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The culture of fruit has for many years been carried on more or less extensively, in those parts of this State in which the localities appeared to be adapted. In Middle and Southern Illinois, orchards have existed for a long while, and even in the north of this State, near the Lake Michigan, the culture of some kinds, especially the apple, has been attended with pretty good success. The principal varieties of fruit grown in Illinois, are, the apple, peach, pear, quince, plum, &c.
The State Fair held at Springfield, last year, offers great inducements to pomologists and fruit-growers in general. The most beautiful specimens of apples and other fruit were there to be seen, and several premiums were awarded.
The apple, as a tree, as well as a fruit, is said to have reached a high degree of perfection in some parts of Central and Southern Illinois. The crops raised in a year of abundance are often superior to the best crops obtained in the States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, both in quality and in quantity. It is an established fact, that each desirable variety of the apple has its own latitude, in which it attains its highest perfection, and that every departure from this particular latitude depreciates, in a greater or less degree, the value of the fruit. The orchards in the State contain, for the most part, grafted fruit alone. The soil best adapted for planting apple-trees is a mixture of loam, mould, and lime; a sloping hill is preferable to a level place. Among the numerous varieties, may be mentioned as the most approved : Red June, Early Harvest, Tops of Wine, Sine qua non, Rambo, Newark, Pippin, Alexander, Fameuse, Golden Pippin, Æsopus Spitzenberg, Yellow Bellflower, Priestley, Long Green, Nonpareil, Red Baldwin, Newton Pippin, Lansinburg, Michael Henry, 29 *
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and Pippin. The best cider is obtained from the Virginia, and Siberia Crab.
Sweet apples are more nourishing and healthy than acid ones. For feeding stock of all kinds, an orchard of sweet apples is as profitable as anything which the land will produce.
The following are good kinds for planting: Early Golden Sweet, Hog Island Sweet, Ramsdell Sweet, Pound or Pumpkin Sweet, Tolman's Sweet, Peach Pond Sweet, &c. With regard to the crops, it may be said that they are sometimes very remunerating. Examples may be given, where single trees have yielded from five to ten dollars a year in fruit. Apple trees are generally transplanted from the purseries after one year's growth, at which time they will be from three to four feet bigh.
Apple trees, to any amount, and of all varieties, can be had in our nurseries from 121 to 15 cents a-piece..
With regard to the peach tree, it may be said that, in some portions of this State, it may be cultivated with considerable success, while here and there, in the northern regions, it is liable to be killed by the winter. The reason for this may be attributed to the tenderness of the tree, which is of eastern origin. Some peach-growers are of opinion that seedling peach trees are more successful in their growth than those raised from buds, and that it is the better plan to continue them through seeds.
The peach is considered rather an uncertain crop in North Illinois. The failures of crops usually arise from the winter killing of the fruitbuds.
A dry soil, containing but few organic substances, seems to be best adapted for peach trees. Mr. Harkness, a farmer in Peoria County, who, from his personal experience, knows the results of the fruit-crops in that portion, during more than twenty years, thinks that the peach tree, when cultivated, is not sufficiently cared for, and that it is not always planted in a sufficiently sheltered situation; therefore its blossoms will sometimes freeze in early spring. It is, however, not only the spring frost, but also a certain degree of severe frost during the winter, which is injurious to the peach tree, but if no damage of such
kind has been done to the trees, they are sure to yield very full and abundant crops; and this will be still more the case if there be some little cultivation on such peach lands, in a bearing year; the cultivation needed, is a loosening and stirring up of the ground a little in the early part of the summer. Young trees often commence to bear in their third year. The peach, more than any other kind of tree, can stand great drought.
There are but few farmers who are entirely without peach trees, and they are found both wild and grafted. The principal varieties known in Illinois, are: 1. The Clingstone, or Plum Peach, which is juicy, aromatic, and hard. 2. The Freestone Peach, white, with a loose stone; and 3, the Nectarine, plum-like, with a smooth skin ; very delicious, but a little difficult to raise.
