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Rain at Blooming-time.
Card has made experiments in the spraying (to imitate rain) of raspberries: "It is generally supposed that rainy and cloudy weather at blossoming time is injurious to the fruit crop, and the question occurs whether frequent spraying with water at this period would produce any noticeable effect. On June 15, 1892, spraying was begun on Caroline, Cuthbert and Turner raspberries. At that time the Caroline was well in bloom, while the others were scarcely beginning to bloom. The spraying was continued until July first, two to four times each day when the weather was bright was bright and pleasant, but omitted when there were rains to take its place. Showers were frequent during the period, but were well interspersed with bright weather and sunshine.
"The results were entirely negative, showing no effect whatever from the spraying. The fruits on this portion of the row were just as perfect and abundant, and the plants appeared to suffer no more from fungous diseases than those 'not sprayed. It is to be noted, however, that the conditions were not the same as those present in continuous cloudy weather, for during much of this time the weather was bright, and insects were numerous, and continued working among the blossoms regardless of their being wet, so that opportunities for pollination were good. The test is of interest as showing that there need be no fear of interfering with pollination by spraying for insects or diseases, even if necessary to do it at blossoming time. Of course, it should not be done
*Fred W. Card, Bull. 57, Cornell Exp. Sta.
at that time, ordinarily, on account of our friends, the bees."
Coote reports that peaches under glass set less fruit when sprayed in full bloom with either warm or cold water than they did when pollinated by means of a brush.*
RENOVATING OLD ORCHARDS.
It is impossible to give any specific method of procedure when it is desired to renovate an old and profitless orchard. It is first necessary to discover the causes of its unprofitableness-to diagnose the difficulty-and then to go straight at the root of the evil. It must be remembered, too, that an old, neglected orchard cannot be expected to arrive at the profitable condition which trees enjoy which have received proper care from the beginning, no matter how thorough the means of recuperating it may be. At the best, one can only make an apology for long years of neglect and mistakes. It is probable, too, that the trees may sometimes become so fixed in habit that no amount of good treatment can make them bear satisfactorily. If the grower once arrives at a clear conception of the agencies which make for productiveness, he will readily perceive what the trouble with his orchard may be.
In general, it may be said that the first thing to do to revive an old orchard is to till the land.
*George Coote, Bull. 34, Oregon Exp. Sta. (1895). This bulletin also contains observations on the pollen production of varieties of fruits.
Renovating Old Orchards.
This may demand a heavy trimming up of the trees in order to allow a team to work in it; and in many of the forest-like old orchards it may be economy to cut out a third or half the trees at the start. Perhaps the roots are so high that the land cannot be plowed. In such case, the land may often be broken up in the spring, before the earth becomes hard, by means of spading-harrows, disc harrows, spring-tooth harrows, and similar vigorous tools. Or corn and other grain may be dropped freely in holes made with a crow-bar, and the hogs then turned in. Let them root for it!
The earth-mulch once secured to save the moisture, it may next be necessary to apply plant-food, either in the form of stable manures, green crops or concentrated fertilizers, or in all these forms together.
It is probable that the trees will need heavy pruning. But this pruning is for the purpose of correcting the results of years of neglect, not for the purpose, directly, of making the trees bear. In fact, the effect of heavy pruning is apt to be in the very opposite direction from fruit-bearing; but it must be done in most old orchards to bring the trees back into manageable shape, to produce new and fresh wood for fruit-bearing, and to thin the top sufficiently to allow the fruit to develop to something like perfection of size and quality. Weak trees may sometimes be re-invigorated by this heavy pruning alone. Severe heading-in of old peach trees often accomplishes this. When the new wood is once
formed and the tree has re-established its equilibrium, fruit-bearing may be expected to begin, if other conditions are right.
It will next be necessary to begin hunting for borers and other squatters and campers. The trees will very likely need to be thoroughly sprayed to dislodge the army of hangers-on which has held undisputed possession of the territory for a decade or two.
If the trees are of the wrong varieties and are still vigorous, it will probably pay to top-graft them, as already explained (page 298), if they are apples, pears, oranges, or cherries. Old and poor peach, apricot, plum and quince trees had better be pulled out.
Why are orchards barren?-It may be suggestive if the matter of renovating old orchards be put in the form of this question and categorical answers be given. It will help the grower to diagnose the trouble, and it will impress him with the fact that he is the man to solve his own difficulties. The commonest reason why old orchards are barren is because they are in sod,-that is, because they are untilled and unfed. There are men enough in the country-although they have been greatly in the minority-who have boldly taught that sodded orchards are wrongly managed orchards. They have been combatted by citations of orchards which are in sod but are still productive. They have replied that in some cases, for a combination of reasons, orchards may do well in continuous sod, but they
Diagnosing the Trouble.
have still fallen back upon the fundamental principles of land management, and have said that the system is nevertheless wrong. Time is rapidly demonstrating the accuracy of their prophecies. It is a case in which a handful of philosophy is worth more than a forkful of facts.
If one asks why orchards are barren, let him fill out the following synopsis by way of review of some of the principles which are enunciated in this book:
The nature of the problem: each case must be investigated by itself; teaching must be along the line of general or fundamental principles, not statements of rules. The six general factors which determine productiveness are:
1. THE TILLAGE FACTOR.-Soil texture. Fertility as influenced by (a) fineness, (b) conditions of root-hold, (c) life processes, (d) air-holding capacity, (e) water-holding capacity.
Sod in orchards Cover crops.
2. THE FERTILITY FACTOR.— Our conceptions of the uses of nitrogen, potash, phosphoric acid, etc., in fruit-production.
3. THE PRUNING FACTOR.—The relation of pruning to woodgrowth and fruit-growth.
4. THE VARIETY FACTOR.-(a) Unproductive varieties, (b) impotent varieties.
5. THE PROPAGATION FACTOR.-The individuality of the tree, and its power to perpetuate its characteristics.
6. THE PARASITE FACTOR.-(a) Fungi, (b) insects. Spraying (Chapter VII.).