Many of the Annual Teachers' Institutes have been reached with a display and lecture. We have arranged also to have a speaker at fully one hundred of the Farmers' Institutes this winter. We are also arranging to have a permanent display at many of the public schools, normal schools and colleges, where instruction on the blight is given. An effort was made last winter to enlist the service of the boy scouts and we are indebted to them for considerable work, chiefly in an educational way. The successful outcome of all our work will depend in a large measure upon the owners themselves, and it is our purpose to give them all the information possible upon the whole subject.
The Commission established a Department of Utilization which is collecting information on the various industries which use or might use chestnut wood, listing the buyers and owners of chestnut wood, thus assisting owners of blighted chestnut trees in marketing their timber to the best advantage. The Department is trying to increase the use of chestnut wood by calling attention to its many good qualities, and thus utilize the large quantity which must necessarily be thrown upon the market. There has been more or less discrimination against blighted chestnut timber. This has been in many cases unjust, since the blight does not injure the value of the wood for most purposes for which it is used. However, the owners sometimes fail to realize that the blight cankers are the most favorable places for the entrance of the borers, and that where a large number of trees are being considered, a percentage of them will be materially injured by insects which follow blight infection. Where telegraph poles are barked, it is often seen that borers have attacked the wood under blight cankers, and have not touched any other part of the tree. All blighted timber should be cut before death to realize its best value, since insects and wood-destroying fungi cause the very rapid deterioration of dead, standing timber. There has been a good market in almost every locality for poles, ties and the better grades of lumber. Cordwood presents the difficult problem of disposal. The best market for this is in the central part of the state, at the extract plants. The Commission has secured from the Pennsylvania R. R. a special tariff on blighted chestnut cordwood so that this product may be profitably shipped from greater distances than before.
The Commission has inspected all chestnut nursery stock shipped from nurseries within the state and has also provided for inspection of all chestnut stock entering the state. This should prevent a repetition of infections in the western part of the state which might destroy millions of dollars worth of timber.
From time to time publications have been and will be issued by the Commission, which are obtained free of charge upon request, or they may be consulted in the leading libraries throughout the state.
An appropriation for $80,000 was given by the last Congress for scientific research work upon the blight disease and work is being carried out in cooperation with the various states. Several of the Government investigators are now at work upon our force. Some of the most important unsolved scientific problems of the blight, as given by Secretary Wilson, in his message, to Congress, are as follows:—
First, the relation of the disease to climate.
Second, the relation of the parasite to the varying tannin content of the tree.
Third, the origin of the disease.
Fourth, relation of birds and insects to the dissemination of the disease.
Fifth, the nature and degree of resistance of the Asiatic species. Another problem in relation to tree treatment may be added, that is, the relation of spores and mycelium to toxic agents.
The Pennsylvania Commission maintained laboratories during the summer at Charter Oak, Centre County, and at Mt. Gretna, Lebanon County. The latter has been moved to Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, for the winter. We have also had a laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, which has been greatly enlarged this fall.
The number of people who informed us that they had discovered a sure "cure" for the blight made it necessary to obtain an orchard near Philadelphia where all such discoverers were given an opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy of their remedies. It might be noted that in every case the blight is thriving as usual. These cures consisted largely of an injection of a toxic principle by some means into the circulation of the tree. In some cases this was accompanied by a fertilizer of some kind, and this fertilizer may account for the apparently improved condition of the tree in some cases, after such remedies were used, since the growth was increased and the leaves and branches had a healthier appearance. This increased growth has not had any appreciable effect upon the rapidity of spread of the blight mycelium. As the experiments are not officially finished and recorded it is too early to give any further data. Our pathologists have also conducted experiments in this same line but no medicinal remedy or fertilizer has yet been found.
The varying chemical constituents of chestnut trees, principally tannic acid, have often been suggested in regard to the origin and spread of the blight. Investigators are now working along this line and we hope, for valuable results before long.
The origin of the disease, as already stated, is something of a mystery, and there is as yet no generally accepted theory, although many people have very pronounced views on the subject. Many puzzling facts have been noted since investigating the disease in Pennsylvania, among them being the large percentage of infection in eastern York and southern Lancaster counties, the relative small percentage in certain localities around which the blight is generally prevalent, and recent infections found in Warren and other western counties, a great distance from what is known as the western advance line of the disease.
Our pathologists have reported some very interesting facts in regard to the dissemination of the blight. In the preliminary report of the summer's work at our field laboratories the results tend to show:
First, the prolific ascospore stage is very important in causing the spread of the blight, the spores at this stage being forcibly ejected from the pustules and borne through the air for some distance. This ejection of spores takes place under natural field conditions only when the bark has been soaked by rain, but the expulsion of spores is also dependent upon temperature conditions and ceases entirely at temperatures from 42 to 46 degrees F. and below.
Second, the wind plays a large part in local ascospore dissemination.
Third, birds and insects (except ants) are apparently of very little importance in the dissemination of the blight except in providing wounds. Further investigations of the importance of ants is being made during the present winter.
Several kinds of beetles have been observed eating the pustules and are in this way beneficial, since tests show that they digest and destroy the spores. It has also been suggested by workers in the Bureau of Entomology that such beetles, which are of several kinds, may be of value in the attempt to control the disease. These are perhaps the only natural enemies discovered to date.
The proper classification of the chestnut blight fungus has also been the subject of much discussion. Last winter specimens of what in external characteristics appeared to be Diaporthe parasitica were found in western Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere, growing upon chestnut, oak and other species. This condition was puzzling and the subject of some controversy. It has been found, however, that this fungus, called the "Connellsville fungus," is a distinct species closely related to the true blight fungus, being, however, entirely saprophytic. Cultural distinctions are apparent and the ascospores differ in size and shape so that no further confusion need occur.
Upon the question of immunity of certain kinds of Asiatic stock, there is very little to report beyond what was known one year ago. In the investigations made the work has been hampered by the fact that much of the so-called Japanese stock is in reality a hybrid of European or American species. In 1909, 45 Japanese seedling trees were set out at Gap, Lancaster Co., for experimentation along this line. A recent examination showed that 90 per cent are infected. Concerning the variety or purity of this stock, I have not been informed. Our force as well as others are at work upon the problem which will require many years' study.
Previous investigations seem to show that certain pure strains of Japanese and Korean chestnut are resistant to the blight. Blight cankers may be found upon them but they are less easily infected and suffer less than the more susceptible varieties. With this as a working basis, considering the results that have been attained in other fruit by selection and hybridization, the situation is hopeful. Prof. Collins said at the Harrisburg Conference in February that "There is no reason to doubt that we may eventually see an immune hybrid chestnut that will rival the American chestnut in flavor and the Paragon in size".
In southern Europe chestnut orcharding is a well established and profitable industry. In the United States chestnuts have been considered a marketable commodity ever since the Indians carried them to the settlements and traded them for knives and trinkets. The demand has always exceeded the supply and at the present time about $2,000,000 worth of nuts are imported from Europe annually. With the development of the better varieties of the American nut has come an increased activity in the United States and the chestnut orchard industry promises to become one of very large importance. It has an added advantage that the trees can be grown upon the poorer types of soil which are not adaptable for farming or the raising of other fruit.
At the present time there are in what is known as the blight area of Pennsylvania, or eastern half of the State, about 100 orchards ranging from 12 trees up to 400 acres in extent. These orchards are in varying stages of blight infection, some of them being almost entirely free, due to the attention which has been given them. In order to protect such orchards the Commission is compelling the removal of infected trees within a certain radius of them.
As you know the blight has been a very serious factor in this industry. Some of the orchards have been completely annihilated and the income reduced from several thousand or more dollars per year to nothing. Whether or not the blight will completely wipe out the orcharding industry is a subject of large importance. Personally I believe that chestnuts will be raised commercially in Pennsylvania in increased abundance, and as the various phases of the blight subject are brought to light, keeping the disease under control can be more easily accomplished. At the present time this is being done in certain orchards by the present methods of examining the trees often, treating each infection, or removing the tree. If this policy is successfully pursued for several more years it will demonstrate conclusively that chestnuts can be grown in spite of the blight and this will mean an opportunity to use vast areas of waste land in Pennsylvania and in the other states, in a highly profitable manner.
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The Chairman: The subject of the next paper is Some Problems in the Treatment of the Chestnut. It will be presented by Mr. Pierce, after which we will have a general discussion of the entire subject.
Mr. Pierce: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: I see that, as we wrote our papers separately, some of the things I had in mind will be similar to those Mr. Rockey had.
SOME PROBLEMS IN THE TREATMENT OF DISEASED CHESTNUT TREES
BY ROY G. PIERCE
Tree Surgeon, Pennsylvania Chestnut Tree Blight Commission
The problems that present themselves to the growers of chestnut trees concerning the present disease may be summed up under three heads: first, what the disease is, how it is caused, and how it may be recognized; second, what is to be done with diseased trees to bring them to health or to prevent them from infecting other healthy trees nearby; third, what means in the future can be undertaken to keep a tree healthy, that is, to prevent reinfection.
