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Lemon culture in California has not kept pace with orange culture. For this two reasons are assignable:
1st. The territory adapted to the growing of lemons is much restricted.
2d. The lemons mostly grown have been inferior, and the demand and compensation correspondingly small.
These obstacles are by no means insurmountable. Now that the suitable conditions for the lemon tree have been well defined by experience, the fact is evident that there are many locations—a large acreage—where the lemon may be successfully grown. As to the quality of the fruit, that may be improved just as all other fruits are improved—by the selection of fine varieties and their perpetuation by budding. Given a locality well suited to the requirements of the tree and a selected variety, and I challenge the citrus growing world to produce a finer lemon than we can grow in Southern California. Until rive or six years ago no efforts were made to introduce tine varieties of this fruit. The kind universally grown was a Seedling from the Sicily lemon, and indeed at the present time these constitute the great bulk of the lemons on our market. This Seedling is a large, coarse-grained fruit, with a rind from a quarter to a half inch in thickness, a pulp inversely small, and the juice lacking in both quantity and quality. Such a lemon is a palpable fraud upon the purchaser, as it does not perform the half that it promises by its exterior bulk. It is undesirable lor the shipper and merchant because it is quite perishable. The pulpy rind when subjected to a slight bruise or to too close packing is speedily smitten with decay, and the fruit is often lost in transit. When we consider that these lemons have too often been picked and packed in the most bungling and shiftless manner; that the sweating proprevious to shipment has been al
most wholly unknown or disregarded; that the fruit has reached the consignee many times in a rotten or semi-rotten condition, and that when presented at its very best it is a third or fourth class article; when we consider all these points we need not wonder that our lemon trade is in the doldrums.
The remedy for this condition of things is easy of accomplishment: Raise good fruit. Prepare and ship it properly. We may then sell all the lemons we raise and realize handsomely from this industry.
The lemon tree, being more susceptible to frost than the orange, is not adapted ta our middle and lower lands, except in well sheltered quarters. It thrives however on our mesas, at an altitude of one thousand to two thousand feet above sea level, where frosts severe enough to damage it have never been known. There are thousands of acres of such land in Southern California, some already improved in fruit farms and much still awaiting development.
Discussing lemon culture in a paper read before the State Horticultural Society in 1883, Mr. L. M. Holt, one of our best authorities on citrus trees, has tins to say:
"The climate must be such that the extreme cold shall not be hard enough to kill the trees or injure the fruit, and it must be of such a character that the common scale and the fungus known as black dust shall not flourish.
"When the mercury has been down to 23° above zero, the orchardist will find his lime trees killed, his lemon trees badly frosted, and his smaller orange trees hurt, especially if his budded orange trees are on lemon, China lemon, or lime roots.
"Cold weather produces a thick skin, a lack of juice, and in the case of the lemon a lack of acid. Climate, also, has much to do with the common scale and black dust. They prevail mostly along the coast valleys, and increase from San Diego northward, while the interior valleys are More generally free from the pests. San Diego is effected but slightly. The interior valleys of Los Angeles county have less than the coast valleys, while San Bernardino county is entirely free from the black dust, and only occasionally has the scale.
"All new countries experiment with fruits by planting the seed, raising the tree and fruiting it. If successful, the culture is then commenced more systematically. This course was pursued with the orange and lemon. Seeds from the Sicily lemon were planted, and the fruit thereof was called the Sicily leuion. In this respect there is a wide difference between the orange and lemon, as the Seedling orange is a valuable fruit, while, as a rule, the Seedling lemon is worthless."
Conceding the fact that the area of possible production is much smaller for lemons than for oranges, and that the industry is less likely to be overdone than any other branch of citrus culture, it seems to ane that lemon growing offers great inducements to the horticulturist who is rightly situated to engage in it. The char
acter of the lemon as a fruit is also quite different from that of the orange, the former being more of a staple. Lemon juice enters largely into manufactured products—in citric acid and in cooking. The habit of the tree also in forming and maturing its fruit successively for several months of the year favors a long market. Under proper conditions the lemon tree is hardy, thrifty and a prolific bearer. It requires less water than the orange. These are all advantages worth considering.
