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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62

Fruit

Fruit.

From the North Cape to the Bluff Hill, in the extreme south of the Middle Island, the climate and soil are eminently adapted for the growth of a large variety of fruits. In the Auckland District, oranges, lemons, and limes flourish: many groves are page 37 now coming into full profit, and afford light and pleasant employment to a large number of persons. This employment will go on increasing as the trees become older. The olive flourishes, bearing heavy crops of fruit, and the manufacture of oil will one day become a very important industry.

Vine-growing is also carried on successfully in many districts, tons of fruit being sold in the Auckland markets annually.

Away in the far north the banana grows and ripens its fruit, but it is not thought that it will ever enter into successful competition with those imported at so cheap a rate from the Pacific Islands.

Extensive orchards of apples have existed in Auckland for more than half a century, producing abundance of fruit of excellent quality, yielding returns equal to £40 or £50 per acre, provided they are kept free from pests. Orchard-planting is progressing rapidly, and must one day become a very important industry.

There were 19,627 acres returned as being in orchards in 1892, an increase of 2,580 acres.

Now that the problem of landing the fruit in good condition on the London market has been satisfactorily solved, considerable quantities have been shipped Home, with varying success. It is satisfactory to note that fruit of the proper varieties, and which were properly packed, have invariably realised remunerative prices. Much has yet to be done in the way of arriving at the best methods of packing and the best treatment on the voyage, the best varieties to grow, and the exact stage of ripening at which the fruit should be picked. Up to the present the trade with the United Kingdom has been mostly of an experimental character. Shipments have been sent Home as ordinary cargo, at little more than half the cost for freight in the cool chamber, and have realised as much as 16s. per case, leaving a fair profit. The present cost of shipping apples in the cool-chamber is 4s. 4d. per case, the other expenses bringing it up to nearly 8s. per case. Shipped as general cargo the charges would be, approximately, 5s. 6d. per case. If shipping as ordinary cargo is found successful the industry will at once become a most profitable one, adding immensely to the general prosperity of the colony. Pears, plums, quinces, apricots, figs, walnuts, cherries, gooseberries, currants, strawberries, and raspberries grow luxuriantly, producing abundant crops of fruit.

Little has yet been done in the way of bottling or drying fruit for home use. This is an industry which only awaits development.

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Cider is manufactured, and fruit wines are gradually finding their way into consumption.

A considerable trade is also done in colonial-manufactured jams.

Before planting of fruit trees was commenced on a large scale, with a view to the export trade, little attention was paid to the varieties selected. The result is that many bearing trees have proved unsuitable to the new requirements, and are now being cut down and regrafted or replanted. According to latest advices, the following varieties of apple are said to be in most request in the London market, always commanding a quick sale at good prices—namely, Ribstone Pippin, Cox's Orange Pippin, Waltham Abbey, Sturmer Pippin, Scarlet Pearmain, Adam's Pearmain, and New York Pippin. The soil best adapted for growing apples is a strong loam with a clay sub-soil; but they will thrive in almost any kind of soil, provided it is in good heart and that water does not stagnate in the subsoil.

One of the peculiarities of the climate of New Zealand is that all kinds of fruit-trees are forced into bearing at an earlier stage than is the case in Great Britain.