[Footnote A: Since this statement was made the disease has been definitely reported in approximately 164 towns in Conn. [J. F. C]]
So much for illustrations of the rapidity with which the disease develops. I am not going to say at this time anything special about the origin of the disease, simply because we haven't yet decided what was the probable origin. I will merely say there are some different theories in regard to the origin. One is that it was imported from the Orient, another, that it is a saprophyte, a fungus which has lived normally upon dead organic matter, but which has taken on the parasitic form, which develops on living organisms.
In connection with any disease of this sort, one naturally inquires, how are we going to recognize this disease? This past summer Pennsylvania has put into the field thirty or more men who have been trained to recognize this disease, with the idea of locating the infections in Pennsylvania. As perhaps all of you know, the legislature of Pennsylvania has passed a law relating to this particular disease, and has appropriated $275,000 to see if the disease can be controlled. Their idea is that they have perhaps fifty million dollars' worth of chestnuts, and if $275,000 can show whether or not this disease can be controlled, it is economy to try it.
So far as Pennsylvania is concerned, it means possibly the saving of the chestnuts in the middle and western parts of the state; but it also means that if they can check it there, it is likely to save the great area of chestnut growth along the southern Appalachians. I don't want to make any prophecy as to how that experiment is likely to come out, but, however it comes out, it will be a very great object lesson as to what can be done on a large scale with a disease of this sort.
One of the first things which had to be considered in Pennsylvania was to train a number of men to recognize the disease, so as to go over the country and locate the diseased spots. The method of recognizing the disease I will briefly outline. Of course, over a large country, many hundreds of square miles, it is a long, and laborious operation to look over every tree. It is perhaps impossible without a very much larger force than $275,000 could put into the field. But there are certain clues to the location of the disease which can be seen a long distance, a quarter of a mile, at any rate. The means of recognition is by what I commonly call danger signals. This fungus, when growing through the bark, starts from the common point of infection and grows in all directions, up the stem, down the stem, and around the stem. Wherever this vegetative stage, technically known as mycelium, penetrates, the bark is killed; and of course, you all know what that means. When this has succeeded in reaching around a twig, branch, or trunk, everything beyond that girdled area dies, not immediately, perhaps, but sooner or later it dies; and it dies in such a way that the leaves change color during the summer. The first obvious change which can be noted is a slight wilting of the leaf; then the leaf assumes a pale green color, and from the pale green it takes on a yellow stage; from this a reddish yellow stage, and then a brown, till the leaf is the ordinary dark dull brown of the dead leaves. This coloration which takes place is conspicuous. There is your guide, your danger signal. If the disease has worked very long, half a season, in one locality, you are almost sure of getting some of these danger signals. Where one is present, you can go and look up the cause of that danger signal. It may be a broken twig, but the point is to find out if it is this disease which has caused the danger signal. We start by looking at the danger signal, then at the base of the dead area. If we find here some of the reddish pustules which have been shown on this bark we are quite sure that the disease is present. Then by cutting into the bark a little, instead of the normal buff or yellowish tint of the fresh clean bark, we get, when the disease is present, a rather mottled effect, varying from a brownish to lighter or even darker. There is a peculiar fan-like effect to this mycelium which penetrates the bark, so that by shaving off the surface of the bark, you get this mottled appearance, which gives you another means of identifying the disease. So we look for the danger signals, and then look for the meaning of the danger signals. If we find those two things, the pustules and the mottled mycelium, we can very safely say that this disease is present.
There are a few fungi which closely resemble this chestnut disease in general appearance, but they are not very common, and are not confused with the disease, as a rule, when you get the lens on them.
In regard to the experiments for the control of the disease. I want to say a few words. As far back as 1907, the United States Department of Agriculture began experiments on certain experimental plots, particularly in Long Island near the region where the earliest cases of this disease were known, to see if it could be controlled on individual trees after they had become infected. Later, experiments were undertaken along the same line in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Spraying was tried, although there was no idea that it would be of any use, because the vegetative stage of this fungus is running through the interior of the bark, where no spray could reach it. Thus spraying was found to be of no use whatever. Then the operation of cutting out the disease was tried. Where the diseased spot appeared, it was cut out with a gouge. Then the exposed area was covered in various ways with antiseptics.
This gave, for a year or two, very promising results, but about the third year the disease appeared to get over on to the margin, where it had been cut. This led to the later discovery that the disease had been running in the wood, as we had previously suspected. So the cutting out of the bark alone is not sufficient. This year cutting has been done so as to include a portion of the sap wood.
There is just one other topic which I want to allude to. That is in regard to the immunity question. It has been found that this disease attacks the common native chestnut, the chinquapin, the various cultivated European chestnuts, but very rarely the Japanese. In regard to this point. I hope that Doctor Morris will tell us something about his experiments on the breeding of chestnuts with the idea of producing a new and immune variety.
You will understand that I have just made an outline of this disease, and I hope that, if there are any questions to be asked, you will make them easy, so that I can answer them.
President Morris: This very interesting paper is now open for discussion, and I hope that we can get some points which will allow us to know how to control the disease. With the wind-borne spores that are carried miles and miles by a single sharp gust of wind, this disease is a difficult matter to control. We must, I believe, find some natural enemies, if we can. I don't know where to look for these. I will have to ask the mycologists what we may anticipate along the line of natural enemies. I would like to ask if it is common for a weak species to become a devastating species. Have we many parallels in the field of mycology? The point relating to raising immune kinds is one for discussion. Are we to raise immune chestnuts? The history of most plants, I think, has been this, that where they have met their enemies in their natural environment, the fittest survive; and it seems to me that this is a case in which we perhaps have survival of the fittest in North Asia; for the North Asian chestnuts certainly resist the disease better than any others, but the chestnuts of southern Asia are quite vulnerable to it. In my own orchards, I have twenty-six kinds of chestnuts, and have followed them along, for the purpose of determining which ones would resist the blight best. I cut out last year 5000 old American chestnut trees on my property. There is not a tree in all that part of Connecticut, the vicinity of Stamford, that is not blighted, and very few that are not dead. Now, in the midst of this disaster, what was the behavior of my experimental chestnuts of various kinds? It was this. I had about one thousand Koreans that lived up to five years of age, growing in the midst of blighted chestnuts, and none of these blighted. It occurred to me that it might be well to graft these on the stumps of American chestnut, because these Koreans resisted the blight; but when I grafted them on the sprouts of American stumps, at least fifty per cent of the Koreans blighted, showing that the pabulum wanted by the Diaporthe seemed to be furnished by the American chestnut. I had some chestnuts from North Japan that resisted the blight, and yet these grafted on the sprouts from American chestnuts blighted. I had some Chinese chestnuts, and none of those have blighted as yet; and in grafting them, two or three have not been blighted. I have perhaps twenty-four chinquapins, both the western form and the eastern, and only one branch of one tree has blighted. Of the southern Japanese chestnuts, very many are blighted. They are not as resistant as the northern. I have a good many chestnuts of European descent, and among these some resist the blight pretty well; and some of the American progeny, like the Hannum and Ridgely, seem to resist well enough, so that now I am grafting these upon many different sprouts. This should be worked out, and I wish to know what men have tried experiments along this line. I would like to ask Professor Reddick to discuss this question.
Professor Reddick: I have very little that I can add at the present time. The points the talk has raised here are of the greatest importance, and there is certainly room for a great many people to work, though here in this state we have only one man who is devoting his attention particularly to this disease. I find in connection with the work that Professor Collins is doing, and in connection with the Pennsylvania work, that there are some people engaged on these very vital and important problems. They are not giving any particular attention to field work, but are working on these special problems. I think you all appreciate that progress of investigations on this kind of subjects is rather slow, and in the meantime the man who has his trees and his nurseries blighting is surely up against it.
I have only one thing in mind, a thing which I suggested to Mr. Rankin when he first started on this work, and it is a thing which Doctor Peck, our state botanist, suggested at the chestnut bark conference that was held in Albany not long since. Doctor Peck says that he has lived a good while, and he has seen epidemics come and go. Certain plants, certain varieties were threatened with extermination, yet at the present time they are still with us. I suggested to Mr. Rankin that, while it looked as if chestnut blight was going to be with us indefinitely, the chances were it would all be gone before he had a chance to find out all the things he thought he was going to. Our friend Doctor Clinton of Connecticut would have us think it is only a matter of a few years to have conditions come around so that the chestnut blight will not be a thing of serious importance. In other words, Doctor Clinton stoutly maintains that, while this fungus is doing so much now, it is largely due to the condition to which our trees have come, owing to a succession of very unfavorable summers and winters; and as soon as the conditions get around to normal, the disease will be no more. Some of us are not inclined to agree with him entirely.
