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Orchard Notes for February

Tue notes for the month of January apply with equal force to the orchard work that has to be carried out during February, as the main work of deciduous orchards is still that of gathering and marketing the fruit. I cannot impress the importance of taking every possible care in the bandling and marketing of fruit too strongly on my readers, as, as I stated in the notes for January, it is the one branch of fruit culture in which our growers are most deficient in. This season I have noted a marked improvement in the marketing of some orchards of oranges and peaches, some of the oranges from Galston having been placed on the market in a creditable manner, being honestly packed and evenly graded, with the result that they have sold readily, even in dull markets, and have realised good prices. Peaches have also been marketed in small shallow boxes, holding one tier of fruit, with the result that the fruit has reached the market in an unbruised condition, and has sold readily and at good prices, when fruit packed carelessly has been nearly unsaleable. The only way to make fruit-growing pay now is to grow good fruit, and to place the fruit when grown before the buyers in the best condition and in the most attractive manner possible. During the month there will be a number of fruits available for drying or canning. Remember that the same care is necessary when handling fruit for these purposes as when handling for market, as bruised fruits or inferior fruits and culls never turn out either a first-class canned or dried article. For drying, the fruit should always be ripe, but not so ripe as to be musty, and run when cut; and after being sulphured, which is necessary to retain the colour, it should be dried either in a machine evaporator, of which several kinds have recently been illustrated in the Agricultural Gazette, or by means of the sun. Whatever means of drying is employed, always see that the fruit is of good size, of bright colour, that it is not over or under dried, and that it is neatly packed for sale, and any little extra care and attention given to making the fruit as attractive as it is possible to be greatly enhances the value of the fruit and the readiness with which it may be disposed of. Fruit for canning, on the other hand, should not be fully ripe, but must be of large size, and free from blemish. Firm fleshed fruits are best for canning, as they keep their shape best when cooked, and whether for home use or market it only pays to put up a first-class article, as the expenses are practically the same for bad fruit as for good ; and whilst there is a good sale for first-rate canned fruits there is little demand for inferior grades.

During the month the cultivation of the orchard must not be neglected, especially in the hot and dry districts, or where there are late fruite, or the latter are likely to suffer. Summer grass is often a great trouble to Cumberland orchardists during this month on account of the weather being usually more or less rainy, and thus preventing access to the land ; but if the young plauts are kept down as soon as they make their appearance by means of a Morgan spading harrow, which should be used whenever there is a chance to do so, there would be less likelihood of the grass getting the upper band of the orchardist and necessitating a large amount of labour to get the orchard clean again. Pests will be prevalent during the month, and must be attended to. Codling moth must be steadily fought, and the bandages carefully examined at least every ten days, and all stakes, boards, or other rubbish that would form a harbour for the larvæ when it leaves the fruit must be removed from the orchard, so as to give the bandages fair play, as, if the bandages are the only shelter available for the larvæ of the moth they will catch nearly every one that leaves the fruit. Scale insects, especially red and black scales on citrous fruits, are usually very active during the month, and there is often a very marked increase in their numbers. This is due to the hatching of the young scales from under the mother scales baving taken place during January and the present month. These young scales should be destroyed whenever they are seen, as they are far easier killed now when young and comparatively unprotected than they are when fully matured and corcred with their hard, scaly covering For citrus trees the best remedy that we have found is the kerosene emulsion; and if the trees

as strong a solution of starch or flour with the emulsion as will pass through the nozzle of the spray pump. This will tend to form a glaze or skin over the leares, bark, and fruit, which will peel off when dry and take the scales and fumagine with it, leaving the tree clean and bright.

Crickets, locusts, and tree-grasshoppers are sometimes troublesome during the month, eating the leaves and bark of the tree, or the skin of the fruit, or the fruit itself. The best remedy is the use of arsenical poisons, either as a spray used in the proportions of 1 lb. of Paris green to 160 gallons of water, or as a poisoned bait made as follows: Take 50 lb. of bran, or a mix. ture of bran and pollard, and mix with it thoroughly 1 lb. of an arsenical poison such as Paris green, London purple, or white arsenic. When thoroughly mixed make into a paste with water sweetened with treacle, and place lumps the size of a walnut at the roots of the trees that are being eaten. The insects will eat the poisoned bait readily, and are consequently destroyed. In the case of crickets it is a good plan to cover the bait with a piece of bark, as the insects are attracted by the shelter. Nursery work will consist in keeping the nursery rows free from weeds, and in keeping the young trees straight and well-grown, attending to budding, cutting trees, &c. Budding may be continued where the stocks are in good order, but unless the bark runs freely it is little value to attempt the operation.

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General Notes.

REDUCTION IN FREIGHT ON WINE. As a result of representations made by the Department, the Railway Commissioners have approved of considerable reductions in the freight of wine, and also upon return empty hogsheads. As regards the former, quantities, if not less than 5 tons, will be charged at "A" instead of "B" rates. Smaller packages of wines will be included in the arrangement applying to single parcels forwarded by goods train, the details of which are as under.

