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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

From the Southland Times, Monday, April 23, 1894

From the Southland Times, Monday, April 23, 1894.

On Saturday afternoon we had the pleasure of a visit from Mr. John C. Black-[unclear: re], Government pomologist, and in the course of conversation gained much information from him on subjects of great interest to every colonist, and of special value in those engaged in the pursuit which it is Mr. Blackmore's aim to encourage. Our visitor had only arrived from Balclutha by the forenoon train and had not visited any of the orchards prior to his call. He had, however, just come off a trip through

Central Otago,

[unclear: ad] his opinions concerning the possibilities of that somewhat indefinite but extensive district the matter of fruitgrowing and preserving are such as must cheer the heart of all interested in the locality, and give a fresh impetus to the promoters of the Central Otago, and Kelso-Roxburgh railways. Mr. Blackmore had spent some time [unclear: ongst] the interior hills and valleys, and had studied their features and [unclear: charachristics] with special reference to the industry under his care. He considers the [unclear: nate] of the region wonderfully fine, and as remarkably suitable for the cultivation of a wide variety of fruits, more especially for three sorts for which, in one form or other, there is always a market—viz., the peach, apricot, and prune plum. For the grape also considers most of the district admirably adapted. The whole of the upper valley of the Clutha, more especially from Roxburgh right through to alexandra, and the foothills adjoining Lowburn, he regards as being blessed with as fire a

Climate and Soil

with irrigation—for the production of fruit for drying purposes, as is to be found anywhere in the world. The varieties of fruit mentioned—and he considers them of primary importance, with a view to export—agree with, and thrive best, in a dry [unclear: clinate], so long as water is available for the soil, and in Central Otago he believes the fruit could be dried for packing without artificial heat. The

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Facilities for Irrigation,

owing to the hilly nature of the country, should be easily within reach [unclear: of] every suitable site for orchard or vinery. So far nothing had yet been attempted in districts in the way of drying fruit, but he is in hopes that when the growers already come to realise how remarkably suitable their district is for that industry they [unclear: will] their operations enormously, and that experienced orchardists from [unclear: elsewh] establish themselves in the locality and grow fruit, and preserve it, on a large than is at present dreamt of. The dryness of the atmosphere was a most [unclear: imp] element in the industry, both with reference to growth and to preserv[unclear: ing] drying process; and this was really the process which would be most advantage and would lead up to the full development of the capabilities of the distri[unclear: ct] were excellent districts for fruit culture in the north—many of them—but the vailing humidity of the air was against them as compared with the distr[unclear: ict] just visited. The

Three Primary Requirements

for the successful prosecution of the fruitgrowing industry were water by [unclear: irr] a moderately high temperature, and a dry atmosphere, and these were all [unclear: obti] in Central Otago. He had seen

Nowhere in the World a District Better Adapted for the Purpose,

and it might be regarded as a certainty that the industry would yet be [unclear: de] there and prove to be one of the chief sources of the wealth of the southern [unclear: po] the Colony. The grape could be cultivated there either for wine or table [unclear: pa] several varieties of it—and could be made into good raisins. He had s[unclear: een] grapes growing in several places, but they were not yet cultivated to [unclear: any] The largest grower was Mr. Dawson, near Alexandra, who had a crop [unclear: this] about 35cwt.; these were of the black Hamburg variety, and, though gr[unclear: own] open, were quite equal to anything he had seen grown under glass in [unclear: the] Island. The same grower had also a crop of pears—winter Nellis—which we[unclear: re] with respect to the weight of crop and the size and quality of the fruit, [unclear: the] had ever seen. This pear was a standard market pear, and Mr. Dawson 15cwt. of it. He had observed that most of the grapes grown were of [unclear: the] varieties, and had advised intending planters to put in a due proportion [unclear: of] sorts.

At present the great obstacle complained of by existing growers was the

Difficulty of Getting the Produce of their Orchards to the Market;

the nearest accessible railway station—Lawrence—being 40 miles from [unclear: then] average. That the industry, even when limited to the growing of the [unclear: fruit], on a small scale and with a long cartage, was a remunerative one, he [unclear: co] proved by the fact that for this season the returns to the growers at [unclear: Ror]—which includes Teviot and Coal Creek—after payment of all expenses, amount between £4,000 and £5,000. The hop was another product of large [unclear: con] that could be cultivated to great perfection throughout the greater portion [unclear: of] Otago. At Alexandra he had seen a sample of

