The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., June 19, 1924, page 1
HISTORY OF ODELL DISTRICT
Shipping Center Is Developed
Evolution of Handling Apple Tonnage is Cited - Suggestions Given for Methods of Marketing
(By. J.C. Duckwall)
Fruit growing in the Odell section is a more recent
development than either in the East or West Side sections of the valley.
In the early days when ranches sold several times and changed hands in speculation, the tracts of bearing orchards were comparatively few, and many ranchers were busily engaged in clearing tracts and planting to fruit trees. But the early ranchers the brought their watchers into bearing but few remain.
Most of the fruit tracks were planted to apple trees of which case Spitz Newton apples predominated, and the pear plantings were very light; pears, cherries and peaches being mostly confined to light plantings for home use, the commercial pear and cherry orchards being developed in recent years.
Fruit was all packed off the table, and graded into bins, being sized into two or three sizes, the packers selecting the size for the box being packed. Under this method 60 to 100 boxes to a packer was a good day's work, and with the comparatively small acreage in bearing, the packing and loading were extended over a longer season than now, even with the greatly increased acreage.
The loading facilities at Odell were frame warehouses of the Apple Growers Association and the Davidson Fruit Co., and for a time were sufficient for the shipments of apples at Odell. Motor trucks being unknown as a means of hauling, and in times of congestion loads being limited to one or two wagon loads a day, and sometimes the loads were smaller, large warehouse space was not at first required.
With the introduction of the modern grading machines, made necessary by the greatly increased tonnage to be packed within a certain time, motor trucks came into use as a means of keeping warehouses clear of fruit.
The frame warehouse used by the old National Fruit Co., had in the meantime been built, and has since been in use by various shippers of this district. The first growers' warehouse to be built was erected east of the National house by Frank Massee, and several years later Page & Son, of Portland, built a frame building next to that of Mr. Massee's.
Another result of the increased tonnage in this district was the extending of the period necessary to complete shipments from the Odell warehouses; and it was soon seen that the frame buildings that were satisfactory for the fruit shipments in October and November would not hold fruit safely in December and January, and later, when the need for a more permanent warehouse was seen. The Apple Growers Association erected a substantial addition of a hollow tile, which type of warehouse has since proven capable of carrying fruit safely in the coldest weather, with a little heat inside during longer periods of cold.
Soon after this addition by the Association, Dan Wuille & Co. erected a frost proof warehouse for their business at Odell, which has since been added to.
In the meantime, on the north side of the track, the Hood River Fruit Co., owned by H.F. Davidson and Chas. Castner, had erected a two-story warehouse to take care of their growing tonnage. On the second floor the fruit was taken to be packed, when it was carried to the first floor to await loading into a refrigerator cars for shipment. This was done by the first fruit elevators to be installed in Odell, fruit being placed on gravity conveyors and carried to the second floor with one handling. These elevators are now in use in the other warehouses in Odell with two floors, and in the Lehman warehouse between the first floor and basement.
Across the pavement to the east, J.E. Fergurso erected a tile fruit warehouse for the shipment of his fruit, which is now being operated by Mrs. Ferguson.
About the same time, to the west, Duckwall Bros. erected one section of the tile proof warehouse which has since been added to, and a loading platform erected.
H.K. Davenport, on the south side of the track, built the only two story tile warehouse in Odell, the upper story of which is used to pack his own and neighbors' fruit. Kelly Bros. have received and loaded from this house since it was built and are the principal shippers here.
H.H. Lehman, to the north of the Davenport warehouse, several years ago erected a frame warehouse with a concrete basement for storage, which was used the first year by the C.M. Kopp Co., and has since been used to load his own fruit and that of other independent growers.
Last season Allison Fletcher and his brother, Leonard, erected a modern tile warehouse on the north side of the track to the west end, operating as Fletcher Bros., are loading their own and other independent tonnage.
The Apple Growers Association several years ago erected another tile addition to their warehouse to the west, and now have the largest house and trackage in Odell.
