Proc. Missouri State Hort. Soc. 24th Annual Meeting Dec. 20 & 21, 1881, pp. 164-167
EXPERIMENTAL HORTICULTURE
J. L. Budd
Agricultural College, Ames, Iowa

Prof. S. M. Tracy, Secretary Missouri Horticultural Society:

I regret that I cannot meet with you. I would like to talk over this matter of Experimental Horticulture, as we have so many things in common. If you do not have our low, winter temperature, you share with us the dry, hot summers which are far from being favorable to the foliage of fruits from more humid and equable climates.

Circumstances have surely been unfavorable for our western horticulture. Away back in the times of Andrew Knight, Dr. Lindley and Robert Fortune, the fruits of Northern Europe and Asia were more or less tried in England. Fortune sent home many fruits from Northern China. They came from a country with dry, hot summer air to one loaded with moisture. Of course they proved inferior to those indigenous to moist climates. In fruit growing, the United States followed the lead of England and France. Thomas Rivers in England, and Andre Leroy in France, have, for many years, been the representatives of Europe in telling us what new things we ought to try.

We have followed the lead of the Eastern States with what loss of time, money and faith, I need not tell to any of your members. Though you know nothing by experience of the sweeping losses brought us by our northern winters, you have fully learned the lesson that the fragile leaves of fruits indigenous to moister climates will not, in your dry air, store the requisites for holding and sustaining a crop of fruit.

To illustrate the kind of material that has been given us to experiment with, I will give an example: Last spring we received from Russia. a few rooted plants of the cherry, having previously failed in importing cions. It happens that the bill was made out by a German who gave three or four German synonyms. I examined the works of Dr. Lucas (kindly donated by Chas. Downing) and found that the varieties were listed among the most valuable grown in North Germany.

Supposing such well known and highly esteemed varieties had been imported by the older eastern nurserymen, I wrote letters of inquiry to them all. I received the reply that they had not been imported, as the sweet cherries did well in the east, and the varieties named had not been included in the approved lists of Andre Leroy or Thomas Rivers.

This tells the whole story. If the people of the west wish the fruits of the portions of the Old World, with climate and soil much like ours, we must "row our own boat" and get them,

This I am trying to do as a part of our experimental work at the college. It was commenced only four years ago with a lack of requisite means and very imperfect facilities, which are slowly increasing, We have been able to make some progress, just enough to convince us that the field is much broader and more promising in valuable results than it first seemed. The apple cions have usually grown well after their long journey from Moscow and other interior steppe sections, and we have been able to propagate and distribute several thousands of trees for trial. These numerous varieties, said to be summer, fall and winter, have the northern birth-marks peculiar to the Oldenburg, and they all have been tutored in their northern home to habits of early and perfect ripening of their wood in autumn. They are likely to prove valuable in all the prairie States, as they bear intense summer aridity and heat as well as our lowest winter temperature.

With the Russian and oriental pears we have been less successful, as we have usually failed to make the cions grow after their long exposure, yet we have specimen plants of twenty or more varieties which are very promising. Their leaves are still more distinctive than those of the northern apples. They retain perfect health under all conditions of heat and drouth we have had, and seem also to defy our winter extremes. Whatever the quality of the Kieffer and other seedlings of the sand pear, accidentally reaching the Eastern States at an early day, there is no room for disputing the fact that luscious pears of the thick, lustrous leaved species are grown around Pekin, in China. They may not be strictly hardy with us, but they would be decided acquisitions in Missouri.

The same may be said of the best plums and peaches of Northern China. They are doubtful as to hardiness in Central Iowa, but should have a trial with you. Some of the plums seem a cross with the Nectarine. Prunus Simonii, for instance, in tree resembles the peach, and its peculiar flattened fruit has the smell and appearance of a Nectarine. On the other band, we have two plants, from what were sent us as peach pits, from a point two hundred miles northwest of Pekin. They shed their leaves early, seem perfectly hardy and resemble the oriental plums in leaf and bud.

The true blue peaches from Pekin have leaves much larger and thicker than any variety of the European race. The terminal branches are also thicker. They mature in autumn about like Hill's Chili, but stand low temperature far better; too tender for us, but they should be tried with you.

The Russian plums are novelties. They have the general appearance of the Damson in size, color and shape of leaves, but like all indigenous plants of the steppe regions, they have two to three more rows of pallisade cells, enabling them to endure any amount of heat and drouth.

The grapes of Northern Asia also deserve our attention. I have not yet secured specimens, but we have the most undoubted evidence that varieties of the true blue Labrusca have been grown there for centuries before America was discovered. That many of them are more luscious than our recent variations of the Labrusca, I have not the least doubt. Even the vines from the ancient vineyards of Southern Bokara would prove hardy in Missouri, and no fear need be entertained that their foliage would burn in Missouri air. But I find I am drifting to talk about the part of this work which your institution should engage in. The truth is my correspondence with parties clear across Northern Europe and Asia has elicited the fact that it has more choice apples, pears, plums, apricots, peaches, grapes, persimmons, olives and everything else for Missouri climate than for Central Iowa.

If we could work unitedly the field could be widened to mutual advantage. It seems a law of plant distribution that those indigenous to dry climates often do well in climates with similar summers, but much colder winters. Examples of this will occur to the horticultural specialist in great number.

I only intended a very brief outline of the problem we have to solve.

I will add that we are urging our Legislature to make an annual appropriation of $1,000 to aid the work. Why should not the great States of Iowa and Missouri do this? England sustains in a princely manner the great stations of Kew and Brighton at home, and eight or nine stations in Australia and India.

This is not done for show, but as a policy for the more rapid development of the Industrial interests.

If we do valuable work in experimental horticulture, our surplus stock must not be regarded as a commercial article. If sold, it goes into the hands of men with more money than experience and love for the work.

If we have thousand trees of a very promising new fruit likely to benefit the State, they should be placed in the hands of men capable and willing to give them needed care, and to report on their general behavior. If a good thing, and these experimenters are widely scattered in the State, this kind of distribution will result in its early propagation by local nurserymen, and general planting by the people.

Help us to get the appropriation, and help us in the trial of the fruits of the portion of the Old World from which the temperate zone fruits first emanated.

Yours Fraternally,
J. L. BUDD.

Mr. Goodman: Are the Russian apples referred to by Prof. Budd the same as the Russian varieties distributed a few years ago by the Department of Agriculture?

Mr. Tracy: No. The varieties mentioned by Prof. Budd are of his own direct importation. The varieties which were sent out by the Department of Agricultural were, almost without exception, very hardy, but that was almost their only good quality.