I came across this little article from the Iowa State Horticultural Society for 1880 (i love reading this type of stuff…)
Sangamon Co I believe is in Illinois.
I have a lot of apple seedlings that may be donors for this treatment…
GIRDLING FOR FRUIT.
I have often thought how pleasant it would be to me to visit my old agricultural and horticultural friends in this State, and look over their homes and farms and households, could I spare the time and means. I have recently indulged in two such visits, one to friend Drury’s fine farm in this .county, and one to friend Spaulding’s model and premium nursery farm, at Riverton, in Sangamon county, and I enjoyed it.
The judgment with which Mr. Spaulding has selected and prepared his grounds, as well as the well known care and skill and success, with which everything on the place is managed indoors and out, most plainly shows that they are one “right family in the right place,” and I hope there are multitudes more of them in our beautiful State.
Several hundred acres of the best woodland soil natural to trees has been selected, and the central parts of it thoroughly underdrained, even where quite dry and sloping, and covered with the finest and most perfectly healthy and well grown fruit trees and nursery stock I have ever seen. The fruit trees at this time are a sight good for sore eyes. The first item is some 14,000 bearing apple trees with scarce a blemished or defective tree among them, and so loaded with such fine fruit, even those not three inches through, that they remind one of the gardens of Ilesperides, except that no hideous dragon lay at the gate to guard them; but every one who came was welcome to his basket full, and the teams and men were hauling them to the watering mouths in the city as fast as possible.
What magic had produced this beautiful sight? That was precisely what I went up to learn, to see and to know. Good drained soil, girdling, lime, salt and an army corps of 500 young turkeys, perpetually on the march in their different battalions, and the warbling light armed troops skipping and singing among the branches there tell the whole story; they were at once canse, and guard of all, though all these, the united head, heart and brain of the family selected, created and controlled, the proprietor’s brain by common consent, ever being the leading element.
It was the girdling in which I was most interested, for sixty years ago on my father’s farm in Massachusetts, I girdled fruit trees in the same way, and I have done it occasionally to truant trees and vines ever since. So when I read in Downing’s most admirable book that girdling endangered the life and health of the tree I knew that there great Homer napped for a moment, and only repeated what others had told him, a mere hereditary dogma, for in sixty years I never knew a branch or a tree killed or injured by it. My recent way of doing it is to take a wide-set saw and saw a circle carefully clean down to the wood all round the trunk of the tree. Mr. Spaulding takes out from a quarter to a half an inch in June with a knife, which takes longer, and I think is no better, if as good.
I have pear trees and apple trees now so girdled a year ago, now on my place loaded with fruit, which never bore a peck before, though some of them were ten or twelve inches through. But friend Spaulding has literally thousands of young trees not ten feet high, with all the branches bending •down with the finest fruit I have ever seen, for among his 14,000 trees he girdled 3,000 last year. His experiment is a thorough demonstration beyond all doubt, for in some cases whole rows are girdled, and whole rows skipped, in other cases only every other tree in each row is taken of the same sort of apple planted at the same time; in every case the young girdled trees are loaded with the finest fruit, while the ungirdled ones in the same row or adjoining rows have none on them.
But will not trees so treated bear themselves to death? Certainly they will if not sustained; when they have worked up into good fruit all the fruit food there is in the soil, be it more or less, they of course can do no more, unless new fruit food is supplied. Hence a young orchard should never be set v. here an old one has been. But the man who sets the trees may as well use up that amount of fruit food which is in the soil while he is alive ruid can eat the fruit perhaps, as to set out the tree and leave it to his grandchildren to eat the fruit. 1 now have a girdled Lawrence and one Winter Nelis pear full of fruit, which I have no reason to think would have borne a dozen pears in ten years if they had not been girdled, and oneGreen Pippin apple a foot through full of fruit that has not before borne a peck in ten years of equally sound fruit. Besides an apple tree thirty or forty years old away up in the air, seldom bears any fruit worth gathering, and it costs twice as much at least to gather it as it does from low young trees, and if our apple trees can be made to bear four times the fruit in ten years what is the use in spreading it over forty years? Why not take it as quick as we can get it, and reinvigorate the soil or set out a new orchard and cut down the old one.
At all events I have come home in the full belief that this process, new in some sense but really older than I am, is destined to work a revolution in fruit-growing, particularly in the West, and I shall let my saw run without fear like a fiddler’s bow to the new tune of the times, around my trees next spring, in so far as they are not girdled this summer, or now at once, which will help them some next year, but not so much as it would had it been done in June. I think this practice will practically double the profit of our orchards to the present generation, so that we can well afford to set out a new crop for those who are to come after us. At all events try it friends for yourselves, as carefully and cautiously as you please; but do not leave its benefits and your trees too, wholly to your grandchildren.
Mr. Spaulding’s explicit, truthful and candid presentation of his work and plans and purposes in regard to girdling, importing superior foreign varieties, hybridizing, etc., as published in the Prairie Farmer of January 17,. 1880, is profusely illustrated, and crowned with the most triumphant and undoubted success on his premises this year, as any one may see wrho will go there and look upon the trees and fruit with his own eyes as 1 have done. He has on hand a car load of lime and a car load of salt and proposes to get a quantity of copperas to keep up the tone and vigor of his apple and pear trees under this wholly unprecedented strain of fruit production; but as his apples are not only more abundant, but much larger, fairer, higher colored, better flavored and sell more readily than common apples of the same sort, he can very well afford to feed them as he does his workmen on the best the land affords. Why cannot others afford to do the same, and make their trees twice as profitable to them as they ever were before. I should have said, that to demonstrate fully that there is no danger of hurting the tree, by girdling in June, he has girdled some at all widths, taking out all round the tree strips of bark from one quarter of an inch to twelve inches wide, and new bark readily formed and not a single tree among the thousands is injured, only the sap is temporarily checked, compelling the setting and retention of the fruit-buds and fruit.—/. B. Turner, in Prairie Farmer.[/quote]