Professor Craig: Perhaps you can tell us what Mr. Rankin has been doing this year.
Professor Reddick: At the beginning of the past summer, from the surveys and observations that had been made almost entirely by the United States Department of Agriculture authorities, it was known that the chestnut disease had extended up the Hudson River perhaps as far as Poughkeepsie. It was our idea that he would probably find the border line of healthy and diseased trees somewhere in the vicinity of Poughkeepsie, so Mr. Rankin located it opposite Poughkeepsie at Highlands. During the course of the summer, the assistance of the State Survey Commission and the State Department of Agriculture was enlisted, and there were six or eight men who spent part of July and all of August surveying the portion which now appears on this map in red. The results of this survey show that the entire Hudson River Valley, with the exception of a small part in the vicinity of Albany, is now infected. In fact, it is the general opinion that there is no use whatever to attempt in any way to save the trees in this locality. Very fortunately there is a strip of territory which is almost solid spruce forest, and in which there are almost absolutely no chestnut trees. We have already, then, abandoned the Hudson River Valley, but with this great natural barrier, you see that it is going to be relatively easy, so far as the State of New York is concerned, to put some sort of an artificial barrier across the little neck there. This all depends on what can be done in Pennsylvania. This cross-hatching of red along the Delaware River represents an area in which the infection is only partial, and the few dots of red shown about Binghamton represent localities in which the blight has now been exterminated. The diseased trees have been taken out, stumps killed, and bark burned. We are in hopes the disease will not reappear there. I don't believe things have been definitely settled at Albany in the Department of Agriculture, where the control work naturally lies, but Commissioner Pearson is very anxious that something be done to try to control or prevent the further spread of the disease in our state. Plans are being made so that a large number of men will be located in this territory next summer, making very careful inspection, removing the occasional diseased trees, killing stumps, and burning bark; and a forester will be connected with the work, for the purpose of advising with regard to the use of the diseased timber. I might call attention to the fact that our state agricultural law, as it now reads, empowers our Commissioner of Agriculture to quarantine against this or any other dangerous fungous disease,—a very broad step from what it was before that time, when the only fungous disease he had any power to act against was the black knot of plums.
Mr. Reed: From the chart, it appears that the disease is more common in the vicinity of streams and bodies of water.
Professor Reddick: That is an observation that has often been recorded.
Mr. Reed: How is it elsewhere than in New York?
Professor Collins? The question has been asked more often than otherwise, why do we find the disease on the tops of hills away from the water? I think there isn't a sufficient amount of evidence or observation on that point to say whether it is more common near or away from bodies of water.
I will call your attention to one experiment that can be performed by anybody with the microscope. Take a piece of one of those spore horns or threads, put it in a drop of water on a microscope slide. Inside of two minutes, it will disappear entirely. It is dissipated in the water, and the spores are so small you cannot see them with the naked eye. If you let the water dry on the slide, then put that slide under the microscope and try to blow those spores off, you can do it just about as easily as you can blow the shellac off a door. You can brush that film under the microscope, and you can't see that a single spore has been disturbed. The explanation, I think, lies in the fact that these spores are of a mucilaginous nature, and when they dry, they stick to whatever they come in contact with. That does not mean that these spores cannot be blown, because they may lie on fragments of leaves and be blown about by the wind. Again, some of the spores may be detached in a mechanical way and thus blown by the wind. But I am quite convinced that the spores are not blown broadcast, simply because they are of a sticky nature.
Now, those spore threads are forced out under certain conditions, moisture conditions, as a rule. It has been shown after repeated observation that these spore threads are pushed out a day or two after a rain. Of course, in the springtime, the atmosphere is much more moist than later in the season. Consequently, we find more of these spore threads in the spring than at any other time. You will recall that the last week of August this year was a week of almost continuous rain. Two days after that ceased, I saw as many of these spore threads as I had seen at any one time all summer. So that, although conditions are best in the spring for greater abundance of these spores, they may occur at any time. If a bird alights on these spore masses, there is no reason that I see why they should not be carried. We know the rain water running down the trunk dissolves these spore masses, and they are carried down, there to reinfect the tree when insects crawl around.
President Morris: My brother has some Japanese chestnuts twenty-five or thirty years of age. By cutting off one branch at a time as fast as they blighted, he has saved those trees.
Professor Collins: You spoke, Doctor Morris, of grafting Japanese on to American stock. I have seen repeated cases where the Japanese has been grafted on to American stock. The whole Japanese tree has been killed, and we find the disease has killed the tree by girdling the American stock below the graft.
President Morris: Yes, I find this over and over again. In one case where I had a very choice variety of Burley's chestnut, the Diaporthe attacked the American stock underneath this, and had practically girdled it when I saw it. There remained a fraction of an inch of good bark. I cut off all except that, and put tar over it, and grafting wax over that, and this year the graft has grown a foot or more. So by giving a great deal of attention to some one little injury, we can overcome the effect of it.
Mr. Jensen: In your grafting, what was the relationship of the rapidity of the growth of top after grafting, compared with the old stock?
President Morris: When these grafts are put on the stock, on rapidly growing shoots from a large root, they grow enormously, and sometimes we have had nearly one hundred feet of growth in one year. That, however, would be a chestnut like the Scott or the Ridgely. We frequently get thirty, forty, or fifty feet growth in one year.
Mr. Jensen: Does the plant grow more rapidly when it is grafted than on its own stock?
President Morris: I have not grafted Japanese on Japanese stock, but the Japanese and Korean grafted on American stock does grow more rapidly than it does on its own roots.
Professor Craig: Mr. Hall has another interesting instance of chestnut blight.
Mr. Hall: On the ground where the blight appeared, there were four chestnuts set by a nurseryman, two Japanese and two European chestnuts. Of the European chestnuts, one has succumbed to the blight, and the other has been continually attacked for the past four or five years, twice in a period of four years, and it is still alive and recently appears to be in a more healthy condition than for the past four or five years. During that time it has never borne any chestnuts. The companion tree of the same kind was girdled in two or three years.
President Morris: There is comparative resistance. Some of my trees went down instantly, and went all to pieces, while others stood up for four or five years. Chestnuts of the Paragon type I hoped were going to be fairly immune, but they are going pretty fast. I have advised people who have asked about Paragon chestnuts to buy them, but be prepared to have to cut out blighted branches as they appeared. It is a question whether I can advise even buying them much longer, because I have lost nearly all my Paragons, but they have not gone as fast as the Americans.
Doctor Deming: Ought we not before we leave this subject either to appoint a committee, or to pass resolutions urging action on the part of the state similar to the action taken by Pennsylvania in attempts to limit this disease? I would make such a motion, that the Northern Nut Growers' Association urge legislative action similar to that already taken by the State of Pennsylvania to limit the spread of the chestnut bark disease.
Mr. Littlepage: I second the motion. (Carried.)
Professor Craig: Should not the Secretary be empowered to send a copy of those resolutions to the Commissioner of Agriculture? I think the motion includes that.
Mr. Reed: It seems to me that this disease is of as much importance to other states as it is to New York and Pennsylvania, and that this sentiment, as this action can only be a sentiment of the Association, should be sent to the Commissioner of Agriculture in other states, as well as in New York. This is not the New York Nut Growers' Association. I would make that as a motion, that the sentiment of this Association in favor of state action similar to that of Pennsylvania be pressed upon the Commissioner of Agriculture in each state where that disease is prevalent.
President Morris: Shall we make Mr. Reed's motion take the place of Doctor Deming's?
Doctor Deming: I would accept that as an amended motion. (Carried.)
Professor Craig: Inasmuch as we have gone that far, should we not take another step, and that is, fearing lest the United States Secretary of Agriculture should feel slighted, should we not as the Northern Nut Growers' Association draw his attention to the fact that here is a serious disease sweeping over the whole northern part of the country, representing a very considerable portion of his domain, and ask his aid and cooperation with the various states which are attempting to do such good work?
President Morris: Will that have to go as another motion or as an amendment to Doctor Deming's?
Professor Craig: I move that a resolution of a similar type be passed, and forwarded to the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States. (Carried.)
Mr. Wilcox: May I ask some of the gentlemen who have experience along this line if we may look for any cure or help for it in the future, and if so, along what lines will it be possible, along the lines of isolation, of natural enemies, or some other preventive or cure?
President Morris: Yes, I would like to ask if anyone has a definite proposition beyond the one that has been proposed, restricting it by cutting out the advance agents of the blight. I believe that has been the only proposition so far. We certainly can't kill off the birds that will carry off blight on their feet. We don't know if a fungous enemy is likely to follow it up, or if it is a weak species, brought into activity by certain conditions, which will be brought back to its normal mode of life again. I don't know that anything definite could be stated till we know more about it.