First, what the disease is, how it is caused, and how it may be recognized. The disease known as the chestnut tree blight is caused by the fungus, Diaporthe parasitica, which usually finds entrance to the tree through wounds in the bark. The mycelium or mass of fungous filaments gradually spreads through the bark in much the same manner as mold spreads over and through a piece of bread, even penetrating the wood to a depth of sometimes five annual rings. The spread of the fungus, resulting in the cutting off of the sap flow, is the immediate cause of the wilting and dying of the leaves and branch above the point of girdling. This wilting of the leaves, followed later by the death of one branch after another as the fungus spreads, has given rise to the term "blight" of the chestnut trees.
The danger signals which the chestnut tree displays when diseased are not a few. In summer, when the tree is first affected, the leaves turn yellow-green and wilt, later turning brown. Small burs and withered leaves retained in winter are some signs of the diseased condition of the tree. At the base of the blighted part a lesion, or reddish brown canker, is usually found. This lesion may be a sunken area or, as is frequently the case, a greatly enlarged swelling, known as a hypertrophy. After a branch has become completely girdled sprouts or suckers are very apt to be found below the point of girdling. In old furrowed bark on the main trunk of the tree the presence of the disease is seen in the reddish brown spore-bearing pustules in the fissures. In determining the presence of the fungus in the furrowed bark of old trees, one must learn to recognize the difference between the light brown color characteristic of fissures in healthy growing bark, and the reddish brown color of the fungus. When the disease has been present several years the bark completely rots and shrinks away from the wood, and when the bark is struck with an axe a hollow sound is produced.
Many of the owners of chestnut trees throughout Pennsylvania do not acknowledge that a fungus is causing the death of the trees. They state that since they have found white grubs or the larvae of beetles in nearly every tree that dies, that it has been the larvae that killed the tree. It is acknowledged that generally white grubs are found in dying chestnut trees, and that in nearly all of the large cankers or lesions these grubs are present. However, if one will take the pains to examine the small twigs and branches or the new shoots rising from the stumps, that are diseased, he will not find the grubs present.
Second, what is to be done with diseased trees to bring them back to health or to prevent them from infecting other healthy trees nearby. To bring the trees back to health implies that the disease can be cured. This is not always true for the tree may be already nearly girdled, when the disease is first noticed. A tree taken in time, however, may have its life prolonged indefinitely though it may have the blight in some portion of it every year. More particularly does this apply to valuable ornamental and orchard trees.
Prof. J. Franklin Collins, Forest Pathologist in the Department of Agriculture in Farmer's Bulletin No. 467 on "The Control of the Chestnut Bark Disease" gives the following: "The essentials for the work are a gouge, a mallet, a pruning knife, a pot of coal tar, and a paint brush. In the case of a tall tree a ladder or rope, or both may be necessary but under no circumstances should tree climbers be used, as they cause wounds which are very favorable places for infection. Sometimes an axe, a saw, and a long-handled tree pruner are convenient auxiliary instruments, though practically all the cutting recommended can be done with a gouge with a cutting edge of 1 or 1-1/2 inches. All cutting instruments should be kept very sharp, so that a clean smooth cut may be made at all times."
All of the discolored diseased areas in the tree should be removed. Small branches or twigs nearly girdled are best cut off. Cankers in the main trunk or on limbs should be gouged out. Carefulness is the prime requisite in this work. If the disease has completely killed the cambium, the bark should be entirely removed as well as several layers of wood beneath the canker. By frequent examination, however, diseased spots may be found on the tree where the mycelium of the fungus is still in the upper layers of the bark. It is not necessary then to cut clear to the wood, but the discolored outer bark may be removed and a layer of healthy inner bark left beneath the cut. The sap may still flow through this layer. The border of the diseased area is quite distinct, but cutting should not stop here but should be continued beyond the discolored portion into healthy bark, at least an inch. The tools should be thoroughly sterilized by immersion in a solution of 1.1000 bichloride of mercury, or 5 per cent solution of formaldehyde, before cutting into the bark outside of the diseased area. Experiments have shown that a gouge or knife may carry the spores into healthy bark and new infection take place. Experiments are being carried on in the laboratory to determine the length of time which spores will live in solutions of different strengths of fungicides.
It has been shown that a cut made pointed at the top and bottom heals much faster than one rounded. The edges of the cut should be made with care so as not to injure the cambium. The chips of diseased bark and wood should not be allowed to fall on the ground then to be forgotten. A bag fastened just below the canker will collect most of this material as it is gouged out and prevent possible reinfection, which might take place if the material were allowed to scatter down the bark. Canvas or burlap spread around under a small orchard tree might be sufficient to catch all of the diseased chips of bark and wood cut out of the lower infections. This diseased material should be burned together with blighted branches. After completely cutting out all of the diseased parts the cut surfaces should be either sterilized or covered with a waterproofing which combines a fungicide with a covering. Among these might be mentioned coal tar and creosote, or a mixture of pine tar, linseed oil, lamp black and creosote.
The trees which have been killed by blight, or nearly girdled, have been overlooked. These should be cut off close to the ground, the stump peeled and the bark and unused portions of the tree burned over the stump. The merchantable parts of the trees should be removed from the woods promptly, as all dead unbarked wood furnishes an excellent breeding place for the blight fungus.
Third, what means in the future can be undertaken to keep a tree healthy, that is, to prevent reinfection. The spores may be carried by so many agents that it is difficult to prevent reinfection. However it is clear that the farther infected products or trees are removed from healthy trees the less liable they are to have spores carried to them. Cooperation with nearby owners of diseased trees will help solve this problem.
Spraying on a large scale has only been carried on, so far as I know, on the estate of Pierre DuPont, Jr., at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. At this place there are many large chestnut trees ranging from sixty to ninety feet in height, many of which were planted some sixty-five years ago. Mr. R. E. Wheeler started the work of cutting out diseased limbs and cankers in October 1911, and began spraying with Bordeaux mixture in April 1912. The formula 5-5-50, five pounds of copper sulphate and five pounds of lime in 50 gallons of water was found to be injurious to the foliage in the Spring. This was changed therefore, to 4-5-50, which had one pound less of copper sulphate. This did not seem to injure the foliage.
About 70 trees were sprayed twenty times during the season. Nearly all of these were gone over four times to remove diseased branches and cankers, once in October 1911, then in early summer and again in September and November 1912. As an example take tree No. 6 which was studied, December 14, 1912. It is 39 inches in diameter at breast height, and approximately 70 feet in height. On this one tree six diseased limbs were removed, and sixteen cankers were cut out. Of these sixteen, two infections continued, that is, were not completely cut out, and had spread; three had infections below old limbs which had been removed, and eleven were healing over. This tree was about 1000 feet away from other badly infected trees, though but 25 feet away from other chestnut trees in the same row. The experiment of Mr. DuPont in spraying shows what can be done on valuable lawn trees. On the whole, these trees look well and healthy. Trees which were not sprayed over three times and were within 50-100 feet from badly blighted trees, became infected in so many different places that it will be necessary to remove them.
One of the problems to be solved next year will be that of the least number of sprayings which will be effective in preventing new infection.
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The Chairman: The question of the chestnut blight is now open for discussion.
Mr. Littlepage: I should like to ask these gentlemen how far west they have heard of chestnut blight—that is, heard of it with any degree of authenticity, and also whether or not they care to express an opinion as to what the prospects are in the middle west, say out in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio?
Mr. Pierce: In answer to that question, I will say that in Pennsylvania we have found infections in Wayne County and also in Fayette County, both near the western extreme of the state, but those have been attended to, very largely, and the boundaries closely determined. In Ohio there have been several reports of the blight being found, but I don't think either of the reports have been proven. There has been a fungus that I have spoken of as the Connellsville fungus, that has been all around in that neighborhood, south-western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.
The Chairman: Is the Connellsville fungus also diaporthe parasitica?
Mr. Pierce: Yes, sir. It was placed by Mr. Anderson, who did the work on that, in the same genus as diaporthe, but he preferred the name endothia parasitica.
The Chairman: The question is of changing the generic name, from diaporthe, on the basis of the previously established species?
Mr. Pierce: Yes, sir, previously established species of endothia. It is only a suggestion of Mr. Anderson; it was made by him. This was very similar to the true blight fungus and when our men first went out into the western part of the State, they reported these various cases that came up there as chestnut blight, and none of the pathologists of our force then were competent to determine the difference, except that the fact was noted even then that it was not growing as a parasite in the sense that the true blight fungus has been growing in the east.
The Chairman: That may be due to varietal differences, though, rather than specific?
Mr. Pierce: Yes, although Mr. Anderson seemed to think it was specific.
The Chairman: Is there any further discussion? The subject is worthy of a good deal of comment.
Mr. Pomeroy: I want to ask the speaker what the approximate cost would be for one spraying of a tree about that size, 70 feet in height?
Mr. Pierce: We have photographs on the table there showing our eight hundred dollar spraying machine, the same kind used in Massachusetts in gypsy moth work. With this two men can spray about ten such trees in a day. I haven't got it down in black and white but I figured that, on those chestnuts at DuPont's, they sprayed about 600 gallons a day. Ten trees a day would make it, say, with a $2.50 man, not very high for a tree. I think it costs in all something like four dollars a tree during the whole season, but that is a very rough estimate and the materials are not included.
