Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/207

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195
FORESTS AND FRUIT-GROWING.

ciousness, I believe, is becoming constantly greater as the country grows older.

An inquiry, then, of much scientific interest, and of great material importance, has reference to what may be the cause of this increasing uncertainty of the fruit crop. In the early settlement of the country, it was easy to grow peaches, even in localities where growing peaches now seldom gladden the eye. In Ohio between the parallels of 40° and 41°, for example, peach-buds were seldom injured by winter or spring frosts, and the crop was abundant almost every year when the country was "new." For the last twenty-five years peaches miss oftener than they hit, and in many parts this has told so fearfully against the enterprise of production that scarcely a peach-tree is now to be seen.

The clearing of the country had made this change. The continued clearing of the country will increase the mischief still more. The growing of peaches and of most other fruits will be driven, as indeed it already has been, to special localities and special soils. It is now for such localities to look out in time and preserve as far as possible the favorable conditions they now have, and if possible to increase them.

More especial reference is here had to that part of our country which lies north of the fortieth parallel, where most of the fruit-localities are to be found in the vicinity of considerable bodies of water.

The water absorbs heat during the summer, which it slowly gives off on the approach of cold weather, warming the atmosphere in its vicinity, and preventing the occurrence of early frosts in the fall along the shore-border from five to ten miles wide. This gives the wood and buds a chance to mature thoroughly, so that they will endure a harder freeze in the winter than wood and buds which were suddenly stopped in the course of maturing by an early frost in the fall. In the spring the waters warm more slowly than the land, and the atmosphere thus chilled along this same shore-belt keeps back vegetation and fruit-buds so as greatly to lessen the danger from late frosts; and what may seem to be a contradiction, but is nevertheless true, spring frosts are usually lighter within than they are outside this shore-belt.

These several advantages from the proximity of a considerable body of water are well understood. There is another, however, that may be of some value. During the heated term of summer there is always a cool breeze from the water which modifies the temperature of the hottest part of the day along this otherwise favored border of shore-land, and may act beneficially in various ways: first, by promoting a more active circulation of air among the leaves and young branches, thereby favoring the healthy action of the organic surfaces—hence, greater immunity from blight and mildew in this region; secondly, by affording protection against the injury to which growing fruit is liable from excessive heat; thirdly, by maintaining a greater uniformity of heat between night and day. The experiments of Köppen have shown