« AnteriorContinuar »
detail of the industry. They have studied the requirements of their trees; have informed themselves of the most scientific methods of propagation; have introduced, by budding, the choicest known varieties; have mastered the problem of insect pests; have established markets, and are working to gain a reputation for their fruit. In those points to which they have earnestly and systematically devoted themselves, it is doubtful whether they are excelled by any orange - producing country in the world.
In two essentials, however, they are still lacking: 1st—manuring the soil; 2nd—preparing and packing the fruit.* But a reading, thoughtful, progressive people will not take long to discover and remedy their lapses.
Compared with horticulture as pursued in other portions of the United States, our section occupies a leading position. The system of seeding an orchard to grass or clover, or the lack of system in allowing the ground to grow up with weeds—which one sees so generally followed in other States—is not in vogue among our cultivators. On the contrary, the finest tilth and the utmost freedom from weeds and grasses is maintained, both in citrus and deciduous orchards. It would not be a difficult matter to show hundreds of fruit farms, varying in size from ten to fifty acres, which are as carefully tended as the finest flower garden.
Some people of poetical temperament complain of the absence of greensward in our orange groves, declaring that only this is lacking to complete the romance of the situation. But in this day and age romance is obliged to retire before utility. Scientific culture demands that soil devoted to trees shall not be exhausted by other vegetable growth; also that the surface of the ground be at all times finely pulverized in order to retard evaporation. Our system of fruit growing conforms to these requirements.
For a time—I refer to the period between 1870 and 1880—citrus culture presented here the spectacle of a great industry run
"note.—I should make sn exception in Biverside, where the packing is done in a systematic and thorough manner.
mad. In a preceding chapter I referred to the furor for planting which then existed, and I also alluded briefly to some of the disastrous results which followed. Those years inculcated some useful lessons. They taught us that well established precedents and natural conditions can not be ignored and defied. They taught that success is attainable only by working with Nature, not against her.
And now, chastened, humbled, punished for our previous thoughtlessness and wrong-doing, and likewise rewarded for carefulness and right-doing, we proceed with more confidence and more integrity of purpose than ever before. With precedents well established,and authentic information disseminated on every questionable point, a man who takes pains to inform himself may now attain success in orange culture as surely as the sea captain who consults the chart may make his port. Of course, unforseen accidents may happen to either captain or orange-grower, but of the two the "land-lubber" enjoys the greater immunity.
The report of the Surveyor-General of California for the fiscal year 1881-2 gives the following statistics:
Number of Number of
Bearing Bearing Lemon Trees. Orange Trees.
Los Angeles county 48,350 450,125
San Bernardino 3,749 15,435
San Diego 1,257 3,390
Santa Barbara 1,840 612
Santa Clara 547 1,635
Sonoma 1,893 3,927
Ventura 1,000 200
Butte 2,400 2,960
Scattering 1,094 4,643
Total 62,130 484,227
It was estimated that the number of trees not yet in bearing (which did not figure in the Assessor's reports) was three times the number of those in bearing, so that the grand total of orange trees in the State could not have been far from two millions.
Reports for the year 1882-3 are not available for any of the counties except Los Angeles. The Assessor of that county returns this year 526,640 bearing orange trees and 50,565 bearing lemon trees.
The entire crop of the State was, in the season of 1881-2, twenty millions of oranges. San Francisco, which is our principal market, uses about twelve millIons annually, of which over half are supplied by Southern California. In 1879 fifteen car loads of oranges were sent from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, Utah, and from that time a good market has there been found. The rapid influx of people to Arizona during the past three or four years greatly increased the demand from that quarter. Arizona, by reason of the inadaptability of her soil to agriculture, the principal occupations of her people being mining and stock raising, and the excessive heat of her summers, is certain to continue a large consumer. Our market has also been extended within the past few years so that it includes Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, and all of tho principal cities of the West and Southwest. Some fruit has found its way to the Atlantic States and some has been shipped to European countries, but not to the extent of forming regular channels of trade.