Professor Craig: Perhaps Mr. Collins or Professor Reddick might offer something in the way of suggestions on that.
Mr. Collins: I don't think that I have anything to propose beyond the points suggested by the President. I think there are a good many points which should be kept watch of, and I don't know any one that looks any more promising than the other, except perhaps this of cutting out the disease. But this is an expensive method.
Mr. Reed: Have you ever found any individual trees in infested districts that were immune?
Mr. Collins: Only the Japanese, but I think Doctor Morris has found the Korean even more immune. I shouldn't use the word "immune," perhaps, but "highly resistant" to the disease. I have watched quite a number of trees, in the midst of disease, which seemed to be resisting the disease. I explained it in some cases by the fact that the bark was very free from injury—maybe that was the reason why they did not take the disease so easily as they might otherwise.
President Morris: The next paper will be that of Mr. C. A. Reed of the United States Department of Agriculture on "The Present Status of Nut Growing in the Northern States."
NUT GROWING IN THE NORTHERN STATES.
C. A. REED, Washington. D. C.
With the exception of the chestnut, no species of native nut-bearing tree has become of prominent commercial importance as a cultivated product in that portion of the United States lying east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers. The growing of foreign nuts has attracted greater attention than has the development of the native species. Almost with the beginning of our national history, the culture of Persian walnuts attracted considerable attention throughout the East, especially in the States of the Middle and North Atlantic Coast. The European and Japan chestnuts, the European hazels and the Japan walnuts have since come into considerable prominence in the same area.
Within the district so outlined, which comprises practically the entire northeastern quarter of the United States, there are few sections of large extent to which some species of native or foreign origin has not already demonstrated its adaptability to the soil and climatic conditions, or to some other locality of approximately similar conditions.
In order of importance, the species of native nut-bearing trees known to be suited to some portion of the area under discussion, the following list is probably not incorrect: The American chestnut (Castanea dentata); the shagbark (Hicoria ovata); the American black walnut (Juglans nigra); the butternut (Juglans cinerea); the pecan (Hicoria pecan); the shellbark (Hicoria laciniosa); and the hazels (Corylus americana; Corylus rostrata). The American beechnut (Fagus atropunicea, Sudworth) naturally belongs to this list, but as it is probably not under cultivation as a nut tree at any place in the United States, it will not be discussed at this time.
The principal foreign species which have been tried in the Northeastern States are: The European and Japanese chestnuts (Castanea sativa and C. japonica); the Persian (English) walnut (Juglans regia); the Japanese walnuts (J. Sieboldiana; J. cordiformis and J. mandshurica); the European hazels (Corylus avellana and C. tubulosa).
THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT (Castanea dentata, Marsh).
Representatives of the American species of chestnut are found native to a large area. The species seems to avoid extremes of temperature, cold, alkaline or acid soils, and an excess of moisture. It is apparently at its best in the sandy and coarse gravelly soils of the uplands from lower New England to the southern extremity of the Piedmont Plateau in the East and from the extreme southern part of eastern Michigan to northern Mississippi on the West.
Although the quality of the American chestnut is unapproached by most of the foreign species, comparatively little attention has been paid to its development, while considerable effort has been directed toward the introduction and cultivation of the large European and Asiatic species. Comparatively few varieties of the American species have been originated, and of these none have been widely disseminated. The one variety, which, because of its size, productiveness, and quality, has been extensively propagated and widely planted, is the Paragon. This variety originated at Germantown, Pa., and was introduced about 1888. It is believed to have originated from a seed grown from a nut obtained from a European seedling, then in one of the gardens of Philadelphia. This variety has been propagated very extensively both in the nursery and by grafting on native stumps and sprouts of cleared-over forest lands. In the nursery it is now chiefly grafted to seedlings grown from Paragon nuts. This variety is both precocious and prolific. In a 25 acre orchard of young nursery grown trees planted near Boonville, Indiana, during the spring of 1910, nearly every tree set a number of burs during the same season. From two or three to from fifteen to seventeen burs had to be removed from each tree in order to prevent over-taxation.
Mr. Charles A. Green of Rochester, New York, Mr. E. H. Riehl of Alton, Illinois, and Mr. G. W. Endicott of Villa Ridge, Illinois, are the introducers of a number of improved varieties of the American sweet chestnut, illustrations and descriptions of which may be had upon application to these gentlemen.
The extreme severity of the chestnut blight throughout the section where it has made its appearance, the rapidity with which it has spread since its discovery, and the present practical impossibility of keeping it under control have put the future of the chestnut industry of this country much in doubt. As has already been made clear during the present meeting, this disease has resulted in the entire destruction of thousands of forest and park chestnut trees in the sections where it has appeared, and as evidence of the further apprehension with which the chestnut blight is taken into account by the authorities familiar with it, it may be well to state that at the last meeting of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, the sum of $275,000 was appropriated for use in studying and combatting this disease. Above every other question bearing upon the subject of chestnut culture, that of this disease is by far of the greatest importance to the prospective planter.
THE SHAGBARK HICKORY (Hicoria ovata).
This species is native to the greater portion of the area under discussion. It is not common north of southern Maine and is much less abundant than the chestnut in the lower New England and North Atlantic States. It is best adapted to regions of deep fertile soils well supplied with moisture, yet without standing water. It is very difficult to propagate by asexual methods and ordinarily requires from twelve to twenty years to bring it into commercial bearing. For these reasons exceedingly few varieties have been called to public attention. The location of several individual trees of superior merit to that of the average are now known and arrangements are being made for their early propagation.
The most practical means of obtaining young trees for nut purposes it the present time is to plant nuts from selected trees. This method will, of course, lead to the wide variation common with seedling trees, but until experienced propagators meet with better success in their efforts at grafting or budding this species than in the past, there is little use for the amateur to undertake it.
THE AMERICAN BLACK WALNUT (Juglans nigra).
The American black walnut is common to much the same general area as the shagbark hickory. It is much less exacting in its soil and moisture requirements than that species and is much more frequent within the same area. Its representatives, either native or planted, are found in almost every kind of soil and at nearly every degree of elevation from the well drained lowlands to the mountain sides. As with the shagbark, few varieties of the black walnut have been introduced. The same interest is now being shown by leaders in nut culture in their efforts to locate and insure for propagation superior varieties of black walnuts as with the shagbarks.
THE BUTTERNUT (Juglans cinerea).
The butternut or white walnut, as it is sometimes called, is one of the most neglected of our native nut bearing trees. In the forest it abounds under much the same conditions as does the black walnut, to which it is closely related. Its native range within the entire United States extends further to the East and North and is not found so far to the South or West as is the black walnut. Like the shagbark, it is generally less abundant within the area of its native range than is either the chestnut or the black walnut within their respective native areas.
So far it is known to the writer, not a single variety of the butternut has been introduced.
THE PECAN (Hicoria pecan).
The pecan is native to a very small portion of the area under discussion. North of the 38th parallel it is found native along the river bottoms bordering on the Mississippi River and its tributaries to Davenport, Iowa, Terre Haute, Indiana, and nearly to Cincinnati.
Scattered individual trees are by no means rare in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, as far north as the 41st parallel, and they are occasionally found in the lower parts of Michigan, New York and Connecticut. In rare instances, they have been reported near the Atlantic coast in Massachusetts.
It is doubtful if any of these northern trees which are well outside of the area included by the native range of the pecan have yet borne nuts of good size and quality to an important extent. The efforts to carry the pecan beyond the limits of its accepted range have thus far been mainly by the planting of seedling nuts. During the past 3 or 4 years, intelligent efforts have been made by several persons in the State of Indiana to locate wild or seedling trees of sufficient merit to justify their propagation as named varieties for northern planting. Already they have called to attention and are propagating as rapidly as possible the Indiana, the Busseron, the Major, the Greenriver, the Warrick, and the Hinton. Some of these varieties compare favorably in the matter of size with the average pecans of the South, and while none of those yet discovered are of extremely thin shell, in points of plumpness, richness, bright color of kernel and pleasant flavor one or two of these northern varieties are not excelled by any of the southern sorts. Scions and buds from these trees have been used in the propagation of nursery trees, and already a few trees have been disseminated. Several nurseries are now propagating these varieties but all combined their output will necessarily be very limited for some years to come.
Somewhat in advance of the steps taken in Indiana two varieties, the Mantura and the Appomattox, have been introduced from southeastern Virginia by Mr. W. N. Roper of Petersburg.
