Imágenes de páginas

depleted purses, while their descendants would have blessed them for their forethought. Of course there are other valuable kinds of nuts which thrive over the greater part of the New England States, but I refer only to the two, which were so abundant in the forests that one or both could have been obtained for the mere cost of transplanting. But it is not fair to prate about the remissness and follies of our ancestors, unless we can show by our works that wisdom has come down to us through their experience...

What is true of the New England is equally true of all the older States, and is rapidly becoming so in many of the newer, little attention being paid to the intrinsic value of the wood or the product of the trees planted along the highways. There are also millions of acres of wild lands not suitable for cultivation, but well adapted to the growth of trees, whether of the nut-bearing or other kinds. But for the present I will omit further reference to the planting of nut trees except on the line of the highways, just where other kinds have long been in vogue and are still being cultivated for shade and ornament,—with no thought, perhaps, on the part of the planter, that both could be obtained in the nut trees, with something of more intrinsic value added. The nut trees which grow to a large size are as well adapted for planting along roadsides, in the open country, as other kinds that yield nothing in the way of food for either man or beast. They are also fully as beautiful in form and foliage, and in many instances far superior, to the kinds often selected for such purposes.

The only objection I have heard of as being urged against planting fruit and nut trees along the highway is that they tempt boys and girls—as well as persons of larger growth-to become trespassers; but this only applies to where there is such a scarcity that the quantity taken perceptibly lessens the total crop. But where there is an abundance, either the temptation to trespass disappears, or we fail to recognize our loss. As we cannot very well dispense with the small boy and his sister, I am in favor of providing them bountifully with all the good things that climate and circumstance will afford. It is a truism that conscience is never strengthened by an empty stomach.

A mile, in this country, is 5280 feet, and if trees are set 40 feet apart—which is allowing sufficient room for them to grow during an ordinary lifetime—we get 133 per mile in a single row; but where the roads are three to four rods wide, two rows may be planted, one on each side, or 266 per mile. With such kinds as the Persian walnut and American and foreign chestnuts, we can safely estimate the crop, when the trees are twenty years old, at a half bushel per tree, or 66 bushels for a single row, and 133 for a double row per mile. With grafted trees of either kind we may count on double the quantity named, presuming, of course, that the trees are given proper care. But to be on the safe side, let us keep our estimate down to the half-bushel mark per tree, and with this crop, at the moderate price of four dollars per bushel, we would get $264 from the crop on a single row, and double this sum, or $528, for the crop on a double row—with a fair assurance that the yield would increase steadily for the next hundred years or more; while the cost of gathering and marketing the nuts is no greater, and in many instances much less than that of the ordinary grain crops. At the expiration of the first half century, one-half of the trees may be removed, if they begin to crowd, and the timber used for whatever purpose it may best be adapted. The remaining trees would probably improve, on account of having more room for development.

There has been a steady increase in the demand, and a corresponding advance in the price of all kinds of edible nuts, during the past three or four decades, and this is likely to continue for many years to come, because consumers are increasing far more rapidly than producers; besides, the forests, which have long been the only source of supply of the native kinds, are rapidly disappearing, while there has not been, as yet, any special effort to make good the loss, by replanting or otherwise. The dealers in such articles in our larger cities assure me that the demand for our best kinds of edible nuts is far in excess of the supply, and yet not one housewife or cook in a thousand in this country has ever attempted to use nuts of any kind in the preparation of meats and other dishes for the table, as is so generally practiced in European and Oriental countries.

The question may be asked, if the demand is sufficient to warrant the planting of the hardy nut trees extensively along our highways or elsewhere. In answer to such a question it may be said that we not only consume all of the edible nuts raised in this country, but import millions of pounds annually of the very kinds which thrive here as well as in any other part of the world.

I have before me the records of our imports from the year 1790 to 1894, but as I purpose dealing more with the present and future than with the distant past, I will refer here only to the statistics of the four years of the present decade, leaving out all reference to the tropical nuts, which are not supposed to be adapted to our climate.

Of almonds, not shelled, and on which there is a protective duty of three cents per pound, we imported from 1890 to the close of 1893, 12,443,895 pounds, valued at $1,100,477.65. Of almonds, shelled, on which the duty is now five cents, we imported 1,326,633 pounds. The total value of both kinds for the four years, amounted to $1,716,277.32. Whether this high protective duty is to remain or not is uncertain, but it is quite evident that it has had very little effect in stimulating the cultivation of this put except in circumscribed localities on the Pacific coast.

Of filberts and walnuts, not shelled, and with a duty of two cents per pound, we imported during the same years from eleven to fifteen million pounds annų. ally, or a total for the four years of 54,526,181 pounds, and in addition about two million pounds of the shelled kernels, on which the duty was six cents (now four) per pound. The total value of these importations amounted to $3,176,085.34.

I do not find the European chestnut mentioned in any list of imports, although an immense quantity must be received from France, Italy and Spain every year, and they are probably imported under the head of miscellaneous nuts, not specially provided for, and upon which the duty was two cents per pound in 1890-'91, but was later reduced to one and a half cents.

Under the head “miscellaneous nuts,” or all other shelled and unshelled “not specially provided for,” there was imported during the period named 6,442,908 pounds, valued at $235,976.05. The total for all kinds of edible nuts imported was $7,124,575.82. These figures are sufficient to prove that we are neglecting an opportunity to largely engage in and extend a most important and profitable industry. It is true that in the Southern States considerable attention has been given, of late, to the preservation of the old pecan nut trees and the planting of young stock, but it will be many years before the increase from this source can overtake the ever-increasing demand for this delicious native nut. Californians are also making an effort to raise several foreign varieties of edible nuts on a somewhat extensive scale, but all these widely scattered experiments are mere drops in the ocean of our wants. Under such conditions I ask, in all seriousness, if it is not about time that our farmers and rural population generally began to count their worthless and unproductive possessions, in the form of roadside and other shade trees—which have probably cost fully as much to secure, plant and care for during the few or many years since they were set out, as would have been expended upon the most beautiful and valuable nut-bearing kinds. If our ancestors were at fault in the selection of trees for planting, we need not expect that posterity will excuse us for continuing and repeating their folly, especially when our dear-bought experience should teach us better.

At the present time there might be some difficulty in procuring, at the nurseries, a choice selection of nut trees in any considerable quantity, suited to roadside planting, because heretofore there has been little demand for such stock; and nurserymen are only human, and conduct their establishments on business principles, propagating the kind of trees in greatest demand, regardless of their intrinsic or future value to purchasers. They will also continue producing such stock just so long as the demand will warrant it, and further, it is but natural that they should sometimes recommend and advise their customers to purchase worthless, and even pestiferous kinds, such as the ailanthus and white poplar, because the profits in raising these trees are large and there is little danger of loss in transplanting. But if purchasers will insist on having better kinds and refuse to accept any other, they will soon be accommodated; and if not, then let everyone who owns a plot of ground become his own propagator of trees. It is not beyond the ability of any moderately intelligent man (or woman, for that matter) to raise nut trees, and as readily as one could potatoes or corn.

Where farmers want a row of trees along the roadside, to be utilized for line fence posts, they cannot pos

« AnteriorContinuar »