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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62



The varied climate of the Colony enables fruit to be grown to great advantage. In the Auckland province we have a semi-tropical climate which enables oranges, lemons, figs, olives, grapes, &c., to be easily grown, while the cooler climate of the south is more suitable to the fruit-trees grown in England. All the best sorts of fruit-trees, both for the production of hard and soft fruit, are well established in the Colony, and nothing is being left undone to push this industry forward. Our fruit can be landed here and in America at a time when fruit is not in season in the Northern Hemisphere. The prices obtained for recent shipments of apples from New Zealand prove that it will pay well to grow apples for shipment to this market.

In order to grow fruit to the greatest advantage, the fruit-growers should have means at hand to irrigate during dry seasons, and this question of irrigation is receiving considerable attention at the present time throughout the Australasian Colonies.

If we want to obtain an example of what one country has done by irrigation, let us take California.

The following figures, taken from the report of the-Board of Trade, will convey some idea of the progress made in the development of her horticultural exports from lands mostly reclaimed from page 445 desert by means of irrigation during the seven years ending 1889:—
1883 1889
Green fruits 20,675,730 lbs 70,864,610 lbs.
Dried fruits 3,329,460 lbs 33,312,050 lbs.
Canned fruits 28,488,770 lbs 39,313,740 lbs.
Raisins 344,050 lbs 17,570,485 lbs.

The Californian orchards pay the growers from £30 to £80 an acre, and there is no reason why, in a few years' time, New Zealand orchards should not do the same. Together with the rapid extension of the area of 27,000 acres now devoted to fruit-culture and market-gardens, the people of the Colony are now erecting manufactories for canning, preserving, and pickle making. It is claimed that the process of extracting the water out of the fruit and vegetables by means of a machine known as the "Evaporator" is destined to work a revolution in the preservation of fruit and vegetables. This process takes out the water contained in the fruit and vegetables, and it is asserted that as soon as they are soaked in cold water they are, after cooking, almost equal in flavour to fresh. The bulk and weight are considerably reduced in the process of evaporisation, so that the freight of the preserved article is much less. This process and other processes for preserving fruit and vegetables are being tested in the Colony. I am not able to give you the results arrived at in the Colony, but I have made some extracts from an article by Mr. Dan. Pidgeon in Volume xxiv. of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, showing the growth of the fruit-drying industry in the United States.

Throughout twelve of the most fertile counties of Western New York, the cultivation of fruit, especially of apples, has, within fifteen years, superseded that of every other crop. The orchard products of New York State were valued at nearly £9,000,000 in 1880, the last census year, and will probably be worth far more in 1890. The greater part of these apples are grown around Rochester, where, within a radius of forty miles, nearly 2,000 fruit-drying establishments are now in operation.

Only by the aid of these "evaporators" could such a condition of cultivation as that now prevailing in the district under review be maintained.

Thousands of tons of apples are prepared annually from grades of fruit formerly wasted or allowed to rot on the ground. The fruit-drier and the extension of fruit-farming have gone hand-in-hand, and following naturally upon their union, the dried-fruit merchant has appeared and flourishes. He does not himself evaporate fruit, but buys both from evaporating establishments and the farmer, packs for export, and exploits the whole world for markets.

Glancing first at general facts indicating the character and extent of page 446 this new industry, 1,500 evaporators were at work in the neighbourhood of Rochester during the year 1887, and some 150 more were started during 1888. These range in capacity from 25 to 1,000 bushels of apples per day. The 1,500 evaporators in question gave employment, during the autumn and winter of 1887, to 30,000 hands, who earned from $5 to $12 each per week, according to skill and experience. The total quantity of dried apples produced was about 30,000,000 lbs., and their value $2,000,000. Five million bushels, or 250,000,000 lbs., of green apples were required for this purpose, from which more than 200,000 tons of water were driven off by the consumption of 15,000 tons of coal.

