Maine. Board of Agriculture.

Agriculture of Maine : annual report of the secretary of the Maine Board of Agriculture online

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Mention should also be made of a very handsome basket of
flowers exhibited by Miss L. M. Pope of Manchester, as also
of a fernery shown by Mr. Floyd of Winthrop.

C. R. Rice, ^

W. P. Atherton, > Committee.

D. J. Briggs, )


Report from Androscogoin County.

South Turner, March 11, 1878.
To the Secretary of the Maine Pomological Society :

The apple crop in Androscoggin County, the past year, was almost a
failure, particularly in the northerly part of the county. There were a
few orchards in the southern part that produced some very good fruit
The old orchards have heen stripped of their foliage, the past few years,
by the caterpillars, so extensively that they have almost lost their vitality.
There have been quite a number of young orchards set out within the
last few years, to take the place of the old ones. There have been quite
a large number of pear trees set recently, and they are making a very
good growth. Almost every one who raises any flruit, grows a few
grapes, a very few of which are grown for markets, but constituting only
a small percentage of what sfe needed to supply the home market. I
think grape culture should be encouraged in this county as well as in
some others. Plums and small fruits are but little cultivated, except
strawberries, of which there are quite an amount grown.

I would say here that I believe every man, whether he be young or old,
that has a piece of land suitable for orcharding, should plant some fruit
trees, if he has not done so already, both as a luxury and for profit. If
we can raise our own fruit, it will be a saving of many thousands of
dollars, in cash, to the county,

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The Pomological Society is creating quite an interest in ftuit raising in
this connty, as well as in the State at large, and If we can keep up this
it will do a vast amount of good.

The price of apples at the time of this writing is two dollars and twenty
cents per bushel in Lewiston market.

RespectftiUy yours,


Report from Waldo County.

The season of 1877 was one of almost total failure of apples, and of only
moderate production of other fruits. In the markets, to-day, oranges are
as cheap as apples. This is something so unusual that it is worthy of
note. Trees did not put forth as much bloom as usual, and have made
only a medium growth, owing to the severe drouth. They have, how-
ever, a healthy, robust look, that assures us they have vigor enough for
a large crop in the near fhture.

The caterpillars were not very numerous or troublesome. Their depre-
dations were easily guarded against, and average vigilance would keep
the orchards free from them. Borers and the codling moth are on the
increase. Ih some sections the borers are so troublesome that large num-
bers of pear trees are being set in the place of apple trees. Bark lice do
a great deal of damage, and many do not realize it, or realizing it do not
know how, or take pains, to rid the trees of these parasites.

The hard times and a better knowledge of fruit trees, works against the
tree agent's sales to a considerable degree. A few past years it has been
crabs largely ; now it is the '' iron clad Russian." The wild goose plum
had its day, but not its generation. It led its purchasers a mythical wild
goose chase after plums, but in nine cases out of ten, with all petting and
care, died of croup or catarrh before the first plum appeared. Cherries,
warranted black-knot proof; pears, that would grow in spite of all ill-
usage ; grapes, with promise of larger berry, greater clusters, and superior
earliness, have been sold and planted out, and had the stock been good,
and true to the bill, and had the planter given it proper care, Waldo,
to-day, would be shaded by orchards, dotted with vineyards, and varie-
gated with fruit gardens. Ship-building would be stimulated and fostered
by the demand of bottoms to carry the product of our fruit-bearing
woods, and the surplus of our teeming fields. But this was not so to be,
or at least is not so now.

The great want of Waldo CJounty, to-day, in the Pomological line, is
not more trees, but better orchardists ; not better varieties, but better
care ; not more tree agents, but more manure. There is not one orchard
in our knowledge over-fed. There is but few properly fed ; and there
are hundreds simply starving to death. One tree properly fed is worth a
dozen starving. Land rich enough for corn may do to start an orchard
upon, but will not do to keep it upon unless its fertility is kept up and
gradually Increased. Trees must grow. They must bear fruit. They

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do not cease growing when they begin to bear, hence the need of increased
fertilization. Too many are afraid to manure their trees. It is well they
should be, but there is no harm in manuring the ground they grow upon.
It is hardly possible, in Maine, in Waldo county, at least, to hurt an
orchard by manuring.