The Chairman: The cost will have to be calculated on a sentimental basis for the ornamental trees, and on a commercial basis for the commercial trees. The actual value of the spraying has not yet been determined. This spraying cannot reach the mycelium in the cambium layer; if the disease has been carried in by a beetle or woodpecker your spraying would be ineffective.
Mr. Pierce: Yes indeed, that was just the thought Mr. Galena had, notwithstanding the fact that they cut out all visible infections and the trees were so blue with spray that you could see them for half a mile.
The Chairman: But, later on, cracks and squirrel scratches and all sorts of injuries would allow new spores to be carried in?
Mr. Pierce: Yes, sir.
Mr. Reed: The future of the chestnut depends so largely on the conquering of this disease that no other horticultural problem of this nut is, just at present, imperative. So far as we know, all of the European and American varieties are highly subject to this disease, so much so that there is no inducement to plant them, and we are waiting for Dr. Morris and a few other hybridizers to find some hybrids, or straight Japanese varieties, that are of sufficient merit, and of sufficient degree of resistance to this disease, for us to have a basis for building up the future industry. On the tables there are quite a number of exhibits from Mr. Riehl and Mr. Endicott of Illinois. Most of them are hybrids between the American and the Japanese species, but, so far as we know, they have not been tried in communities where the disease prevails. We don't know whether they are resistant or not, as they are being grown in a section entirely outside of the area where the blight exists. I think I am right in that, am I not, Mr. Pierce? Is there any chestnut blight in southern Illinois?
Mr. Pierce: There has been none reported.
Mr. Reed: I think that the varieties that these men in Indiana have originated are the most promising we know of. I think that in examining these specimens you will agree that they are of fairly high quality and good size, and if they prove to be resistant to the disease much may be expected from them.
Mr. Hutt: I have not seen the chestnut blight at all. I hope that it isn't in our section. I have heard it was brought in from some point but I do not know whether it was identified exactly as the chestnut blight.
Mr. Pierce: I saw a specimen sent from North Carolina and it proved to be the Collinsville fungus.
Mr. Corsan: If you remember reading Fuller's book on nuts, he reported that the chestnut blight extended through the Carolinas but said that chestnuts were still coming from that direction in great abundance. Up in Canada we haven't the chestnut blight. The chestnut tree runs from the Ohio River to the Niagara River but it doesn't cross into Michigan, except along the Michigan Southern and Lake Shore Railroad where some enterprising gentlemen have planted the chestnut with the tamarack alternately all the way from Cleveland to Chicago. I examined the state of Indiana across and from top to bottom several times in the summer and I never saw any chestnuts there, but I have seen some newly planted places in Michigan; near Battle Creek I saw a farm of about fifty acres. We are having up in Ontario, beyond Toronto, a blight that has attacked the Lombardy poplar and that looks similar to the chestnut blight. I have been watching it for the last ten years and the tree seems to have at last outlived it. It dies down and then a little sprout comes out from the carcass.
The Chairman: Isn't that the poplar tree borer that always attacks the Lombardy?
Mr. Corsan: Oh no, it's very similar to the chestnut tree blight. We can grow chestnut trees all we like but no one has brains enough to grow them. The farmers grow pigs and things but don't bother with chestnut trees; consequently the chestnut blight does not exist there.
Mr. Pierce: I didn't answer a portion of Mr. Littlepage's question. Mr. Littlepage asked whether or not the blight might be expected in the Middle West. That depends, more or less, upon the results of the work Pennsylvania is now carrying on. If we can keep the disease from extending through the territory in which we are working, there is a very good chance to keep it out of the West. If we are not successful, it may be expected to develop, in time, over the whole chestnut range.
There seems to be a very good opportunity for growing the chestnut commercially beyond its present range; that is, where it is so infrequent as not to be in danger from infected growths nearby.
In the eastern part of the state different people have reported that the blight seemed to them to be dying out and, a number of these reports coming from a certain locality, the Commission decided to investigate one which seemed to be better reported than the others. It was found, after a very extensive investigation, that this dying out was true only in the sense that it was not spreading, perhaps, as fast as it had been spreading before. The mycelium and the spores were healthy and were affecting the new trees in quite the same manner as the year before and as in other parts of the state.
The Chairman: The question of controlling blight after it has appeared is of very great consequence. Concerning any commercial proposition with chestnuts the people are wide awake to the seriousness of the blight. They are afraid to go into growing chestnut orchards; they have had so many fake propositions in the past in pecan promotions that they are afraid of chestnuts and everything else. Any proposition for bringing forward chestnuts commercially must be a plain, simple, straightforward statement of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We are ready, all through the North and East, to raise hundreds of acres of chestnuts, such as Mr. Reed has spoken about, ones which resist the blight, or ones which resist the blight comparatively well.
Let us consider comparative immunity for a moment. We know how expensive it is to manage an apple orchard, and yet, with the present high prices, the profits on apple orchards, well managed, are great. May we not have chestnut orchards managed with the same degree of relative expense and the same degree of relative profit? I would like very much to hear from some of the men who have actually raised chestnuts in orchards concerning the relative care of the chestnut compared with the apple, and the relative profit. I see Col. Sober here; can't you tell us about your experience in managing the blight? Can it be managed successfully in proportion as apple tree parasites are managed?
Col. Sober: My experience has been this; I have four hundred acres of chestnuts in bearing. They range from five years to fifteen years old. I find that I can control the blight easier than I can control the scale on apple trees. If anyone doesn't believe this I invite him and all to come to my place and see for themselves. I think I have nearly one million seedling and grafted paragon trees. I don't think you will find fifty affected trees on the whole place today. I have men going in every grove at the present time who have inspected thousands of trees and found seven that had blight on the limbs, so I know what I am speaking about.
The Chairman: What is your method?
Col. Sober: Cutting out, cutting off anything I see; if it is really necessary, cut the tree down; but we don't often find that necessary because just as quick as we see any affected, or any limb dying or dead, we cut it off. I had my groves laid out in sections of a hundred feet wide and numbered; and I had charts made so that they can be inspected section by section. In that manner, every tree is inspected. One individual will inspect the trunk and another one the top. In each section I can show you as far as we have gone. I can show you how many trees are in each section and how many affected trees there are in that section, or whether there are any or not. I say I can control it easier than I can control scale and with less expense and I want that to go on record. There is no question about it. It can be seen at my place. I go over my groves about four times a year and have been doing it all the time, and I don't doubt but that I discovered this disease the first of anybody in the state, perhaps, in 1902. I was looking around to cut scions and I saw one tree whose center was dead and around it were the finest shoots almost that I had ever seen for grafting purposes. I went to it and saw the center was dead. I cut some scions and today that is one of the finest trees I've got on my place. From what I know now that was a blighted tree.
A member: Did you paint over the scars?
Col. Sober: No sir, but we are doing it now, using white lead.
A member: How much blight is there around you?
Col. Sober: I am surrounded with it on all sides. Right up against my groves about 17 per cent of the trees are affected. That is the report coming from the parties inspecting now for the Blight Commission. I shipped Mr. Mayo about four or five thousand trees this fall. I don't suppose there were a dozen that were thrown out, thinking they were blighted or diseased. We have records of all that up at my place. There are some trees right here now that came from my nursery. I wish you gentlemen could just see for yourselves; come out and see.
The Chairman: In advancing this chestnut on a commercial basis it had better be stated that it does not blight as badly as the American chestnut and that when blighted it can be cared for with less cost than the apple tree. I would suggest that some such notice be sent out with commercial stock. That would put it on the right basis so that the chestnut would find its position, which it is not finding now because the people are full of the blight; and if a frank, full statement of this sort were made I believe it would be extremely important.
Mr. Rockey: I went through practically the whole extent of Mr. Sober's orchard recently and found one infected tree. I can vouch for the statement that he has made that he is almost surrounded by blight.
The Chairman: I have given attention to only a few of my own trees that were blighted because I have too much else to do and too large a place, a couple of hundred acres engaged in a small and large way,—a variety of ways—with nut trees; and the few I have cared to save after blight has begun I have saved by cutting it out very thoroughly and using either white paint or grafting wax. I used also pine tar and some gas tar. I killed some good trees that I wanted particularly to save by putting on gas tar.
The matter of compelling the removal of infected trees is a very important one, but it must rest with the authorities. In the vicinity of New York we have so much hard wood that you cannot sell it unless you are in some sort of a trade combination. Fine oak, fine hickory, fine chestnut, you can't dispose of in New York City, because we have such a lot of it. We have wild deer within fifteen miles of New York City on three sides of us on account of the forests. You have got to find some special way for disposing of this blighted chestnut timber. Telephone and telegraph poles and ties all go for nothing, unless you happen to be so situated that you can manage the matter commercially, and a way should be found by the state so that people can dispose of their blighted timber, which is just as good as any other.
It is very important to note that the boy scouts are interested, and we ought to encourage their interest. It is a splendid thing, getting the interest of boys engaged. You know how active a boy is in getting a snake from under a rock and he will do the same thing with the chestnut blight. It is his natural tendency to hustle when he gets after anything. This chestnut blight belongs to the microbe group and the microbe is the great enemy of mankind. In wars the microbe kills about eight men for every one killed by missiles. If we can encourage the interest of boy scouts in fighting the greatest of all human enemies, the microbe, including this little fungus, we shall have a splendid working force.