The Mantura pecan is distinctly of the southern type,—large, thin shelled and a ready cracker. It has been disseminated throughout the North to some extent when grafted upon the stocks of southern seedlings. None of the trees are yet in bearing. It is now being propagated by grafting to stocks of northern seedlings and it is highly probable more hardy trees will be the result.
The Appomattox pecan has not yet been propagated to great extent. Since the variety was called to public attention, a horse stable has been erected immediately under the tree; and consequently, being greatly over-supplied with nitrogen, it has been unable to normally develop its crops. Good specimens, therefore, have not been obtainable for description during the past several years.
In the mind of the introducer, however, it is a valuable variety, and well worthy of further observation.
THE SHELLBARK HICKORY (Hicoria laciniosa).
The shellbark hickory is much less common and far less well known than is the shagbark. In its native range it appears in certain counties of central New York, eastern Pennsylvania and in parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma. According to Nut Culture in the United States,[B] this species attains its "greatest development along the streams of southern Kansas and Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma."
[Footnote B: Published by the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1896.]
The nuts of this species are considerably larger than those of the shagbark and of much thicker shell, and commonly do not have as plump kernels. Exceedingly few have been propagated.
THE AMERICAN HAZELS (Corylus Americana; Corylus rostrata).
Shrubs of these two species are often seen growing together throughout the greater portion of the area under discussion. The former (C. americana) is of somewhat the better quality. Neither has been propagated asexually or cultivated to any extent, but it is doubtful if any native species of the nut tree offers a more inviting field for improvement than do these two species of hazels. The same methods of searching out the individuals of superior merit to that of the general average for propagation by grafting and budding by which other nut trees are being improved should be followed with the hazels.
THE CHINKAPIN (Castanea pumila).
Except as a wild product, this nut has perhaps the least commercial importance of any species mentioned in this paper. A few cultivated varieties are in existence but the nuts are commonly looked upon by experienced growers as novelties rather than as products worthy of special attention. The species is merely that of a dwarf chestnut growing as a shrub instead of as a tree. It is less hardy than the chestnut, being evidently best adapted to the climatic conditions of the southern portion of the chestnut area and even farther south.
THE EUROPEAN AND ASIATIC CHESTNUTS (Castanea sativa; Castanea japonica).
It is probable that within the area under discussion greater attention has been paid to the introduction of European and Asiatic chestnuts than to any other foreign species. The former is a moderately strong grower usually, with a low, rather broad top. The latter makes a small tree chiefly of value for ornamental purposes. Both are grown principally from second generation seedlings, which seem better adapted to American conditions than do imported trees.
As in the case of the American sweet chestnuts the existence of these species in the United States is threatened by the swiftly spreading chestnut blight.
THE PERSIAN WALNUT (Juglans regia).
The Persian walnut was among the first nut species to be introduced. The area east of the Rocky Mountains within which it seemed most successful previous to 1896 was described in Nut Culture at that time as being "A limited area along the Atlantic Slope from New York southward through New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania, central Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia." Continuing, the same publication said, "The tree endures the winter in favored localities near the coast as far north as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but has never been planted there except in a small way."
What was then said is still very largely correct. However, contrary to the construction which might be implied from the wording, there are few commercial orchards of Persian walnuts anywhere east of the Rockies; one, that of Mrs. J. L. Lovett of Emilie, Bucks County, Pa., of from fifty to seventy-five trees, approximately twenty years of age, is bearing fully as well as could be expected under its present environment. The trees appear to be entirely unaffected by the severity of climatic conditions, but being seedlings altogether, and uncultivated, the crop production is irregular. Reports from northwestern New York and Pennsylvania indicate that this species may be safely grown in those sections when within the zones which are tempered by the influence of the Great Lakes.
Ordinarily the trees scattered over the Eastern States do not seem able to permanently withstand the severe winters, as in most cases they are not infrequently severely frozen back. In eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York City, the writer recently inspected numbers of fine trees apparently from 50 to 75 years of age which showed no indications of winter injury. The owners seemed to be entirely ignorant of the reputation of the species with respect to its inability to withstand severe weather.
The nuts from many of these trees were of such large size and good quality that a number are to be extensively propagated in the near future.
THE JAPAN WALNUTS (Juglans sieboldiana; Juglans cordiformis; Juglans mandshurica).
These nuts are of comparatively recent introduction into the United States, having been brought from Asia since 1860. All are generally hardy; the first two are rapid growers, very productive and serve to an excellent purpose as ornamentals; the last is well known. The nuts of the former two are smaller than those of our native black walnut, of about equally thick shell, usually of no better quality, and as yet are not in great demand on our markets. A few trees, however, should certainly be given a place about the home grounds.
THE EUROPEAN HAZELS (Corylus avellana; Corylus tubulosa).
Numerous efforts have been made to introduce these species into the Eastern states, but owing to the severity of a blight everywhere prevalent with the American species in this section, such efforts have usually met with failure. There have been very few instances in which either species has been cultivated in the Eastern states for any great period of time without being destroyed by blight.
The future of hazel nut production in this section evidently depends upon the development of our native species or by hybridizing with some of the foreign species.
In concluding this article, it may not be amiss to throw out the following suggestions as to the steps by which all may help in the development of the nut industry:
(1) Ordinarily, stick to the native species.
(2) Plant nuts or seedling trees only when budded or grafted varieties cannot be had, but do not fail to plant nut trees of some kind.
(3) Whenever a tree or shrub is located which because of the superior quality, size, thinness of shell and quantity of nuts appears to be worthy of propagation, specimens should be sent to the officers of this Association; to the State Experiment Stations or to the U. S. Department of Agriculture at Washington, D. C, for examination. (Franks for the mailing of such nuts to the U. S. Department of Agriculture without postage will be sent upon application.)
(4) Nut trees must be accorded the same degree of cultivation and horticultural attention given to other fruit-bearing trees, if commercial production of nuts is to be expected.
President Morris: This interesting paper is now open for discussion. I will start it by saying that the criticism of the Japanese walnut is correct, so far as it goes; but we have there a fine opportunity for good new work, and if the nurseries would take up this question in the right way, they could open up an enormous trade for stock. Let us take the Juglans mandshurica, and the sieboldiana, which have been distributed more than any others over this country because of the beauty of the trees. They grow rapidly, and are tremendously hardy, although not so much so as the best of the Japanese walnuts, the cordiformis. It was found on the Pacific Coast that the cordiformis went largely to wood. In the East, it bears well, is perfectly hardy and the nut is delicious. Individual trees bear thin shelled nuts, and individual trees bear large nuts. In fact, I have seen the nut quite as large as the nut of the average American butternut, and thin shelled, at that. The thing for the large nurseries is not to sell Japanese nuts under that name, but to sell the cordiformis, and sell only that, and only grafted trees. In that way we would get rid of the less desirable varieties, just as with the hickories a thousand and one shagbarks that we find are not remarkable, and yet we will find here and there one that is worth grafting and propagating. It is the same way with the Japanese walnuts, but particularly this cordiformis which is hardy and growing native in a climate which corresponds to Nova Scotia. If the nurseries will put out this nut, grafted, they will have a very valuable nut to give us. I notice that the speaker distinguished a "little shagbark." Now, I wonder if that is not a question worthy of discussion right here. The names shagbark, shellbark, and scaly bark, are applied indifferently to Hicoria ovata, Hicoria cinerea, and Hicoria septentrionalis. We can distinguish them much better if we take different names for the little and the big shagbark,—if we call the little one shagbark and the big one shellbark, it makes a distinction; and the reason why that distinction seems legitimate is that the bark comes off like great sheets from the big shellbark, and the little shagbark has the scales of the bark coming off in smaller scales, shelling off. At the same time, it is more scaly than the other. If we call the shaggy one, Hicoria ovata, shagbark, and call the big western one shellbark, it seems to me a distinction that we may as well make in our discussions, and fix the names in such a way as to afford convenience.
Mr. Reed: My reference was to Hicoria ovata.
President Morris: Yes, that is for the little one, and if we call the laciniosa shellbark, that will make a distinction. Shall we call the little one shagbark, and the big shagbark shellbark, or must we always depend upon the scientific names in classifying?
Mr. Collins: May I call attention to another complication? To botanists who are not particularly nut growers, there is another tree which is known as the little shellbark,—that is the microcarpa, with a nut about one-half to three-quarters of an inch long.
Professor Lake: Have we a committee on nomenclature?
President Morris: We haven't appointed that committee yet.
Professor Lake: I was going to move that the matter go to them, with the suggestion that they take official action.
President Morris: Supposing we extend the function of the committee on the nomenclature of mandshurica to include this question of the naming of the shagbarks.
Doctor Deming: Then had we not better include the President, ex-officio, on that committee?