We should realize that a fruit tree, especially an apple tree, is not
designed for an hour, or for a day, but for a hundred years. It is some-
thing to hand down from father to son, and to grandjon. Then it is the
part of wisdom to select a hardy, valuable variety; set only the best
specimens of its type ; carefUlly transplant it, with patience and common
sense ; prudently handle, and wisely manage it ; feed it, protect, direct it
by judicious pruning, and watch over it lest it receive damage from any
source, and our tree will kindly respond. It will show its pedigpree, its
bringing up, its care. Such a tree will pay better than whole orchards
we could name. This tree will have a green old age, an extended lon-
gevity, and if change comes at all, only for the better.

The culture of the grape is on the increase. There is more enquiry for
early maturing, hardy kinds. Only a short time since and a vine in
Waldo County was a rare sight ; now a family that is destitute of one or
more is rarer still. They are highly prized for preserving, as well as for
dessert dish, or food for the convalescent. Their culture is becoming
better understood. Those finely pruned vines in mathematically correct
diagrams, frightened the common people. *' Oh ! I can never do St." It
was thought to be the only way. A scientist and mathematician coniblned,
was needed to carry it out to a nicety. That time has gone by. That
humbug has exploded, and the common people can raise a few grapes
now, every one of them, by planting their vine and caring for it only as
they would their hop vine, or honeysuckle. If they do not get enormous
bunches for exhibition, they get some fruit at less expense, which answers
their turn.

Strawberries are cultivated in greater breadth year by year. It will be
a long time yet before the local markets are supplied. There is a demand
that grows faster than the strawberries, and this keeps up a remunerative
price. Cranberries, also, are largely consumed, but as yet sparsely grown
with us. We have excellent cranberry lauds, and good cranberry lands
are good for nothing else. The Lord never made an3rthing that cannot be
put to use, but he made some that have not been. We have some good
cranberry plantations, but not the good many that we ought to have.
The cranberries raised in some sections of the State, are hollow. This is
not the case with those grown in this section.

The work of the Pomological Society is being felt in every part of the
State, to which Waldo county is no exception. This work and the litera-
ture of the fruit growing of Maine, is not yet duly appreciated. No
society, so far as my observation extends, has accomplished so much
good in so short a time. But the work is just begun. It is but just
mapped and planned. The campaign is but just op.ened. The briish is
only just cleared away preparatory to a more use Ail planting. Light is

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beaming from the darkness in many places, which will increase, and
eventually break forth into the fUll blaze of day.


[Not having received the reports which were expected from
the Trustees in the other counties, and it being inapossible to
make any further delay in the preparation of this part of the
work, the Secretary avails himself of the following articles
selected from the newspapers of the State in the autunm of
1877, ^ving a general review of the condition and prospects
of fruit growing in the State.]


What TV'heat is among the cereals, it seems to us, the apple is among
the fruits — the most important, the most useflil, the most indispensable.
Commercially, it is one of the most important products of the temperate
zone, and from the ease with which it is grown, the period of time which it
covers — compassing in the season of its usefulness almost the entire year
in its green state, whUe the market is never without the dried product —
and the ease with which it may be transported from one section of the
country to another, it, more than any other fruit, contributes to the real
wants of the hupaau family, while adding largely to the conmiercial in-
terests of the country.