In regard to the injection of poisons and medicines into trees, it seems to me that a very firm stand ought to be taken by all responsible men who know anything about plant pathology. We know that a poison injected into a tree must either act injuriously right there upon the cells of the tree, or else must undergo metabolic changes. A tree cannot use anything that is thrown into it, poison or food or anything else, until it has undergone a metabolic change; you must have a distinct, definite chemical process taking place and we ought to state that most of the substances which are alleged to be of value, when injected into a tree, are either absolutely worthless or injurious. One man tried to persuade me that his medication if applied to the cambium layer would be absorbed, and said that if I would only use it on a few of my trees I could see for myself. He said it would drive off even the aphides. I tried it on four trees affected with aphides and found that he told me the truth. It drove them off, because the trees died and the aphides left. One tree lived a year before being killed; it was a most insidious sort of death, but the aphides left that tree. (Laughter.)
Some of the Asiatic chestnuts resist the blight very well. Curiously enough when grafted upon some of the American chestnuts they then become vulnerable. Two years ago, from a lot of about one thousand Corean chestnuts in which there had been up to that time no blight, I grafted scions on American stump sprouts and about 50 per cent of those grafts blighted in the next year, showing that the American chestnut sap offers a pabulum attractive to the Diaporthe, and that is a fact of collateral value in getting our negative testimony upon the point.
Concerning the question of carrying blight fifty miles, there's no telling how far birds will fly carrying the spores of Diaporthe upon their feet. The spores are viscid and adhere to the feet of beetles, or migratory birds which sometimes make long lateral flights following food, rather than direct flights north and south. It is quite easy to imagine birds carrying this Diaporthe over an interval of possibly fifty miles, making that distance in one night perhaps. Someone may have carried chestnuts in his pocket to give to his granddaughter fifty miles away, and in that way carried the blight. If any grafted trees have been carried fifty miles, or any railroad ties, with a little bark on, carried fifty miles and then thrown off, it might blight the chestnuts in that vicinity. One can have as much range of imagination as he pleases as Longfellow says, There is no limit to the imagination in connection with questions of spreading the blight of Diaporthe.
Some of the Japanese and Corean chestnuts and some of the Chinese chestnuts resist blight fairly well. Among my chinkapins, I have the common pumila and the Missouri variety of pumila, which grows in tree form forty or fifty feet high. I have the alder-leaf chestnut, which keeps green leaves till Christmas, sometimes till March when the snow buries them, and those comparatively young trees have shown no blight; but one hybrid, between the chinkapin and the American chestnut, about twelve years of age, has blighted several times. I have cut off the branches and kept it going, but this year I shall cut it down. It will start at the root and sprout up again. I thought I'd give up that hybrid, but having heard Col. Sober's report I will begin at the root and look after some of the sprouts. That hybrid is the only one of my chinkapin group that has blighted at all.
In regard to the use of bichloride of mercury or formaldehyde, it seems to me that formaldehyde will be a better germicide than bichloride of mercury, because bichloride of mercury coagulates the albuminous part of the plasm and may destroy the cell structure, whereas the formaldehyde will be more penetrating and less injurious. One would need to know how strong a formaldehyde solution can be used safely. I presume the most vulnerable part of the tree would be at the bud axils. Spraying must require considerable experience at the present time and is of doubtful efficiency for timber chestnuts I am sure. We would like very much to hear any further comment upon this subject.
Prof. Smith: Mr. Sober's orchard is so unusually large that evidently it does not apply to average cases. The average man is buying chestnut trees for the garden or yard or lane. Prof. Collins has an acre on the top of a hill at Atlantic Forge and there he has fought diligently with the skill of a highly trained man, and the blight is gradually driving him back. I think that in a short time the trees on Prof. Collins' acre will be gone. I believe we need much more information before we can offer any hope that chestnut trees from a nursery will be safe against blight. I should like to ask the Blight Commission if they are at the present time planning to breed immune strains of chestnuts, and if not, I wish to suggest that it is a piece of work well worthy of their consideration. They might try grafting on American stocks, or on their own seedlings, some of the Korean chestnuts, on any variety that promises resistance, and also hybridizing, with the hope of getting a good nut that will resist the blight.
The Chairman: That is a very important matter, no doubt. In regard to the few chestnuts bought for lanes and gardens, I know a good many men who have bought a few grafted chestnuts with the idea of setting out a number of acres if those few did well, being men of a conservative sort. Men of that sort are the ones we want to have in our Association. We want to have men who will buy four trees, and if they do well, set out four hundred acres. That is what a great many men have had in mind in buying two, four or six trees of any one kind; they want to try them out. That is the wise way, the conservative way, the truly progressive way. If we are going to have very large numbers of any one kind of chestnut set out, we must make a statement of the dangers, so that men may be forewarned. If they set them out without warning and are disappointed, they drop the entire subject and go to raising corn and hogs; and then, to save trouble, turn these hogs into the corn and get to doing things in the easiest way, rather than carry on the complicated methods of agriculture that belong to the spirit of the present time. I would like to know if many efforts are being made toward breeding immune kinds. I am at work on that myself.
Mr. Pierce: Our Commission has recently gotten, I think, about fifty pounds of Chinese chestnuts of several kinds, which they expect to plant for experiment. Besides that they have made some other arrangements of which I know very little. This investigation will take years. The Commission has been compelled to devote itself to so many lines of work that I am afraid this question has not been given the attention it might have had. I think in the future there will be a good deal done along that line.
Two of us have been given the title of tree surgeons, and we work, or make arrangements to have someone else work, sometimes the scout, in the orchards throughout the state. I have a list of two hundred owners of cultivated chestnut trees that I got in the last month from various sources. Anyone in Pennsylvania who has a cultivated chestnut tree, can send a postal card, get one of us out to examine the tree and see whether it is blighted, and we will demonstrate what can be done in the way of treating it. I have done that right along in the last two months. If it is only a single tree I cut out all I can myself.
The Chairman: There are two distinct questions; first, the chestnut as a food tree, and second, as a timber tree. Your work has been chiefly with the chestnut as a timber tree?
Mr. Pierce: No, mine has been mostly on the lawn, so that it is for nuts.
Experiments made on one or two species of Japanese chestnuts show about 9 per cent of tannin; the tannin in the American chestnut runs only 6 per cent and in the small American, runs less. We know that the Japanese is somewhat more immune than the American. We have already found that it has 50 per cent more tannin. I believe one of us wrote you about experiments to find out the percentage of tannin in Corean, North Japanese, South Japanese and Chinese chestnuts. The investigation will be carried on for the next two or three months.
Mr. Corsan: May I ask if there is any soil food that would increase the amount of tannin? Trees protect themselves. We have watched the black walnut and seen him fight all sorts of enemies. The tree has poisons everywhere and the nut a thick shell to boot and doesn't coax enemies to get at him or to eat him until he is ripe.
A Member: Have you found that fertilizing a tree increased the percentage of tannin?
Mr. Rockey: That hasn't been determined yet but it will be studied.
The Chairman: It is a question if the tendency would not be for tannin to go over to sugar and cellulose under cultivation. I don't remember the chemistry on that. Aren't there any expert chemists here who can tell us? The natural tendency of the tree under high cultivation would be to change tannin over into sugar and starch.
Mr. Corsan: This talk of the chestnut blight reminds me of a remark made by a gentleman at a peach growing convention. He said the best thing that ever happened to this country was to get that San Jose scale because it stopped lazy men from growing peaches. He said, "I don't mind it a bit and can make more money than when peaches were nothing a basket." Probably nature will help us some way.
The Chairman: We have to consider what nature wants to do.
Mr. Mayo: If I am in order, I would like to know whether this fungus trouble is likely in the future to attack or has at any time attacked, the apple, pear or quince?
The Chairman: I think it has been pretty well decided that they are not in danger. I will, however, ask Mr. Rockey and Mr. Pierce to answer that question.
Mr. Rockey: Up to the present time there has been no indication that the blight will get into them. This might be a good occasion for me to mention the Connellsville fungus again. It was found on some of the oaks and other trees in this section of the country, and for a time it looked as though the blight was getting into other species, but since that fungus has been identified there has been no indication that the blight will extend beyond the chestnut group as a parasite, although you can inoculate oaks and other trees with the fungus and it will live in them, but only on the dead portion of the tree and not as the parasite lives on the chestnut.
Prof. Smith: I should like to ask Mr. Sober if he has found any evidence that the paragon chestnut differs from the native chestnut in resistance to the blight, and if his paragons are different from other paragons?
Col. Sober: I cannot say whether my chestnuts are different from the other paragon chestnuts or not, or whether they are as resistant to the blight. I know it is a very sweet chestnut. In regard to keeping my groves clean—from 1901 to 1910, we had three broods of locusts and two hailstorms that opened the bark in almost every tree and branch. The limbs were stung by the locusts thousands of times, so that I didn't have a crop of chestnuts. Professor Davis was cutting off limbs for a couple of months so you see my trees were open, if any ever were, to receive the blight. The hailstorms destroyed the leaves and I didn't have any chestnuts that year in one part of my grove and with all that—you people come and see how clean it is, that's all there is to it. I know what I've done and what I can do.
