PROMISING NEW FRUITS
by William A. Taylor, Pomologist
Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture 1908
One hundred and ten years ago serious research and plant development were the norm, with great rewards possible from successful new planting varieties. The USDA yearbooks published a series of articles showcasing what they called “Promising New Fruits.” If any of these survive today they likely might be seen as heirloom varieties. We’ll be showcasing some others in coming issues. SFJ
PATTEN APPLE – [Plate XLI]
Synonyms: Duchess No. 3; Patten’s Duchess No. 5; Patten’s Greening
The early settlers of the fertile regions of the upper Mississippi Valley took with them trees of many of the standard varieties of fruits of the longer settled country farther east, but soon found that they would not endure the fluctuating and severe winter weather in combination with the hotter and drier summers of the region. Encouraged by the relative hardiness and productiveness of the Oldenburg, Alexander, Tetofski, and Red Astrachan apples, which, though of Russian origin, had been introduced from England by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society about 1835, efforts were put forth to secure hardier varieties from the colder regions of Europe, particularly from Russia.
Of the hundreds of varieties thus introduced and tested, most have proved of little value under the new conditions, lacking either in flavor, keeping quality, or other important characteristics of fruit, or in blight resistance on the part of the tree. A few valuable sorts have been thus obtained, however, which are doubtless proving a sufficient recompense for the expenditure of labor, time, and money occasioned by this introduction work.
Meanwhile, from these and the earlier introductions, there have been appearing in recent years a considerable number of American seedlings, from which will doubtless eventually come to the varieties adapted to the peculiar conditions of the region. Some of these are distinct improvements on the parent varieties in vigor of growth, time of ripening, resistance to blight, and other important characteristics, and while none of those of proved “ironclad” hardiness yet developed has revealed high dessert quality, some of them show distinct improvement in this particular.
Among the most promising hardy sorts thus developed is the Patten, which was grown from seed of Oldenburg planted by Mr. C.G. Patten, at Charles City, Iowa, in 1869. Mr. Patten named the variety Patten’s Greening, and introduced it in 1885, since which time it has been widely disseminated through the States of the upper Mississippi Valley and throughout the adjacent portions of the Dominion of Canada. Its vigorous and sturdy tree, coupled with regular and sufficient productiveness in climates too severe for most varieties, and its longer keeping quality than most of the hardy sorts, render it increasingly popular in those regions.
Form roundish oblate, slightly ribbed; size large; cavity regular, of medium size and depth, with gradual slope, russeted; stem of medium length, stout, downy; basin regular, of medium size and depth and gradual slope, sometimes slightly russeted and leather cracked; calyx segments rather broad, converging; eye large, closed; surface smooth; color greenish yellow, with a dull bronze blush on the sunny side, occasional high-colored specimens attaining a brilliant crimson blush; dots scattered, russet or gray, with subcutaneous green bases; bloom whitish; skin rather thick, tenacious; core roundish oval, of medium size, nearly closed, clasping; seeds plump, medium in size, brown, few; flesh yellowish, moderately fine grained, breaking, juicy; flavor subacid to rather acid; quality good, especially for culinary use. The variety is recommended for those portions of the Rocky Mountain States which experience winter temperatures too low for the standard varieties.
AUGBERT PEACH – [Plate XLIV]
The Augbert Peach is stated by the originator, Mr. Joel Boon, of Lindale, Smith County, Texas, to have been grown about 1897 from seed of Elberta. The mother tree stood near a tree of Salway, which variety is supposed to have been the other parent. The original tree, which is still living, began bearing at the age of 3 years and has produced seven successive crops, yielding 20 crates of peaches in 1904. Its relatively late season of ripening, coupled with the productiveness of the tree and the beauty and fine quality of the fruit, soon led to its propagation for planting in orchards, and in 1905 to its extensive propagation for commercial dissemination and introduction.
Form oblong oval; size large; cavity regular, large, deep, abrupt, marked with red; stem stout; suture deep, extending beyond apex; apex conspicuous, protruding one-fourth to three-eighths inch above the general outline; surface smooth; color yellow, blushed, mottled and striped with crimson; dots minute; down short, loose, velvety; skin moderately thick, tenacious; stone long, ovate, pointed, medium to large, red, free; flesh thick, yellow, stained with deep red at the stone, tender, melting, juicy; flavor subacid, vinous; good to very good; tree vigorous, productive; leaves lanceolate, of medium size, with short petioles; glands reniform; flowers small.
