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Since 1862 the spirit of modern progress has been infused into orange-growing, and the area of plantations has increased with marvelous rapidity. In 1880 the entire number of orange trees in the State was estimated at one million, a quarter of which were in bearing. In 1882 the bearing trees had increased to half a million. The ratio of increase for the years 1883 and 1884 has probably been fully as great, and, at this writing, we may say there are a million trees in the State that are yielding oranges.
The original orchard of Father Tomas Sanchez, of blessed memory, still remains in the Mission garden at San Gabriel. It is a decrepit old patriarch still lingering to witness the glory of its tribe. The inclosure comprises about six acres, and it is probable that 400 trees constituted the original plantation. Of this number less than thirty survive. I wish that I could say that these trees, now more than eighty years old, remain in a fair state of preservation, but they do not. Few of the trunks are sound. Some of them appear half or two-thirds dead, and only a narrow margin of live bark and wood to keep vigor in the top. Some have a watersprout growing from the old trunk with all the thrift of youth, the sprout itself in a number of instances having attained the proportions of a tree. One of the old trunks that I measured showed a girth of forty-two inches near the ground. Three or four years ago the old trees were topped, probably as a restorative measure.
They now boast new tops of respectable dimensions, but the trees possess something of a stubby appearance, nevertheless. It is a matter of record that, before the topping process, one of the old trees bore in one season 10,000 oranges. The trees are now bearing from the new growth, and the fruit is a good quality. The spaces between the patriarchs, which were made vacant by those that were gathered to their fathers, have all been filled by younger trees. Some of these replants are now full grown—probably twenty-five years old, and others younger. The orchard, in the main, presents an incongruous appearance, with young, middle-aged and old trees intermingled. The well-meaning Father who replanted probably did not bear in mind the Scriptural injunction about putting new wine into old bottles, and mending an old garment with new cloth.
The Mission orchard and garden is farmed out to a tenant (Mexican), who cares for it and takes a part of the crop for his pay. While the orchard is fairly tended at present, it shows evidences of great neglect in former times. Probably its long and eventful history has been an unbroken succession of over irrigation and under cultivation. Hence the diseased condition of the trunks. Some of the patriarchs must bow to the inevitable in the course of a few years. Others promise to round up their century of existence, and perhaps more.
A GLANCE AT OUR ORANGE-GROWING COUNTRY.
'"All Gaul," says Caesar," is divided into three parts." The same is true of all Southern California. But our tripartite division, unlike Caesar's, is based upon topography.
If you were at the masthead of a vessel off the coast of Los Angeles county, you might have these three grand divisions within your range of vision. Looking up the perspective of Wilmington inlet you
would descry the low, half-marshy country behind Wilmington. At the left of the view the headlands of Santa Monica indicate the upland plain lying beyond. The mountains of the Coast Range form the background of this plain, and at their base you perceive there is an irregular, sloping strip of land, forming the line of junction between the mountains and the plain. This intermediate land here, as elsewhere in California, we designate by the Spanish word mesa, meaning table.
You have soen, then, from your masthead, the lowlands of Wilmington, the uplands of Santa Monica, and the mesas of the Coast Range. These are types of the three natural divisions of our country. Though comprehended in the same geographical area, and often found contiguous, they still vary in characteristics of soil, climate and productions as much as distinctive countries. Prof. Hilgard says:
"They are commonly distinguished into lands of the first bench, or bottom lands of the streams; lands of the second bench, forming either at the present time or originally a system of terraces elevated from fifteen to twenty-five feet above the bottom lands; and, finally, the mesa lands, lying at higher elevations, and with no definite relation to the present drainage system. Of course, these distinctions are
not absolutely maintainable; the second benches and lower mesa lands passing into each other imperceptibly, especially on the upper portions of the streams, while again, in the lower portions of the same, the second bench lands often lie high enough to be classed as mesas. On the slopes of the mesa lands the soil of the latter and that of the bench lands are of course frequently commingled."
I have cited portions of Los Angeles county by way of illustration, while specifying the general characteristics of Southern California. The principles which these chapters are designed to illustrate apply to all that portion of California lying south of Point Concepcion. They also apply, measurably, to all other agricultural sections of the State, and to all fruit-growing countries in the world, so far as I am able to judge from published reports at my command.
Our lowlands may be described, in brief, as the troughs of the natural watersheds. They occur in the line of greatest depression in the valleys, between mountain chain and mountain chain, and receive whatever surface drainage there may be. Their principal source of moisture, however, is in the subterranean flow. These lands abound in cienegas—marshy flats—and the water is anywhere obtainable a few feet below the surface. Generally speaking, our lowlands are not unlike the so-called "bottoms" of the Missouri and Mi8Siss'PPi rivers. The soil is a rich loam, and in some places quite sandy. Willows grow in dense, natural thickets, and cottonwoods are occasionally found. Some sections, too damp and alkaline for anything else, produce a species of salt grass. Where the configuration insures sufficient drainage, these lands produce amazing crops of corn, beets, pumpkins, alfalfa, etc. Small grains are apt to grow too rank for the best results. With proper tillage, the farmer may here defy that
bug-a-boo, the California "dry year," since the moisture to mature his crops is supplied unfailingly from below.