The Chairman: The next paper in order is that of Professor Smith.
NUT GROWING AND TREE BREEDING AND THEIR RELATION TO CONSERVATION
PROFESSOR J. RUSSELL SMITH, PENNSYLVANIA
Prof. Smith: Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen; I am going to ask your indulgence for including in my subject a matter that perhaps goes a little beyond the scope of this organization, for I wish to speak of fruit as well as nut-bearing trees. Conservation, whose object is the preservation of our resources for future generations, as well as for ourselves, finds its greatest problem in the preservation of the soil. The forests can come again if the soil be left. It is probable that we can find substitutes for coal, and for nearly everything else, but once the soil is gone, all is gone; and the greatest danger to the soil is not robbery by ill cropping, because no matter how man may abuse the soil, scientific agriculture can bring it back with astonishing speed. But the greatest enemy of conservation is erosion, the best checks for erosion are roots.
Thus far, the only man who has been telling us anything about planting roots upon the hillsides is the forester. But he usually sets nothing but wood trees, which at the end of fifty or a hundred or a hundred and fifty years, we can cut down, and which, during the intervening time, have done nothing but cast shade, drop leaves and retain the soil. My doctrine is that the potentially greatest crop-producing plants are not those on which we now depend for our food, but are the trees,; that the greatest engines for production are not the grasses, but the trees. Our agriculture is an inheritance from the savage, and the savage found that he could do better with annual grains than he could with nut trees, because he didn't know how to improve the nut crop by selection of the trees, while there came involuntarily an improvement in the other crops. No man today knows the parentage of some of the cultivated plants and grains on which we now depend. Thus we came down to the present day of science, with the purely chance discoveries of savages as the main dependence of mankind for the basis of agriculture.
We have within a decade discovered the laws of plant breeding. We know a good deal more about it now than ever before and are in a position to start about it very deliberately and with a reasonable certainty that we are going to get certain combinations of qualities if we keep at it long enough. Thus the hickory and walnut offer perfect marvels of possibilities. Look around on these tables and see the size of some of these things. There are hickory nuts 1-1/4 inch long and there are shagbarks as full of meat as pecans and probably quite as good. There are in Kentucky, I am told, hickory nuts that you can take in your fingers and crush. Here we have the pecan, this great big shellbark from Indiana, the shagbark from the North, and the thin shell nuts from Kentucky. Now hybridize these and I think, if you work at it long enough, you will get a tree that will have all those good qualities.
The wonderful black walnut is a tree of hardiness, and the delicious Persian or English walnut is a nut of acceptable form. The pair offers splendid possibilities in their hybrid progeny.
We have fruits thus far recognized as of little value which offer great possibilities as forage producers. The mulberry bears from June to September and the persimmon from September till March and the pig harvests them himself.
We have the possibility of a brand-new agriculture, depending not upon grains, but upon tree crops, provided someone will breed the crop-yielding trees which we can use. This will permit us to use entirely different kinds of land from that now considered best for agriculture. The natural necessities for plant growth, I believe, are heat, moisture, sunlight and fertility. Now they are not all the limiting factors with man, because man adds the fifth, the arbitrary fact of arability, and that right away bars out about half of the fertile earth, because when we insist on heat, light, moisture, fertility and arability, we leave out that rough half of the earth equally fertile, idle, subject only to the work of the forester, who will give us a forest about 1999. It might just as well be planted with a host of crop-yielding trees, the walnuts, hickory nuts, pecans, persimmons, mulberries—and the list is very long. There are at the present time in use in Mediterranean countries twenty-five crop-yielding trees other than the ordinary orchard fruits. I am told that they have oak trees there which yield an acorn that is better than the chestnut. A pig will fill himself with acorns on the one hillside and with figs on the next hillside and then lie down and get fat. We are too industrious, we wait on the pig; I want the pig to wait on himself.
But who is going to breed these things? These crop yielding trees? A gentleman told us this morning that he was not nervous, that he could watch a hickory tree grow, and stated that he had forty acres of land and was breeding trees for fun. Here is Dr. Morris, who is having a delicious time doing the same thing. We should not have to depend on enthusiasts who are working for fun; we must not depend on such sources for the greatest gifts in the line of food production that man can imagine. This work should be done by every state in the Union. I believe that it is capable of proof that we can get just as much yield from a hillside in untilled fruit and nut-yielding trees, as we can from putting that same hillside under the plough and getting wheat, corn, barley, rye and oats and a little grass once in a while. It will make just as much pig or just as many calories of man food from the tree crops as it will make under the plough. And under the plough that hillside is going down the stream to choke it and reduce the hillside to nothing.
We have three classes of land. The first class is the level land, which belongs to the plough now and for all time. The third class, which is the unploughable steep mountain and hill land, is probably as great in area as the level land, and between the two is the hilly land that we are now cultivating to its great detriment, visibly reducing the earth's resources by bringing about rapidly that condition which has led to the saying in the Old World: "After man, the desert." The Roman Empire, where men have had possession for two thousand years, proves, "After man, the desert." It is equally proven in much of China, but it can be prevented if these hill lands are put to trees. But we cannot afford to put those lands into trees unless the trees yield.
I move that this Association memorialize those persons who are in position to promote the breeding of fruit and nut-yielding trees, that we may bring nearer the day of tree-crop agriculture. I want a letter to go from this Association with the authority of the Association and its sanction, to the Secretary of Agriculture at Washington and to all the men in authority in the Bureau of Plant Industry at Washington, to the Presidents of the State Agricultural Colleges, the Directors of Experiment Stations and professors who are interested in plant breeding. That will make a list of three or four hundred persons and involve an expenditure of a few dollars but I believe it will be productive of good. I hope that the Association will see fit to lend its name and a little cash to that proposition, because if we can get the authority of the state and the money of the state, the results will come much more rapidly than if there are just a few of us doing it independently. (Applause.)
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The Chairman: Will someone put Prof. Smith's suggestion in the form of a motion?
A Member: I move that it be referred to the Committee on Resolutions.
Mr. Corsan: Undoubtedly we all agree with Prof. Smith. He spoke of the persimmon. When I speak of the persimmon in my country nobody knows what I am talking about. I found two trees in Battle Creek, Michigan, in a front yard. The person who owned them was an old lady. I said, "Will you give me these persimmons?" She said, "Yes, take them all; the neighbors come here and while they are getting the persimmons they bother me a lot. Everybody seems to like them." They were delicious persimmons that were quite edible before frost, they are probably the two furthest north persimmon trees in the world. I went a little way around Devil Lake, and found pawpaws. They are a very good fruit when cultivated. The idea of preserving the soil and not sending it all into the Lakes and down into the Gulf of Mexico—that is a good idea of Prof. Smith's.
Mr. Gardner: I submit that that Battle Creek woman should start a new breakfast food. (Laughter.)
Mr. Corsan: Every second year there is an immense crop on one of the persimmon trees; they are a male and female, I think. You can't see the branches for the fruit, and the thermometer there falls to 22 degrees below zero.
The Chairman: You can graft the male trees with pistillate grafts if you want to, or you can transfer grafts both ways. The persimmon and pawpaw will undoubtedly both grow at Toronto. They are not indigenous there because of natural checks to development in their sprouting stage, but if you buy Indiana stock for Toronto, such transplanted trees will both grow there, I am sure. This is not quite relevant to Prof. Smith's paper. It seems to me that Prof. Smith gave us a very comprehensive resume of facts bearing upon the situation, perhaps not particularly calling for discussion. We are very glad to have his arraignment of facts.
The next paper on the program will be that of Dr. Deming. While Dr. Deming is getting ready, I would like to have the trees shown. Mr. Jones will speak about his pecans, these specimens of young trees here.
Mr. Jones: These are pecans that Mr. Roper brought up from the Arrowfield Nurseries. (Here Mr. Jones described the trees.)
The Chairman: Would those trees grow after they have been dried as much as that?
Mr. Jones: I don't think so; pecans don't stand much drying.
The Chairman: No, unless you cut off all the roots.
Prof. Smith: If we should dig up a tree like this and cut it off a foot and a half down, would it be all right to transplant it?
Mr. Jones: Yes, if your season should not be too dry.
The Chairman: What has been your experience with the Stringfellow method of cutting off every single root?
Mr. Jones: We cut the tap-roots off, but leave an inch of the lateral roots.
The Chairman: I think you can do better by following the Stringfellow method and cutting off all the laterals.
Prof. Smith: If you were going to transplant those for your own use where would you cut them off?
Mr. Jones: About here, a foot and a half down.
The Secretary: And the top?
Mr. Jones: Yes, sir, I'd reduce the top about that much; I think we will have to work for a better root for the North.
BEGINNING WITH NUTS
DR. W. C. DEMING, WESTCHESTER, NEW YORK CITY
In his official capacity as secretary of the Northern Nut Growers Association the writer is frequently asked, by persons wishing to grow nuts, about climate, soils, varieties and methods.
