Dr. A. P. Wylie, of Chester, South Carolina
In one of our earlier volumes [see below] we gave a highly interesting account of some hybrid fruit by Dr. A. P. Wylie, of Chester, South Carolina. Fortunately for Science, Dr.W. has continued his experiments all through the rebellion, and has now gathered together an immense amount of valuable facts, some of which in the following notes we have much pleasure in giving to our readers:
"In 1859 I grafted an old wild AEstivalis grape with the White Frontignac. The graft was put in late in the spring, consequently did not bloom (it bore two branches) until late, about the time that the Scuppernong or Bullace bloomed. So soon as the first blooms commenced bursting, I clipped them all off, (those about to be blown), and then carefully cut away the stamens of all those not so far advanced as to be lifting the cap; by this means preventing the possibility of self-impregnation. I then carefully covered the bunch with paper, so as to prevent the possibility of the wind or insects carrying pollen to the hybridized bunch.
On two successive mornings I applied pollen of Scuppernong and Bullace mixed. My reason for mixing the pollen was, that I could only procure a small quantity of Scuppernong pollen, from a distance, and the Bullace was plenty, and at hand. Owing to an accident I only saved a few seed. These were put in a phial of sand and buried until spring, and then carefully planted and marked. Several came up, but some of them appeared feeble—never grew much, and were finally lost. One grew well, which I inarched when a few inches high. This grew strong, and bloomed in 1860. Unfortunately, this proved a male (staminate) plant.
In 1860 I impregnated a bunch of Black Hamburgh with Scuppernong and Bullace pollen, grafted on the same wild vine. Saved about a dozen seed, which I planted in a hotbed in the spring of 1861. Five plants came up, which I inarched on the shoots of stocks which had been cut off for the purpose. They all grew off finely, each differing somewhat in the leaf, but all having the same smooth, hard wood and smooth leaf of the Scuppernong.
In the spring of 1862 I was delighted to see all those five plants blooming. Two of them proved male (staminate), and three appeared to have perfect hermaphrodite flowers. You may imagine my gratification at seeing those flowers preparing to fruit, which had been so much admired by all who had seen them, for their vigor, health and beauty, and distinct appearance.
Two of those which had perfect flowers soon dropt their blooms and set no fruit; the other set a full crop, the bunches each having from twenty or thirty grapes; they grew until about the size of a duck shot, and then all dropt.
On examining some of the later blooms, I could discover no pollen. I think the chief defect was the want of pollen, as I took some pollen from a neighboring grape vine and applied to a bunch, which produced a few berries with a thick, dark skin, and a high musky flavor, proving clearly that the defect was in the pollen. Although growing in stiff pipe clay, those vines grew most vigorously, and were entirely exempt from all disease—even more vigorous in this soil than Scuppernong. The Scuppernong and White Frontignac hybrid is not as healthy and vigorous as the Black Hamburgh and Scuppernong hybrids.
Failing entirely in producing fruit from those six plants, I then (1862) concluded to try impregnating the foreign grape with pollen from my staminate hybrid Scuppernongs, as they appeared to be perfect staminates containing powdery pollen.
I had a White Muscat of Alexandria growing near a south wall, which bloomed very late. I prepared and impregnated a bunch of it with the hybrid Scuppernong pollen; it appeared to take. I saved a few seed, planted and labeled them with the utmost care. They came up, but all were lost except two, which I inarched. They grew off; one of them resembled the Scuppernong very much, both in wood and foliage. It certainly was one of the most remarkable and beautiful vines I ever saw. The foliage of the other not resembling the Scuppernong, I cut it off from its inarching, dug it up in midsummer, and planted it rather carelessly in another place so as to let the sap all go to the other vine, as I feared that the one I removed was merely a seedling Muscat Alexandria. The removing this vine which I separated from its inarching, and replanting it in midsummer very nearly destroyed it; but in the course of the next year it rallied, and clearly showed, from its slender, wiry wood, its Scuppernong parentage; and, although it had been badly treated, grew off rapidly, and, last year (1866) for the first, had a few blooms.
Not taking into consideration its Scuppernong parentage, I cut it back, each year, as other vines, and, last winter, by this means, cut off nearly all of its fruit buds. I trimmed it close so as to get its wood for propagating. From some cause, it dropped nearly all of its leaves in June, before its fruit was half grown.
