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Pedigree Trees

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


"Breed is more than feed." This expression applies to all domesticated animals, and a horse, a cow, a pig, or a dog is valued according to its pedigree.

By the term pedigree we refer to the genealogy, the descent or in simpler terms, a pedigree is the record of the line of ancestors. The pure races of animals which we have today were produced by repeated selection or crossing of the ancestors of our present day animals. The record of these ancestors is the pedigree.

In 1862 pedigree wheat was produced, bred upon the same principle of repeated selection, the same principle which has produced pure races of animals.

Now the question arises; is it important that we know the pedigrees of plants, propagated from buds, scions, cuttings and off-shoots of plants, as it is in the case of men, animals and seeds?

The pedigree idea rests upon the most important principle of plant breeding—that of selection. We know that no two trees in any orchard are exactly alike, either in the amount of fruit which they bear or in their vigor and habit of growth. Some are uniformly productive and some are uniformly unproductive. We know too that scions or buds tend to reproduce the characters of the trees from which they are taken. If all other plants are being improved by selection, and the improvements are handed down to their offspring, why can we not improve our varieties of fruits by selection of scions, buds and cuttings?

Before we go further we must first draw a clear line between plants propagated from buds and scions and those grown from seeds. In the ease of seeds we have the offspring inheriting a combination of definite characters of two parents. Since these combinations of characters handed down from parents to children are never the same we find that individual seedlings from the same two plants may vary greatly.

On the other hand a bud or scion is literally a "chip off the old block," and we find it to contain the characters of only one plant, the plant from which it was taken.

A concrete example is found in the selection of cuttings from a chosen tree in the orchard and propagating trees from these right in the same orchard and under similar conditions. It shows that even if this is done for several succeeding generations, that the last trees will produce no better fruit than the original tree in the orchard.

We cannot breed up by this method of selection of cuttings, a type of Northern Spy for example that had in addition to all the ordinary Spy qualities, the character of resistance to scab, or a thicker, tougher skin to improve its shipping qualities.

I have here a Northern Spy produced on a tree which was grown from a scion taken from the original Spy tree at E. Bloomfield, New York. It is therefore only one generation removed from the original Spy. This tree was not sprayed this year and scabs shows up on this specimen. In the other hand I have a Spy from a tree that has no pedigree be-cause through several generations the scions have been selected in-discriminately from among Spy trees. Holding them up for comparison shows no differences by which you could distinguish one from the other.

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