The following observations are intended to apply only to the northeastern United States, the country lying east of the Rockies and north of the range of the southern pecan. They are intended more for the person who already has his land, or is restricted in his range, than for the one who can range wide for larger operations and will study deeper before deciding.
It is probable that most nuts will grow wherever the peach will. Outside the peach area there is probably not much use in trying to grow the pecan or Persian walnut. Yet it must always be remembered that nut growing in the North is, at present, almost entirely experimental and that anybody may be able to disprove the authorities. We are all experimenting now. By and by it will be different.
In severer climates the chestnut, shagbark, black walnut, butternut, hazel, beech, pine, Japanese cordiformis and hardy Chinese walnuts can be grown or, at least, offer possibilities. In such climates the development of the native nuts by selection and crossing, and the adaptation of alien nuts, deserves, and will repay, experiment.
It is to be supposed, as before said, that the hopeful beginner already has his land. Let him choose the best part of it that he can spare. By "best part" is meant the most fertile, not too wet nor too dry nor, if possible, too hilly to cultivate. Hard pan near the surface, and too thick to be easily broken up by dynamite, is not desirable.
A nut orchard ought to have much the same preparation as an apple orchard. A practical way would be to plow deeply and harrow well in summer and sow a cover crop like rye and vetch or clover. The more stable manure, or other fertilizer, applied the better.
Let the field now be staked off thirty feet apart in squares, or in triangles if preferred. Late in the fall dig the holes and plant nuts, three or four in each hole, two to four inches deep, according to size, and six inches apart. Put a good handful of ground bone in each hill. Unless the soil and subsoil are mellow, so that the long tap roots may penetrate deeply, it would be best to dynamite the holes, using a half pound of 20 per cent or 25 per cent dynamite at a depth of two and a half feet. This is a simple matter and the dynamite companies will furnish materials and instructions. It is also some fun.
There is some danger that nuts planted in fall may be destroyed by rodents, that some will "lie over" and not sprout the first year, or that all the nuts in a hill may make inferior plants, so that some authorities advise putting them in a galvanized wire cage, the nuts only half buried, then covered with a few leaves during the winter and otherwise left exposed to the elements. In the spring they must be taken from the cage and planted in the hills before the sprouts are long enough to be easily broken.
The different kinds of nuts should be planted in "blocks" rather than mingled, to facilitate handling.
These nuts are to furnish trees that are later to be grafted or budded. After they have grown a while the weaker ones are to be removed, as necessary, until only the strongest remains in each hill. When grafted and grown to great size the brave man will thin them out to sixty feet apart. Interplanting with fruits or vegetables may be practised.
As to the kinds of nuts to be planted that depends on what you want to grow. If chestnuts it must be remembered that the bark disease is very likely to attack them, in the East at any rate. Experiments with chestnuts outside the range of the blight are very desirable. The American (Castanea dentata) and European (C. sativa) chestnuts are specially susceptible. The Asiatic chestnuts (C. Japonica, etc.) seem to have a partial immunity, especially the Korean, and it is possible that the native chestnut grafted on these may be rendered more or less immune. It is being tried and is an interesting experiment.
The Asiatic chestnut trees are dwarfish in habit, come into bearing early, the nuts are generally large and some of them of pretty good quality. They may be planted as fillers between the trees of larger growth. The nuts may be bought of importers. (See circular on "Seedsmen and Nurserymen".) The small Korean chestnut has been especially recommended.
If you wish to grow the shagbark hickory (Hicoria ovata) plant the best specimens of this nut you can get, or the bitternut (H. minima) which is said to be a superior stock for grafting.
High hopes are held that that other favorite hickory, the pecan (H. pecan) may be grown far outside its native range, and the Indiana pecan is the nut on which these hopes are founded. Seed nuts may be obtained from reliable Indiana dealers, but it is said that some of them are not reliable.
The hickories may be budded and grafted on one another so that one kind of stock may serve for both shagbark and pecan.
If you want to grow the Persian walnut (Juglans regia), often called the "English" walnut, the black walnut (J. nigra), seems to afford the most promising stock, though J. rupestris, native in Texas and Arizona, has been recommended and J. cordiformis, the Japanese heart nut, is also promising. This nut can be recommended for planting for its own sake as the tree is hardy, a rapid grower, comes into bearing early and bears a fairly good nut. There are no grafted trees, however, so the variable seedlings will have to be depended upon.
On any of these walnut stocks the black walnut and the butternut (J. cinerea) may also be propagated if worthy varieties can be found. There are none now on the market.
The nuts mentioned are enough for the beginner and the three stocks, chestnut, hickory and walnut, will give him all he wants to work on and furnish plenty of fascinating occupation.
The hazel, the almond and others, though offering possibilities, had better be left to those further advanced in the art of nut growing.
Now the nut orchard is started and the owner must push the growth of the trees by the ordinary methods, cultivation, cover crops and fertilizers. See any authority on growing fruit trees.
In from two to five years the trees will be ready for budding and grafting, they will have made a good growth above ground, and a bigger one below, they are permanently placed and haven't got to be set back a year or two, or perhaps killed, by transplanting, with loss to the tap roots and laterals. In the writer's opinion that natural tap root of the nut tree growing down, down to water is not to be treated as of no importance.
So let your seedlings grow up and down happily while you get ready the stuff with which to build their future character, for seedling trees are very slow in coming into bearing, and uncertain in type and quality of nut. Grafted trees bear early and true to type.
Take your choicest bit of ground and put it in the best shape you know how. Then order the finest grafted trees you can find on the market. (See circular on "Seedsmen and Nurserymen".) Your choice will be limited for there are as yet only a few grafted varieties of the Persian walnut and the Indiana pecan, and but one of the shagbark hickory to be had. Of chestnuts there are more and, in the South of course, plenty of pecans. But pecan growing in the South is another story. If you order chestnuts be sure that they do not come from a nursery infected with blight. Get young trees because they are more easily established.
Order from two to four of each variety. Fewer than two gives too small an allowance for mortality and more than four, besides the not inconsiderable strain on the pocket, will divide your attention too much; for you have got to give these trees the care of a bottle baby.
Set them sixty feet apart if you have the room. If not set them closer. Better closer if that means better care. They may be set in the fall but probably spring is better, as early as you can get them in. Follow the instructions of the nurserymen closely. Digging holes with dynamite is probably good practice. Put some bone meal in the soil around the roots but no strong fertilizer. Some soils need lime. Tamp the soil about the roots with all your might. It cannot be made too firm.
Then water them all summer, or until August if they have made a good growth. Give them all they can drink once a week. Sink a large bar about a foot from the tree and pour the water into the hole, as much as the soil will take.
Keep up cultivation and a dust mulch or, if you cannot do this, mulch with something else. Mulching doesn't mean a wisp of hay but something thick or impervious. Six inches of strawy manure, grass, vines or weeds; an old carpet, burlap, feed or fertilizer bags or even newspapers, held down with stones or weeds or earth, all make good mulches.
These trees ought to grow and, whether you ever succeed in grafting your seedlings or not, you should have at least a small orchard of fine nut trees.
The second summer with the trees will be something like the baby's. Worms may bother them. Look out for bud worms and leaf-eating caterpillars. Give them all the water they can drink in the dry dog days. Nurse them, feed them and watch them and they will grow up to bless you. Some of them may bear as early as apple trees.
These trees, and such scions as, from time to time, you may obtain elsewhere, are to furnish your propagating material.
The plan just described may be modified in various ways, but the general principles are the same. Instead of planting the nuts in their permanent positions they may be put in nursery rows where they may have the advantage of intensive cultivation. The best of the resulting trees may be grafted or budded in the rows, or after they have been transplanted and have become well established. This method is an excellent one and has distinct advantages and many advocates.
Yearling seedlings may be bought and set either in permanent positions or in nursery rows.
Of course the man who is in a hurry, who can disregard expense and who does not care for the experience and gratification of grafting his own trees, may set his whole plantation with expensive grafted trees and replant where they fail.
The technique of budding and grafting you must work out yourself with the help of the instructions obtainable from several authorities, or, by far the surer way, study the art with a master. The essentials are good stocks and good scions, the right moment—and practice.
Excellent publications giving instructions in methods of propagation are: "The Persian Walnut Industry in the United States," by E. R. Lake; Bulletin 254, Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1913: "The Pecan," by C. A. Reed; Bulletin 251 of the same department, 1912: "Walnut Growing in Oregon," published by the Passenger Department Southern Pacific Company Lines in Oregon, Portland, Oregon, revised edition, 1912; and "Nut Growing in Maryland," by C. P. Close; Bulletin 125 of the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, College Park, Maryland. Any of these may be had free on application.
The files and current issues of the nut journals are full of information. Join the nut growers associations, subscribe to the nut journals, get all the literature (see Circular No. 3) and you will soon be happily out of the fledgeling stage of nut growing and begin to do as you please.
* * * * *
The Chairman: Comment upon this paper is now in order.
Mr. Lake: You say you are going to issue that?
The Secretary: On my own responsibility, but subject to modification.
Mr. Lake: If that is going out as a circular of the association, I would like to suggest two slight changes. For instance, you wouldn't expect the ordinary nut tree to begin to bear as early as the ordinary transplanted apple tree.
