Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Article Index




     By JAMES McNICOL, Lost Springs, Marion county, Kansas.

Orchard culture being my subject, of course the varieties of trees are supposed to be carefully selected and planted; but the distance apart is important. If too close, no matter how thorough the cultivation, they will suffer for moisture; and if too wide apart the winds will play havoc with the trees and fruit. What is best for this locality, to break the prevailing south winds and yet have plenty of space for the roots to find moisture? Is it better to plant closely north and south or east and west? I would prefer close rows running east and west, as each row would help break the wind when the trees in the row reached each other--then how close in the row and how far apart the rows? I would plant the trees twenty feet apart in the rows and the rows thirty feet apart. I would like to recommend planting a row of cherry, dwarf pear, plum or peach between each apple row, provided they are cut out when they rob each other of moisture.

Eternal vigilance is the price of fruit, but, in central Kansas, to eternal vigilance you must add thorough cultivation. For a few years cultivated crops may be grown, leaving a good space next to the trees to be cultivated--not to grow up in weeds. Do not, like one of my neighbors, cultivate the corn row, that cost only about five cents a row for seed, four times, and leave the tree row, which cost two dollars per row, uncultivated. Do not use a stirring plow; it will hill up earth around the trees too much. With a lister you can list in your corn or furrow out potato rows, running east and west one year, and north and south the next. Growing crops for five or six years is long enough; then cultivation should be done with a disc, an Acme or a common harrow; I prefer a reversible disc. Acme is all right if you do not let the weeds get the start of you (which you should never do, but you will sometimes); then the disc is the implement.

Whatever tool you use keep it a going, east, west, and diagonal, and when blessed with a good rain through the summer don't wait till the weeds get started, but cultivate as soon as dry enough to form a dust mulch. Few seem to know the value of a dust mulch. A high state of cultivation can be kept up in the orchard with what implements the farmer has. Use the one-horse, five-tooth cultivator close to the trees, and the two-horse cultivator for the middle, going both ways; then pulverize with the harrow; use the harrow often. Six days' work at the proper time will keep a five-acre orchard in good shape the whole season. "But," says some one, "it doesn't pay; this is not a fruit country." No, it is no fruit country, and never will be, to the one who has no time to cultivate; but to the one that will there is a big reward, for the very reason that it is not a fruit country.



     A paper read before the Kansas Horticultural Society, by W. D. CELLAR, of Edwardsville, Kan.

A wide difference of opinion prevails as to the proper distance apart for apple trees, some growers maintaining that forty feet is close enough, while others plant as close as fifteen feet. With varieties that come into bearing early, planting close in the row north and south, with the intention of cutting out every other tree when they are large enough to crowd, may be good husbandry. Two or three crops might be secured before it would be necessary to cut out the extra trees. The objections are, that the orchard cannot be so thoroughly cultivated, and the drain necessary to grow the extra trees might so debilitate the soil as to seriously affect succeeding crops. One grower says: "I am satisfied it will pay in the short run, but it remains to be seen whether it will pay in the long run." In this section, where we have so much wind and sunshine, twenty-five to thirty feet seems to be the proper distance for apple trees, fifteen feet for plums, and fifteen by twenty feet for peach and cherry, and twenty feet for pear trees. Upland is thought better than river bottom for orchards, and a north or east slope is chosen for apples.

A difference in location is required for different varieties of apples. A vigorous-growing variety will do well on the thin soil of the hills, while a variety deficient in root vigor, which might be profitable in deep soil, would not thrive on the hilltops. I gathered this year from eight-year-old Missouri Pippin trees, planted in the deep soil of a creek bottom, five bushels of apples to the tree, while Missouri Pippins in the same orchard, on the hilltops, planted at the same time and having the same treatment, yielded scarcely a bushel to the tree. In the same orchard Jonathans yielded about as well on the hill as in the valley. I would not choose an exposed north or northwest slope for peaches or cherries. Better an east, or even a south slope. Professor Whitten, of the Missouri State Agricultural College, has recommended whitening peach trees in winter by spraying with lime to prevent premature swelling of the buds.

In my locality the best varieties of apples, from a commercial standpoint, are Ben Davis, Jonathan, and Missouri Pippin. More Kieffer and Duchess pears are planted than any other kind. The leading peaches are Elberta, Old Mixon Free, Stump, Champion, Smock, and Salway. The most profitable plum is the Wild Goose. Some of the Japans, Abundance and Burbank promise well. Of cherries, Dyehouse, Early Richmond, Montmorency, English Morello and Ostheim make a succession in the order named, and are the best for either a family or commercial orchard.