The number of oranges shipped by the Southern Pacific railroad from Southern California to Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and through points on the Missouri river and east thereof, from January 1st to July 1st, 1883, amounted to 131,450 boxes. By Wells, Fargo <fe Co., during the same time, estimated 20,000 more, making in all 151,450 boxes containing 30,290,000 oranges. To this amount we may add at least 10,000,000 more, shipped from July 1st to Dec. 31st, and at least 5,000,000 used up in local markets or destroyed in orchards, making for the crop, without counting those shipped to San Francisco 45,000,000 oranges. With the fruit raised in San Diego, San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara, 1 here were probably 50,000,000 grown in the year 1882 and 1883. It is estimated that the annual increase from this time forward will be 10,000,000 a year. The crop, of 1883-4, if all put in boxes, would have required 250,000 boxes, and would have filled 700 freight cars at the rate of 350 boxes per car.
The remarkable keeping qualities of our oranges—due in a measure, no doubt, to their thick rind—renders their shipment long distances quite feasible.
The .season at which our fruit ripens (December to March) and the length of time it may be allowed to remain on tno trees without detriment (December to July) gives us great choice of market. Florida and Louisiana oranges are sold from November 1st to March 1st, and at the latter date tho entire crop is gone. There is no necessity for marketing our fruit before February or March—and in fact it hardly attains its full size and sweetness until then—when we have the entire field to ourselves. Even the imported Tahitis are then out of the way.
As the lines of trade become better established, and the excellencies of our fruit more appreciated throughout tho United States, the demand will, of course, greatly increase. It is fair to assume that, notwithstanding the prodigious increase of plantations, the market will never be overstocked with good fruit. Taking tho season of 1883-4 for an example, I may state that as early as December 1st, when the fruit was only beginning to turn color, four-fifths of the crop of Los Angeles county had been engaged by jobbers. One cultivator sold his crop on the trees for the lump sum of $12,000. The usual price paid was $2 per box (average 150 oranges) and fancy lots went up to $2.50, $3.00, and ever $5.00 per box. That year's crop was accounted short—from half to two-thirds the normal yield—and the nnusual promptness of purchasers was, of course, largely attributable to this fact. But, considering the increased number of bearing trees, and the increased capacity of some of the older ones, the yield was still very large. There is yet no substantial indication that the market is being over-supplied.
As the reader has already discovered by the perusal of the Surveyor General's table above given, the cultivation of tho orange and lemon is confined to a few counties of California. Los Angeles county alone makes a showing in the above table of over forty-five forty-eighths of all the bearing trees in the State. I shall attempt to show, before concluding this treatise, that only a limited portion of Los Angeles and of tho other orange-growing counties is adapted to the production of the better class ot oranges. The area of possible production is, then, very much restricted. While the market must continue to grow, and while the product will doubtless grow with the market, the area of possible production can not grow. At present ten oranges are imported to everyone grown in the United States. The time is coming when our home product will, in a great measure, supplant foreign importations. Prices may fluctuate somewhat, and
may sometime rule much lower than they do now, but even at one-half of present quotations orange-growing must continue profitable. Growers in the Mediterranean accept one-quarter of our prices, yet they admit that they would find their groves profitable even at lower rates.
It is the firm belief of the writer that orange-growing in California will never be overdone, and, when rightly pursued, will never become unprofitable.
PROFITS OF ORANGE CULTURE.
In his delightful book on Orange Culture in Florida, Rev. T. W. Moore says:
"When compared to the profit from other kinds of business, that derived from orange growing is so large that a statement of facts is often withheld because the truth seems fabulous to those who have only had experience with other kinds of fruit. Those engaged in the business consider each tree, as soon as it is in healthy and vigorous bearing, worth one hundred dollars. Indeed, the annual yield of such a tree will pay a large interest on the one hundred dollars. Now if we take into consideration that from forty to one hundred trees are grown on an acre, the yield is immense. In the quiet country, breathing its pure atmosphere, with fresh fruits and vegetables from January to January; mith milk, butter, honey and poultry, the product of his farm and accessories to his grove, the man who has once brought his trees into successful bearing can enjoy all these and much more besides, having at his command an income quite equal to that commanded by owners of blocks of well-improved real estate in our towns and cities, with not one-tenth part of the original cost of city investments."