The Chairman: Some would.
Mr. Lake: A summer apple would begin to bear much earlier than the ordinary nut tree.
The Secretary: Well, chestnuts begin to bear very early after grafting. I refer only to grafted trees here.
Mr. Lake: I thought that the paper had to do with trees that were planted as nuts.
The Secretary: No, I think I made that perfectly clear.
Mr. Lake: What is that new statement about roots, that it is desirable to leave them?
The Secretary: That it is better that a tree should go undisturbed than that it should be transplanted.
Mr. Lake: Isn't there a question about that?
The Secretary: A question would arise in the hands of an expert, perhaps, but I think for an amateur, that a tree growing where the nut was planted is more likely to live and do well than a transplanted tree.
Mr. Lake: I am not so certain about that, but what I had in mind was that the planter would get the idea that the tap-root was not to be cut off and that it is very desirable to the tree.
The Secretary: That's a good point.
The Chairman: About cutting the tap-root I have said yes and no so fast that I don't know which I've said last, and it seems to me that we ought to have discussion on this very point.
The Secretary: I have said that in buying these grafted trees you should set them out following the instructions of the nurseryman closely.
Mr. Lake: But that statement about the tap-root would lead the average planter to think that it was very desirable to have the tap-root.
The Secretary: Has it been settled that it is not desirable?
Mr. Lake: Well, I think it has been generally accepted that it is of no special value.
The Secretary: That trees will grow as well transplanted as if they have never been transplanted?
Mr. Lake: Well, I shouldn't want to put it that way, but this is the point: I would like to have the tree planter understand that a walnut tree doesn't need the tap-root and if he cuts off the tap-root in planting, there is no great loss. I wouldn't want to say that his trees wouldn't begin to bear earlier or bear larger if left in the original place. I prefer to transplant my own tree after it is grown, rather than run the risk of getting scrub trees in the post hole or on the hill. I prefer to select the grafted trees even without the tap-roots, which would be removed in digging, and planting them all uniform, rather than to plant the seeds. Speaking for the amateur, I think the latter is good practice. The point I had in mind was that many people will not take the time to plant nuts but will want to set grafted trees, and the question is, should they have considerable tap-root—the grafted trees?
The Secretary: Following my plan, a man would buy a small number of fine trees and set them out at once; that would probably be all he would undertake and all he could probably manage. He would also plant a small number of nuts on which to experiment in propagation. My experience up in Connecticut has been that all my southern transplanted trees, almost without exception, have died. I have planted pecans and Persian walnuts from a number of different nurseries. I have done it personally and done it as carefully as I could, but they have either made a very feeble growth indeed or have all died. On the other hand, the seeds I have planted have grown into very vigorous trees.
Mr. Rush: I have had a little experience with the tap-root theory. You can't dig a walnut tree without cutting the tap-root, and that tap-root, I find, is practically of no benefit at all after you have your upper laterals, and an abundance of them; by cutting the tap-root growth is stimulated and a new tap-root is made. It is very largely in the mode of pruning the tap-root. You can readily stimulate the tap-root system.
The Chairman: You try to keep an equilibrium by cutting down the top in proportion?
Mr. Rush: Yes, sir.
Mr. Pomeroy: In examining transplanted trees I found ten times as many roots where the tap-root had been cut; and there were two tap-roots. I like a tree with a good tap-root system and I am positive that if you transplant a tree you get a better root system, get a great many more roots.
The Chairman: The tree development, it seems to me, depends not upon the number of roots which are carried with it when it is transplanted, but upon the feeding roots which develop. Now, if we cut back the tap-root, cut back the laterals, cut back the top, we have a tree carrying in its cambium layer, food, just as a turnip or beet would carry it—and I look upon a transplanted tree much as a carrot or beet, with stored food ready to make a new root.
Mr. Harris: I planted last fall a year ago a lot of English walnuts. Would the gentleman advise taking those up, cutting the tap-roots and planting them again?
Mr. Rush: I don't think that would be advisable.
Mr. Harris: They were grown from the nuts sown in a row last fall a year ago and grew very well.
Mr. Rush: In propagating the English walnut we have had them do the best by transplanting when the tree is about two years old, but it will more or less disturb the vigor of a tree to transplant it. That is self-evident; it needs some time to heal those wounds that are made both in the root and the branch.
Mr. Harris: What time of year do you bud them?
Mr. Rush: In August.
Mr. Hutt: I notice some trees here that are evidently two-year old pecans that have been cut back, and you notice that in every case several tap-roots have taken the place of the one. Here are some others that have not been cut. These have gone straight down. They are strong roots with few fibers on them. On these other trees that have been cut the formation of tap-roots continues. They will go down till they strike a permanent water-table and then the tap-root will stop. In Hyde County, North Carolina, near the ocean, the water-table is close to the surface and there is a deep black alluvial soil with a great deal of water in it. In order to grow anything there they have to put in ditches to get the water out. The pecan trees growing there have absolutely no tap-roots at all, it rots off as soon as it strikes the permanent water-table; and I think that's the reason they produce such enormous quantities of pecans in that county. In bottomless, sandy land where there is no clay the root keeps on going down till it finds the permanent water-table, even if that is six or eight or ten feet down. These roots, as you see, were going right down to China to look at that king on the other side if they got a chance. It's the same with the long leaf pine. It has a tap-root below ground thicker than the trunk above ground. The reason is that it grows naturally on those bottomless places; the root goes down till it strikes water, then runs off laterally. If you cut the roots they are bound to make new tap-roots. You can see the place where they have been cut and in place of one tap-root you have two, going right down into that sandy soil till they find a water-table. I believe that a nurseryman who will cut off the root of the pecan tree when it is transplanted, will cause it to form more lateral roots and make a better tree. There's a great number of vigorous roots in this tree than in this, and this tree whose root has been cut off will make a tree much easier to transplant and will be a better tree than those with great thick roots without the fibers that have the root hairs upon them.
A member: You wouldn't recommend cutting back that tap-root too severely, would you?
Mr. Hutt: In planting a tree of this kind, I'd cut off a foot or 18 inches. If you get about 24 inches in a specially good soil, or about 30 inches of root ordinarily that's all you want.
A member: I should think that would depend quite a little on the height of the water-table. If you were planting on land where the water-table is low, you would leave more tap-root?
Mr. Hutt: Yes.
A member: That was the reason I brought up the point, because I think cutting so short would be too severe.
Mr. Hutt: The cambium is the only part of the tree that maintains growth. Every wound kills the cambium to a certain extent, so I always cut off roots of any size with sharp shears as smoothly as possible. I cut far enough back to find good, fresh, living tissue. In moist soil that will callous over. In the South the soil is moist and we have growing conditions in the winter time, so it will callous over during the winter. In the North, I understand, you make a practice of planting in the spring, because of the weather conditions.
Mr. Harris: In Western Maryland we have in the mountains a deep, sandy soil; there doesn't appear to be any water bottom to it; what would the tap-root do in that case?
Mr. Hutt: It will go down until it finds what it wants, finds sufficient moisture.
Mr. Harris: Gravelly bottom?
Mr. Hutt: If you have ever seen the roots of a long leaf pine, you've seen where the roots go to when they get a chance.
Prof. Smith: I should like to ask Dr. Deming if he would give us his experience in propagating the walnut and hickory?
Dr. Deming: A very important thing indeed for us nut growers in the North is to learn how to propagate. Dr. Morris has had some success; I haven't had any. I have tried it summer and spring, year after year. I believe there are a few pieces of bark, without buds, still growing. Chestnuts I haven't found very difficult, but with the walnut and hickory I have had no success whatever, although I have practiced the best technique I could master. I think one reason why I have had no success is that I haven't had good material. I have had good stocks, but I haven't had good scions, not the sort of scion that the successful southern nurserymen use. Still, Dr. Morris has had success with the same kind of material that I have failed with.
The Chairman: Not very much success.
Mr. Lake: Dr. Deming said that the land ought not to be too dry nor too wet. Would you feel like saying that a water-table at 24 inches was neither too low nor too high?
Mr. Hutt: It depends a great deal on the nature of the soil, the water-pulling capacity of the soil. Take a soil like that I mentioned, in Hyde County, near the ocean; you can see it quake all around you.
Mr. Lake: But would you say that the northern nut grower might safely put his orchard on soil that had a water-table within two or three feet of the surface?
Mr. Hutt: I could tell if I saw that soil. If it is craw-fishy, or soil that is ill-drained or won't carry ordinary crops, I'd say keep off of it, but if it will bear ordinary crops it's all right; in some cases where the soil is very rich the plant does not need to go down into that soil anything like the depth it would in a poor soil. The poorer the soil the further the roots have to go to find nourishment.
Mr. Lake: I think that is an extremely exceptional case in relation to northern nuts. There is very little such North Carolina land in this section of the country, if I judge right. We don't plant nut-growing orchards up here in peaty soils, so Dr. Deming's recommendation was rather for very good agricultural soil. A water-table here must be eight or ten feet deep; in that event, it would not make any difference whether you left three feet of tap-root or 15 inches.
Mr. Hutt: No.