My ground is a stiff yellow clay, which cracks widely in dry weather. I underdrained it with some wooden poles, about two feet below the vines, in a trench. As it was badly done, it is probably the drain is blocked up; and, as it has been an extremely wet summer, it is probable that the roots have been in water most of the summer.
There was some mildew on the leaves, but not enough to cause it to drop its leaves. The bunches were small, not containing over thirty or forty berries. Size medium, or between the size of a Lenoir and Catawba. Color, when ripe, dark reddish; flavor rich, musky, and, I think, hard to excel, being what you might imagine from commingling of Scuppernong and Muscat Alexandria, or White Frontignac: and, what is remarkable, its fruit ripens one or two berries on a bunch at a time—so that some were perfectly green and others ripe.
I went out to see if I could not find a few berries to send you, but could find none worth sending. I enclose a few berries, which are green and appeared to be shrivelling, as they were exposed to the sun without leaves,—they are a little below the average size. I send them particularly, for you to notice one thing peculiar, and showing their hybrid origin, which is, that they have no seed: they all have the ligneous receptacle but no germ.
The parentage of this vine being chiefly from tender foreign varieties, may render it of little or no value to cultivate; but I attach great importance to it as establishing the important fact, that a prolific hybrid Scuppernong can be produced by using the pollen from my staminate hybrid Scuppernongs. I attempted, this spring, to impregnate the Scuppernong, and also the Flowers grape (a late valuable variety of Bullace) with my staminate hybrid Scuppernong; but, notwithstanding I adopted every precaution to insure success, and had at least a dozen bunches prepared and the pollen applied, one has taken—at least I discover but one grape among the numerous bunches tried. I think I have pretty well established the following facts in hybridizing the Scuppernong, viz.:
1st. That you cannot impregnate the Scuppernong with pollen from any other grape, either native or foreign; as I have repeatedly attempted to impregnate the Scuppernong with both native and foreign, and in every instance failed; also, as I stated above, failed to impregnate Scuppernong with pollen from staminate hybrid Scuppernong.
2nd. That you can impregnate the foreign with Scuppernong (Bullace) pollen, as I have undoubtedly established.
3rd. That you cannot impregnate either Labrusca or AEstivalis, with Scuppernong pollen; I have tried the experiment several times and failed.
4th. That you can impregnate both native and foreign with hybrid (staminate) Scuppernong pollen.
5th. That you cannot impregnate Scuppernong with hybrid (staminate) Scuppernong.
I impregnated a few blooms of Herbemont with staminate hybrid Scuppernong last year, (I866) and saved eleven seed, ten of which came up this spring (early) in a propagating (or small greenhouse) house, no two of the plants were exactly alike, but all showed their Scuppernong parentage; owing to the house getting overheated, (by neglect) the plants all came very nearly being destroyed and all stunted and crippled, except one which is ten feet long, with numerous branches and fruit buds; this was inarched on a strong stock. The foliage somewhat resembles the Herbemont, but the wood is slender and wiry, like the Scuppernong. I hope to have fruit from it next season.
I have used the pollen this season, both from the White Frontignac and Black Hamburg Hybrid Scuppernongs, and will have seed of Delaware, Herbemont, Lenoir and Bland Madeira Hybrid, No. 1, (a most remarkable grape, equally as large as Clinton Hybrid, No. 1, much more beautiful, being yellow in color, with beautiful carmine stripes.)
The seed of all of them, except the latter, (which ripens in October) are gathered, labeled and put away in phials of brick dust for spring planting. So, you see that I have gone pretty extensively into hybridizing with my Hybrid Scuppernong.
There is a difficulty in experimenting with the Scuppernong, as it blooms so late, at least a month after some kinds. The hybrid Scuppernongs also bloom late, but not later than Herbemont and some other late kinds. I have all of the fine foreign grapes, growing in pots in a rude greenhouse, in which I can apply heat. I have, this summer, put one of my staminate hybrid Scuppernongs in a pot, so that I can force it to bloom with the foreign; by which means I can hybridize extensively next spring. Although my time is limited, and health not good, I have contracted such an intense interest in these experiments, that I expect to continue it the remainder of my days.
