GENEVA, N. Y., January 12, 1915
To the Honorable Board of Control of the New York Agricultural Experiment Station:
GENTLEMEN: I have the honor to transmit herewith the manuscript copy for Part 11 of the 33rd Annual Report of this Station. This contribution is the fourth monograph on the fruits of New York State, prepared under your direction by the Horticulturist of this institution and his associates.
The cherry, which this manuscript discusses, is undoubtedly most widely grown of the tree-fruits of the State; for within easy reach of every rural housewife-in orchard or garden, along roadside or lane-the pie cherry "will be found; and many a lawn, even in village or city, is graced by the stately trees which bear the delicious Yellow Spanish or Black Tartarian- In many parts of the State, also, cherry growing is an industry of much commercial importance, with orchards exceeded in value by those of the apple and peach alone.
Because of its widespread popularity and commercial importance the cherry well merits treatment in this place in the series of monographs. It is hoped and believed that the growers and lovers of the fruit will appreciate and utilize to good advantage the result here presented of years of painstaking work by the authors. The discussions are based not alone on Station experience with hundreds of the thousand or more varieties described, but as well upon the collected observations of many cherry growers and the expressed judgments of the leading pomologists who have been interested in this fruit.
W. H. JORDAN, Director
This is the fourth of the monographs On the fruits of temperate North America published by the New York Agricultural Experiment Station. The nature and purposes of these treatises have been set forth in the prefaces of preceding volumes but a summary of the purposes, with needed emphasis on several, is given for the convenience of all readers and the enlightenment of those who may not have the first three books. The Cherries of New York contains an historical account of cultivated cherries, the botany of this fruit, a statement of its present economic status in America, descriptions of all known varieties of cherries, the synonymy and bibliography of the species and varieties, and biographical sketches of the persons who have contributed materially to cherry culture in America. The most important varieties are illustrated in colors. Everything that was thought would be helpful in breeding cherries has been included, and special search has been made for such material. So, too, whatever was thought to be of interest to students of ecology and of plant distribution has been added. In the monographs on grapes and plums it was necessary to devote much space to the botanical relationship of these fruits since each contains more than a score of species under cultivation, some of which are scarcely known and most of which are extremely variable. The botany of cultivated cherries is comparatively simple and has been made plain by botanical writers. Yet the contemplation of the several species from a horticultural standpoint adds something, we believe, to the botany of cherries, especially as concerns the forms of the Sweet Cherry and the Sour Cherry which have been variously treated by botanists As compared with their congeners, especially the plums, the economic species of cherries are remarkably well delineated, showing far less responsiveness to environment and having seemingly less inherent variation, so that there need be little confusion in botanical classification. On the other hand varieties are so similar that it is only with the greatest difficulty that closely related sorts are distinguished and there is great confusion in the synonymy, the chief task of the present work being to distinguish the true names from the synonyms of the varieties described.
In The Cherries of New York, as in the preceding fruit books from this Station, effort has been made to give as accurately as possible the region in which the species and varieties grow best and to set forth fully the local prejudices of the fruits. Such knowledge cannot but be of value in determining the factors which govern the distribution of plants. The establishment of community relationships and description of pia-nt communities now constitute an important part of botany on the one side and of geography on the other. No phenomena give better expression of the climate and the soil of a region than plant communities. When monographs of several of the fruits of temperate North America shall have been completed, with statements of likes and dislikes of the fruits and their varieties as to climate and soil, material should be available to establish plant communities from which can be drawn valuable generalizations.
All, howsoever interested in pomology, are dependent upon descriptions of fruits. A well-made description of a fruit, to one mentally equipped to interpret it, is second only, in the study of pomology, to having the fruit itself. With but few exceptions the descriptions of the major varieties are made first hand from cherries growing on the Station grounds, though in many cases fruits from different localities have been compared with those homegrown.
Since there are fewer varieties of cherries than of plums, it has been possible to describe and illustrate a greater proportion of the sorts under cultivation than in the book on plums, yet a selection has had to be made of the worthiest of the many kinds. The choice of sorts for full descriptions and color-plates has been determined: (1) By the present value of the variety; (2) the probable value if the variety be a novelty; (3) by the value of the data to the cherry breeder; (4) because of historical value - to show what the trend of cherry evolution has been; (5) to show the relationships of species and varieties. The varieties not illustrated nor fully described are divided into two further groups in accordance with the same considerations.
In botanical nomenclature the code adopted by the International Botanical Congress, held at Vienna in 1905, has been used. In the use of horticultural names we have followed somewhat closely the rules of the American Pomological Society, though in many cases strict observance of these rules, poor at best, would have added to rather than lessened the confusion in horticultural nomenclature and, therefore, they have been honored in the breach rather than in the observance.
The references given are those that have been of use in ascertaining the history, the economic status, or the description of the variety that follows - no more, no fewer. These constitute a very small proportion of the references that have been read - a tremendous task involving two or three years' work for several persons. so, too, it has been a Herculean task to search out the synonyms of cherries. French, German, English and American books on pomology overflow with such synonyms and all in a state of "confusion worse confounded."An enormous amount of work has been done in trying to bring order out of this confusion. Many of the synonyms of varieties have been given in times past because of adaptations to local environment. Such naming of ecologic forms is not an unmixed evil, since it draws attention to variable varieties and characters which otherwise might be overlooked.
Under the ferment of Mendelian and De Vriesian ideas we seem to be at the beginning of an era of great improvement of plants. There have never been well-directed efforts to improve fruits, yet something has been done with all. Now, when there is an onrush of new discoveries in plant- breeding, seems to be a particularly opportune time to tell all that can be learned about how cherries have been brought from their wild state to their present perfection. This we try to do in giving the origin and history of varieties, especially as to parentage and manner of origin, though such information is scant and very fragmentary.
As in the previous fruit books some prominence is given in footnotes to biography. A knowledge of the career of those who have been giants in their day in the development of any industry is most helpful to the best understanding, indeed, is almost indispensable to the fullest comprehension, of the industry. The short footnotes, it is hoped, will serve to give some conception of what the master builders in pomology were like in training, character, and methods of work. From the reception which these sketches in former fruit books have received, the writers feel that the considerable expenditure of time and thought that these biographical notices have required is amply justified and that the effort to give credit due and some small honor to the promoters of pomology has been well worth while. For aid in the preparation of The Cherries of New York I am especially indebted to those whose names appear on the title page, to my associate, Mr. R. D. Anthony, for reading proof; to the Station editor, Mr. F. H. Hall, who has had charge of the proof reading; to Zeese-Wilkinson Company, New York City, who have had an especially difficult task in making the color-platesand who have done the work well; and to the J. B' Lyon Company, Albany, New York, for their painstaking work in printing the book.
U. P. HEDRICK,
Horticulturist, New York Agricultural Experiment Station.