Cultivation of the orchard for the first few years is deemed absolutely necessary to success, but it is a serious problem how to cultivate the hills, and at the same time keep them from washing into the hollows and so denuding the roots of the trees at the top. I know one orchard in which a back furrow has been thrown to each tree row in the same direction for several years, leaving a dead furrow (which has become a ditch) between the rows. It looks like a field of huge sweet-potato rows, with the trees standing on tripods or "quadrapeds" at the top of the ridges. Neither back furrow nor dead furrow should be made in the tree row. As few dead furrows as possible should be left. They should be frequently changed, and should never run up and down the hill. If ditches have started, they cannot be stopped by plowing them full of earth; the loose soil will wash out at the first rain. Fill them with old hay, straw, stalks, or brush. Old raspberry or blackberry canes are excellent for this purpose. Begin at the bottom and work up the hill, letting the forkfuls overlap like shingles. Drive a stake through at frequent intervals, and secure firmly at the top; else a hard freshet will wash it all out. Deep ditches may be filled by dams of loose stone a rod or two apart. On many farms these stones need to be gathered anyway, and one may "kill two birds with one stone" by filling a big ditch with a good many stones. "An ounce of prevention, however, is worth a pound of cure," and the best prevention from washing that I know of is clover. I would advise seeding a hill orchard as soon as the trees have had a year or two of vigorous growth. The orchard may be cultivated after the spring rains, and seeded again in time to prevent washing the next winter. After the orchard is seven or eight years old, I should leave it in clover and weeds, mowing two or three times a year to make a mulch and prevent tall growth of weeds.

"Hogs in the orchard" is generally condemned. I have seen old orchards, however, that were decidedly benefited by hogs. Hogs and plums go together. This is no theory, but an established fact. Let them rub the trees as much as they will; let them tramp the ground till it is as bare and as hard as the road. It will do no harm; it will do good. Hogs may not like green apples, but there is something specially delectable to a hog in a green, wormy plum. He will pick up every one that drops, and so diminish the crop of curculio. In my locality, pruning of apple and cherry orchards is practiced very sparingly. Cutting out broken, decayed and interlacing branches and the suckers at the base seems to be about all the pruning that is desirable. Peach and plum orchards are likewise neglected, though some growers practice heading in to make the trees grow more compact, and to thin the fruit. I think that, with tall and straggling apple trees, such as Missouri Pippin, Winesap, or Minkler, heading in might be profitably practiced.

The question as to the profit of spraying for insects and fungi, as far as my observation goes, is not settled yet. The theory is all right--indeed, it has become one of the strongest articles of faith in the horticulturist's creed. When the subject comes up in the horticultural meeting all commend it. Very few growers, however, make a business of spraying. Most of the growers in my locality who used to spray have quit it. They deny that they have lost faith in it, but they don't do it. My opinion, based not on my own experience, but the practice--or rather lack of practice--of others, is that, save in exceptional cases, it doesn't pay; that the ravages of codling-moth and curculio are not appreciably lessened by spraying; that the loss from scab in this dry climate is so light as not to justify the cost of spraying; that, just as many of the doctrines of the churchmen would die out if the preachers should turn teachers, so the doctrine of spraying as a cure-all would die out if the pump men and experimenters should turn fruit-growers; that the average man believes in a perfunctory way many things which his experience forbids him to practice.

The damage from borers is a serious drawback to orcharding. There are various patent contrivances and washes that are recommended to prevent the work of borers, but all, so far as my observation goes, fall short of complete success. The only safe way is to hunt the borers out. This should be done twice a year, late in August, when the newly hatched ones are large enough to be easily seen, and in April or May, after they have come up out of the roots, to get the ones overlooked in the fall.

Rabbits the past year have been specially troublesome. In my locality they frequently attack large trees, six to ten inches in diameter, and, in some instances, entirely destroy them. Their mischief for the most part, however, is confined to young orchards, and may be prevented by wrapping the trees with grass, stalks, paper, or, better than anything else, wooden wrappers made especially for the purpose. These wrappers are now manufactured in Kansas City. They cost about one-third of a cent each, are easily put on, and last four or five years. They are said to protect the tree from sun-scald and borer also, but I would not rely on them as a protection from borers, but would remove them and hunt the borers at least once a year.