogen in the breakdown of your sawdust. But apparently, it works pretty well. I think it was Mr. Sam Hemming who suggested using it in the rows. Most of our State Forests and Waters nurseries in their seedling beds, plant their seedlings, including chestnuts, make a mixture of sawdust and sand, about one of sawdust and two of sand, and then broadcast that right over their seeds. The seeds are broadcast on the firm soil, then this mixture of sawdust and sand is broadcast over the seeds. That gives a uniform planting of your seeds and gives a very nice protection. There is one place that I think sawdust works very nicely.
Straw mulch, any material of that kind, in breaking down takes nitrogen from the soil. They are all good if you balance that loss of nitrogen that is lost during the period of breakdown. Now, there comes a time, if you put a mulch on the soil and let it stay there for six or eight years and keep building it up, when you pass imperceptibly from straw into soil, and when you reach that time, your breakdown of your straw is usually done without taking nitrogen from your soil itself, and from that time on you may release nitrogen. But until you get that imperceptible transformation from straw to soil, there is a time when the breakdown of the straw uses your nitrogen, which is all right, if it's late in the season, but not early. I'd want to watch my trees and get my nitrogen on early, then let the straw use it later on.
A MEMBER: The migration of nitrogen—is there some such migration, and is it just in the case of the sawdust?
DR. ANTHONY: You put it right on top, it's much worse. You can put it right on top and it will take a year or two to pass through that period where the utilization in the breaking down of the straw is greater than the release of nitrogen. If it's mixed in the soil, the tree gets more of it.
MR. STOKE: How deep is that effect on the soil?
DR. ANTHONY: We have used straw, hay, weeds, sawdust, chips, anything of the kind, putting on a 5 to 6-inch layer. As I say, it takes from one to three years to get through that period.
Now, Massachusetts has the longest continuous use—all of New England has—of mulch, and they are reaching a point now where some of the mulches are ten years old where the release of nitrogen is too much and they get poor color on McIntosh. I think with the Chinese chestnut this is one thing we have got to watch to get good maturity. Going farther and farther south, you have more trouble. As you go to the north, our trees color more easily, and there you wouldn't want to force them, as our New England people find. They are releasing too much nitrogen late in the season. So I would not want to use long, continued mulch in the chestnut, I'd watch my maturity, and the minute they get a little slow in maturing, I'd quit.