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There are many obstacles to be contended with which lie in the way of successful fruit-growing here. Yet not all the losses and failures are confined to this State. Throughout the entire northern States we hear of orchards and nurseries partially destroyed or injured, so that even in many of the cld fruit-growing States they feel the want of hardier varieties. I have full faith in fruit-growing as a business in Wisconsin, and that any man with ordinary intelligence upon the subject, can engage in the growing of fruit as a business, and obtain much surer and larger returns for his labor and money invested than from any other farm crop. My faith is built upon nearly a quarter of a century's experience in fruit-growing in this State, and I would much rather have ten acres of land, suitable for the purpose, in apples of the right varieties, well into bearing, than a quarter section of good land for ordinary farming purposes, Last season was one of comparatiye failure in the apple crop, and yet nothing paid me so well. I gathered from twenty-five trees, occupying one-half acre of land, one hundred and twenty barrels of fruit, and those same twenty-five trees have paid nearly $10 per tree for twelve or fifteen years. An orchard of ten acres of such trees, all can readily see, would bring a large annual income, for even half that amount per tree would far exceed in value any other farm crop. It is astonishing how slow the ordinary farmer is to learn the value of a good commercial orchard. It requires culture and care, but the labor expended annually, in proportion to the income, is very small compared with other farm crops. Trees are planted carelessly and left to take care of themselves; any kind of crop is put in the orchard without regard to its effect upon them. Many farmers seem to have set a few trees without faith that that they will ever prove of any value, and they grudgingly give them the space they occupy. Very few even, with the best of locations on which to plant, ever think of growing fruit as a business, while a good commercial orchard of ten or twenty acres, upon any farm adapted to the culture of fruit, would add ten-fold to its annual production, and an equal amount to the value of the farm. It is all very well, they think, for the people on the other side of Lake Michigan to make fruit-growing a busiuess, but here it is far better to grow wheat, when it can be demonstrated that the profits of the orchard are fifty times greater than the growing of wheat.
There are large sections of our State where the apple can be grown with as much certainty and profit as in any part of Michigan, and it is our fault if we do not grow enough, at least, for home consumption. There are thousands of acres of land in our State lying iảle and unproductive, where the apple can be grown with as much certainty of success as any place on earth. I believe it is equally true that there are other portions where failures have been general, and will continue to be, until we find a hardier class of fruits, adapted to such localities. When we come to understand that we cannot grow "figs of thistles," and that upon a soil unadapted to the growth of any particular product we shall meet with certain failure, we will expend our efforts in the growth of such products as are adapted to the soil; then our success will be certain.
The show of fruit at our State Fair was remarkably good; all the space in the large hall being fully occupied. Owing to the fair being held earlier than usual, much of the fruit was not fully matured. For the best display of fruit and agricultural products, the fair was too early. I should hope that we might go back to former usage, if it would not seriously incommode the horse-trotting department. Our show at Chicago was very good, but not what it might have been a little later in the season. A full report of our exhibition will be made by the chairman of your committee.
Special efforts should be made to induce people to plant evergreens and other trees for shelter, especially upon the prairies. The first duty of the farmer upon the prairie is to plant trees for shelter. The proper planting and arrangement of evergreens will enable them to grow fruit more successfully. An eastern hillside on the prairie, with the summit crowned with evergreens, may be made very good for fruit. There is no farm where the judicious planting of from $20 to $50 worth of small evergreens will not, in a few years, add to the value of the farm ten times their cost. The low price at which they are now offered brings them in reach of all.
The past season was unfavorable for the grape; a large crop was set, but the season being cold and wet, it did not mature perfectly. Such was the case in some of the best grape-growing sections of the northern states. In Ohio, along the lake shore, there was a partial failure from the same cause.
The cranberry promised an unusually large crop. A very heavy frost occurring in August, destroyed the largest portion of it; still thousands of barrels were gathered and shipped abroad. The cranberry interest is a prominent, growing interest in our State. Probably no State in the Union has as large an area of valuable cranberry-lands as Wisconsin, and none more susceptible of improvement with as little cost. The day is not far in the future when the cranberry-crop will nearly equal in value any crop grown in our State. Papers have been promised by growers, which will bring this interest before you, and I trust it will receive such attention and elicit such discussion as its importance demands.