President Morris: We may as well begin, because there is no need of having this eternal confusion.
Doctor Deming: I have never been able to understand why more attention hasn't been given to the hazels. Here we apparently have a nut which is easy to transplant, which is perfectly hardy, which comes into bearing early, which bears a valuable nut—so valuable that when I went into a confectionery store in New York, I saw trays of nut meats lying side by side, and pecan meats were priced at $1.00 a pound and filbert meats were $1.25. I understand the only obstacle to the growth of the filbert, which might well fill the early waiting years of the nut grower, is the hazel blight. I tried to get information on the hazel blight from Doctor Waite of the United States Department of Agriculture, and also from Mr. Kerr of Denton, Maryland, who, I know, has grown hazels for a long time, and done it very successfully; but I have not succeeded in getting any accurate information on the blight, and as I understand it, no accurate experiments have been carried out in the treatment of the blight, or in its prevention. It seems as if the blight, being an external fungous disease, ought to be one amenable to treatment by sprays. I am not aware of any experiments which have been made with that object.
President Morris: Henry Hicks of Westboro has given as much attention as anybody to this matter. He made a great effort to introduce the European hazels for years. They all went down with the blight. Specimens of the blight you can get without difficulty.
Doctor Deming: Did he practice spraying experiments carefully?
President Morris: He told me he had tried all. What have the Meehans done?
Mr. Wilcox: They have never had any trouble with the blight.
President Morris: How long do they keep them in the nurseries?
Mr. Wilcox: We keep them to six or eight feet.
President Morris: Do you have the common hazel abundant?
Mr. Wilcox: Yes, along the water courses.
President Morris: This blight is more apt to attack the exotics, and over where Mr. Kerr lives there are no native hazels. He happens to be on an island. He started Europeans where we have no American hazels, so that accounts for his immunity.
Mr. Reed: His trees are practically all dead now. He has given up.
President Morris: That has been the history everywhere. That is the last instance I have been able to find of successful raising of hazels. One line, it seems to me, offers promise—that is the making of hybrids. I am making hybrids between the American hazel and various European and Asiatic.
Mr. Rush: I have had some experience with the hazel. I have exchanged with Mr. Roody of Washington. He has sent the Barcelona and Du Chilly, and they are growing very hardy without the least indication of blight. There are two kinds of American hazels. I have them growing as large in the bush as twenty to twenty-five feet. And then we have a small bush. The small type is worthy of propagation. The Barcelona and Du Chilly are thickly set with catkins this fall, and by all indications there will be a very nice crop next summer.
President Morris: The rule is they begin to blight about the fifth year. About the eighth they are gone.
Doctor Deming: Isn't that a most promising field for experiment, in producing blight-free varieties, and also in spraying?
President Morris: As I understand it, this fungus lives in the cambium layer of the bark, very much as Diaporthe parasitica does, and at such a depth that spraying is not much advantage. The fungus does not attack the native hazel, except when it has been injured.
Professor Craig: We haven't heard from Mr. Barron.
Mr. Barron: I don't know that I have anything to say. I came here to gather some information. I am chiefly interested in the possibility of the use of nut trees for landscape effect.
President Morris: This belongs right with this paper, because the uses of nut trees are not limited to the nuts for fruit purposes. Their decorative value is one Mr. Barron brings in very properly, and it seems to me we may replace thousands of practically useless trees in the parks with wonderfully beautiful nut trees. What had you in mind particularly? Had you thought it out?
Mr. Pomeroy: The nurserymen must have done something to induce people to set out horse-chestnuts. There can't be anything more unsightly. It is always shedding something in the way of filth. There are two or three varieties of Japanese walnuts that are beautiful, at the time of year when they are in blossom, with that long, red blossom. It seems as if the nurserymen might do something to induce people to set out these.
President Morris: What could be finer than your English walnuts?
Mr. Barron: Mr. Hicks has given up hazel, but right close by Mr. Havemeyer is starting right in again. He has had them there for two years.
Doctor Deming: One of my correspondents wrote, asking me what varieties of nut trees were most rapid growing and best for shade or screens. I think that is a very good subject for investigation.
President Morris: We can discuss it right here.
Doctor Deming: I said the most rapid growing trees were the Japanese walnuts, and perhaps the best for screens were the Japanese chestnuts. I should hardly know what to say are the best for shade, because all of the nut trees are so good.
Mr. Reed: It would depend very largely on the locality. Of course, there are some of us here who are disciples of the pecan, and where you can grow the pecan successfully, it is doubtful if there is a prettier shade tree and one that makes less litter, or that grows faster. Some of the hickories—the mocker-nut especially, Hicoria alba, makes a very beautiful growth, and has a dense foliage of rich, dark green. For other purposes, there is no prettier tree than the chestnut, aside from the blight. It grows to greater size than most of the hickories and more rapidly. The Japanese chestnuts I am not familiar with. The butternut is not usually a compact enough grower to be a beautiful tree, but the black walnuts and certain of our hickories, the rapid growing hickories, are very fine, and this Rush chinquapin, I expect, would be very fitting for hedge planting. It is a very compact grower, and grows up about fifteen or twenty feet, making a very pretty tree. But every one of these trees we are mentioning has its particular place in the landscape. You can't use any one of them in all places.
President Morris: The objection to black walnut and butternut is the early loss of leaves in autumn. I have heard others speak about it as an objection. Among the rapid growing ones, there is no doubt the Japanese walnuts are tremendously rapid growers, during the first few years. For screen purposes, the chestnuts and chinquapin certainly would do remarkably well. We have forgotten the beech altogether, simply because we haven't been classifying it as a nut tree. But the nurserymen can put out beech trees grafted from trees that bear fine, valuable nuts, and give us the beech as a tree of double value.
Mr. Reed: Dr. Deming raised the question as to why the hazel nut was not given more attention. It occurs to me that we have an analogy in the pecan situation. The pecan is native up and down the Mississippi River and out in Texas, and in that district you will find that a great deal less attention has been paid to development of varieties of the pecan as an orchard tree than farther east. All through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, we find new varieties by the scores. It seems to be a case of distance lending enchantment.
Professor Lake: Going back, I wanted to ask you, Doctor Morris, if in your work of reproducing the hazel, you had used the Pacific Coast hazel for stock.
President Morris: Yes, the Pacific Coast hazel is really the same species as ours, only it grows thirty or forty feet out there, and I have seen it nearly thirty feet high up in the Hudson Bay country. In some of the rich valleys in the far North, both on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, the hazel becomes almost a tree. I have used it for grafting stock, but I haven't used it for crossing as yet. I have a lot of hazels ready for pollenizing next spring.
Professor Lake: It seems to me it would be a most excellent thing if this Association could do something in the way of stimulating the improvement of varieties of the native hazel. I can't help thinking that bush is entitled to much more attention than we have given it in the past.
President Morris: Some work has been done along that line. I devoted the entire nut-collecting part of one year to studying the hazel. I went over many thousands of hazels. One day, when I asked a neighbor if I might go over his grounds, he said, "Yes, but what better hazel do you want than that one that grows above your north bars?" He said, "We have known of that for one hundred years about here." He couldn't find it. Finally it was found, covered by a ton of grape vine. It has wonderful hazels on it. I have transplanted it. It is a large, thin-shelled, fine hazel, but a shy bearer. I have three very fine American hazels I am going to use in crossing. This big, thin-shelled one is a wonderful hazel, except that it is a shy bearer, and it is difficult to transplant. I have transplanted four American hazels, and it took me about two or three years to get them under way. It is a nuisance with us. It grows in our pastures so rapidly the cows have to get out of the way—crowds everything out. I have no doubt a great deal more work will be done with the hazel. Now my bushes are all ready for pollenizing. I have crossed a lot of them this year.
Professor Craig: I think Mr. Barron's point in reference to the ornamental or esthetic value of the nut trees is very well taken, indeed. It is a fact that nurserymen have paid more attention in the past to those forms which are particularly striking in some way, rather than to the forms which are actually and intrinsically beautiful. Anything which has variegated leaves or purple leaves is sure to catch the eye. As a matter of fact, I believe there are few trees which are more picturesque than the hickories here in New York. The summer season is not the season in which they carry their most beautiful forms. The winter is the time when we see that picturesque framework standing out against the sky, distinctive in every respect.
Mr. Collins: Isn't this subject one in which the Association might interest itself?
President Morris: I have found that nurserymen to whom I have talked for the most part were men of naturally esthetic taste, but dropped their esthetic taste in order to adjust themselves to economic principles. If a customer says, "Please give me a thousand Carolina poplars," the nurseryman knows these will be beautiful for about fifteen years, then ragged and dead and unsightly; but the customer wants them, and the nurseryman has to furnish Carolina poplars.