The imported lemon sells in the leading markets at from $8 to $10 per box, or from $24 to |30 per thousand; the California lemon commands from $2.50 to $3 per box, or from $10 to $15 per thousand.
Why should not the California lemon, if raised to an equal standard with the imported fruit command an equal price?
In 1881 the importation of lemons to the United States amounted to 800,241 boxes, or a total of 301,084,352 lemons. For the ten years preceding 1881 there had been an average increase of 54,271 boxes annually. As long as this vast and increasing consumption continues, there must be a field for lemon growing.
AN INVESTIGATION OF LEMONS AND LEMON CULTURE.
At the Citrus Fair, held in Riverside in 1883, a committee was appointed, to make thorough scientific tests, for purposes of comparison of lomons grown in California and of some samples of the imported fruit. The committee was also instructed to consider the status of lemon growing in California, and to report upon the best means for the promotion of the industry. The committee made a valuable report, a portion of which is subjoined:
EXTRACT PROM THE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE.
"To assist the growers of citrus fruits in Southern California in supplying the increased demand for the lemon, and to place the crops grown by them properly before the consumers of the Pacific Coast, was the object of this examination.
"That there is a very profitable field yet unoccupied by the growers of citrus fruits,
is very clearly shown by the following statistics, gathered from the valuable report of J. H. Bostwick, upon the importation of green fruits into the United States for 1881 and preceding years.
"From this we find that in the years 1872
and 1881 the inportations were as follows:
No. Boxes. No. Lemons.
1872 317,532 111,136,200
1881 8(30,241 301,084,352
"An increase in ten years of 542,709 boxes and 189,948,152 lemons; an annual average increase of 54,271 boxes.
"It is a notabe fact that while the importation of the lemon has increased so rapidly, that of the orange, during the same time, has Increased only half as much from all sources, and it is reasonable to suppose that this increase in the importation of the orange will be entirely checked within ten years by the great productiveness of the growers of Florida, Louisiana, and California.
"The foreign lemon, always commanding the highest price in the San Francisco market, was adopted by the committee as a standard of comparison for the lemons grown in Southern California.
"Freshly imported specimens were secured from Messina, Malaga and Palermo, direct from Boston, through the liberality of Mr. H. B. Everest, and Messinas from Messrs. Dalton & Gray, of San Francisco, the latter having been picked some six months. All the specimens were in good condition.
"The lemons of Southern California were from all the important fruit-growing districts of this section, and from the fact that they were picked about the same time and cured in the same manner, the collection was the best in its average appearance and quality ever placed upon exhibition in the State.
"The following table shows the result of the analyses:
Southern California were fully equal to the best imported.
"The Sweet Rinds and most of the Seedlings, with an occasional Lisbon and Eureka, were above the standard size and weight. This will nearly always occur when the fruit is permitted to hang longer upon the tree than is necessary to mature it for market.
"It was noticed in the examination that the lemons of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego were nearly globular in form, and all having a smooth, morocco-like texture of the rind, while those of the same varieties found in San Gabriel and Pasadena were more elongated in form and not as smooth, and those of Riverside and vicinity were still more elongated and rougher in rind— a marked difference that must, in the opinion of the committee, be attributed to the differences in the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere in the localities named.
"It is noticeable that the smoothness and thinness of rind indicate greater quantity of juice, owing to the belter development and cured state of the lemon. The extreme size does not show its proportional quantity of juice, but the medium sizes show the best averages.
"second—Bitterness.—A bitter lemon is Worthless for market purposes, and to the fact that so many of the Seedling lemons of California are bitter, is to be attributed, to a great extent, the low value of this lemon in the San Francisco markets.
"The test for bitterness, as adopted by the committee, was much more severe than that required of the lemon in ordinary use; yet the result was an exceedingly favorable one for the best budded varieties of our lemons.
"Out of forty-eight samples tested, thirty were entirely free from bitterness; seven showed only a trace, and eleven were decidedly bitter.
"We think, from this showing, it will not be difficult for our fruit growers to eliminate all traces of bitterness from the fruit grown here. To do this successfully the causes must be thoroughly understood, and the remedies, well known, as thoroughly applied.
"As a foundation for further and more