I produced Clinton hybrids with Black Hamburgh, White Muscat Alexandria, Syrian, and others, last year (1866), and have some of them inarched, one of which is about an inch in diameter at the roots, with numerous branches. With proper precautions in inarching seedlings, it is an easy matter to make a seedling bear in one year from the seed, instead of waiting three or four.
The Clinton hybrids show a rare exemption from mildew. Still, I have had three of them to mildew this summer.
The one (Clinton hybrid No. 1) that bore the specimen which I sent you, did mildew slightly, but not until the fruit was almost ripe. But the locality is most abominable, and the season one of the most unfavorable that we have had for years. I have, this season, parcels of seed of Clinton impregnated with the following: Bowood Muscat, White Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Hamburgh, Lady Downe's Seedling, Foster's Seedling, Black Prince.
I have a parcel of Delaware, impregnated with Clinton, and also Delaware and Concord, each impregnated with pollen from Clinton hybrid No. 1.
I have never seen mildew on the Frost Grape, (Cordifolia), therefore think it may make a fine basis for hybridizing. I have one plant which is very peculiar—of Royal Muscadine, impregnated with Frost, and some forty or fifty of Black September (A. cordifolia), impregnated with foreign.
Do you consider the Clinton a Cordifolia? I notice that some call it an AEstivalis. Will you be so kind as to inform me about the Clinton hybrids of those two gentlemen you spoke of as having hybridized the Clinton. I would like to know the varieties of foreign impregnated, or from which the pollen was taken and results, and particularly if exempt from mildew and rot.
So far as my experience goes, wherever the foliage resembles closely the foreign, they are liable to mildew, and if the leaves are thin, liable to fire blight. I inarched two seedlings this season; one Clinton, impregnated with Syrian, the other Clinton with White Muscat Alexandria; on a strong stock near the drain from a stable, almost in a bank of manure, both are growing and have numerous fruit buds; the first has not mildewed in the slightest degree; the second has mildewed considerably; the foliage of the two differ widely, but neither resemble the Clinton in the slightest degree. I have this season twenty-six parcels of hybrid seed, each a different kind, produced by impregnating native and foreign; native and native; hybrids and hybrids. &c., &c.
With the experience I have had, I can now hybridize with some definite idea of the result, except where we cross hybrids with hybrids, and then there appears to be no end to the sporting. One of the most vigorous, healthy vines, with fruit of the finest flavor, or certainly as fine as I ever tasted, either native or foreign, is a white or yellow fruit, whereas its parents bore one a black and the other a dark red fruit. Two seedlings of the same crop have no resemblance, either in wood, foliage or fruit,—one bearing a globular black fruit, of third rate quality, and the other an oblong blue fruit of very inferior quality. The leaf of the first bears no resemblance to the foreign, not being serrated, and thick, and leathery in texture.
I have some eighty seedlings produced by impregnating the Halifax (a heavy leaved Labrusca) with Delaware, all of bearing size, and nearly all bore this summer, which, for vigor, health and exemption from mildew and rot, cannot be exceeded by any known varieties which are worth cultivating."
In the Spring of 1859 I commenced hybridizing Grapes, and now have about three hundred plants, some of them two and three feet high, (having been started in pots in a hotbed). I am now inarching some of them with the young shoots of strong slocks, so as, if possible, to make them bear next year. The following are the natives hybridized by me in 1859, with the best foreign varieties. Delaware, Herbemont, Lenoir, Catawba, Scuppernong, Bland. The foliage of many of the plants resemble the male parent more than the female; the foliage of two of the Delaware hybrids resemble precisely the White Muscat of Alexandria. I have my Delaware hybrids all inarched, so as if possible to make them bear next year. I have gone into it more extensively this Summer, and have the Delaware, Diana, Anna, Halifax, Negoochee, Pauline, White Fox, Clinton, To Kalon, Scuppernong crossed (some of them vice versa,) with B. Hamburg, B. Prince, R. Muscadine, Syrian, &c. In hybridizing I adopt several precautions to attain success, which are not detailed in books, so far as I know.
See also, Wylie: Hybrid Grapes (1870)