But while this lowland belt excels in the products mentioned, to the extent of being facetiously dubbed "our hog and hominy country," it is not well adapted to horticulture. I except apples and English walnuts, which thrive there, better perhaps than in other localities. Peach, pear, and other deciduous trees grow, but the fruit, while frequently of great size, is watery and insipid.
On such land were doubtless produced those California pears which Bret Harte stigmatized as "great and dropsical." The more shame to him as a quondam Californian, for abusing our fruits without discrimination! But many people have fallen into the same error; hence the widely prevalent belief that California does not produce fine-flavored deciduous fruits. Those ponderous lowland pears are designed to feast the eye3, not the palate; and the Eastern man who buys them —delivered in his market at their weight in nickels—and in good faith eats them is probably excusable for his after prejudice against California fruits.
The reason why the lowlands are not well adapted to horticulture is found in the damp, cold condition of the ground. To what extent this difficulty might be obviated by a thorough system of underdrainage, like that in vogue among Eastern and Old World farmers, it is impossible to state. So far as I am informed, nobody has tested the method; and, unfortunately, our lowland farmers are not of the class that expend any of their substance in experiments.
However they may continue to oft'end the Eastern palate with their big, tasteless pears and peaches, there is no danger that they will scandalize our citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons and limes cannot be profitably grown on the lowlands. Not only is the cold soil against them, but the air temperature also goes below their limit of endurance. I can only give a hint at the theory of atmospheric strata, which accounts for the seeming anomaly of the greater warmth existing in the higher alitudes. Suffice it that cold air being more dense than warm is heavier, and hence sinks to the lowest parts of the valley and establishes its level just as an equal volume of water would do. In our
country the cold spells are not of sufficient intensity or duration to raise this sea of .chilled air above a certain level. As the cold currents flow down from the snowcapped mountain peaks, they seek the channels of greatest depression, and the warm atmosphere of the day rises upon the surface of the invisible flood. The high grounds escape this inundation; hence their greater freedom from frosts. This is not a mere hypothesis, but a wellestablished physical condition which is demonstrated nightly through nearly the entire year. In winter it is possible to find a difference of fifteen or twenty degrees between the temperature of the high and low lands. In ascending from the valley I have many times noted the transition from a colder to a warmer stratum of air, and have even taken cognizance of three such strata in making the elevation of two hundred feet. In such cases the change is as great and as sharply defined as one would experience in passing from a cold bath to a warm one.
It has been truly said that a man might as well try to raise oranges in Greenland as in some portions of Southern California. While the object of these articles is mainly to point out the situations favorable to orange growing, it is also within their province to say where oranges may not be grown. The lowlands should be avoided.
THE MIDDLE LANDS.
The uplands, classified as the second grand division of the country, constitute our great body of agricultural and horticultural lands. As regards soil, elevation, water supply, and all leading characteristics, these uplands are greatly diversified. They are, therefore, adapted to a wide range of products, and, in one place or another, they yield everything that is grown in the country. And it is enthusiastically claimed that we have every product known to the sub-tropical and temperate zones, and some that are peculiar
to the torrid and frigid. It was mainly upon the broad expanse of these uplands that Los Angeles county produced in 1882 her 1,700,000 bushels of wheat and 729,000 bushels of barley; her fruit crop to the value of $950,000, and the grapes from which were manufactured 3,100,000 gallons of wine and 145,000 gallons of brandy.
It should be understood that I include in the category of uplands not only the broad plain of the Los Angeles valley, but also the tributary valleys, which are mainly devotpd to grain. These lands produce wheat and barley without irrigation, and during the past five years have averaged good yields. Latterly it has been demonstrated that the vine may also be grown here without irrigation, and thousands of acres, previously considered fit only (or grain, have been transformed into vineyards. For general farm products and fruits, however, irrigation is necessary.
Oranges are produced on the uplands with varying results, which may be termed good, bad and indifferent. In proximity to the ocean, the orange tree does not thrive. As the valley recedes, gaining continually in altitude and modifying the sea breezes, the chances for successful orange culture increase. Two years ago it would have been an act of treason for me to say that the best flavored oranges could not be grown in and about the city of Los Angeles, twenty miles from the coast. But it is even so. All unprejudiced observers, and some that are prejudiced, are forced by the logic of market quotations to acknowledge the fact. Last season Los Angeles fruits were sold by our jobbing
houses and hucksters at half, or less than half, the prices commanded by the oranges of Pasadena and Duarte (mesas), and of the far interior valley of Riverside, in San Bernardino county.
