The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., January 2, 1906, page 1
A FINE TRIBUTE FOR HOOD RIVER
Prof. Van Deman Writes Of Us
"Nowhere Else in the World," Says He, "Are Such Perfect Apples Grown."
Prof. Van Deman is out with another article about apple
culture in Hood River valley. His remarks show that he has made a careful
study of the conditions here, and he gives the growers many compliments for
their treatment of the fruit industry. In part the article is as
"In traveling over the country, looking at the various phases of fruit growing, there are many things that I have seen that have taught me lessons well worth heeding. One that was more deeply impressed on my mind than ever, was the profit from doing things well, from what I saw on the Pacific coast the past season. It was my privilege to be able to visit nearly all of the leading fruit sections in Oregon and Washington during the summer and fall of the year just past and an account of what I saw and learned may be of use to other fruit growers and packers.
"Two visits were made, several weeks apart, to the famous Hood River section; one before the main gathering time and the other just after the fruit crop had been nearly all gathered. It may be well to say that the Hood River valley is not a valley, such as many might suppose, level and treeless, or covered with sage brush, as are many of the far western valleys, but a series of elevated plateaus, some 300 to 1,000 or more feet above the Columbia river, which flows along its northern end. There are some fine hills and numerous undulations, with many stretches of almost level land; making ideal locations for fruit farms. It is hemmed in the east and west by ranges of very high hills that are almost mountains, and to the north some 50 miles across the border line of Washington, stands Mount Adams, while to the southward is Mount Hood, like two giant snowed-clad sentinels, watching over the sleeping valleys which they overlook. Hood River and its upper tributaries flow rapidly northward from the snow banks and glaciers of Mount Hood, through the center of the valley, until the crystal waters are lost in those of the Columbia. There is no more beautiful as well as profitable section for fruit growing. Some of the land is heavily timbered, but much of it is partially covered with trees and brush. While the apple is the main crop of that region, there are other fruits that succeed there very well and are grown to some extent. The strawberry is, next to the apple, the only that is grown more generally than any other; and while there is no serious difficulty in growing nearly all the ordinary varieties, the Clarke is the one that far exceeds all others in popularity. It seems to suit the conditions there perfectly and the fruit growers want no other. In the markets as far east as Chicago the Hood River strawberries meet ready sale at prices that pay the growers well. They are well organized and the grading, packing and marketing are all done under the direction of those skilled in the respective parts of the business to which each is a especially suited. This close attention to the details and united effort in the handling of the strawberry crop is fully as important as the favorable natural conditions for growing it, and has as much or more to do in securing the fancy prices that it brings.
"The apples of Hood River are not excelled, if equaled by any that are sold in the markets of the world, in point of fancy stock and the prices obtained. In the first place the climate and soil are such that the apple seems as near perfectly at home there as anywhere in all the world. There is sufficient rainfall to cause the trees and fruit to fully develop and not too much rain or cloudy weather. Nowhere that I have seen do apple trees bear at an earlier age nor appear to be more healthy. The air is cool enough, and not too cool, during the growing and ripening season. The most difficult to grow of all varieties of the apples, such as the Newton and Esopus Spitzenberg are produced there almost with the same ease as Ben Davis; and as they bring the highest price in the market of all apples, they are grown at Hood River more than any others. Indeed, they are coming to be the specialties of that section. The entire crop of these two varieties was sold this year at the highest figure ever paid for so large an amount, so far as I have heard, ranging from $2.50 to $3.00 per 50 pound box, f.o.b., at Hood River station. Think of it, fruit growers of the East. They get as much per bushel box as you are glad to get per barrel for your best apples. It is said by some that the Western fruit growers are far from market. How far away when the New York buyers will go there and pay these fancy prices at their doors? It costs 50 cents per box to cultivate, spray, gather, pack and deliver the apples at the station, so several of the growers told me, and it is easy to figure out the net profits per box. In addition to this it may be said that 500 boxes per acre is not unusual in orchards two years set.
"But these profitable returns are not obtained by the let alone method or even by the grass mulch method. The orchards are tilled to a finished, the trees are sprayed repeatedly, late as well as early, for the codling moth is bad there and during a longer season than the Eastern states. The fruit is wiped after gathering and sorted and packed by experts. No one is allowed to grade or pack his own apples, for he might not be strict enough about it. Would not this work havoc in some of the apple barrels of the Eastern packers? Where is the one who would risk a Hood River packer to go through his stock? No, they would rather run the risk of being detected in poor grading and fraudulent packing than to permit any such thing. And, they generally get the cull price and richly deserve it. This is the lesson that Hood River fruit should teach us. Good culture, thorough spraying, scrupulous honest grading and packing. This would bring about a revolution in net returns. Will it ever be! - Green's Fruit Grower.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer