Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / Transactions of the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society. Proceedings, essays and reports at the annual winter meetings, held at Madison, Feb. 1, 2 and 3, 1870 and Feb. 7, 8 and 9, 1871
(1871 [covers 1870/1871])
Morrow, G. E.
Production of new varieties, pp. 26-29 PDF (948.0 KB)
28 WISCONSIN STATE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Here in the northwest, where it is still denied by some that fruit can successfully be grown, the first points we should seek are hardiness and productiveness. We want trees and vines that will live and produce fruit, and these qualities secured, we look for excellence of quality as a highly important, but still secondary considera- tion. Hence it is particularly desirable here to choose any native fruits which give promise of capability of speedy development, as these give us undoubted hardiness with which to start Our native crabs are probably too far down in the scale to make it advisable to attempt their improvement; but among the wild plums of Wis- consin there are doubtless some of much value, every way worthy of cultivation for their own merit, and furnishing admirable material for experiments with seedlings or in hybridizing. So too of native blackberries, raspberries, cranberries. Those who have observed the difference in the habit of growth, and in the size, flavor and time of ripening of the fruit, of canes and vines found growing wild, and have noticed the excellence of some of them, will need no reminder that there are doubt- less varieties, now neglected in Wisconsin, which, if improved by cultivation, would equal in all respects, and surpass in hardiness, any of the now imported kinds. The most common method of producing new varieties, and the one by which most thus far has been accomplished, is by raising seedlings The time may come, when we will be able to predict with some certainty, the kind of tree and the kind of fruit, to expect from a given seed, the history of which is known; but now we know little about this. We know, however, enough to teach us that the hardiness of the parent tree should be considered, and this is a point of practical importance with us. The seeds of the most hardy kinds should be sown, and it is reasonable to believe that the seeds produced by the seedlings from hardy seeds, will be still more desirable. Hybridizing is usually attended, in the case of tree-fruits particularly, with much practical difficulty. Most has been done with this process in the case of the grape. To the scientific horticulturist, and to the enthusiastic amateur, this plan is the most interesting, perhaps, of any method of producing improvement in our varieties From it we may hope much in the future. In the work of encouraging the produc tion of new varieties, and in commending all successes in this field, it is the duty and privilege of this society, and of all lovers of horticulture, to engage. Who can estimate the value of the Concord grape, and Wilson's Albany strawberry, or tell the influence in popularizing horticulture caused by the introduction of these two varieties? And yet it is but a few years since we had neither of them. So we may expect to have equally marked improvements in the near future. But with the good done in this way there is connected an inseparable evil. With the few reall valua- ble varieties produced we have many that are either worthless or at best mediocre. Many of the latter, and not a few of the former, are introduced to the public with such pretenses as to induce large purchases, and consequent disappointment. There are those who make it their principal business to introduce novelties, and who are not always careful to strictly regard truth in their recommendations. But it often is not necessary to suppose intentional deception on the part of the introducer of what proves to be only a poor fruit. It is natural that one who has reared a seed- ling, or spent years, perhaps, in developing a wild variety, should regard the fruit with partial eye and taste, and that he should seek to introduce it to the public as
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