Imágenes de páginas

peach-growing region of the Eastern States. I will not say “profitably” cultivated, for this is a rather vague term when applied to horticultural operations of any kind. Success is not synonymous with profit; in fact, it is frequently quite the opposite, and an abundant crop may mean glutted markets and a corresponding loss to the producer. But, to return to location, the principal cause of failure in almond culture, where it has been tried in the older States, seems to be the early blooming of the trees and subsequent destruction of the embryo fruit by frosts. To avoid this, high, open, airy situations, and even the north side of hills, would cer. tainly be preferable to southern slopes and protected locations, especially in the South or where the temperature in winter does not go low enough to kill the wood of the previous season's growth. Theoretically, we might suppose that there are many locations favorable to almond culture in the elevated regions of North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as in the northern tier of counties in Alabama and Georgia. But in the absence of carefully conducted experiments in these regions, we have only to wait for their consummation at some future time, to prove the truth or falsity of our theory.

In the rich, warm valleys of New Mexico, Arizona and California, congenial locations are plentiful, inasmuch as almost every variety of climate is at hand, with a temperature ranging from that of perpetual summer to the opposite extreme, and all to be found within a few miles, and frequently to be found in the same county. Under such conditions, it rests with the would. be cultivator to decide upon the kinds of fruits desired, then to seek a location best adapted to his purpose. · If, as claimed, but not proven, there are no limited or extended areas fitted for almond culture east of the Mississippi river, there are certainly plenty of such west of it, awaiting the indnstrious and intelligent nut culturist. Almond orchards have been planted in Cali. fornia and Arizona, and the quality of the nuts, as well as the quantity, is very satisfactory; but a greater number and more extensive orchards are needed to meet the home demand.

Planting and Pruning.-In planting and proning the almond tree the same system should be adopted as with its near relative, the peach. One-year-old budded trees are preferred for planting in an orchard, to older, except in the case of seedlings, then two-year-old may be selected, because these are seldom larger than one-year budded trees. The trees should be set fifteen to eighteen feet apart, varying the distance according to variety, soil, and other local conditions, and it is best to place them in rows and at right angles, in order to ad mit of cultivating both ways, as it is termed, thereby saying as much hand labor as possible. For the first two or three years after planting, all weeds and grass should be kept away from the stems and over the roots, either by frequent hoeing, or covering with a mulch. The best way, perhaps, to prevent the growth of weeds, is to use the land among the trees for some low-growing crops, such as beans, tomatoes, melons or potatoes, then see that the workmen, when hoeing these crops, hoe up the weeds and grass about the trees at the same time. We might reasonably suppose that the most careless cultivator of trees would think of this, but, unfortunately, extended observation proves quite the contrary, and it is scarcely possible to go through any very extensive fruit-growing region without seeing many such instances of neglect. A square yard or more of tougb sward is frequently left for years undisturbed about the stoms of all the trees in an orchard, while the little annual plants growing near by, and not wurth, at an extreme valuation, five cents each, are cultivated with the greato est care.

The first pruning of the trees should be done at the time of transplanting from the nursery rows, as directed on a preceding page, and from the top of the stem only three or four shoots allowed to grow the first season, all others being rubbed off as soon as they appear, or when they have made a growth of two or three inches. These three or four upper branches are to become the foundation of the future head of the tree, and should be allowed to grow unchecked the first season; the next spring cut back one-half to two-thirds of their original length. This pruning will force out strong side or lateral shoots near the base, thus giving a sturdy foundation to build upon later, the pruner keeping in mind that the weaker the growth the more severe should be the pruning. Better leave a few strong buds, from which vigorous shoots will be produced, than a great number succeeded by many feeble twigs. If blossoms and fruit appear on the young two-year-old trees, a limited number may be left to mature, although no considerable crop ought to be gathered before the third year.

In after years a somewhat different system of pruning may be adopted, keeping in view the fact that the fruit buds and fruit are always produced on the young shoots of the previous season's growth, and for this reason an annual renewal of such parts of the tree is absolutely required, in order to secure a good crop on trees of any age. In some localities and countries it may be possible that almond trees produce a crop every year ; but this is scarcely to be expected anywhere. Consequently a system of pruning should be followed which will conform to the variations of circumstances and conditions ; and this brings us to the consideration of

The Proper Time to Prune. If the growth of the trees and their fruiting were always uniform, then we might readily adopt some invariable system and season for pruning; but as we are dealing with uncertainties,

our rules must be equally flexible and variable. If the season is favorable, and the trees bloom freely and fruit sets abundantly, we may proceed to prune as soon as the embryo nuts are as large as peas,—but only cutting back some of the largest bearing shoots, and thinning out others here and there, just enough to equalize and evenly distribute the crop through the head of the tree. But in case the frost or cold of winter has destroyed the crop for the season,'then as soon as this is discovered, prune and cut back all the shoots and branches sufficient to insure a vigorous growth of young bearing wood for the ensuing year. Under this system of pruning we fix the time as after blooming in the spring, in order to have our work correspond to circumstances and conditions, and where there is a crop in prospect the pruning is comparatively light; but if there is to be no fruit, or but little, then one should aim to produce an abundance of bearing shoots for the following season, In other words, we prune severely in non-bearing years, whether they occur alternately or otherwise ; but this system is only applicable to trees like the almond and peach, which produce their fruit on the shoots of the preceding year's growth.

VARIETIES OF THE ALMOND. Almonds are usually divided into three groups, viz. : Bitter, hard-shelled, and soft, or paper-shelled. In each there are many varieties, although they are rarely known in market except by the general name of the group to which they belong. If they are soft, hard or bitter, this is sufficient designation for commercial purposes, with, perhaps, the addition of the name of country in which they were grown, or that of the city or seaport from whence exported.

Bitter Almond, Amygdalus communis amara. The varieties of this group are not specifically distinct,

hard or bitten to which the cept by the

and some have soft, thin shells, while others are thick and hard; but the kernels are very bitter, hence the name. But in the countries where these almonds are most extensively cultivated, as in the South of France, Austria, Spain and Greece, the trees are generally raised from the nut, and, as might be expected, the crop produced under such conditions is exceedingly variable, the nuts being large or small, and the shells of various degrees of hardness, with an occasional tree producing both bitter and sweet kerneled nuts. These wilding trees are, in the main, more hardy than the improved varieties, hence are largely employed as stocks for the better sorts, as well as for the plum and apricot. It is also claimed that, as a rule, the bitter almond trees bloom later in the spring than those of the other two groups, and for this reason are not so liable to be injured by spring frosts. The trees are hardy in all of our most favorable peach-growing regions of the Middle and Northern States, but some of the varieties ripen rather too late for localities north of the latitude of New York city. All this, however, and other obstacles, will soon disappear, whenever the time arrives for our horticulturists to take up almond culture and pursue it with half the zeal they have the cultivation of the peach and many other kinds of fruits.

Hard-Shelled Almond, A. C. dulcis, or sweetkerneled almond.—The varieties of this group, as a whole, differ from those of the next only in the firmness of their shells, which are moderately firm, with a slightly rough and deeply pitted surface, as shown in Fig. %. Varieties of this group are fully as large as, and perhaps a little longer than the thin-shelled, and the kernels are fully as valuable when removed and sold as shelled almonds. It may require a little more labor to crack and remove the kernels for market, but the difference is scarcely worth taking into consideration by the grower.

« AnteriorContinuar »