When we experience, as we are doing this year, an almost utter fkilure
of this important crop throughout New England, we are led to realize to
a far greater extent than we could ever do in years of an abundant yield
of apples, how great a loss it is to be deprived of them, and how useful a
part they contribute in the household economy. To be deprived of them
is to suffer the loss of one of the most essential elements of good living —
a loss which nothing can really make up. They form an economical and
very healthy article of diet ; and when to be had at a cheap rate, furnish
a means of subsistence that is unrivaled for economy and healthfhlness.
They require but little sweetening to make a good sauce ; are exceUent
for pies ; esteemed a luxury when baked, with the addition of a Uttle
sugar ; and as a desert, or for the use of children at ''all hours of the day,"
nothing can take their place. In short, the apple is the fruit for the peo-
ple, and one never tires of green apples, apple pie, or apple sauce, any
sooner than we tire of flour bread or biscuit and butter. It is true, we
have the cranberry ; but the cranberry is essentially an aristocratic fhiit,
requiring a large amount of sugar to render it palatable — and then we
have all forms of canned fhiits ; but these in no way make up for the loss
of the apple, and are not consumed to any great degree in its stead.

Throughout our State, and generally throughout New England, the
apple crop this year is very nearly a complete faUure. For this there are

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some easily understood causes. To begin with, it is not, generally, a
bearing year. Then, again, in most sections of our State the trees have
been so ravaged by caterpillars during the past three years, that it has
taken all their vitality to maintain life, to say nothing of the accumula-
tion of force with which to give a crop of fruit. Farmers who have in
past years derived a handsome revenue from the sale of apples, must be
content to get nothing from this source the present fall — a loss which will
be as sorely felt by some, as the absence of the fruit will be to others.
And it is a question worth considering, if we should not find it profitable
to put on. as many good orchardists did In past years, a sufficient force of
workmen to keep the caterpillars in check, should they ever come in force
again ; and to so heavily manure our trees that they may bear every year
whether the year be "odd" or '*"even." Cannot this be done? — Maina


Fruit-raising in Maine, during the past few years, has been on the
decline. There are probably twenty-five per cent, less apple trees in
bearing condition now than there were three years ago. The ravages of
the caterpillars cut off the apple crop two years, and left; the trees in
such an enfeebled state that the crop this year is the same as a &ilnre.
Large numbers of trees having been killied by the effects of the ravages
of the caterpillars, farmers have been disinclined to purchase young trees
for setting new orchards. Their old orchards, they have seen to be
unprofitable and barren for three years, and they are not certain that it
is going to be a good thing for them to set more orchards.

Fruit-raising in Maine should take a *" new departure," and assume the
importance which its merits deserve. No other branch of fkrming can be
made to pay the large and continued profits that fruit-raising can be made
to yield. An orchard of young, thrift;y and productive apple trees is the
best investment that any farmer can make. If a man owns a good orchard
and takes care of it, he is as sure of a good crop every year as he is of a
crop of corn or potatoes. Even during the past three years, those who
have taken good care of their orchards have received remunerative crops
of fruit from them. Those who protected their trees from caterpillars in
1875 and 1876, harvested good crops of fruit, of four times the valae of
what it had cost to protect the trees, and this year they will also harvest
a fair crop, and the high prices will make it a very valuable one.

The experience of the past three years, however disheartening it has
been to those who failed to protect their orchards from the caterpillars,
has been tall of encouragement to those who have protected the trees.
They have learned that the apple crop is a sure crop if well cared for.
Those who have taken the best care of their orchards have secured the
greatest profit from them.

In caring for an orchard, it is not sufficient to keep off insect enemies.
Something more is required. It is true that orchards will produce in
ordinary years some fruit — oft;en quite a feir quantity— but with veiy

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little attention other than to gather the fruit when ripe. The fact that
apple trees do sometimes succeed remarkably well thus neglected, should
be a basis for encouragement in adopting a better system of culture. No
other producing agent on the farm responds more generously to good
culture than does the apple tree. Yet no other farm crop is so generally
left to look out for itself.