Locally-grown Hops Equal to Anything from the Best Gardens in the World

And there was no reason why the district should not grow hops, not only [unclear: f] whole of the Colony, but for export as well. The Alexandra hops were far [unclear: s] to those grown in Nelson, although that province had hitherto enjoyed the [unclear: rep] of producing the best in the Colony. California was famed as a hop-growing [unclear: c] and hops grown there held the highest place in the market, being generally [unclear: val] twice the price of those grown in Nelson. He had taken a sample of the [unclear: Ale] hops with him to Cromwell and there compared them with Californian [unclear: hops] page 5 [unclear: d] no hesitation in saying that the local article was quite equal, if not superior, to [unclear: e] Californian. He had also seen a few walnuts about the Teviot: they were very [unclear: cellent] and perfect fruit, but were not of the best variety. The best walnuts in New Zealand were grown at Akaroa, where the planters had had the benefit of special skill at the start. The variety principally cultivated there was that know[unclear: n] the Charbete—one of the best; and as it was evident that this excellent and [unclear: gely]-used nut would grow well in Central Otago, he would advise orchardists to [unclear: ocure] that variety for their future plantings. The growth of fruit for drying [unclear: poses] he, however, considered the foundation on which the development of the [unclear: dustry] must be built. There were comparatively few districts in the world that [unclear: d] at once

The Soil and the Climate Suitable

[unclear: fr]uitgrowing and for fruitdrying. Central Otago possessed these two advantage[unclear: s] a very high degree, and a third advantage, that of unlimited demand, would als[unclear: o] secured when the drying process was carried into operation on a comprehensive [unclear: ale]. It would be almost impossible to over-produce peaches, apricots, and prune [unclear: ms], which were always in demand all over the world. Bordeaux was famous a[unclear: s] port from which the produce of French orchards was shipped, and as many as [unclear: ty] large vessels were annually loaded in that port with prune plums alone for [unclear: eign] markets. While the supply of the colonial market with fresh fruit would no [unclear: obt] give considerable scope for increased growth, it was evident that without the [unclear: ying] process in operation cultivation would be comparatively restricted and [unclear: wers] would be unable to take advantage of the best markets, as they would be [unclear: ced] to sell green. He would urge upon all who took up cultivation at all to [unclear: sider] it as

Impossible that they could produce too much.

[unclear: ey] could always take advantage of local markets and, by drying, could secure in a [unclear: fectly] marketable condition any quantity of surplus. There was always room fo[unclear: r] export of enormous quantities to Europe, and even the Eastern States of America [unclear: old] be large purchasers for many years to come. Only some twelve years ago the [unclear: ration] of the prune plum was commenced in California with thirteen trees [unclear: re] were now some millions of trees in that State; but no matter what quantity, by always found a market for it. He considered that anything approaching a full devlopment of these smaller industries, as they might be called, would very [unclear: terially] add to the prosperity of the country. At the present

We were Importing £68,000 worth of Green Fruit alone Annually,

[unclear: t] to speak of the enormous quantities of canned and dried fruits also brought in, [unclear: d] there was no reason, save that of neglecting our own resources, why New Zealand would send away a penny for these fruits. He considered it surprising that the growth o[unclear: f] the smaller and more easily cultivated fruits was so much neglected in the [unclear: lony], seeing there was such a demand for them. A New Zealand preserving fir[unclear: m] quite recently asked him if he could purchase for them for next season fifty ton[unclear: s] strawberries. They were prepared at any time to take fifty tons of that fruit, or raspberries, or of black currants, or of each of them. They told him that the[unclear: y] a splendid market for these preserves in Australia, and that if they were anyway [unclear: red] of a supply of fruit they could easily exceed the amount mentioned. Thi[unclear: s] and other manufacturers had complained that they could never get enough fru[unclear: it], that the small production and supply prevented them from extending their

Mr. Blackmore would not admit that

The Question of Wages

[unclear: co]st of picking—operated to prevent cultivation, and averred that in California, [unclear: ere] in the fruit industry rather higher wages were paid than would be demanded [unclear: re] the small fruits were remuneratively cultivated on a very large scale.

page 6

Recurring to the suitableness of a large portion of Central Otago for

Vine Growing

he mentioned that mildew, a very prevalent pest in most places, would never b[unclear: e] troublesome there. The peculiar dryness of the atmosphere alone would also prevent the growth of the fungus, and even if it did attack the plants some [unclear: se] it would be easily kept in check with sulphur.

Mr. Blackmore is undoubtedly a highly qualified and enthusiastic expert, and visit cannot fail of being productive of much good to the fruit industry in [unclear: South]