Although the pear is not frequently seen in this State, it may, in some districts, be found as large, as fine flavored, and as perfect in every respect, as anywhere in the United States. The pear, we know from good authority, to bave certainly been reared in western nurseries, some fifty years ago, and even for a longer time. Some men are not in favor of growing pears, from the mere prejudiced opinion that they do not promise a crop sufficiently profitable to make it worth while to cultivate this fruit. There is certainly much truth in the assertion, that the trunks and larger branches of the pear tree are frequently affected by the blight, and that then a large portion of the standard pear trees, which have come into bearing, are swept away. Those which have been but partly destroyed, will sometimes revive and begin to bear again. For planting, one should be careful to select a place where the soil is not too dry, and heavy rather than too light and too mellow; the trunks and roots should then be well screened from the influence of the heat, at noon. As manure, urine, soapwater, bones, ashes, etc., may be used. As a reason for the dying of the trees, carelessness in the treatment has been alleged, and a farmer whom we met, said that the destruction is caused by a neglect in the proper setting and trimming, and insufficient protection from insects. Good varieties of pears are not much found in our markets, and comparatively high prices are paid for them, on account of their scarcity;
yet it should be remembered that it does not cost much more to grow a good quality of pears, than of apples. A sound, bearing tree, will produce almost as much fruit as an apple tree, and it will live many years. There are now more than eighty distinct varieties cultivated in this country, many of which may be had at every nursery.
The principal varieties known in this State, are: the Bartlett, the Bergamotte, the Beurre, the Basse, the Napoleon, the Virguleuse, the St. Germain, the Pound Pear, the Dic, the Seckel, etc.
As far as it has hitherto been cultivated, the quince seems to be hardy and productive. It is a small tree, or large shrub, is very slow in coming to a bearing condition, but is one among the oldest fruittrees known in the country. Some very good and plentiful crops have already been produced, in cases where proper management has been bestowed.
The cultivation of the plum, as a grafted fruit-tree, has not as yet become so extensive as to give much for experience to say on the subject. A fruit-grower in Peoria, County says, that in that region, wild plums were, for eight or ten years after the settlement of the country, found in great abundance. During the progress of civilization, he says, came the plum Curcusio, and now one will not meet with a sound wild plum in a whole season. Our cultivated plum trees grow well and blossom abundantly; the young fruit is often very promising, but the insect above named is so universal, that very little of it ever comes to maturity. North of latitude 41° the Curcusio is not so troublesome, and, in those parts, plums have therefore been cultivated in many places with success.
The climate best adapted to the plum, seems to be nearly distinct from that suited to the peach.
North of latitude 41° is the proper region of the plum.
This variety of fruit is of German origin, and among fruit-growers the opinion has been prevalent, that it degenerates in this country,
and that a fruit would be produced which in shape and quality would perfectly resemble our common plum, but this has been fairly refuted' by an experienced fruit-grower, who goes as far as to protest that within his own knowledge and experience, prune crops have even surpassed apple crops, and that splendid results have been attained with imported young trees. This must necessarily lead to the conclusion that both soil and climate, in this country, are exceedingly good for the culture of this fruit. It may also be observed that the prune tree is one of the fruit-trees which do not suffer from frost, and that its fine appearance makes it desirable as an ornament, in gardens.
Most of the large wood cherries grow so fast as to be liable to winter kill, and can only be grown with success on thin, poor soil, or in a grass plat. The Morilles, and May Cherries, are bardy and productive. It is a great drawback, that a large portion of the crop is con
a sumed by the birds.
The principal varieties of cherries are, the Mayduke, the Early Whiteheart, the Late Duke, &c.
The Blackberry is abundant and fine in all the groves where the timber has been partly cut away.
The Raspberry. The black variety is common in the open woods, but the red is not found here, except as a cultivated plant; where planted, it thrives and grows luxuriantly. There are several varieties, foreign as well as domestic, well known in this State.
The Strawberry. The prairie soil is well adapted for the cultivation of this delicious berry, which may at the same time be found in very great abundance, growing in the woods, in a wild state. Several experiments which were made with the cultivation of the strawberry, have proved, that apple orchards are very proper places for planting them, especially for those northern varieties, the leaves of which are much affected by very hot sunshine. If strawberry plants of almost any variety are planted upon orchard land, (no matter how close the trees stand, for the shade is not at all injurious, but on the contrary, quite beneficial to strawberry growth,) a crop of about 25 or 30 bush.