Mr. Barron: The nurseryman, as a rule, doesn't take much trouble towards educating the people up to the better stuff.
President Morris: I believe that if the nurserymen make a concerted movement—or not necessarily a concerted movement—if any one firm or two or three firms will make a business of introducing beautiful, useful trees of the nut-bearing group, they will open up a new group. People just haven't thought about it. They give an order for trees in a sort of perfunctory way, because they must have them.
If there is no further discussion, we will go on to the Indiana pecan, by Mr. T. P. Littlepage, and this will be the last paper of the afternoon.
THE INDIANA PECAN.
T. P. LITTLEPAGE, Washington, D. C.
The subject of the northern pecan is one that I have been interested in for more than thirty years. Away down in Spencer County, Indiana, on the banks of the Ohio River, stand many large native pecan trees, and some of my earliest recollections and most pleasant experiences are connected with gathering the nuts from under these large trees; and, without realizing it, I acquired much of the information in those early days that has of late enabled me to carefully discriminate between the desirable and undesirable varieties of pecans, viewed from the standpoint of one who propagates them for orchard purposes. My interest in the various points connected with pecan growing was at that time a very direct interest, and the only motive I had for determining various facts was the fundamental motive which largely dominates the world today, and that is the question of securing the thing we desire for our immediate use.
The large, magnificent pecan trees growing on the banks of the beautiful Ohio year after year became a matter of the deepest interest to me. I have seen the Ohio surging swiftly through their branches in the winter, have seen them withstand the storms and vicissitudes of snow and ice and raging floods; and as the spring came on I have beheld them, with more or less surprise and pleasure, laden with blossoms. As summer advanced, I watched the growing clusters of delicious nuts; and as the nuts began to ripen in the fall, I soon learned to pick out the best bearing trees. It was not a matter of science or unselfish research that enabled me to determine the fact that some trees rarely ever missed a crop, while others were very uncertain; that some nuts were large, thin-shelled, and of fine flavor, while others were small and hard to crack, and otherwise undesirable; that some of the trees ripened their nuts early, long before frost, while others seemed to hang on and resent the coming of autumn with all their might. At the age of nine, I could take many different varieties of Indiana seedling pecans, separate them, and locate the trees from whence they came, and give the essential points of their bearing record. I could also tell whether the respective owners watched them very carefully, kept a dog, or lived at a safe distance away, all of which points were just as essential so far as I was concerned as the size of the nut and its quality. The pecan captured me early in life, and I have been a willing victim ever since. My interest in this nut of late years is based on more scientific principles, but I doubt if the facts arrived at are any more reliable than the facts which came from the simple desire to appease a boyish appetite with the best nut that nature has ever produced.
When I was about fourteen years old I came into personal possession of twelve acres of land which had descended to me from my father's estate. The land was almost valueless for general cropping purposes, but I had already, at that age, determined something of the value of a pecan orchard, and I proceeded to gather nuts from the best trees in that section, and the following spring planted the whole twelve acres in pecans. I knew, however, that even though the ground was not very productive it would have to be cultivated that summer, so I planted the pecans around stumps where the young trees would be protected. My information as to the value of pecans was accurate and unerring; however, there were several things I had not taken into consideration. First, that a pecan that is kept in the dry all winter is very slow to germinate in the spring, and in fact the percentage of them that does germinate is very small. Second, that the field mice have an abiding hunger for pecans. Third, that the pecan does not come true to seed, and that an orchard of seedlings is of very questionable value. The first two facts, which I failed to take into consideration—that is, the poor germinating qualities of a dry pecan, and the appetite of the field mice, relieved me from the embarrassment of the third, for it is needless to say that this attempt made twenty-five years ago was a complete failure, and for the time being discouraged my ambitions in this direction. But after many years they revived sufficiently to stimulate me to action again in the line of pecan culture.
I mention the above facts merely to show my credibility as a witness on this subject. Being a lawyer by profession, I have learned long since that the value of one's opinion, and especially the value of testimony is directly in proportion to one's knowledge of and interest in the subject matter at issue. Therefore, trusting that I have sufficiently established my credibility, at least to my own satisfaction, I shall proceed to make some observations relative to nut culture in the North.
First, let me say that I most heartily endorse the line of work undertaken by our Association—that is, the work of collecting and diffusing information in reference to nut culture that will be valuable to the prospective grower. Our southern brethren have very largely passed this stage in nut work in the South. They still have many problems before them, but the fundamental problems of the determination and propagation of the most desirable varieties of pecans have been already worked out and they are producing in their nurseries hundreds of thousands of fine budded and grafted pecan trees. There is such a lack of information on this subject in the North that it is indeed opportune that our Association should at the beginning of the interest in nut culture in that section take up these various question and give the public the benefit of our experience and information in reference to them. There are yet many people who think that you cannot transplant a pecan tree, and that if you cut the tap root it will not produce, while the fact is that the pecan tree can be transplanted with almost as much success as can fruit trees. Two years ago I transplanted a number of cherry trees. At the same time I transplanted some pecan trees, and I had a higher percentage of loss among the cherries than among the pecans. There are some who believe that it is even a benefit to cut the tap root. I have never belonged to the school which endorses cutting the roots of any tree to accelerate its growth, except, of course, where it is necessary to take up a tree and reset it, in which case it is necessary to cut some of the roots. It is unquestionably true that if the roots are cut too severely the tree receives too great a shock, but the pecan tree seems to recover as quickly as any other variety of tree. However, there are hundreds of farmers today who would not undertake to raise pecans, for the reason that they think they cannot be transplanted. Also, in every community where the pecan is native, can be seen many seedling trees ranging anywhere from ten-to twenty-five years old that have never borne a nut. These trees are pointed out by the general public as horrible examples of the uselessness of attempted pecan culture. Near my home at Boonville, Ind., is a row of seedling pecan trees planted in a garden. The trees are now old enough to bear a half bushel of pecans every year, but so far as I know they have never borne a nut. The general public throughout the North and Middle West have not yet learned that the average seedling pecan is an uncertain quantity, grows slowly, bears irregularly, if at all, and probably inferior nuts. However, once in a while, nature, through her wonderful workings, has produced a tree that bears large crops of fine nuts regularly, and when the seedling pecan is grafted or budded from this kind of tree the trees so propagated take on the qualities of the parent and begin bearing very early. I have frequently taken pictures of small pecan trees not over three feet high, each bearing a cluster of large, fine nuts. This, of course, is unusual, but shows the tendency of the grafted or budded tree. I mention the above two points not for the purpose at this point of entering into a discussion of the propagation of the pecan, but to show the necessity for general enlightenment on the possibilities, and to dispel some of the bug-a-boos that exist in the minds of many persons. Those of you here who have engaged in the various phases of nut culture may think these points primitive and unnecessary, and they are, perhaps, unnecessary to the expert, but it is my pleasure every summer to spend considerable time in the rural sections of the country, and it is surprising how very little is known, even by our most enlightened farmers, on the subject of nut culture. I have made many trips throughout the South, and I find the farmers in that section have read the various proceedings of the National Nut Growers' Association until a knowledge of nut culture throughout the South is becoming very general. It is, therefore, the duty and the province of the Northern Nut Growers' Association to diffuse as much information as possible among the farmers of the North and Middle West on this subject.
This is important for many reasons. At a recent meeting of the National Nut Growers' Association held at Mobile, Ala., in discussing the subject of the Extension of the Pecan Area, I used the following language:
"In my opinion nothing is more important to the permanency of the pecan industry than the development of the pecan area in different parts of the country, and having orchards cultivated under as many different conditions as are consistent with the known probable successful area. This is important, for the reason that this more than anything else will insure a supply of pecans each year, and this will develop a public dependency upon this most valuable nut. Nothing can be more detrimental to any industry than a spasmodic and irregular supply of the product upon which that industry depends."
I quote this language for the reason that the culture of the pecan in the North is just now in its infancy, and it is peculiarly the function of our organization to get before the public the essential facts upon which its success depends. We are under great obligation for the work that has been done in the South and the information that is made available through the National Nut Growers' Association. Much of this is valuable in the North, but there are a great many of the essential points that have yet to be worked out, as the climatic conditions make it impossible to follow exactly in all cases the line of work that has been done in the South.
The fake promoter and the crooked nurseryman will no doubt come in for their inning in the North, as they have in the South, and the public will be imposed upon by inferior and "doctored" trees, and all sorts of get-rich-quick orchard schemes will no doubt make their advent throughout the North; but it is very probably that our Association, through its proper committee, having in mind the experiences of the South, can keep closely in touch with the general work that is going on and have on hand sufficient information to protect those who will take the trouble to make inquiry. Nothing in the horticultural line is more satisfactory, more beautiful or more valuable than a fine young grove of grafted or budded pecan trees of good varieties; but like all other good things, it will attract the counterfeiter.