This, let it be distinctly understood,was not written about California. Therefore, I have introduced it here. Before opening fire on this much bombarded question of orange culture, I wish to fortify myself with breastworks that shall be impregna
ble to the charge of local prejudice. My purpose is to show that another people, far remote, and following orange culture under conditions quite independent of ours, havearrivedat the belief that orange culture is very profitable. We of California have worked through the same premises and arrived at the same conclusion. The proof is by two witnesses.
It is a difficult matter to present in business-like form the Profit and Loss account of orange culture in Southern California. It is a great industry, scattered and diversified. In one instance—pursued by a shiftless cultivator, or in an illy adapted locality, or lacking in other ways es^^ptial conditions of success—it may be a losing business. Again, with moderately favorable conditions, it may pay a small profit. And still again, with every circumstance in its favor, including a favorable turn in the market, the profit may appear prodigious. It would not be fair to cite either of these cases as illustrative of general results. It would not be fair even to strike an average of the three. Yet somewhere between the extremes a fair generalization is to be found. Reasonable excellence is, after all, a fair criterion. Let us incline towards results obtained from right conditions, careful culture, fair markets. Such results anybody can attain if be observes established methods.
Riverside is the model orange-growing settlement of Southern California. Here the conditions of reasonable excellence are more general and uniform than in any other locality of like extent that I could name. Owing to the fact that statistics have here been carefully compiled, I am enabled to present something like a satisfactory view of the industry taken as a whole and averaged up by the acre. These statistics are drawn from the files of the Press and Horticulturist. Returns furnished by the cultivators in 1882 showed a grand total of 200,000 orange trees, covering 2,000 acres. The trees reported in 1882 may be considered as nearly all bearing at the present time—some at their best, others yielding their first or second crop, which is light. Some of the seedlings may not yet have come into bearing. Last year (1883-4), the total orange product of the valley was 25,000 boxes. The fruit then brought an average of $3 per box.
This year, the trees being more advanced and the crop generally fuller, it is estimated that the product will be from 100,000 to 150,000 boxes. Returns received from advance shipments range from $1 to $3.13 per box. These are net returns to the producers, free of any expense for picking, packing and shipping. The variation in prices is owing, in a great measure, to different qualities of fruit, the Riverside Navels and other choice budded varieties selling above the seedlings. Assuming $1.50 per box as an average price, the net income from 100,000 boxes of fruit would be $150,000. Or, taking the larger estimate of 150,000 boxes, it would be $225,000. These returns averaged upon the 2,000 acres devoted to orange culture, would give from $75 to $112.50 per acre as the net return. In this calculation, it must be remembered, enter the trees not yet bearing, others just coming into bearing and a small proportion in full bearing. Prices also range lower than ever before, with one exception, owing to the fact that our channels of trade are but just opening up, and as yet the means of disposing of so large a product are inadequate.
It is estimated that the orange crop of Riverside, when the trees are in full bearing,—say five years hence, should amount to five boxes to the tree, or 1,000,000 boxes. Allowing the price to be 75 cents per box (and it is hardly likely that fruit of the
quality raised in the interior valleys of California will ever go below that figure), we shall have an aggregate net income oi $750,000, or an average of $375 per aere-
These general estimates may seem overdrawn. Perhaps the inscrutable logio of events may prove them so. But I can assure my readers that the basis of calculation both in price of fruit and yield, arefar below what is being realized in individual cases.
It is a matter of record, and has been* cited in a preceding chapter, that some of. tiie early cultivators realized profits which' seem fabulous. Governor Downey says of Don Luis Wolfskill: "lie lived to enjoy his oranges for twenty years, and they gave him, some seasons, an income of a thousand dollars an acre. The last croj> disposed of in his lifetime, from about twenty-eight acres, sold on the trees for $25,000." The Don's sons and daughters., grown to mature years, still enjoy aprincely income from the estate..
