The American Orchardist. pp. 28-30 (1825)
James Thacher


With a sharp knife, cut a ring round the limb or small branch which you wish should bear, near the stem or large bough where it is joined; let this ring or cut penetrate to the wood. A quarter of an inch from this cut, make a second like the first, encircling the branch like a ring a quarter of an inch broad between the two cuts. The bark, between these two cuts, must be removed, clean down to the wood; even the fine inner bark, which lies immediately upon the wood, must be scraped away, until the bare naked wood appears, white and smooth, so that no connexion whatever remains between the two parts of the bark. This barking, or girdling, must be made at the precise time when, in all nature, the buds are strongly swelling, or about breaking out into blossoms. In the same year a callus is formed at the edge of the ring, on both sides, and the connexion of the bark is again restored, without any detriment to the tree or the branch operated upon. By this simple operation, the following advantages will be obtained:

1. Every young tree, of which you do not know the sort, is compelled to show its fruit, and decide sooner whether it may remain in its present state, or requires to be grafted.

2. You may thereby, with certainty, get fruit of a good sort, and reject the more ordinary. The branches so operated upon, are hung full of fruit, while others, that are not ringed, often have none or very little on them.

This effect is explained from the theory of the motion of the sap. As this ascends in the wood and descends in the bark, the above operation will not prevent the sap rising into the upper part of the branch, but it will prevent its descending below this cut, by which means it will be retained in and distributed through the upper part of the branch in a greater portion than it could otherwise be, and the branch and fruit will both increase in size much more than those that are not thus treated.

The twisting of a wire or tying a strong thread round a branch has been often recommended as a means of making it bear fruit. In this case, as in ringing the bark, the descent of the sap in the bark must be impeded above the ligature, and more nutritive matter is consequently retained, and applied to the expanding parts. The wire or ligature may remain in the bark. Mr. Knight's theory, on the motion of sap in trees, is "that the sap is absorbed from the soil by the bark of the roots, and carried upward by the alburnum of the root, trunk and branches; that it passes through the central vessels into the succulent matter of the annual shoots, the leaf-stalk and leaf; and that it is returned to the bark through certain vessels of the leaf-stalk, and descending through the bark, contributes to the process of forming the wood."

A writer in the American Farmer says, he tried the experiment of ringing some apple, peach, pear, and quince trees on small limbs, say from an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter. The result was, the apples, peaches and pears were double the size on those branches than on any other part of the trees: in the quinces there was no difference. One peach, the heath, measured, on a ringed limb, in circumference, 11 1/4 inches round, and 11 3/4 inches round the ends, and weighed 15 ounces. The limbs above the ring have grown much larger than below it. If the ring be made so wide that the bark cannot unite the same season, the branch will perish.