The product finds a market all over the world, but the chief consuming countries are Germany, England, Belgium, Holland and France. Evaporated apples are packed in cases each containing 50 lbs., and the cost of carriage per case to Liverpool is thirty cents, or 1s. 3d. The same quantity of green fruit sent in barrels would cost $2.50, or 10s., and canned fruit $2.10, or 8s. 9d. In the case of evaporated fruit no damage is done, even by the longest transit, while fresh fruit suffers enormously, and canned fruit is always liable to ferment.

The refuse of the apples, consisting of cores and parings, is not lost, for these also are dried, and form the basis of all the cheap jellies now so largely manufactured. Twelve millions of pounds of dried cores and parings were exported from America, during the year in question. Sliced apples, dried without coring or paring, are exported in large quantities to France, where they are used in the production of the cheaper wines, and sometimes by the distiller. Eighteen thousand barrels, containing 4,000,000 lbs. of sliced apples, were sent to France during 1887, and of this quantity more than half was furnished by the Rochester evaporators. The dried apples of Western New York can now be bought in almost every town on the Continent of Europe, while an increasing demand for them is springing up even in such remote parts of the world as Australia and Western Africa.

Passing from the general to the particular, it may, in the first place, be remarked that the practice at Rochester is to dry not only apples, but peaches, plums, and raspberries.

Green apples are bought, in average years, at from 15 to 20 cents to 10d.) per bushel of 50 lbs. The actual cost of drying averages from 12 to 15 cents (6d. to 7½d.) per bushel. The total cost of the dried produce is from 6 to 10 cents (3d. to 5d.) per lb., and the average selling price 7 to 12 cents (3½d to 6d.) per lb. One bushel of green apples produces about 6 lbs. of dried apples. The best apples are barrelled and exported as fresh fruit, only the second-grade fruit is evaporated, while a third grade goes to the cider-mills at an average price of 7½ cents (3¾d.) per bushel. Nothing is wasted. The cores and parings are dried and sold for jelly-making at an average price of $20 (£4) per ton. A bushel of apples yields 30 lbs. of "meat" and 20 lbs. of refuse. The 30 lbs. of page 447 "meat" is reduced to 6 lbs. by evaporation, and the 20 lbs. of refuse to 4 lbs. One pound of coal is consumed in evaporating one pound of fruit.

Peaches are dried both in the "pared" and "unpared" state. The cost of a bushel of good peaches, in average years, is 50 cents (2s. 1 d.). Each bushel yields 4½ lbs. of dried "pared," and 8 lbs. of "unpared" fruit. The actual cost of drying, in both cases, is 15 cents (7½d) per bushel, the cost of the dried "pared" product 15 cents (7½d) per lb., and its selling value 20 to 22 cents (10d to 11d.) per lb. The cost of "unpared" dried peaches is 8 cents (4d.) per lb., and the selling value from 10 to 12 cents (5d. to 6d.) per lb.

Raspberries (black) cost, in average years, 6 cents (3d.) per quart. A quart of fruit yields one-third of a pound of dried product. The actual cost of drying is 2 cents (1d.) per lb., and the total cost of the dried raspberries 20 cents (10d.) per lb. The selling price varies from 25 to 30 cents (1s. 0½d. to 1s. 3d.) per lb.

Plums are only evaporated when so abundant as to become unsaleable. One bushel of green plums produces 8 lbs. of dried fruit, whose average selling price is 7 cents (3½d.) per lb.

Fruit evaporation is mainly an independent business. The 1,500 evaporating establishments already mentioned as surrounding Rochester are all of this character. The farmer, indeed, owns a dryer of his own whenever his orchards are large, but he sells for the most part to the nearest "evaporator." Apple orchards in Western New York are commonly from 100 to 300 acres in extent; peach orchards from 50 to 150 acres. The evaporators themselves vary in capacity from 10 bushels to 1,000 bushels a day.

