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ORCHARDS: LOCATION AND CARE.*
U. P. HEDRICK.
The management of an orchard is not a matter to be settled by one man for another. To tell a man exactly how to grow fruit is impossible. But there are fundamentals in fruit-growing as in all professions and these can be set forth. To call attention briefly to some of the fundamentals of orchard management is the office of this circular.
As to markets.— Choice depends upon whether the grower intends to sell in the wholesale or the retail market. If wholesale, he may be across the continent or the ocean from his market and may make his choice depend only upon the means of shipping and the cost. The more means of transportation, the greater the competition in rates and the more markets to be reached. For the retail market, the nearer and the more ways of reaching it, the better.
As to soil.—- All fruits may be grown on a wide range of soils by exercising judgment in selecting varieties and in handling the soil. Fruit of some kind can be grown on any soil suitable for farm crops. Land upon which wheat, oats and potatoes thrive is usually good fruit land. The character of the soil greatly influences the quality and the quantity of the product. Select soils suitable for the fruit and the varieties to be grown.
As to site. The ideal orchard-site is one somewhat above the surrounding country so that there be atmospheric and soil drainage. Cold air settles to low areas making low sites frosty, damp and cold in winter. High lands need not be rolling, it being sufficient if there be adjacent lower lands. It is not safe to plant in a pocket. Locations subject to fogs are not suitable for growing fruit.
As to exposure. The exposure of an orchard is determined by the direction of the slope of the land. Exposure exerts great influence on the warmth of the soil and upon the force of the wind, and is of the utmost importance in the location of orchards of tender fruits. General suggestions are as follows: 1st. Near a body of water, choose the exposure toward the water. 2nd. Between the two sides of a river or lake, the side exposed to the prevailing wind is freest from frost. 3rd. Away from water a northern exposure suits tender fruits, since on such sites the blooming period is retarded. 4th. A southern or southeastern exposure hastens maturity.
As to cold.- Cold injures plants in two ways — by frosts and freezes and by extremes of winter temperature. Frosts occur on still, clear nights and are more or less local. Freezes are usually preceded by storms and are general in range. Frosts may be avoided by the selection of a location but freezes are beyond the control of man except when comparatively light, when they can sometimes be counteracted by means of orchard-heaters. Immunity to cold is best secured by planting near a body of water.
As to water.— Bodies of water equalize temperature since water does not respond to fluctuations of temperature as quickly as land. The effects of water on climate are: In the spring a body of water lowers the temperature and thus helps to hold back vegetation until danger from frost is past; in the summer it cools the days and warms the nights; in the fall it lengthens the growing season and keeps off autumn frosts. The larger and deeper the body of water the greater the influence, depth being of more importance than exposure of surface.
As to air-currents.-- Winds are beneficial when they bring warmer air and when they keep frosty air in motion. Strong winds injure plants by blowing them over, breaking tops and by blowing off fruits. Cold winds check growth and give conditions for some diseases. In dry regions winds take moisture from soil and plant to the detriment of the latter. Openness to winds, or protection from them, must be secured by choice of location.
Trees may be set in squares, equilateral triangles or quincunxes.
Squares.-- Setting in squares is the simplest and the commonest method. The objection urged against the square is that the trees are not equidistant from each other. But plowing, cultivating, spraying and harvesting are carried on most conveniently in orchards laid out in squares; and in time, roots and branches utilize all the space in a square. The maximum number of trees an orchard can efficiently support, can be planted in squares.
Equilateral triangles.- In this method the trees are placed in triangles and are equidistant from each other thus dividing the ground equally between the trees. This plan admits of 15 per ct. more trees to the acre than does the square and permits cultivation in three directions.
Quincunxes.- In the quincunx plan the orchard is planted in squares with a tree in the middle of each square. The quincunx is used when it is desired to plant fillers to be removed when the trees begin to crowd. This plan gives nearly double the number of trees to the acre.
Laying out an orchard.— In planting in squares, survey the orchard on two adjacent sides leaving a conspicuous stake at the location of each tree. It is then easy to place each tree accurately in the
remainder of the orchard with a line and by sighting. In planting in triangles, use an equilateral triangle of wood or wire, of dimensions equal to the distance desired between trees, being guided for the first rows by a line of stakes.
Fillers. The practice of planting temporary trees between rows of permanent ones in an orchard has much to recommend it. These filler trees can be used to advantage only when the permanents are set in squares. Then a filler may be put in the center of each square, giving nearly double the number of trees per acre; or fillers may be set both ways between the permanents giving three times as many fillers as permanents. Quick-bearing varieties, as Wealthy, Oldenburg, Twenty Ounce and Rome, are all good filler sorts. Some plant cherries, peaches or pears as fillers but any of these in an apple orchard so complicate orchard operations, especially spraying, , that they usually prove unsatisfactory. The fillers must be cut out as soon as they crowd the permanent trees.
Preparing the soil.- All subsequent treatment fails if the preparation of the soil is imperfect. The requisites are: 1st. Good drainage should be provided. 2nd. Hard, sour, infertile spots should be brought into uniform condition with the rest of the orchard. 3rd. The ground should be deeply plowed and then thoroly fitted with pulverizing tools.