Coming now more specifically to the subject which has been assigned to me by the committee—that is, "The Indiana Pecan and My Experience in Nut Culture," I want to explain what is meant by the "Indiana pecan." It is true, of course, that some of the very finest of the northern pecans have originated in Indiana, yet I prefer to speak of pecans in that whole section of the country as belonging to the "Indiana group." Taking Evansville, Ind., as the center, there grow, within a radius of fifty miles, in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, many thousands of wild pecan trees; and after an investigation extending through a number of years, there have been selected from these various wild groves a few trees from which it has been deemed desirable to propagate. In this connection I want to mention the valuable work that has been done along this line by Mason J. Niblack, of Vincennes, Ind.; Prof. C. G. Woodbury, of Lafayette, Ind.; R. L. McCoy, of Lake, Ind.; and J. F. Wilkinson, of Rockport, Ind. These men, with the assistance of others throughout the State, have for several years been making investigations of these pecans with a view of determining the most desirable varieties from which to propagate. It has been my privilege to have the benefit of the information gathered by these gentlemen, which, added to my own experience, has given me a fairly comprehensive view of the desirable nuts in that section, and, as the geographical center of the present known desirable varieties seems to be about Evansville, Ind., I will, for matter of convenience, designate them as belonging to the "Indiana Group."
We have been able to determine with some certainly the desirability of six or seven varieties of pecans for propagating purposes. We have a number of others under observation. In investigating a pecan for propagating purposes, it is necessary to examine it from two standpoints, first, the tree qualities, and second, the qualities of the nut itself.
The tree must be of a thrifty nature, a rapid grower, not especially subject to any particular diseases, must bear regularly, and the crops must be of a good average as to quantity. When observing a great number of pecan trees, it soon becomes apparent that some varieties grow much faster than others. This is first noticed in the nursery rows, and it is highly desirable to select not only those varieties which grow fast, but even the best growing trees of any particular variety. Most of the trees from which propagating is done are generally full grown, and it is sometimes difficult to tell from observing them in the woods what their growing qualities are, yet it is occasionally apparent from observing a tree that it is thrifty and strong, while another tree may look entirely different. The growing quality, however, does not usually become apparent until after they are propagated and put under proper conditions of cultivation.
The bearing record of a tree can be determined only by observing the tree for a number of years and measuring its crops. There are many trees that are almost infallible producers, but some years the crop is lighter than others, although it is not probable that an orchard, even from one of these unusual bearers, can be obtained which will not occasionally miss a crop.
The influence of the stock upon the scion is something that has not yet been fully worked out, and for that reason it is impossible to say why the grafted or budded tree does not always take on the bearing qualities of the parent, although it is pretty safe to say that as a rule its qualities are very closely approximated, and by careful selection it is possible to get grafted and budded trees that begin bearing very early and bear with a great degree of regularity.
In visiting a tree while the nuts are green, one can get some idea as to its bearing quality by the number and size of the clusters hanging on the limbs. A tree that is a poor bearer, or bears only a fair crop, usually bears its nuts in clusters of one to three, while a good bearer produces clusters of from three to six. I have seen as many as eight nuts in a cluster in the South, and have seen some clusters of seven on some of our Indiana trees, but as a rule good bearing trees of the Indiana group have clusters of about four to five nuts each.
After the tree qualities have been determined, it is then necessary to consider the nut itself. The nut must be of fair size, of good flavor, thin to medium thickness of shell, well filled, and of good cracking quality—that is, the conformation of the shell and kernel must be such that a large percentage of the kernels can be taken out as whole halves, and the convolutions of the kernels must be wide enough that the partitions do not adhere to them. When all of these qualities, both of the tree and nut, can be combined, we then have a desirable tree from which to propagate, and it is very surprising how few come up to the standard. In one wild grove in Kentucky, on the banks of the Ohio River just across from Indiana, near the mouth of the Green River, there are nearly 300 acres of wild pecan trees. In this grove are perhaps more than a thousand trees, and so far as I have been able to determine up to date, there are but three trees out of the whole grove that come near my notion of the standard.
Sometimes, however, a tree or a nut may grade up so high on some one point as to make it a desirable variety from which to propagate, even though it does not grade high on other desirable points. For example, one of the most desirable southern pecans, perhaps, considering only the nut itself, is the "Schley," yet the tree is reputed to be of very medium bearing quality. The nut is so very fine, however, that no southern grove of pecans is complete without a fair percentage of "Schley" trees. On the other hand, the "Stuart," another southern variety, has not ranked nearly so high as the "Schley," considering only the nut; and yet there are probably twice as many "Stuarts" being put out in the South today as any other variety, for the simple reason that it is a good-sized nut and the tree has a very fine bearing record. All these things have to be taken into consideration by those of us who are undertaking to propagate northern varieties.
There is unquestionably a large area of country extending approximately from the latitude of Atlanta, Ga., to that of Terre Haute, Ind., in which there is a great field for experimenting with the northern varieties of pecans. It is a great mistake to undertake to bring the southern varieties too far north. A majority of the finest of the southern varieties originated on the Gulf Coast, and it is true that they can be brought a considerable distance north of there, but I have always doubted their successful growth with any degree of certainty of crops north of Atlanta, Ga.; for I think it is pretty well conceded that if one undertakes to crowd the northern limits with the southern varieties of pecans, they become uncertain in their bearing habits and the pecans are much smaller and not as well filled. On the other hand, it is my opinion that the northern pecan can be taken south of its origin with complete safety. The longer growing season will probably add to the certainty of the crops and the size of the nuts. It is also very important for the grower of these northern varieties of pecans to recognize the fact that they cannot be taken too far north of the location of the parent tree. The limits, however, both of the northern and southern varieties are not arbitrary, as they depend very much upon proximity to the ocean and other moderating influences. For example, it is very probable that pecans can be cultivated much farther north close to either the Atlantic or Pacific Coast than they can in the Middle West. All of these things remain yet to be determined, but it is important to distinguish between the setting of orchards for commercial purposes and the setting of trees for purely experimental purposes.
There is unquestionably a great section of the country comprising approximately, as I have said, the territory lying between the latitude of Atlanta, Ga., and Terre Haute, Ind., in which pecans can be commercially produced successfully. In the near future I expect to see pecan orchards of these northern varieties producing fine nuts and bearing as regularly in the northern sections as they do in the South. The prospective orchardist, however, must look well to the varieties which he selects and the latitude of the parent tree from whence they come and the geographical conditions that influence the weather.
I have referred to Evansville, Ind., as being about the center of the Indiana Group. The average fall frost period at Evansville is about the 20th of October. The average period of the last spring frost is about April the 9th. This will serve somewhat as a guide to the prospective commercial orchardist. However, most of the trees of the Indiana Group do not pollenate until about the 10th of May, and the great majority of them ripen their nuts by the 15th of October, and several of the good trees ripen their nuts by the 1st of October, though they usually are not gathered till later.
The northernmost tree, so far as I know, that has been deemed worthy of observation is the "Hodge," which is native in Illinois, about eighty-five miles north of Evansville, Ind., and a few miles southwest of Terre Haute, Ind. It is one of the largest of the northern varieties, and is a fair nut, but does not grade high in filling qualities, and the bearing record of the parent tree has not yet been determined. The tree is crooked and very unprepossessing looking, and stands in the woods where it has a very poor chance. When I visited it this year, it had a very light crop of nuts, but I did not condemn it, for the reason that any tree growing under the same conditions could not be expected to bear very well. I expect to observe the tree for several years in the future, and determine further as to its bearing record. It is possible that trees propagated from this variety, under favorable conditions, may prove to be good bearers.
The next northernmost trees of the desirable varieties are the "Indiana" and "Busseron," standing about 100 yards apart, west of Oaktown, Knox County, Indiana, about sixty-five miles north of Evansville. Mr. Mason J. Niblack, of Vincennes, Ind., has had these trees under observation for a number of years, and it is due to his interest that they were brought to the attention of the public. The "Busseron" is an old tree that is reputed to have a very fine bearing record. A few years ago, the owner of this tree cut all the top out of it, and this crippled the tree very badly and set it back for quite a while. When I visited it last August, it had put up new growth, and the few remaining old limbs that had been left on it were hanging full of clusters containing four and five nuts each. "The Indiana," standing a short distance away, is a comparatively young tree, and is thought to be a seedling of the "Busseron," as the two nuts resemble one another very much. The "Indiana" has been cut very severely for grafting wood the last few years, and it is therefore difficult to give very authentic information as to its bearing record. It appears, however, to be a very promising tree, and when I visited it in August it had a fair crop of nuts. The clusters were not large—mostly two and three each. The tree looked very thrifty, and from the best information that I have been able to gather in reference to it, I consider it a desirable variety from which to propagate. My choice of the two trees is the "Busseron," although the "Indiana" has made an excellent showing, considering the severe prunings for grafting wood.