The rates for the conveyance by goods trains of any single package containing cheese, canned fruit, and jams, and any single package containing fruit, vegetables, garden produce, butter, honey, eggs, and cream will be at the following scale :

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In the case of potatoes only, when the bag or package weighs over 112 lb., but does not exceed 170 lb., the charge will be at the scale shown for 140 lb.

Should there be more than one package in a consignment, each package will be charged as above, unless the charge by weight at the classified tonnage rate for the article is cheaper, subject to the usual minimum charge specified in the merchandise and live stock rate book.

Truck Rates. Any class of goods traffic (explosives excepted) in four-wheeled truck loads will be conveyed from any station to any station (except otherwise provided for) when the distance is not less than 80 miles, at the following rate, subject to a minimum of 6 tons per truck:

80 miles and up to 120 miles ... 6d. per ton per mile.

Each mile over 120 miles ... ... 4d. per ton per mile. added to the charge for 120 miles.

A pro rata charge will be made for any weight in excess of 6 tong.

From Sydney to stations on the Northern Line within a radius of 20 miles from Newcastle, the rates to Newcastle will apply; but to stations distant over 20 and under 80 miles from Newcastle, the rate of £3 10s. per truck added to the rate of 6d. per ton per mile on the distance from Newcastle to be charged ; and to stations distant over 80 miles from Newcastle, the rate of £3 per truck in addition to the rate of 6d. per ton per mile on the distance from Newcastle to destination to be charged. The maximum charge to any northern main line station to be-From Newcastle, £27 per 6 tons; from Sydney, £30 per 6 tons.

From Newcastle to stations on the Southern and Western Lines within a radius of 20 miles of Sydney, the rates to Sydney will apply ; but to stations beyord that radius the rate will be £3 per truck as between Newcastle and Strathfield added to the rate of 6d. per ton per mile from Strathfield to destination ; but in no case will the rate from Newcastle to stations on the Southern or Western Lines, distant upwards of 80 miles from Sydney, be greater than the rate from Sydney with £3 per truck added.

The following is the new scale of charges which have been approved by the Commissioners for the carriage of hogsheads when returned empty :

8. d.
Up to 50 miles ...

... 0 6
100 „ ... ...
200 ,

16
300 „ ...

1 9 400 .,

2 0 500 , ...

2 3 600 , ...

2 6

10

LOCUSTS ATTACKING FRUIT-TREES. ALTHOUGH remedies for this pest appear in the Orchard Notes for January which appear in our issue for December last, it will perhaps be of service to state them more at length, in order to make sure that all orchardists reading the Gazette may have full opportunity of noting them.

Spraying with Paris Green.-1 lb. to 160 gallons of water, will destroy large numbers. Poisoned baits, made as follows, are also very effective :--Take 50 lb. of bran, or a mixture of bran and pollard, mix with it thoroughly 1 lb., or even more, of Paris green, London purple, or white arsenic. When thoroughly mixed add sweetened water (1 lb. of treacle to 1 gallon of water) to make the whole into a paste, which must be moist, but not so damp that it will drop off a spoon. Of this poisoned bait place lumps about the size of a walnut round each vine or tree, and also place a number of lumps on the side of the vineyard or orchard from which the locusts are coming

These remedies will kill very large numbers, but they are no use against a plague. The only remedy then is to keep the insects moving by driving them. Everyone in a district should unite to fight them.

WHITE BEECH. MR. E. E. BUTTSWORTH, of the Public School, Cessnock, writes as follows:" As various notes respecting wbite beech have from time to time appeared in the Agricultural Gazette, I thought that the following might be of interest :- There is, or was, seven years ago, a fair amount of beech growing near the head of the Hastings River and its two tributaries, the Elledborough and Forbes Rivers ; also, it is found on the road from Yarras to Walcha. This locality is further west than that mentioned by Mr. Forester Brown, of Port Macquarie. The inhabitants use beech for flooring boards, doors, &c. I am not aware that pails will cause such to decay, except when exposed to the influence of the weather, such as the end of a verandab, when beech soon rots. I have seen wine casks in this locality over 50 years old, which have been constructed of beech, and are as sound as when they were made. These casks are bound with the same kind of hoops as ordinary casks. I might mention that Mr. Holmes, of “ The Wilderness," Rothbury, bas casks made from beech, some containing over 2,500 gallons. These casks are made on his premises.''

DESTROYING SCRUB. The Department invites correspondence from residents in the country districts, giving information as to their experience regarding the time of year for ringing brigalow and other scrubs with a view to their destruction. This invitation is quite general, the object of the Department being to obtain the experience of all who have any. By this means it is hoped to publish the most complete information for the use of settlers.

INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS OF NEW South WALES. UNDER this title, Mr. Alfred J. North, F.L S., Ornithologist to the Australian Museum, has in preparation a profusely illustrated article which wiil appear in an early issue of the Gazette. Apart from its general interest, this should be of peculiar value to our orchardists and farmers.

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