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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

To the Chairman, Otago Central Railway League

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To the Chairman, Otago Central Railway League.

Dear Sir,—As I understand the League is about to publish a leaflet regarding the fruitgrowing capacities of Vincent County, and as I have for the last three years acted as judge at the Vincent County Horticultural Society's shows, it occurred to me that a few words regarding what I have seen there might be of interest. I may explain that I have been connected with horticulture for the last twenty-three years, and have visited the International Shows held in Glasgow and Edinburgh, besides numerous large establishments in the Old Country, where wall and other fruits were grown on an extensive scale; and I never anywhere saw finer fruit than I have seen in Central Otago. No sooner does the traveller pass through Alexandra, Clyde, and Cromwell, than he is made conscious of a different atmosphere, a different climate, and a different vegetation from that of the coast line of Otego Where in the whole Colony is there to be found such

Superb Examples

of the apple, pear, plum, peach, apricot, nectarine, fig, walnut, &c., as were shown at the Vincent County Shows held at Clyde, 1893; Cromwell, 1894, and this year at Alexandra. At the show held at Cromwell the exhibits came from as far north as Pembroke, and from Butchers' Gully in the South. To particularise the various exhibits would be impossible, the fruit staged here for extent and quality was the finest I had ever seen, the displays of peaches being exceptionally fine, both in size and quality; many

Splendid Exhibits,

which would in ordinary circumstances have secured a place, were left out. Most of the first prize dishes of apples, peaches, apricots, and nectarines were grown from pips or stones, and these superb sorts when distributed will form a valuable addition to those already in cultivation in other parts of the Colony. All the fruit exhibited is grown on standard trees in the open air, and evidently without the slightest pretence to cultivation, except the grape, which is trained on pug (mud) walls.

At Alexandra this year I visited the principal growers, inspected their orchards, and was amazed to see the heavy crops of fine-coloured fruits of plums and peaches. Grapes and walnuts were also looking well. One place I visited, the break winds were formed with apricots and peaches growing ten or twelve feet high or more, and bearing abundantly. The plants were grown from the stone, and allowed to grow up at their own sweet will, without any transplanting or attention whatever. Any one who has visited this part of Otago when the strawberries are ripe cannot fail to be struck with the wonderful fertility of the soil. Just think of it. I saw a plot of land containing nearly

Two Acres which Produce on an Average Three Tons Yearly of the Finest Strawberries Raised in the Colony,

and that with very little cultivation, the grand secret being an irrigation supply. The cherries, I understand, from most of the growers are hard to keep, owing to the bird nuisance, they being as destructive here as elsewhere. Nevertheless they page 14 market a quantity, and quality not to be surpassed. Means can be adopted to prevent the depredation of the birds, where fruit is grown for profit, by wire netting in all the trees. The apple I found to be the most neglected fruit of any, owing as doubt to the prevalency of the American blight, Codlin moth, and scale, and as there has been no attempt to combat these pests on scientific lines, little wonder that they have got the mastery; but thanks to the Government for taking up the subject and appointing nomologists. It is to be hoped that Mr. Blackmore will be equal to the occasion, and show the orchardists of Alexandra and surrounding districts how to eradicate those insect pests.

The diversity of soil and situation with irrigation affords abundant opportunity for the growth of all the different varieties of fruits enumerated, and from what I have seen I can unhesitatingly say that these districts can supply first class fruit, and I believe fruitgrowing will fast become an important interest in these districts daring the next ten years, and with

Quick and Cheap Transit

these districts will play an important part in the supplying of Dunedin and elsewhere with the finest samples of tomatoes (open air), dried onions, asparagus, mushroom, rhubarb, &c.

The climate is also well suited for growing and harvesting to perfection all kinds of seeds, the varieties of which are too numerous to mention here. My firm has applied to the Lands' Department for forty acres (more or less) in the Alexandra district for nursery, seed saving, and orchard purposes, and if the application is granted I will be glad at some future time to give you the result of our undertaking.

Yours respectfully,

George Howden.