Coming down near the center of the Indiana Group, we have the "Warrick," growing in Warrick County, Indiana, which took the prize at the pecan show at Mt. Vernon, Ind., in 1909, and is a fair nut of more than average size. It is reputed to have a good bearing record, but I have not yet had opportunity to completely verify this.
In Posey County, Ind., near Evansville, are hundreds of wild pecan trees, many of which produce good nuts. One of them, from which I propagated last year under the name of the "Hoosier," is a very prolific tree. The nut itself is of medium size, beautiful color and thin shell, but the kernel qualities are not nearly so desirable as many of the other of our Indiana pecans, and it does not take a very high rank in the estimation of some of our observers. I visited the tree in August, 1910, and at that time it had one of the most bountiful crops of nuts that I had ever seen growing on a tree. It was hanging full of clusters containing five and six nuts each. I visited it again an October and found that the nuts had ripened very early. This nut took the prize at the Mt. Vernon pecan show in 1910.
Crossing the river from Indiana, we have in the Major woods at the mouth of Green River, nine miles from Evansville, three desirable pecans—the "Greenriver," the "Major," and the "Hinton." The "Major" and the "Hinton" have been propagated by Mr. William N. Roper, at Petersburg, Va., for some time. They are round, well filled nuts, and are considered by confectioners as the most desirable type of pecan for many of the confectionery purposes. The "Major" is the best cracking pecan that I have ever seen, either North or South, and is a regular bearer, but not as high in flavor as some other varieties. The "Hinton" is an oval-shaped nut, having a corrugated shell, of fine cracking and kernel qualities, but I have not yet satisfactorily determined its bearing record.
The "Greenriver" is a little larger than either of the above nuts, and is one of the very finest medium-sized pecans that I have found. The tree is reported not to have missed a crop in eleven years, although the crop this year was very light, probably owing to the fact that it was cut pretty severely last year for grafting wood. All three of these varieties coming from the Major woods at the mouth of Green River give excellent promise, with perhaps the "Greenriver" in the lead for general qualities.
Down on the banks of the Wabash in Posey County, Indiana, and across on the Illinois side, are several very fine, large, beautiful varieties of pecans, which Mr. R. L. McCoy, of Lake, Ind., and myself are observing. Several of these pecans are as large as many of the standard southern varieties, and when I visited the trees this year in August, they were bearing good crops of nuts. We have not yet named these varieties, but expect to do so after we have observed them the coming year. There are one or two varieties in this neighborhood that may take rank over all the northern pecans that have been discovered. It is no longer a question of finding nuts in the North of good size, for we have already located some that rank well with many of the standard southern varieties in size, and one of the surprising and favorable points of the northern pecan is their fine filling qualities and high flavor. When placed on the scales their weight is most surprising to those who have not tested them.
The problem before the prospective pecan grower in the North is to secure good trees of these most desirable varieties. Seedling trees are not worth setting out. Until last year the successful propagation of pecans in the North was doubted by many, but the experiments conducted by myself and Mr. R. L. McCoy, at Lake, Ind., who worked in conjunction with me, have demonstrated that they can be successfully propagated. A number of points, however, must be carefully observed in this work.
First, in reference to grafting: The grafting should be done on northern two-year-old stocks. One-year-old stocks can be used, but two-year-olds are thought to be better. The stocks must be grown from northern seedlings. There is no place in the North for the southern stock, and right here let me suggest that the individual who buys northern trees grafted on southern stocks or southern trees grafted on northern stocks is throwing his money away. I set fifty trees last fall of the "Indiana" grafted on southern stocks, and the first freeze that came promptly killed them all. They put up a few new sprouts last summer, but finally the roots rotted, and this fall I dug them up. I have a neighbor who put out an orchard of southern grown trees. Some of them seemed to grow all right for six or seven years, and then froze down to the ground, and so far as I have been able to find out, experiments with southern trees in the North have been practically a waste of time and money. So it is necessary to bear in mind that these northern varieties must be grafted or budded on trees grown from northern seed.
The proper time for grafting in the Evansville latitude is the last week in March and the first week in April. The scions must be cut from thrifty growing trees and must be used immediately after they are cut. Experience has shown that scions kept in cold storage or stratified in sand for any length of time lose a very large part of their vitality, and success with them is very limited in that section. Last year I cut most of my scions in November and December, stratified them in sand until spring, and my percentage of success with them was very small, while on the other hand Mr. McCoy used scions directly off the tree and had a satisfactory stand. I am of the opinion that it will be proven later that the best method of grafting in the North is to graft above the ground and tie paper bags over the scions for two or three weeks until they start into growth. Our experiments so far have been confined to root-grafting, and while it has proven fairly successful under proper conditions, yet I believe that grafting above the ground will prove more successful. We have not done much budding in our section, but what we have done gives fair promise of success, and it may be that this will prove to be the best method of propagating nut trees in the North. In grafting we use both one and two-year-old wood, but one-year-old wood, if it is thrifty, is more desirable, although it is better to use thrifty two-year-old wood than to use weak scions of one year's growth. Either one or two-year-old growth can be used successfully.
My experiments and adventures in the work of propagating pecan trees were made for the purpose of securing enough of the desirable varieties of these trees to put out an orchard for myself. I found, upon inquiry, that it was impossible to buy hardy northern trees, and furthermore that but few of the desirable varieties had been propagated. In fact, I knew that some of the best ones had never been brought to the attention of the nurserymen, and being more anxious to risk my own judgment on this than that of anyone else, I started in to produce my own trees. Up to date I have accumulated a vast amount of experience and have a few trees to show for my work, but I would not take many times the cost and trouble of my work, for the information I have acquired. I have also sent to some of my friends bud-wood from our best trees for the purpose of getting these varieties propagated for the benefit of those who desire to grow them. My suggestion is that unless one is looking for the experience and enjoys a great deal of hard work and some expense, he had better buy his trees from some reliable person who has successfully propagated them.
If the farmers in the latitude of the good varieties of pecans were to put out ten to twenty acres on some corner of their farm and cultivate the trees properly, they would soon be surprised to find that this small piece of ground would be worth more money than all the rest of their farm, and they would leave not only a valuable estate to their children, but also a monument by which they would be remembered for more than a hundred years after they had passed from the toils of this earth. Ten acres of pecan trees can be cultivated at less expense annually than ten acres of corn, and if the grove consists of the right varieties and has been properly cultivated, it will be worth not less than $500 per acre in ten years. In fact, I do not know of a single grove of pecan trees in the United States—and I have seen many—of the right varieties that has been properly cultivated that can be bought for $500 per acre at ten years of age, yet the principal reason that this very thing has not been done by the farmers throughout the pecan belt is because they have not had sufficient information on the subject and have had no means of acquiring it.
I do not want to close this long paper without saying something about walnuts and hickory nuts in Indiana. While it is true that the pecan is unquestionably the most attractive and valuable nut that grows in the world, yet there is much profit and satisfaction in the culture of walnuts and hickories. In southern Indiana we have some very fine varieties of the shagbark, and I am making some experiments in propagating it. One of the advantages of this nut is that it will grow far into the north. In fact, I have had some specimens of very beautiful shagbarks sent me by Dr. D. S. Sager, from Ontario, Canada. The shagbark is a slower growing tree than the pecan, but when properly cultivated shows a very satisfactory growth.
I am also experimenting with the propagation of the Persian (English) walnut, and so far have had very satisfactory results. I am trying some of the California varieties—the "Franquette" and "Parisienne" especially—and last spring I grafted a number of them on the wild seedling black walnut and they grew as much as four feet in height during the summer. There are several very fine varieties of the Persian walnut that are hardy throughout our latitude, and when grafted on the native black walnut stocks, make very satisfactory growth. I have had several Persian walnut trees under observation in Washington, close to where I live, and have found that some of these trees bear good crops of very fine walnuts. I cannot make this paper long enough to go into the details of this subject as it has been discussed here by others who know more about it than I. I merely desire to mention the fact that so far as our experiments have gone in Indiana up to date with the Persian walnut, everything seems to indicate that it can be very successfully propagated and grown there, provided the right varieties are selected; but with this, as with all other nut trees, the prospective orchardist must make very careful selection of the varieties which he plants.