The Chairman: In the soils of some parts of New England, a tree would have to have a root three or four hundred feet deep to get to flowing water, but nevertheless trees flourish there.
Mr. Lake: But the capillarity of the soil provides water for the tree above the water-table.
Mr. Corsan: It all depends on the kind of nut. At St. Geneva I came across a butternut that was growing in a soil that would kill a chestnut very quickly. The soil was very springy and wet and the butternut just loves that soil. I found that while other butternut trees bore nuts in clusters of one to three, this butternut tree was bearing them in clusters of ten and eleven. At Lake George, right in front of the Post-Office, there was one tree twenty-four years old, two feet through, that grew butternuts in clusters of ten and you could get a barrel of nuts from it. It bore again this last summer heavily, not in clusters of ten but in clusters of seven or eight. When we have damp soil we can't grow the chestnut but the hickory nut will grow in a swamp, and so will the butternut.
The Chairman: And the beech.
Mr. Corsan: The beech wants clay; it won't grow unless there is clay.
The Chairman: Our beech will grow where it has to swim.
Mr. Reed: Before we get away from this discussion I think that we ought to commend Dr. Deming in the selection of this subject and in the handling of his paper. In my position in the Government, we have a good many inquiries about nut matters, and they are usually from people who want to know how to start. The great call for information at the present time is from the beginners, not from the advanced people, and I am glad that Dr. Deming took that subject and handled it as he did, and I am glad that he proposes to issue it as a circular from this Association. It will be a great relief to others who are called on for information.
I should like to have a word, too, about this tap-root question. From what has been said it is pretty clear that there is quite a difference of opinion. We sometimes think we can improve on nature in her ways by harsh methods and, while I know it is customary in the nurseries of the South to cut the tap-roots back pretty severely, I wonder, sometimes, whether that is always the best thing.
I haven't had any personal experience, but I have observed quite a good deal, and the tendency, it seems to me, is to try to develop as much as possible the fibrous root. Sometimes that is brought about by cutting the tap-root, or putting a wire mesh below where the seed is planted, so as to form an obstruction to the tap-root, so that it necessarily forms a fibrous root. Where the tap-root is the only root I doubt very much the advisability of cutting back too severely.
Col. Van Duzee: I have heard this subject discussed all over this country, in meetings of this kind, and a great deal of energy has been wasted. I do not think any of us know anything about it, but I do wish to say this, that when you come to transplant a tree from the nursery to the orchard, there are things of infinitely more moment than how you shall hold your knife between your fingers when you cut the roots. The exposure of the roots to the air, the depth to which the tree is to be put in the ground, the manner in which it shall be handled—those things are of infinitely more importance, because we know we can transplant trees successfully and get good results when the tap-root has been injured or almost entirely removed. I do not consider that the question of cutting the tap-root is of very serious importance, but I do think we should insert a word of caution as to the exposure of the roots of trees to the atmosphere, and make it just as strong as we are capable of writing it.
The Chairman: That is a very interesting point, that we have fixed our eye on the tap-root and talked too much about it. Not long ago one of the agricultural journals decided finally to settle the question about the time for pruning grapes, whether it should be done in the fall, spring, winter or summer, and after summing up all the testimony from enthusiastic advocates for each one of the seasons, the editor decided that the best time is when your knife is sharp; and that is very much the way with the tap-root. Be very particular in getting the root in and caring for it.
Mr. Pomeroy: Prof. Close, in a bulletin issued two years ago, spoke as does Col. VanDuzee about protecting the roots of the trees; he said "when the trees are taken from the box that you receive them in, don't expose them to the sun or air, puddle every tree, and plant as soon as possible." I think that is pretty good advice. It doesn't cost any money, and takes very few minutes, to puddle the trees and it saves many of them.
The Chairman: I have tried the Stringfellow Method of cutting back top and root until my men asked me if I didn't want to transplant another tree instead, and they have grown just as well as trees on which I took great pains to preserve fine branching roots.
The Secretary: The last thing in my thought was to start a discussion of this perennial subject of the tap-root, but I should like criticism of this little circular, no matter how severe, because I am not finally committed to it and want to make it as useful as possible.
Prof. Smith: Every man likes to ride his own hobby horse. Would it not be wise to suggest that some of these seedlings be put in odd corners? Certainly the hickory and walnut are adept in making themselves a home in the roughest kind of land.
The Secretary: I have tried that, but I don't think, as a rule, the trees do well when stuck around in fence corners and odd places. To be sure the trees I put behind the barn or pig pen have grown beautifully, so that at one time I thought of building barns and pig pens all over the farm to put trees behind, but where they were set in fence corners and out of the way places they have not done very well. I think the experience of others is about to the same effect.
Prof. Smith: My experience has been different from yours. I have some chestnut and walnut trees, on an unploughable hillside in the corner of my father's farm in Virginia which I stuck there ten or a dozen years ago and have done very little to them. Of course they are native. They have thriven. Nature does it exactly that way.
The Secretary: It seems to me there is no question that they will do better under cultivation. Of course they may do fairly well in odd places if they can dominate the other growth.
Prof. Smith: A man could take a pocketful of the various kinds of nuts and go around his fence corners and plant a few. In an hour he can plant fifty, and if he gets one to grow it is good return for that hour's work.
The Secretary: I have advised people to take a handful of nuts and a cane when they go out walking and occasionally stick one in.
The Chairman: In our locality, people would ask, "Why is that string of squirrels following that man?"
Mr. Corsan: I have been planting nuts in that way for years.
The Chairman: If a man planted trees which belonged in his neighborhood, nuts that were already in the dominant ruling group, then his chances for success would be very good, but if he introduced in fence corners trees that had to adjust themselves to a new environment, he would find very few growing and the squirrels, other trees and various obstacles to development in the midst of established species, would wipe out most of them. Nevertheless, as it isn't much trouble, I would advise anybody to take a pocketful of hickory nuts out with him when he goes for a walk and plant one every little way.
A Member: The idea is good; let us follow it up.
Mr. Rush: I don't think it is feasible at all to plant trees around fence corners.
The Chairman: In our locality it would not do at all.
A Member: It won't do in any locality. The sods and grass around the tree will dwarf it and cause a very slow growth. Our time is valuable and we can't wait on that kind of a tree to bring results. Cultivation is the main need. Sometimes trees will do well where the soil is rich and competition absent. In Burlington, N. J. we found a walnut tree bearing enormous crops in a back yard. I have seen the same thing in this county, and also in Carlisle, and the Nebo tree, famous for its wonderful productiveness, has a similar environment. But it is high cultivation that usually is necessary for the best results in all trees, and walnut trees particularly.
The Secretary: Here is a note relating to this subject:
"The women of Sapulpa, Okla., who recently organized for city and county improvement and advancement, have determined to plant pecan, walnut and hickory trees on both sides of a road now being constructed through Creek County, basing their action on the theory that two pecan trees placed in the back yard of a homestead will pay the taxes on the property. They believe that when the trees begin to bear they will provide a fund large enough for the maintenance of the road."
The Chairman: That's all right if you can look after them.
Mr. Littlepage: It is very interesting to listen to these discussions of roadside trees and I have until recently been a strong advocate of them, but I have changed my opinion. I don't think there is anything in the planting of trees in fence corners or along the roadside, for several reasons. The first reason is that nobody knows how long it is going to take that tree to amount to anything. I wouldn't give two cents a piece for trees stuck out where you cannot cultivate them and get to them to fertilize them. Another thing, we are right up against the problem of the insect pests of these trees and who is going to take care of them along the roadside? The insect pests will get on them and come into the fields of the man who is cultivating and raising trees legitimately. Down in southern Indiana, now, we find along the roadside hundreds of walnut trees that are every year eaten up with caterpillars. They love those trees and come over on to my trees. I keep my trees cleaned off pretty well. There's that problem. Up to a short time ago I was an advocate of roadside trees. It would be all right if there was some means of cultivating them. If there is land somewhere that is of no use, so that it doesn't make a bit of difference whether the trees on it have insect pests or not, you can go out there and scatter nuts and let it alone and wait the length of time you've got to wait. I don't think it's of much value, however, even then. I don't think there is a thing in it. I used to pride myself on the fact that I had set out more trees than anybody else in the State of Indiana. I haven't bragged about that for a long time, though I have set out, perhaps, in the last eight or ten years, or had set out under my direction, about 750,000 trees; I am not particularly proud of that any more, but I am proud to meet the fellow who has set out twenty or thirty acres of trees on good land, the best he's got, and cultivated them and kept the insects off of them and burned them up instead of letting them prey on the neighborhood. I think there should be a law passed that these trees along the roadside must be cut down or that somebody will have to take care of them.
The Chairman: The original idea of roadside trees was constructive in its nature but failed to include the idea that, with the increase of orchard trees, or trees of any one species, we increase the insect pests because we disturb the balance of nature; and by disturbing the balance of nature we give advantage to insects which then remain on neglected trees to prove a menace to our own orchards. It we have various towns setting out roadside trees and detailing the children to look after them, asking the children to report on them, I believe the thing can be made a success and that the taxes of many a small town can be paid from the nut trees along the roadside, provided you have one boy or one girl for each tree, their services to be given free and the profit from the tree to be given to the town.