Six or seven years ago the profits of orange culture ran up to marvelous figures. In a speech»delivered by Mr. J. de • Barth Shorb to a public body, that gentleman stated that a single acre of Co). B. D. Wilson's older orange groves yielded, nearly $1800 in one year, a fact which can readily be believed when singletrees have been known to net sixty or seventy dollars, and when from sixty to eighty trees are planted to the acre. Three years ago Mr. Dalton netted $800 from a quarter of' an acre planted in orange trees of a fine • quality, and of mature growth.
In these times of increased productionand lessened prices 1 do not know that any cultivator claims to equal the old Don's profit of $1000 per acre, or Col. Wilson's $1800. But it has been not unusnaR for a grower to clear as much as £590 am acre. In the season of 1882-3;one producer. in the San Gabriel valley sold his crop on the trees for the lump sum of $23,000. This from about forty acres of orchard.
In the files of the iVe*« and Jforticuttwrist for October 25, 1884,1 find the following:
"Mr. D. C. Twogood has 450 seedling or- ange trees, covering six acres of land. The trees were planted twelve years ago, and the roots were three years oM< 'when* the trees were planted, thus making the trees now actually fifteen years old. They have been bearing about six or seven years. It is from this six acres that Mr. Twogood expects to harvest 2000 boxes of oranges. He judges his crop this year from actual yields in previous years. He has, however, about sixty budded trees, now bearing lightly, in addition to the 450 seedlings, and possibly it may require a portion of this fruit to make up his estimate. He also has ten acres of budded orange trees that are just beginning to show fruit.
"He has obtained$3 perbox,with theexception of one year—two years ago—when on account of the freeze he got only $2.25 per box. If he gets $3 per box this year, that will be glOOO per acre, which will pay ten per cent on an investment of $10,000 per acre, or something less after deducting running expenses.
"Regarding the cost of caring for a place, that depends upon circumstances. If a man has a five-acre tract, it costs him more to take care of it than it does if he has twenty or forty acres. A man can hire all the work done in an orange orchard for $30 per acre a year, but in addition to this work he must give a certain amount of personal care and attention not called for in the $30 per acre contract. If he expects to hire all the work done, but to supervise it in person, and do a little himself occasionally, $30 per acre ought to keep an orchard in good shape for one year.
"With this year's crop Mr. Twogood
will have taken about $12,000 worth of
fruit from his six acres in twelve years
since planting—all of which, of course,
has been within the last six years. The
orchard has cost him something like the
*Six acres of land at $25 per acre $ ISO
Four hundred and fifty trees at $1 each 450
Twelve years of care at $40 per acre a year.. 2,100 Interest ou amount at 10 per cent for six yrs. 1 656
Total investment $ 4,416
Total receipts 12,000
"The present value of property each one can estimate for himself. Can Mr. Twogood afford to sell that orchard for $5,000 per acre ?".
As the market goes, Mr. Twogood does not realize $3 per box for his fruit; but, at half that price, provided the crop holds up to estimate, his returns will be $500 an acre.
If, in the evolution of the orange industry, the time shall come wheu a grove in full bearing yields only $100 an acre net, the profit ought still to satisfy a man of moderate ambition. With ten acres in trees, yielding a revenue of $1,000 a year, and the hundred and one accessories and economies of country life, a man ought to be able to live and support a family. He may enjoy not only the substantial comforts, but many of the elegancies of life. This is an independence.
*In order to avoid a false impression, I should say that such land is no longer to be had in Riverside at $25 an acre, but is worth, unimproved, tea times that figure.
CHARACTERISTICS OP THE ORANGE.
Scientists tell us that the orange is a berry. The pulp, the separating membranes and the skin are but a thickening of tho pericarp or seed vessel.
In this respect tire orange resembles the grapo (also a berry) and is totally different from the apple, in which all of the parts of tho flower—calyx, corolla, stamens and
pistil—are wrought into the fruit. The natural office of the orange, then, is to bear seed.
Before a thousand years of evolution made tho orange what we know it today, the tree bore beans—or at least produced its seed in pods clustered together at the end of a stem. If you will peel an orange