Fertilizers and farm manure are as essential to the best results in apple-
raising as in corn-raising. Land that is in good condition will produce a
little corn iiithout mAiure, and so will an orchard without fertilizers,
produce a little fruit. A heavy application of manure and fertilizers to
the corn-field produces a large crop of grain, and pays a handsome profit
on the expense. . So the application of manures and fertilizers to the
orchard produces an abundant crop of large, fair apples which will sell at
a- good price. If the trees are fertilized every year, they will bear a
pretty good crop of apples every year. The income of a large orchard of
grafted fruit well eared for, proves one of the most reliable of any crop
on the fai-m, and is one of the most substantial supports of the farmer.
There are many orchards in this State, that previous to 1875 yearly
brought more money to their owners than all the rest of the farm.

It is not recommended that every farmer should engage in apple grow-
ing. Some farms are ill adapted to apple trees, and it would prove uncer-
tain business at the be-st, to attempt to raise them to any extent. Other
£irms, however, seem peculiarly well adapted to the apple tree. The
trees grow thriftily, and are hardy and productive. Oftentimes such
(arms are stony and worth very little for other purposes except grazing.
Tbe £»rmer who owns such land should make orcharding his principal
business. The apple crop should be his principal crop, and he should
i^ply his manure and fertilizer to secure an abundant yield. In some
towns in Maine, most of the high land is eminently well adapted to apple
orchards, and the owners of such land should engage extensively in the
culture of the apple. One man can attend to a large number of apple
trees, covering several acres, except when the harvest time comes, when,
of course, more laborers will be required. But, at other seasons of the
year, the fiurmer could attend to his orchard himself, without the aid of
the hired help, which would be needed if he cultivated hoed crops ex-

Some refrain from setting young orchards, because they think it will
require almost a lifetime for the trees to come into bearing. Much less
time than is usually supposed is required to bring young trees into bear-
ing. Trees set on suitable land, in good condition, cultivated, manured
and well attended to, will be in condition in ten years to begin to bear
considerably, and be a source of profit. Ten years is not a very long
time to wait for a return for the money expended, and besides, he who
plants au orchard, makes one of the best of investments for his children.
It is a better investment than town or city bonds.

It is to be hoped that apple trees will be more extensively set the coming
year than ever before, and that the farmers will cultivate the ground

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where the trees are set till they are well established in bearing. It is of
very little use to set trees and neglect them. It Is of little use to set
trees ftom rich nurseries in poor grass fields where they cannot find
enough nourishment to keep them alive. Trees in cultivated ground,
where they are well fertilized will grow twice as much as in grass ground
where they find deficient nourishment. Maine can produce as fine apples
as .can be grown on the continent, and can compete with any section in
raising them. Tlie numerous manufacturing towns and cities within her
borders, and the cities and towns in New Epglana, afford a ready market
for all the apples that can be produced within our State. Let the fanners
take a new interest in the culture of the apple and engage extensively in
it. It is one of the most important branches of fanning, and might be
made the most profitable of any. — Levmton Journal,

Local Report from Cumberland County.

Standish, September 12, 1877.

Fruit raising in this town is increasing, and is the best paying interest
in soil tilUng operations with us. Every man owning land, varying from
one acre to one hundred and more, raises more or less apples and other
friiit. There are some splendid and extensive orchards, raising apples of
unsurpassed variety and excellence. The two best and most extensive
fruit raising establishments in town, and perhaps in the county, belong
respectively to Mr. A. W. Marrett and Rev. T. Baker. Mr. Marrett ofi;en
counts his bushels of splendid Baldwins, and other choice kinds, up to
3,000, — from which he gathers a handsome income, in Portland, only
fifteen miles from where they reddened and ripened in the autumn sun,
Mr. Baker's orchard is younger, and consequently not of so large present
productive capacity, but yet yielding him handsome returns, and promis-
ing vastly increased installments for his labor and care at a near ftiture
day. Besides an old orchard of several hundred trees, he has somewhere
about 400 young ones, vigorous and thrifty, which he has planted, grafted
and cared for, from the seed-bed, since he came upon the place, twenty
years ago. Two hundred of these young trees have been several years hi
bearing, and last year yielded a good income. The rest are nearly all
grafted, and promising a rich return for all labor and care in a very few
years. He has a fiarm of 114 acres, that defies competition for capabilities
in hay, grain, com, and fhiit raising, besides pine timber and wood growth,
handy and In large supply. Pears, grapes, and other small fhilts flourisb
and ripen well on his place.