I would suggest the propriety of making a show of the fruits of Wisconsin at the Centennial Exhibition the present year, at Philadelphia. Our fruits can be placed on exhibition at the proper season, and a show may be made far excelling that made by us at Chicago. In order to make the best show possible, competent persons should be employed, in different parts of the State, to make collections, and only those appointed who will do the work; for upon the thoroughness with which this duty is performed, depends the success of the exhibition.
Members of the State Horticultural Society, we have been wont to meet together, at these our annual gatherings, for many years, to recount our trials, our disappointments, and our successes, and from time to time to strengthen that bond of union, cemented by a common interest in a common cause. Let us not forget that our deliberations may greatly advance the cause for which we labor, or retard its progress in the State. Let us put aside all selfish considerations, and labor for the general good, that our deliberations may result in giving safe and sure directions to those who would beautify their homes and add value to them, by the planting of flowers and trees, for fruit, for ornament, and shade. Such an object is worthy of our best efforts, and will pay, if not in dollars, in the consciousness that we have lived and labored, not for selfish ends, but for the general good.
F. W. CASE, MADISON.
Gentlemen of the State Horticultural Society:
When last we gathered here, arctic storms were sweeping over the country, causing many fears lest the horticultural interests of our State would be wrecked by their polar waves. The extreme severity of the winter left little or no ground to hope for a crop of fruit the coming season, and most of us felt that when spring came, we should witness another wholesale destruction of our trees; but the storms have passed away and we can not only say "that we still live," horticulturally, but that we have taken a new lease of life, and have fresh courage to contend with the difficulties that surround us, for we are inspired with the belief that we have now touched bottom, and know where we stand; what we shall have to meet, and what we have, on which we can depend.
Many trees were killed or injured, and in some locations even the Iron Clads were found wanting in hardiness, but in the majority of our orchards, they came through un harmed and in some instances yiel·led fair crops of fruit. Other varieties, generally regarded as too tender to be recommended for cultivation in our climate, withstood the rigors of the hard winter and bore fruit. In spite of the very unfavorable circumstances attending its growth, the longest, hardest winter we have ever known, a very backward spring, followed by a cold season, with frost in nearly every one of the summer months, our fruit, with the exception of grapes, came to full maturity, and though generally sparing in quantity, was of more than the average quality. The display of fruit made by the society at the Pomological Exhibition, and those at our State and local fairs, far exceeded the most sanguine expectations; in fact, in some respects, they surpassed those of former years when fruit was abundant. Under these circumstances why should we be disheartened?
LESSONS OF THE YEAR.--Each season has some additional light and knowledge to impart to the careful observer, and it is often the case that our times of trial, our failures and losses are the most fruitful sources of instruction and profit, if improved aright. It is by giving heed to these lessons of experience that we shall become able, if ever, to attain to complete success. There is little need to speak to you in regard to the lessons of the past season, as yon all are, doubtless, more familiar with the subject than myself, but in order to call your attention more fully to it I will mention one or two of the most noticable facts, a due consideration of which may give light to guide us in the future.
The experience of the past season seems to prove more conclusively that hardiness, with us, is only a relative term, being modified by local circumstances and conditions. In some orchards we have seen our Iron Clads killed outright, in others, varieties classed as tender and unreliable, that have come out of the arctic furnace entirely unharmed. In view of this fact, would it not be well for the society, if it is to recommend certaiii varieties for general cultivation as hardy, and others as sufficiently so for particular localities, to make, in a condensed form, a statement of the most important circumstances and conditions, as to soil, exposure, protection, mode of cultivation etc., which apply to and should accompany each list? These facts have been repeatedly given in addresses, papers, and discussions at our meetings, but would they not be brought more prominently before the public and result in much good if presented in a condensed form, as a system of rules to be observed, conditions to be complied with to give a reasonable hope of success? It has been stated as an objection to this, that it is impossible to make rules, or prescribe conditions that will apply to all cases, but does not the same objection hold good, even with greater force in regard to recommending a list of varieties at all?
Again, we see from this season's experience that loss of fruit cannot be attributed to severe cold alone. Had the general opinion in regard to the degree of cold our fruit-buds can endure been correct, not a fruit-bud in the whole State would have escaped destruction. There is undoubtedly a limit to their power of endurance, but it is much greater than has been generally supposed, other conditions being favorable. And here is a question that it will be for our interest to consider. What are these conditions ? Why is it that some orchards have borne good crops of fruit, while others, perhaps in the same locality, have yielded little or none? Why is