Iowa State Horticultural Society
Report From H. A. Terry.
Crescent City, Iowa
January 10th, 1877.
J. L. Budd, Secretary: You request me to report progress in fruit growing, etc., on the Missouri slope. I will preface my brief remarks by saying that for the last two years, on account of the grasshoppers, blight, and perhaps some other causes, we have rather "progressed backward."
Our last apple crop was light, though in some localities, as for instance high timber ridges, the crop was fair. In my own orchard, Ben Davis, Wine Sap, Northern Spy, and White Winter Pearmain bore the heaviest crops. Raules' Janet is usually a very heavy bearer, but last season failed. Of summer apples, Red June and Benoni take the lead. I have a large number of seedlings, some of which promise to be valuable. I have also some seedlings grown from seeds of Siberian Crab, that are as fine in quality as any apple that I grow, and are also of fair size; but the great drawback is, that the trees are nearly ruined by the blight.
This blight here, seems to be somewhat different from the blight in Illinois, and the Eastern States, and is entirely past our comprehension. The first season that it visited this section was a very dry one, and the next two seasons were unusually wet; and still the blight went on the same. So much for the summers. Now for the winters: The winter previous to the first year of the blight, was a very severe one, while the winter of 1874-5 was quite mild, and still the blight raged. Who can tell the cause of this terrible blight? I am not prepared to accept the theory of some fruit growers of our State, that "manuring the orchard is the cause of this blight;" from the fact that my own orchard has never been manured, and I have probably suffered as much by the blight as any one. I have noticed that those trees which are growing fastest are most likely to blight, and have no doubt that manuring the ground would have a tendency to make the trees grow more rapidly, and perhaps render them more subject to the blight. Still there are many orchards that have never been manured, that have suffered to a great degree by this blight.
Pears in this section of the State are nearly all destroyed by the blight. I had a good many trees fifteen to twenty inches in circumference that commenced dying at the top, and finally died out root and branch. These were mostly of the Flemish Beauty variety. The Pear, Apple, and Siberian Crab are the only trees affected by the blight. The varieties of apples most affected are Red June, Willow Twig, Jonathan, Wagener, Yellow Injestrie, and other hybrids. Most of the Crabs blight badly.
The Cherry crop of last season was good. The Early Richmond so far, has taken the lead, from the fact that the Late Richmond or Kentish, and English Morello, are not so well known as the first. My own opinion is, that the Late Richmond for cooking purposes, and for canning, is the most valuable Cherry that we have. This variety is longer in coming into full bearing than either of the other sorts named; but when the trees attain size and age, they bear very heavy crops of the finest fruit. This variety is usually grown on its own roots, and is supposed to make a healthier tree than if budded or grafted. The Early Richmond, and English Morello, worked on Morello stock, are a success on the Slope. The Mahaleb, as a stock, and all the sweet Cherries are failures here. I have fruited the Plumstone Morello, and Ramsey's Late Morello, the first of which bears very sparingly, and the last proves to be identical with the Late Richmond. I have, also, been experimenting somewhat with the Dwarf Mountain Cherry, (Cerasus Pumilla) and find that it is a very palatable fruit for eating in a raw state, and is also good for cooking. The Utah Hybrid Cherry, that is being so highly extolled by tree agents just now, is a variety of this, and is, perhaps, worth trying, if sold at the price of other Cherries, but at higher rates I would advise to let it alone.
Of Plums, the Miner or Hinckley, stands at the head of the list for the northern portion of this District, but for the southern part, possibly, the Wild Goose might be equally as valuable. The Wild Goose does well here on light, dry soil, but when planted on rich bottom land it makes too heavy a growth, and kills back during the winter; and is, also, liable to split down at the forks, and the tree is ruined. We find the Miner bears earlier if worked on the native stock. Perhaps the fastest and easiest way is by root-grafting one year old seedlings; but when one has plenty of sprouts or suckers, they may be grafted near the ground, and let them stand there one year, and then transplant to the nursery row or orchard. They probably make the finest and healthiest trees on their own roots, and bear fully as well when they get age. Forest Garden and Quaker, are varieties of the native plants of considerable value.
Our crop of small fruits was fair, but would probably have been better if we bad have had less rain, particularly our grape crop. Concord, Clinton and Delaware are the sorts of grapes that are mostly grown here, and Concord takes the lead for all purposes, though Delaware is best for eating out of hand, and Clinton for cooking and canning is very fine. Of gooseberries the Cluster, and Houghton Seedling, are best known, but the newer kinds Mountain Seedling, and Hixon's Favorite, are attracting more attention at the present time. Their size and productiveness render them valuable for market.
The following varieties of Raspberries do well with us: Doolittle, Seneca, Minnesota (Yellow), Mammoth Cluster, and Ellisdale. The original stock (a single plant) of Ellisdale, was found growing wild in this county, and propagated and sent out several years since by the writer of this, and though not considered a good market variety, is esteemed one of the best sorts to plant for home use. The berry is of fair size, purplish red in color, of most excellent flavor, and ripens in succession during a period of about thirty days. The plants are perfectly hardy. For market, probably the best variety is Seneca, This is a strong grower, a great bearer, with fruit of size of that of Mammoth Cluster, and much better in flavor. It ripens at same time as Mammoth Cluster. The Minnesota is a large Yellow Cap of good quality.
All the varieties of Blackberries so far as tested have "played out."
Currants, except in grasshopper years do well here, the most profitable sorts being Red Dutch and White Grape, though the Holland is becoming quite popular of late. Black Naples is very productive, end fine for canning. Victoria is also a good bearing sort, with fruit of fine quality. In order to be successful in growing currants, the ground should be thoroughly manured before planting, with some kind of animal manure, no matter how rich the soil naturally is, as the currant requires some substance that is not found in our natural soil.
Strawberries are not grown much in this vicinity, except in certain localities where protected by timber, and the Wilson seems to be the leading variety.
The Barberry and Buffalo Berry both flourish here, and are not to be despised in the absence of other tart fruits. The variety of Barberry known as Purple Leaved, that is planted extensively for ornament, is the best bearer with us, and the fruit is of good size.
On the whole, we of the Third District feel a good deal encouraged in regard to fruit growing.
H. A. Terry.
[Annal Report of The Iowa State Horticultural Society For 1876, submitted by Cathy Danielson]