The Augbert, combining as it apparently does, the productiveness, beauty, and carrying quality of the Elberta with the later ripening season and better dessert quality of Salway, is considered especially promising for Texas and other southern peach districts where a good commercial peach ripening later than Elberta is desired.
CHAMPION PEACH – [Plate XLV]
Among the hardy peaches introduced during the past twenty years, perhaps none has more steadily advanced in the estimation of growers in the peach districts of the Middle Western States than the Champion. This variety was originated from seed of Oldmixon Free (supposedly crossed with Early York. It was first budded for planting about 1882. While rather subject to fungous injury of the fruit in wet seasons, its blossom buds under ordinary conditions endure such low temperatures without injury that it has become recognized as possessing special merit for portions of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and other sections, where somewhat similar winter conditions prevail. On the grounds of the originator in Illinois it has borne a fair crop of fruit after experiencing a winter temperature of 18 degrees F. below zero.
In the early years of its dissemination it was somewhat confused with an early, semi-cling, serrate-glanded variety originated by Eugene Gibson, of New Richmond, Michigan, which was locally introduced by him in western Michigan and northern Ohio under the name “Champion,” about 1887 or 1888. That variety was subject to mildew of the foliage and its fruit was of little value, but, having been rather largely propagated and disseminated (though without publication), it caused much disappointment among growers who fruited it, thus operating to the disadvantage of the Illinois variety when it was introduced.
Form round to roundish oblong; size medium to large; cavity large, deep, flaring; stem short; suture distinct from base to apex; apex small but rather prominent, extending beyond the outline of the fruit; surface smooth; color creamy white, washed and striped with red where exposed to the sun, and dulled by abundant, short, persistent down; skin thick; stone short, broad, oval, pale, of medium size, very free; flesh white, slightly stained with pink at the stone, thick, firm, melting, juicy, vinous; quality good to very good when well grown and thoroughly tree-ripened.
Tree vigorous, with rather light-colored bark; leaves of medium size, with serrulate margins and petioles of medium length, bearing small, reniform glands; blossoms small.
PETERS MANGO – [Plate XLVII]
Synonym: Peters No. 1
East Indian variety, the Peters, has shown sufficient merit during the past two years to warrant a more general testing.
This variety was obtained in 1899 by Messrs. Lathrop and Fairchild, at the Botanic Garden of Trinidad, British West Indies, in the form of five potted plants. These plants were distributed in 1900 with the following note:
Five potted plants of the Peters No. 1 mango, reputed by Mr. J.H. Hart to be the finest flavored of all the mangoes; green skinned, rosy purple blush, and mottled with small yellow dots. Skin thick, flesh pulpy, juicy, high-flavored. Ripens best in dry climate of Jamaica; good and regular cropper; tree medium size, healthy grower; weight of fruit, 12 to 16 ounces; size 3-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches.
It was introduced to both Jamaica and Trinidad about 1868 or 1869. Trees standing side by side with the “Peters” bore the names “Peach” and “Malda,” respectively, and closely resembled it in character of fruit, the “Peach” being distinguished from the others by being more highly colored on the sunny side. He considers the three sorts closely related, possibly seedlings from a common parent.
Like other mangos, the Peters does well in the dry districts in the West Indies, but in damp, tropical locations the fruit is often subject to an unidentified disease which causes a darkening and souring of the flesh next to the seed just previous to ripening.
Form roundish oblong, heavily shouldered at base and plump at apex; size medium; stem rather stout, inserted in a small, shallow cavity; apex swollen, with a broad, strong beak an inch or more from the extremity of the fruit; surface moderately smooth, color greenish yellow, blushed, striped, and splashed with light and dark red; dots numerous, yellow; bloom bluish white; skin moderately thick, tenacious; seed small, oblong, thin, adhering tenaciously; flesh thick, yellow, meaty, tender, and juicy, with but little fiber; flavor sweet, aromatic, rich; quality good to very good.
The tree is described as of broad, spreading habit.
While the variety has not yet been tested in Florida for a sufficient time to determine its relative adaptability to the mango-growing localities in that State, it is considered worthy of testing both for home use and market where other sorts or seedlings succeed.