The caterpillars, so destructive to orchards in other parts of the State,
have done us no harm in Standish. For some reason, perhaps past ex-
planation, the fruit Is this year less In amount than even the ordinary crop
of the unproductive years, and not an eighth of what It was last year.—
Cor, Lewiston Journal,

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The ably written articles on ftnit culture which have appeared in the
Farmer of late, have been read with deep interest. Much capital has been
and is still being invested in this branch of farming, while the returns for
a few years past have been rather slow and uncertain, and the present out-
look is far from encouraging. While these failures are so frequent around
U8, we need the views of the most experienced orchardists in the State
concerning the cause. Let us hear from them ; whether they have made
the business pay or otherwise ; their notes of warning or encouragement
will be valuable to those who desire instruction.

A glance at the orchards over the State shows that the business has
been both overdone and but half done. If but one half the money paid
out yearly for trees, could be expended for good trees only, of those varie-
ties proved to be adapted to the locality where they are set, and receive
the same attention and cost of culture that the whole are now receiving,
large losses and disappointments would be avoided. Perhaps no State in
the Union has a greater variety of soil than ours— portions being well
fitted for orcharding, and others valueless for this purpose. One has only
to contrast the size, vigor and productiveness of both apple and pear trees
in the central and western parts of the State, with those in the northern
and eastern, to see that the former localities are quite preferable. I
recently measured two apple trees in Kittery, one of which gave eleven
feet nine inches in circumference, three feet from the ground ; the other
twelve feet nine inches, Ave feet from the ground. These trees are esti-
mated to be two hundred years old. The oldest inhabitant can remember
them fifty years ago, when they were in fhll vigor. They are still bear-
ing fruit, although their hollow trunliis and decajdng tops show that
they will soon pass away. They evidently belong to a hardy race, and
have been favored with a good soil and location. We need not expect
the puny trees of the present day to attain to the size and age of these,
but if we desire the best trees that can be grown, we should be more care-
ftil to select the hardy ones.

Starting an Orchard. — How shall I start an orchard?^ Shall I set seed-
lings or buy Western trees? These are questions often asked by young
orchardists. My advice to every farmer is to raise his own trees as far as
practicable, and set only the best. If he wants to propagate Baldwins or
other tender varieties, he should not graft until the trees are well started
in the orchard. Duchess of Oldenburg, Talman^s Sweet, and other per-
fectly hardy varieties, may be safely worked in the nursery. I should
jodge three-fourths of the trees that have been set during the past twenty
years, were raised out of the State, mostly in New York. Some are well
grown, many are rather refuse, with small roots, cramped and ill-shaped
tops, and they are often bruised in transporting. When two thousand
dollars are paid out in one year for Western nursery stock by one iovm in
Maine alone, we can but see the need of doing something to check this

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More Questions — Can we not raise trees here quite as well suited to our
wants as to send so much money abroad for them? Is it not better for us
to propagate more largely ftom some choice sorts, which have their origin
in Maine, and are of known repute for hardiness and marlcet value? Some
of the most vigorous trees I have seen growing In the State were from
seed dropped by the wayside and in pastures. The feeble condition and
early decay of some orchards is doubtless o^ing to the wealc or diseased
stock from which the seed or graft is taken. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Pears— Chickens and Insects— IncreaBing attention Is being paid to the
cultivation of Pears, and in some places with good results. From some
observations at home and in the western parts of the State. I find a larger
per centage of pear trees are saved, and the entire failure of fruit is not
so frequent as with apples. While visiting C. C. Barrett, of York, one of
the most enterprising farmers in that section of the State, I was shown a
lot of orie hundred strong pear trees just set on soil well adapted to their

Online LibraryMaine. Board of AgricultureAgriculture of Maine : annual report of the secretary of the Maine Board of Agriculture → online text (page 33 of 52)