I have said that the chances of success in orange growing increase as the valleys recede from the ocean. The favorable conditions culminate in the high interior irrigable valleys like that of Riverside, where the soil is warm, and the weather hotter in summer, and more tempered in winter. The oranges of Riverside rate as the finest grown in the State, and command the highest prices. The same favorable conditions are found on the mesas which lie against the Sierra Madre mountains on the south, southeast and southwest. Here the atmosphere is warmer by reason of the greater elevation, and the earth absorbs heat both from the direct rays of the sun and the refraction from the mountain sides. This brings us to the consideration of what I have termed the third natural division of our country.
Less than twelve years have elapsed since the settlement and improvement of 'our mesas began. During the first half of this time the general public looked askance at the few venturesome people who had set out to demonstrate that these lands were really arable. When success was finally secured, the press took up the matter and agitated it so persistently that a general change of opinion was soon effected.
That the advantages of the mesas for fruit growing, and especially for orange growing, were so tardily recognized is a 'matter of wonder. A man with "half an eye" should have observed their natural adaptability to horticulture at the outset.
The early settler in Los Angeles county found the upper valleys mostly a treeless :and shrubless waste. The only vegetation there abounding was the alfilerilla, that hardy cousin of the geranium, which
matures its seed whether the stalk grows to a height of three feet or a half inch— thus allowing the utmost latitude for wet and dry seasons, and perpetuating itself where scarcely any other vegetation could survive. This alfilerilla the early settler found dried and matted upon the ground a good half of the year. In marked contrast with the semi-sterility of the plain, the foothills presented a perennial covering of verdure. There, through the long, dry summer, the lupine and larkspur sent up their spikes of bloom, and the sage and grease-wood, the alder, white thorn and buckthorn blossomed and matured their seeds and fruit. In some localities, too, there were vigorous growths of liveoaks and sycamores.
Now, what did the early settler do but locate his farm upon the treeless and shrubless plain, where he applied himself to the raising of an orchard and vineyard by irrigation! And he imbibed a notion, somehow, that the foothills were dry and sterile. This prejudice existed for a hundred years. Not only did the original settler maintain it faithfully to the end, but his sons and his sons' sons, to the third and fourth generation.
Our comparatively recent discovery that the fool!iills offer desirable lands for fruit culture is, in reality, no discovery at all. The viticulturists of the old world have known the fact and have taken advantage of it for many years. In France, the most celebrated vineyards—Chateau Marguax, Chateau Leoville, Monte Bello, Cliquot, and many more—are located on the summit or sides of eminences. In Germany, Johannisberg and other noble wines are produced on the Rhine hills. Spain was the last among European countries in discovering the natural advantages of the highlands, and when the fact became patent some of the more desirable locations advanced in value a thousand per cent.
For fruit trees as well as for vines the elevated lands are in request in France and Spain, and in Mediterranean countries. Substantially the same fruits that
excel in our higher altitudes excel in the. higher altitudes in France.
Gen. H. S. Sanford, of Florida, writing of citrus culture in Sicily, says: '-The richest soil does not produce the most esteemed fruits. Thus, in the vast and fertile valley of the Concho, back of Palermo, covered with orange groves of most luxuriant growth, its productions sell for one-third less than those of the same trees planted on Monte Reale, and other hills in sight, with poor, calcareous soil; and whose fruits, prized especially for export, by reason of their quality of long keeping, are known by the mark 'M' (Mountain)."
It is thus shown that the prejudice of the pioneer fruit grower against our foot hills was opposed to precedent as well as to good judgment. Having eyes, he saw not the proofs set before him by nature in the wild growth of trees and shrubs, and, having ears, he heard not the testimony of other peoples. Suffice it that the century-old prejudice having at length been dissipated, fruit and vine growers throughout the State have been making seven-league strides to recover the lost territory.
STATUS OF THE ORANGE INDUSTRY.
The orange tree is not indigenous to Southern California. Neither can it exist here in a wild, untended state. Perhaps these circumstances, seemingly disadvantageous, are really points of strength, when we consider that personal exertion supplies every deficiency.
Mankind—especially the mankind of this soft, sub-tropical clime—is. somewhat predisposed to "take things easy." Humor his laziness a little, and he becomes lazier still. If our not-too-energetic early settlers had found that by simply dropping the seed, they might grow thickets or oranges in the fence corners and by the roadsides, depend upon it, there would have been wild fruit enough to supply every demand. But with, such a con
dition of affairs, the incentive to careful modes of cultivation would have been, lacking, and to this day our people might have contented themselves with a profusion of inferior fruit, unable to command any extended market, and oblivious to the great possibilities of the orange-growing industry. Such, indeed, is the case in Central and South American countries, which have been endowed by nature with all our advantages and with the disadvantage of growing the fruit without personal effort.
Our cultivators, obliged from the outset to.give their trees close attention, and admonished that the profits would be gauged, by the thoroughness of their work, have addressed.themselves to mastering every