KAWAKAMI PERSIMMON – [Plate XLVIII]
The larger size and brighter color of the Japanese persimmons have to some extent attracted the attention of southern fruit growers away from the hardier though less conspicuous native species. In recent years, however, a number of promising varieties of the more widely distributed of our native species, Diospyros virginiana, have been named and introduced. There has at the same time been a general recognition of the desirability of growing hybrids of these species in the hope of securing varieties hardier than the Japanese and yielding larger and possibly less astringent fruits than the native parent. One such appears to have resulted from an accidental cross of the Yemon (synonym Among) on Josephine, on the grounds of Prof. T.V. Munson, of Denison, Texas, about 1893. Professor Munson grew a large number of seedlings of Josephine from seeds of a tree of that variety near which stood several trees of Yemon. From among these he selected a number that showed thicker and more pubescent twigs and larger leaves than their seed parent, resembling in these respects the Japanese species. Some of these showed much more strongly marked Japanese characteristics in tree and fruit than does this one, which he named Kawakami in 1902, but he preferred it to them because of its superior hardiness and vigor of growth as well as its marked retention of the distinctive flavor of the Josephine, which is considered superior to that of most of the Japanese varieties known in this country.
Professor Munson propagated the variety for dissemination about 1903, 1904. Its behavior thus far warrants the belief that it is considerably hardier than any of the Japanese varieties yet tested in this country and likely to succeed through a wide geographic range.
Form roundish oblate, sometimes quadrangular; size medium to large; cavity regular, of medium size and depth, with gradual slope, covered with bloom; calyx small, segments reflexed; stem short, stout; apical point, short, stout; surface moderately smooth; color brownish yellow, covered with a bluish white bloom; skin thin, tender; seeds plump, broad of medium size and number; flesh yellowish, translucent, with yellow veins, crisp, meaty, tender, moderately juicy; flavor sweet and rich, with but slight astringency; quality good to very good. Tree more spreading and stocky than Josephine but less productive. It has thus far endured the winters as far north as Farmingdale, Illinois, and is considered worthy of testing throughout the native persimmon belt.
LONESTAR PERSIMMON – [Plate XLVIII]
The Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki), which was recorded in America by Prince as early as 1828, though reintroduced by the Department of Agriculture in 1863, apparently did not attain a permanent foothold in the United States until about 1875, when it was introduced in the form of grafted trees both by the Department and by private parties. Numerous plantings have been made from time to time by growers in California and the Gulf States, with varying success both as to endurance and productiveness of trees and desirability and marketability of fruit. The early vernation and blossoming habit of this species, which starts into growth under the influence of short periods of warmth in winter and early spring, render it much more susceptible to injury by late spring frosts in the South than the widely distributed native persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). This sensitiveness to warmth in winter apparently constitutes the more important limiting factor of its cultural range.
Several of the well-known imported varieties are abundantly productive and yield fruit of such conspicuous size and brilliant color as to render them very attractive in the market. Most of these, however, retain their characteristic astringent flavor until the fruit is fully ripe, and, in fact, so soft as to be incapable of transportation or handling in commerce. This makes necessary the harvesting and shipment of the fruit while still hard, so that it reaches the market in an inedible condition, though attractive and tempting in appearance. The result is that notwithstanding the warnings to the purchaser against eating the fruit before it is soft, which are given by the growers and dealers, and which in some cases have even been printed upon the paper used in wrapping the fruits for shipment, a considerable proportion of consumers have been so disappointed in the quality of the fruit that they have tasted prematurely that the demand for Japanese persimmons in our markets has increased but slowly in recent years.
The Japanese appear to have overcome the difficulty to a large extent by subjecting the fruits to the fumes of Saki in closed vessels for a time after they are picked. This has the effect of removing the astringence in advance of the softening of the fruit, and under the climatic and economic conditions prevailing in that country appears to afford a fairly satisfactory solution of the difficulty.
Meanwhile there has come to light an interesting and promising variety of the Japanese persimmon, which ripens late, keeps long, and loses its astringence considerably in advance of the softening of the fruit. The tree found was of unknown history, and the exact source from which it was derived is unknown.
As the varieties of the Japanese type previously known were inedible until soft and the fruit of this tree remained hard and apparently unripe after the others had ripened, it was considered it of little value until observed that birds were eating the fruit while it was still hard. On testing it was found to be palatable and free from astringence.
Form roundish to roundish oblong; size medium; cavity regular, rather large, flaring, furrowed, and somewhat leather cracked; calyx medium, four parted, adherent; stem moderately stout, curved; apex four grooved, with a small tip protruding slightly beyond the outline of the fruit; surface rather dull, undulating, and sparingly pitted; color dark orange-red, covered with bluish white bloom which persists in the pits; skin moderately thick and tenacious; seeds few, of medium size, plump, brown; flesh orange-red, abundantly flecked with purple, giving it a brownish effect in many specimens; texture crisp and meaty; flavor sweet, rich, entirely without astringence after the skin reddens; quality very good.
