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- One Thousand Questions in California Agriculture Answered - 1/85 -

One Thousand Questions in California Agriculture Answered

By E. J. Wickson

Professor of Horticulture, University of California; Editor of Pacific Rural Press; Author of "California Fruits and How to Grow Them" and "California Vegetables in Garden and Field," etc.


This brochure is not a systematic treatise in catechetical form intended to cover what the writer holds to be most important to know about California agricultural practices. It is simply a classified arrangement of a thousand or more questions which have been actually asked, and to which answers have been undertaken through the columns of the Pacific Rural Press, a weekly journal of agriculture published in San Francisco. Whatever value is claimed for the work is based upon the assumption that information, which about seven hundred people have actually asked for, would be also interesting and helpful to thousands of other people. If you do not find in this compilation what you desire to know, submit your question to the Pacific Rural Press, San Francisco, in the columns of which answers to agricultural questions are weekly set forth at the rate of five hundred or more each year.

This publication is therefore intended to answer a thousand questions for you and to encourage you to ask a thousand more.

E. J. Wickson.


Part I. Fruit Growing Part II. Vegetable Growing Part III. Grain and Forage Crops Part IV. Soils, Irrigation, and Fertilizers Part V. Live Stock and Dairy Part VI. Feeding Animals Part VII. Diseases of Animals Part VIII. Poultry Keeping Part IX. Pests and Diseases of Plants Part X. Index

Part I. Fruit Growing

Depth of Soil for Fruit.

Would four feet of good loose soil be enough for lemons?

Four feet of good soil, providing the underlying strata are not charged with alkali, would give you a good growth of lemon trees if moisture was regularly present in about the right quantity, neither too much nor too little, and the temperature conditions were favorable to the success of this tree, which will not stand as much frost as the orange.

Temperatures for Citrus Fruits.

What is the lowest temperature at which grapefruit and lemons will succeed?

The grapefruit tree is about as hardy as the orange; the lemon is much more tender. The fruit of citrus trees will be injured by temperature at the ordinary freezing point if continued for some little time, and the tree itself is likely to be injured by a temperature of 25 or 27 if continued for a few hours. The matter of duration of a low temperature is perhaps quite as important as the degree which is actually reached by the thermometer. The condition of the tree as to being dormant or active also affects injury by freezing temperatures. Under certain conditions an orange tree may survive a temperature of 15 Fahrenheit.

Roots for Fruit Trees.

I wish to bud from certain trees that nurseries probably do not carry, as they came from a seedling. Is there more than one variety of myrobalan used, and if so, is one as good as another? If I take sprouts that come up where the roots have been cut, will they make good trees? I have tried a few, now three years old, and the trees are doing nicely so far, but the roots sprout up where cut. I am informed that if I can raise them from slips they will not sprout up from the root. Will apricots and peaches grafted or budded on myrobalan produce fruit as large as they will if grafted on their own stock?

Experience seems to be clear that from sprouts you will get sprouts. We prefer rooted cuttings to sprouts, but even these are abandoned for seedling roots of the common deciduous fruits and of citrus fruits also. The apricot does well enough on the myrobalan if the soil needs that root; they are usually larger on the peach root or on apricot seedlings. The peach is no longer worked on the myrobalan in this State. One seedling of the cherry plum is about as good a myrobalan as another.

What Will the Sucker Be?

I have a Japanese plum tree which bears choice plums. Three years ago a strong young shoot came up from the root of it, which I dug out and planted. Will it make a bearing tree in time and be of like quality with the parent?

It will certainly bear something when it gets ready. Whether it will be like the parent tree depends upon the wood from which the sucker broke out. If the young tree was budded very low, or if it was planted low, or if the ground has been shifted so as to bring the wood above the bud in a place to root a sucker, the fruit will be that of the parent tree. If the shoot came from the root below the bud, you will get a duplication of whatever stock the plum was budded on in the nursery. It might be a peach or an almond or a cherry plum. Of course you can study the foliage and wood growth of the sucker, and thus get an idea of what you may expect.

Tree Planting on Coast Sands.

I wish to plant fruit trees on a sandy mesa well protected from winds about a mile from the coast. The soil is a light sandy loam. I intend to dig the holes for the trees this fall, each hole the shape of an inverted cone, about 4 feet deep and 5 feet across, and put a half-load of rotten stable manure in each hole this fall. The winter's rains would wash a large amount of plant food from this manure into the ground. In March I propose to plant the trees, shoveling the surrounding soil on top of the manure and giving a copious watering to ensure the compact settling of the soil about and below the roots. The roots would be about a foot above the manure.

On such a light sandy soil you can use stable manure more safely than you could elsewhere, providing you have water handy to use if you should happen to get too much coarse matter under the tree, which would cause drying out of the soil. If you do get plenty of water to guard against this danger, you are likely to use too much and cause the trees to grow too fast. Be very sure the manure is well rotted and use one load to ten holes instead of two. Whether you kill the trees or cause them to grow aright depends upon how you use water after planting.

A Wrong Idea of Inter-Planting.

What forage plant can I grow in a newly planted orchard? The soil is on a gently inclined hillside - red, decomposed rock, very deep, mellow, fluffy, and light, and deep down is clayish in character. It cannot be irrigated, therefore I wish to put out a drought-resisting plant which could be harvested, say, in June or July, or even later. I find the following plants, but I cannot decide which one is the best: Yellow soja bean, speltz, Egyptian corn, Jerusalem corn, yellow Milo maize, or one of the millets. What do you think?

Do not think for a moment about planting any such plant between orchard trees which are to subsist on rainfall without irrigation. Your trees will have difficulty enough in making satisfactory growth on rainfall, and would be prevented from doing so if they had to divide the soil moisture with crops planted between them. The light, deep soils which you mention, resulting from decomposed rock, are not retentive enough, and, even with the large rainfall of your region, may require irrigation to carry trees through the latter summer and early fall growth.

What Slopes for Fruit?

I want to plant some apples and berries. One man says plant them on the east or south slope of the hill and they will be ripe early. Another man says not to do that, for when the sun hits the trees or vines in the morning before the frost is off, it will kill all the blossoms, and as they would be on the warm side of the hill they would blossom earlier and there will be more frosts to injure them. I am told to plant them on the north or west side of the hill, where it is cold, and they will blossom later and will therefore have less frosts to bother them, and

One Thousand Questions in California Agriculture Answered - 1/85

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