Choosing varieties.- 1st. Have a definite idea of the purpose for which the fruit is to be grown - whether for wholesale or retail, canning, evaporating or home use. 2nd. Varieties have adaptations to localities — plant the fruit and the variety which grow best in the locality. 3rd. Choose with reference to inter-pollination some fruits are self-sterile and must have varieties which will fertilize them. 4th. For commercial plantings, choose standard varieties.
Distance between trees. The distance apart at which trees should be set depends on the variety, the soil and the method of pruning. Trees are oftener set too close then too far apart. The notion that trees should be set only far enough apart so that branches will not overlap is wrong, as the roots of a mature tree spread farther than the branches, and should not compete for food and moisture. Cultivation, harvesting and spraying can be well done only when trees are at a proper distance apart. Average distances of planting are:
Selecting trees. - Select trees of average size for the age, choose plants typical of the variety. Trees grown near home are usually better than those brought from a great distance. Every precaution should be taken in buying to insure trees true to name and free from
pests. Other things being equal, a short, stocky tree is better than a tall, spindling one; one with many branches is better than one with few; and always the root-system should be well developed.
Pedigreed trees.-- Some believe that the variations in fruit and trees to be found in varieties can be reproduced by taking cions or buds from the plants possessing the variations. A few nurserymen offer trees for sale with pedigree" to show that they come from good ancestry. There is, however, little evidence to show that any sort of fruit has come into existence by selection; that any variety has been improved, or that any variety has degenerated through natural or artificial selection. Fruit-growers, therefore, should steer clear of “pedigreed stock" and " improved strains" of varieties until the new product can be seen by competent judges growing side by side with the parents.
Number of trees per acre.- When trees are planted in squares the number per acre is determined by multiplying the distances between the trees each way and dividing 43,560 (the number of square feet in an acre) by the product. When planted in quincunxes, double the number for squares. When planted in triangles, add fifteen per ct. to the number required to set the area in squares.
Age to plant.— The age at which a tree should be planted is governed by the kind of fruit, the variety, the climate and the soil
. In New York, generally speaking, all trees should be two years from bud excepting the peach which is best set as a one-year-old.
Time to plant.-- In mild climates the most favorable time to transa plant is in late fall at the beginning of the dormant period, as the roots will then have time to heal their wounds, and to form new rootlets for the next growing season. But in the cold climate of New York trees should be set in the spring as there is then far less danger of winter injury, not because of less tender roots but because the soil, having been disturbed, is more porous and the frost strikes harder.
Dynamite in digging holes.— Dynamite is being widely advertised for use in digging holes for trees. There is little evidence to show that trees in the average soil thrive better in holes made by using dynamite and until such evidence is forthcoming it is better that the holes be dug. It is quite as probable that harm rather than good will be done through the use of explosives since the explosives may mix poor sub-soil with good top-soil. Sometimes, dynamite may be used to advantage in breaking the hardpan if it is too near the surface. Dynamiting costs more than digging.
Top-working young trees.-- Setting a thrifty variety of apple or pear and then grafting or budding on the top a weaker variety, has some advocates. This top-working is probably a procedure worth while only with a very few varieties. In general, the chances of getting malformed, lopsided trees and of delaying the bearing period are so great that top-working can be recommended only for a very few sorts that seem difficult to grow on their own trunks. Topworking is best done in the nursery.
Pruning at transplanting.-- In transplanting it is necessary to cut away part of the branches to enable the injured root system to supply the top with sufficient food and water. The less the roots are injured, the less the top need be cut away. The top buds on a branch develop soonest and produce the largest leaves. Now a newly set tree will grow best if it can develop a large leaf surface before dry, hot weather sets in, and this it will do if some branches are left intact with the top buds. Therefore, instead of shortening all branches, cut away some of the branches entirely. The tree so pruned will start growth and acquire vigor more quickly. If there be no surplus branches, shorten in all branches. The peach is an exception and young trees of this fruit start best when surplus branches are removed and the remainder are cut back to spurs of three or four buds.
Care of shipped trees.- If not ready to plant when the shipment arrives, the trees should be heeled in. To heel in, dig a trench a foot or more deep and wide enough to receive the roots. In digging, use the soil to make a sloping bank on the south side of the trench. Spread the trees in a sloping position with the roots well down in the trench. Cover the roots and about half of the bodies of the trees with the soil, working it in firmly about the roots.
Setting. The roots should be exposed as little as possible to sun and wind. In planting, keep the trees in the field covered with earth or a wet sack until they are put in the ground. The chief care in setting should be to place a moist, firm soil in close contact with all of the roots of the plant. The trees should be set a little deeper than they stood in the nursery row. Mulching after planting is excellent as it prevents evaporation and maintains an equable temperature most favorable to root growth. Mulching is best done by frequent, shallow cultivation. Water thoroly or not at all. Newly set trees should not be heavily fertilized as rich foods placed in the soil cannot be utilized by the root system until all injuries have been healed.
CULTIVATION, COVER-CROPS AND INTER-CROPS. When to cultivate.-- Cultivation should be started early in the spring to save the winter's accumulation of moisture and to warm up the soil so that the plants can quickly start growth. Cultivate at intervals of two weeks until mid-summer and then stop, as the trees have by this time completed growth and the wood must mature for winter. Sod-mulch orchards are not recommended for New York except on hilly lands.
How to cultivate.— The land should be turned deeply with a plow early in the spring, or on heavy soils in late fall, and in such a way as to secure level culture. Afterwards the cultivation should be shallow but deep enough to break the crust and kill the weeds. The imple