The relative hardiness of the variety yet remains to be determined, as it has not been fruited elsewhere than at Waco. It is considered worthy of trial throughout the territory where other varieties of the Japanese species succeed.
PECANS – [Plate XLIX]
While the importance of securing varieties adapted to local conditions is much less in such cases than where a commercial investment depends upon it, planters of even a few trees should endeavor to secure varieties that are known to have succeeded under conditions similar to those under which they are to be planted. This is especially important where the planting is made in a different climatic region from that in which the varieties originated.
The earlier plantings of budded and grafted trees of ten or twelve of the leading varieties are now gradually coming into bearing in widely separated localities throughout the South, so that a fairly definite appraisal of the value of these sorts for many sections should soon be possible. Meanwhile the behavior and characteristics of the thousands of seedlings of these choice varieties that are annually coming into bearing should be closely observed, with a view to locating still more promising varieties that may reasonably be expected to appear among them.
The original tree of this variety is supposed to have been grown from a nut planted by the brother of the present owner, Miss Lulu Taylor, of Handsboro, Mississippi, about 1885. The exact source from which the seed came is not known, but it is supposed to have been from some tree in that neighborhood. The tree began bearing when 12 years old and has borne regularly since that time, the crop for several years past having averaged about 125 pounds.
The original tree of the Taylor is now about 60 feet tall, with a spread of 45 to 50 feet, and a trunk diameter of about 18 inches. The bark of the trunk and larger branches is scaly, loosening in long strips. The tree is pyramidal in form, with slender wood of rather light color, with slender buds, and long, narrow dots. The leaves are long, with 11 to 13 thin and tapering leaflets. The fruit spurs are quite evenly distributed throughout the tree, and bear from 3 to 5 nuts each.
Form long, rather slender, constricted near middle, slightly curved, with pointed base and long, sharp apex; color bright yellowish brown, with few and narrow black markings irregularly placed; size rather large, 60 to 65 per pound; shell thin, with thin and soft partitions, cracking very easily; kernel long, slender, rather deeply grooved, but plump, smooth, and releasing the shell easily; color bright yellowish; texture very fine grained and crisp; flavor sweet, nutty, free from astringence; quality very good.
Though not yet fruited, so far as known, outside of the locality of its origin in southern Mississippi, its numerous desirable qualities indicate that it is worthy of testing where other Gulf Coast varieties succeed.
The specimens illustrated on Plate XLIX were grown on the original tree at Handsboro, Mississippi.
The Kennedy pecan originated as a seedling grown by Dr. J.B. Curtis, Orange Heights, Florida, in 1886, from nuts of Turkey Egg obtained by him from the late Arthur Brown, of Bagdad, Florida. It was one of the same lot of seedlings as the Curtis, and has had much the same history as that variety. It began bearing about 1893, and was first propagated by Doctor Curtis, who top-grafted 6 trees with it about 1898 or 1899, which averaged 50 pounds of nuts per tree in 1908. Doctor Curtis named it Kennedy, in 1900, under which name it was described by Hume in that year.
Form long, ovate conical, with a bluntly pointed base and sharp, prominent apex, sometimes sharply curved; size medium, 60 to 65 nuts per pound; surface smooth; color bright golden brown, with a few irregular purplish strips toward apex; shell medium in thickness, rather hard, but with thin and brittle partitions; cracking quality good; kernel very plump, thick, with rather narrow but shallow grooves; texture moderately fine and solid; flavor sweet; quality good.
The tree is rather round topped, low headed, symmetrical, and spreading. The young wood is of medium caliber, dull gray, with short, acute buds, and numerous long, narrow, light gray dots. Like the Curtis it is leafy, with the fruit spurs well distributed through the tree. The nuts are borne in clusters of two to four each, and ripen in Alachua County, Florida, October 15 to 20. The variety is recommended for middle and northern Florida, and it is worthy of testing wherever the Curtis succeeds.
While the northern limit of natural distribution of the pecan is in the vicinity of Davenport, Iowa, in the Valley of the Mississippi River, and of Terre Haute, Indiana, in the Wabash Valley, very few of the wild pecan trees now surviving north of the Ohio River yield nuts of sufficiently large size, thin shell, and plump kernel to justify their perpetuation by budding or grafting. The inability of most, if not all, of the far southern varieties to endure the low winter temperatures that occasionally occur in the northern portions of the pecan region renders them of little prospective value to northern growers. There is much interest, therefore, in the search for desirable varieties likely to prove hardy in the Middle Western and Middle Atlantic States.