All rail shipments at Odell are handled by the Mt. Hood R.R., which is operating today, with the greatly increase tonnage to be moved, over the same tracks, with slightly increased equipment to that used in former years. During the congestion in October it is impossible to satisfy the demands of all the shippers with the all cars wanted, but it speaks well for the management of the Mt. Hood that last season the service was better, and less of a shortage existed than ever before. Train crews worked day and night in all weather to spot cars for loading and assemble trains for filling as promptly as possible to do so. The Mt. Hood has worked every year with handicaps hard to overcome, and deserves the cooperation and support of all shippers along the line.
Today we have 12 warehouses for shipping and storing fruit at Odell, and shipments are extended over a space of about six months in some years. To date the physical problems of handling the fruit economically and safely have been solved. The last two years have taught both shipper and grower that there is much to be accomplished in both marketing and selling. In several years there will be not only the problem of the apples but also of the large tonnage of pears is coming into bearing, and these also must be hauled at a profit, if the fruit grower is to continue in business.
Of the many ideas and theories that have been and are being advanced to obtain the end sought after, probably none will ever be adopted as set forth at the present time. There are too many engaged in this occupation, too many ideas which must be harmonized, to put forth any set theory and have it adopted entirely and at once.
It seems that we have one truth as a starting point, namely that we must have cooperation on a large scale. We believe this cooperation is not going to be limited to one set or classification, such as growers only, or growers' cooperative organizations; but it is going to take in everyone connected in the Northwest with the shipping of fruit grown in this section. Many phases of the fruit industry are at once interesting to all. In the different districts, and through them to a central organization, purchases of supplies, rate and other essentials and favorable legislation, which are necessary for the fruit grower, car supply and distribution, price stabilization, regulation of output and shipments; in fact all of the larger and more necessary phases of the fruit industry are subjects that growers and shippers can get together on at once for the purpose of putting the fruit growing industry on a profitable basis.
One of the most important matters to be acted upon is the regulation of our fruit output. No manufacturer putting out his project to the trade would put in competition with his finished product, an inferior grade also manufactured by himself. His inferior grade would cheapen his main line, so that all would probably sell at a loss. This is what we are doing every year with our apples. Culls for the cannery at $8 at on, cookers and C grade selling at less than the cost of production, we are putting on the market in large crop years, and losing money on all of our output. We believe that in the near future, the horticultural boards of the states of Oregon and Washington, and probably Idaho and California, with the advice and cooperation of the fruit growers and shippers, will define as packing grades, only such amount of the fruit as will appear profitable to market, define it extra and fancy if you will. The best of the lower grades will go to the canneries, and we will dump their rest, making a profit on what we handle. No organization can sell at a profit with high freight rates a surplus of inferior fruit.
Other activities mentioned above can be taken up and acted upon as districts and as a whole for the improvement of the industry, but regulation of volume is essential if the price is to be in any way maintained.
Another step and also an essential one, is the putting the industry on a cash basis. This we believe would be a very simple matter indeed, and with a price basis easily established in the different districts, if we could only get down to the idea of selling. Contrary to the general impression, dealers would rather buy if possible. The practice, however, of growers and associations every year holding up the prices in the summer to unwarranted levels, and then flooding the markets of the country with consigned fruit at shipping time, is causing the cash buyer to hesitate. A manufacturer will produce goods, figure his cost, then try to sell at a profit. A fruit grower will raise his crop, figure his cost, and then try to get 5 or 10 cents a box more than is offered, even with a profit assured. We must change to a cash basis by cooperation of all interests, or by cooperation of growers only which we think unlikely. This basis removes practically all of the difficulties confronting the industry today. It is not possible to have flooded markets with this system. When your market becomes crowded the buying stops, and proves a self regulator for the shipper. By this system, we are interesting another party in our products. With his money in our fruit, the dealer then becomes as interested as ourselves to maintain prices, regulate and lower freight rates and all other phases of the industry, that we are now trying to a feeble way to improve.
Another great feature that must be developed is the increase of consumption, and education of the retailer and jobber alike to a more scientific selling of our fruit. The Garffitt plan, advocated by the Western Fruit Jobbers, so called, is advocated with this object in view, and when some such plan is adopted it will have the support of all districts to make it effective.
We believe that roughly as outlined we have the essentials for the success of the fruit industry of the Northwest. It is our belief also that these ideas will be put into effect in the near future. What ever is to be put into effect, must have the support of all interested, to be of a lasting nature.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer