Test Culture of Potatoes in 1863 — Common Sorts and Goodrich’s
C. E. GOODRICH. Utica, Feb. 10, 1864
The year 1863 was undoubtedly the worst for potato culture, ever experienced in Central New-York. The crop was not large, the tubers were knotty, the skins were rough, and where the old sorts were used for seed, they were badly diseased.
The form of bad weather was very similar to that which prevailed in 1850, 1851, and 1855—frequent warm rains, with close warm weather intervening.
As all my cultivation was on similar soil, and in the use of similar manure, I need not particularly describe it further than to say that the manure was a little too fresh, and thus may have exercised an influence to produce a little more disease than would have been manifested on the same soil, had the manure been applied to a previous crop.
I cultivated most of the old varieties, and all my seedlings older than 1859, in small quantities, usually from 15 to 60 hills of a sort, as a means of comparison of yield, health, &c., with my younger seedlings— those of 1859, 1860, and 1861, all of which were planted in larger quantities, as being yet under test culture.
I will give the results in separate classes.
I. My imported variety, the Rough Purple Chili, which is the parent of my Garnet Chili. This variety, imported from South America in 1851, has always been a little too late for this locality, and disposed in rich soils to be knotty and hollow, yet it long exhibited extraordinary health. It has shown evidences of decline of late, and was somewhat diseased this year.
II. The common old sorts.
1st. The Early June or Mountain June.—Yield and size fair, but three-fourths of it was diseased, as was to be anticipated from its history.
2d. Western Red.—Vines badly diseased and tubers small in size and yield, but only about one-tenth diseased. I have noticed in some former years, that its tubers were not always injured in proportion to the disease on the vines.
3d. Early Pink Eye or Dikeman.—Fuir size and yield; nine-tenths diseased. This variety, with No. 1, have long been the main dependance for early sorts here.
4th. Early Sovereign.—This variety, supposed from the name to be English, has been latety introduced here. It makes a dwarf growth, and admits of close planting therefore. The tuber is round and white or brown. The yield is fair, and table quality good. It was much diseased, although I did not estimate the proportion. Its yield was also much reduced. This result condemns it as a reliable sort, and yet its many good qualities make it proper to be retained for culture in a small way, since so severe a season may not soon occur again. It ripens with numbers 1 and 3, above.
5th. Buck Eye.—This is a new sort, supposed to have come from the \Vest. Its size and yield were good, but about one-fifth was diseased.
6th. Prince Albert—supposed to be the same as the St. Helena. This is a long, smooth and beautiful sort, though too long. It is medium early. Size and yield good, but one-half diseased.
7th. English Fluke.—This new sort was brought from the West here. Judging from its tubers, vines, and balls, (I did not notice its flowers,) it is only another name for the Prince Albert, and has the same health.
8th. The Peach Blow I did not cultivate this year, having long since lost my confidence in it as a sort adapted to this climate. In other hands it did badly in health, but especially in yield.
9th. The Davis Seeding was also cultivated near me, but was much diseased.
10th. The Carter, Early Strawberry, Early Shaw and Mohannuck were also cultivated by others, but with indifferent success.
11th. The Dover, as I learn from correspondents, was badly diseased in other places.
This review is sufficiently discouraging. In poor, dry soils, however, the success with many of the above sorts was much better than I have indicated above. This, in such soils, was to be expected.
My own older seedlings.
1st. Of 1850—My only sort of this year is the Pale Blush Pink Eye. This beautiful variety has never been more than medium in hardiness. Its size and yield were good, with almost one-eighth diseased.
2d. Seedlings of 1852.
Black Diamond, good size and yield, but probably one-tenth diseased. This variety was never as hardy as the Garnet Chili.
3d. Seedlings of 1853.
a. Garnet Chili.—Fine every way, with hardly a show of disease, except in a spot of moist ground.
b. New Hartford.—Good size and yield with considerable disease, say one-sixth. This too, like the Black Diamond, was never quite so hardy as the most of my later seedlings.
4th. Seedlings of 1856.
a. Central City. —Fair yield and size, with but a single diseased tuber.
b. New Kidney.—Good size and yield, with probably one-fifteenth part diseased.
c. Copper Mine.—Smaller in tuber and yield, much more than usual. The vines much diseased, but only one tuber. This was better than I hoped.
d. Pink Eye Rusty Coat.—Good yield, size fair, and health excellent.
e. Cuzco. —Size and yield a little injured by the season, considerable disease on the vines, but the tubers almost perfectly sound.
f. CaIlao.—Tubers and yield smaller than usual, and much disease on the vines. The tubers about one-tenth part diseased. This variety has never been as hardy as the most of the preceding sorts.
5th. Seedlings of 1857.
Andes.—This variety is very late, and fitted only to climates south of New-York. Its size and yield were good, and there was very little disease on either vine or tuber.
The preceding eleven seedlings, with six others, five of which have been rejected because dwarfing, exhibiting bad shapes or disease, comprehend all the seedlings which I have ever sold under names. Previously to 1856 I sold, but oftener donated, many varieties of seedlings without names—sorts that had not been adequately tested.
In this worst of all years of disease, the most of the preceding varieties of my seedlings have been cultivated with success, showing that they have constitutions, in nearly every case, stronger than the old varieties, and in many of them-ss the Garnet Chili, Pinkeye Rusty Cost, and Andes—as strong perhaps as any of the old varieties ever were in their best days. It should not be forgotten that we have, so far as I know, no exact and faithful record of small deviations from health in the potato in the years that preceded the advent of disease, say 1842; deviations which in those days were no greater than those experienced in the cultivation of other crops, and which therefore fore gave no alarm.
5th. Seedlings of 1859. These, and all that follow, are yet under test culture.
a. One variety derived from the Amazon, which heads my last sale-bill, 1860-'63. It was badly diseased in vine and tuber, and much reduced in yield, so as to lead to its rejection. The parent was only moderately hardy.
b. Five seedlings of one family, derived, like the last above, remotely from the wild Peruvian. Four of them were extra early, and dwarf in growth. Three of them showed sufficient disease to lead to their rejection, although the proportion was not large. The fifth was very badly diseased both in vine and tuber.
c. Three seedlings from the Garnet Chili; one a little diseased, and the others very healthful.
6th. Seedlings of 1860.
a. Those derived from the Rough Purple Chili, one variety healthful and promising.
b. Those derived from the Garnet Chili. There were thirty-three varieties, but four of which exhibited much disease, while nearly all the remainder were eminently healthful, showing most strikingly the connection between a strong base or parent and its progeny.
c. Those derived from the Central City. Of these I cultivated three varieties, two of which had much mildew on the vines, but only one much on the tubers.
d. Those derived from the Copper Mine. Of these there were ten varieties, nearly all early. Nearly all showed much mildew on the vines, and seven of them considerable on the tubers. Here a comparatively feeble parent produced like seedlings.
e. Those derived from the Pinkeye Rusty Coat, one variety only was cultivated; very hardy, after the character of the parent.
f. Those derived from the Atacama. This variety, a seedling of 1857, was not noticed above, as it did not fall among those which I have sold. Of these, two varieties were cultivated, both quite early, and very large yielders, but both badly diseased, the parent not being hardy.
g. Those derived from the Truxillo. This is a pretty hardy sort, but not noticed above in the seedlings of 1856, as it has not been sold. Of these I cultivated three varieties, all early. Two of them were dwarfish, and very little diseased; the other was a very free grower and large yielder, but badly diseased in vines and tuber, and cut short in yield.
h. Those derived from the Mountain June Pink Eye, a sort not noticed above. This is not the one which I formerly sold, but a spontaneous seedling from it, which sprung up in the field. Of its seedlings I cultivated three varieties, two of which had a little disease, and the other was extraordinarily hardy and promising.
i. Those derived from the Cuzco. Of these I had 10 sorts. Five had much disease, two less, and one was very hardy. The parent, though very valuable, is not so hardy as the Garnet Chili and some others.
Remark.—These seedlings of 1860 were about 1,700 in number the first year. From these I selected 482 for the cultivation of the second year. These were reduced to 153 for the third year, and 66 for the fourth year of culture. I give these numbers as an illustration of the small portion of hardy and valuable varieties in large families of seedlings. True, the number above 66 of the original 1,700, were by no means all rejected on account of disease, but many because of bad shapes, colors, flesh, &c.
7th. Seedlings of 1861.
a. Those derived from the Prince Albert. This was a beautiful family the first year, and closely conformed in appearance to the parent, but was feeble in growth and disease. This year I cultivated three varieties, all of which were feeble and diseased.
b. Those derived from the Garnet Chili. Of these I cultivated twenty-four sorts, few of which were much diseased, and sixteen were very sound, being in most cases entirely free from diseased tubers.
c. Those derived from the Pinkeye Rusty Coat. I was not able to superintend the digging of a part of these, but out of seventeen sorts I had many sound, and some very valuable varieties.
d. Those derived from the Red Nose. The parent was a beautiful seedling of 1856, but of only tolerable health and dwarfish habits. Of five varieties cultivated this year, all were unsatisfactory in health.
Remarks.—1. In the above record of the culture of the seedlings of 1859, '60, and '61, I have mostly confined myself to notices of health. They illustrate the importance of a strong parentage. Every family illustrates this fact.
2. We see the need of caution in deciding on the value of a new sort. Many of those recorded above as badly diseased, were very promising in the years that preceded the last.
3. All those varieties later than 1857, have been examined within the last ten days. In only one case has disease made any winter progress in the cellar.
4. My older seedlings (1850 to 1857, inclusive) are not all as strong as I hoped they would be when first they were advertised, but all have proved more vigorous than the old sorts, and many, such as the Garnet Chili, Andes, and Pinkeye Rusty Coat, are eminently hardy; nor do even the oldest of them yet show any signs of diminished health.