One of the most promising sorts of this character thus far brought to notice is the Hodge. It reports it to be a wild tree, about 10 inches in diameter and 4 feet high in 1908, and as yielding about 1 bushel of nuts in that season.
Form oblong, obovate, compressed, tapering to a very prominent point at base, with a square-shouldered, quadrangular, sharp-pointed apex; surface rather lumpy and somewhat irregular; size variable, ranging from 60 to 100 per pound; color dull grayish brown, with numerous broad and long black stripes from apex to middle of nut; shell quite thick and hard but brittle, with thin and brittle partitions, cracking fairly well; kernel oblong, tapering, rather deeply grooved, but releasing the shell rather easily; color rather bright yellowish brown; texture moderately fine grained; flavor sweet, nutty; quality good.
This variety, which has not been previously published, is the largest one of northern origin yet brought to notice and is considered worthy of testing by those who desire to grow pecans near or above the northern limit of natural distribution of this species.
The original Bolton pecan tree appears to have been grown about 1888 from nuts obtained from an unnamed old tree on the Bolton plantation, about 6 miles south of Monticello, Florida. The old plantation tree bore nuts of superior quality, which were largely planted throughout that section during the period which antedated the era of pecan budding and grafting.
As scions taken from the old unnamed seedling tree on the Bolton plantation and young trees propagated therefrom appear to have been disseminated under the name “Bolton” during the earlier years of dissemination of the variety, it is strongly probable that two different varieties will be found under this name when the plantings already made come into bearing. So far as known, all the nursery-grown trees disseminated under the name “Bolton” during the past ten years trace to the Puleston tree, and this is considered the true Bolton.
Form short, broad, roundish oval, with broad, smooth base and blunt, quadrangular apex; size uniform, medium, 60 to 65 per pound; color grayish brown, with numerous black stripes toward apex; shell thick, with thick but soft partitions, cracking quite easily; kernel broad, plump, smooth, with broad, shallow grooves, brownish yellow, somewhat convoluted; texture rather soft, but fine grained; flavor sweet, nutty; quality good to very good.
Wood rather stout, straight, greenish to light gray, with inconspicuous dots and slender, rather blunt buds.
The largest crop yet harvested from the original tree was 50 pounds, but as it has been heavily cut for scions that is not considered a fair indication of the productiveness of the variety at its present age of 20 years.
Though apparently not as productive as some other varieties, this sort seems well adapted to the conditions of northern Florida and southern Georgia, where it is now in bearing.
The original tree of the Carman pecan stands in the seedling orchard of Mr. S.H. James, Mound, Louisiana, which was grown from nuts planted by him in 1884. It, with many others, was grown from nuts purchased by Mr. James at a fancy-fruit store in New Orleans, the exact source from which these nuts were obtained being unknown at the present time. The orchard in which the original tree stands is planted 30 by 60 feet, a distance entirely too close for rich alluvial soils such as it is located on, so that the development of the original Carman has been somewhat restricted by the crowding of adjacent trees. It began bearing at the age of 9 years from the seed and, next to “Moneymaker,” which originated in the same orchard, Mr. James reports it as the most promising sort yet tested at his place.
Mr. James at first considered the Carman tree insufficiently vigorous for commercial planting, but, having increased his stock of the variety to 20 trees in his own orchard, beginning about 1897, he concludes that it is more vigorous than a number of other sorts, such as “Georgia,” “Russell,” and “Halbert,” at his place.
Mr. James named the variety “Carman” in 1898, in honor of the late E.S. Carman, editor of the Rural New Yorker, and has sparingly propagated and disseminated the variety since that time.
Form very long, slender, and cylindrical, with rather smooth base and prominent quadrangular apex, sometimes distinctly curved; surface generally smooth, though distinctly ridged in some specimens; size large, 55 to 60 nuts per pound; color bright brownish, with few and narrow purplish stripes toward apex; shell medium in thickness but soft, with very soft partitions, cracking easily; kernel very long, slender, and smooth, not always filled at tips, but very smooth and attractive when plump; color bright golden; texture moderately fine grained and firm; flavor sweet, rich; quality good to very good. This is a dessert pecan for cracking at table, rather than for commercial crackers or the confectioner.
Tree a fairly strong grower; young wood rather stout, light grayish green, with rather numerous, inconspicuous, light brown dots. Buds, small, long, pointed.
No exact record of yield of the tree has been kept, but the original tree is considered fairly productive, the crop ripening about October 10. It is suggested for trial in the lower Mississippi Valley.