The smaller drying apparatus is of the simplest description. It consists of an iron stove, surmounted by an upright wooden casing, the stove being fixed in the basement, and the wood casing on the floor above. The products of combustion are carried away by a flue, while the hot air rising from the stove passes upwards through the box-like dryer, which terminates in a cowl and vane. The dryer itself is fitted with a number of sliding trays, made of wire netting, upon which the fruit is placed, and these are replenished by hand as the drying proceeds. Evaporators of the greatest capacity do not differ from the smallest in principle, but the former usually employ steam instead of fire heat. The cost of the smaller (farmer's) apparatus is very trifling, and the cost of coal has already been stated as 1 lb. per ton of evaporated fruit.

Mechanical appliances for coring and paring apples are extremely ingenious and very numerous. They are worked by hand, and are continuous in action, i.e. one apple is being "chucked" while a second is being pared, and a third cored. Peach-paring machines are also in vogue, and cherries, when these are dried, are stoned by a very pretty special machine. None of these mechanical adjuncts to the system of fruit-evaporation are expensive, although it must be said they are all especially American productions.

page 448

Unquestionably the fruit-growing industry in New Zealand has a great future before it, and we may look forward at no very distant date to a very large increase in our export of fresh and preserved fruits.

Time forbids my doing more than refer to those necessary appanages to a small farm—pigs, fowls, and bees. New Zealand already exports a large quantity of bacon, and the Antipodean hen and honey bee are none the less prolific than their English progenitors. The experience of New Zealand in poultry rearing seems much the same as that of most other countries, in that any attempt to breed poultry on a large scale fails, whereas poultry-keeping on a moderate scale is a valuable adjunct to the farmer's income. There is certainly no reason why poultry should not be shipped to this market, as they freeze very well, and although science has not yet educated New Zealand fowls to lay eggs which will open after two months' keeping as fresh as after two days' keeping, there are many ways of preserving eggs without even having recourse to freezing them. I saw the other day the following record of the product of a small apiary in the Colony:—

I have got 84 hives (bar-framed), the return from which last season averaged 1 cwt. each box, thirty of which averaged 200 lbs., and a few of the very best 250 lbs. The total product of the 84 boxes was 4 tons 4 cwt., which realised 4½d. per lb., equal to £176 8s.

It is said by experts that New Zealand offers every facility for silk production, and groves of mulberry trees have been planted for the purpose of encouraging the industry. It is somewhat difficult to get English people to undertake industries of this kind, but the climatic conditions and soil point to New Zealand being fitted to produce as much silk, olives, and wine as Italy does. Time is required, however, for the development of industries of this kind. Sugar beet grows well in New Zealand, and yields a high percentage of sugar, and it is a matter of surprise that no English or German company has yet started a factory in the Colony. The same remark applies to paper making, as the native flax and grasses are eminently fitted for its manufacture, and the amount of paper imported is more than sufficient to support a factory. There are now two or three ostrich farms in the Colony.

I am well aware that most of what I have said with regard to small farming applies to almost every country, but I claim that New Zealand offers exceptional conditions for production, and that the accident of reverse seasons and the favourable page 449 markets of this country, together with the scientific investigation which is devoted in the Colony to all discoveries which tend to agricultural and industrial progress, place New Zealand in the foremost rank of countries offering a happy home and prosperous career to all the English-speaking race who have an aptitude for small farming. Hitherto we may have erred somewhat in moulding our system of farming too much on the English model. We could undoubtedly learn much from Continental nations and from our American cousins, whose methods, thrift, and enterprise may well be found worthy of imitation. We have in New Zealand a Minister and Department of Agriculture, with experts in various branches of industry, whose province it is to educate the Colonists to an appreciation of the resources of the Colony and the best means of taking advantage of them; we have an Agricultural College equal to any English institution of the kind, and I hope before long we shall have in the Agent-General's Department in London an Industrial expert, whose chief work will be to educate the people of the Colony to the requirements of the English markets and the best methods of bringing our products into prominent notice.