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Remedy is Diversification.
ordinary. In fact, it is the ordinariness of it which makes it a surplus. Now, inasmuch as most men are ordinary, it follows that most things which they make will be ordinary; and it does not matter if we raise the standard of all men, the greater part will still be ordinary, for we have only raised the ordinariness of the mass. This would seem to argue that the great majority of fruit-growers-to specialize the problem
can never really succeed. This demands that we define what is commonly meant by "the best." That kind of fruit usually sells the best of which there is the least. It may not be intrinsically the best. It is simply that in which there is the least competition. The key-note to the business, therefore, is diversification or individuality. The grower should aim to have something or to do something which his neighbors do not do, although it may really not be any better than what they do. We are apt to be discouraged by being told that "there is room at the top," for if we all get to the top then we are all on the bottom. It is better to say that "there is room at the top and on the sides." The best, as commonly understood, is really the unlike.
If every occupation is already full, then it follows that the choice of an occupation resolves itself into what one cares for and what he has capital for. He need have no fear of his success if he grows what people want, or puts it up so as to make them believe that they want it. In its common levels, fruit-growing, like every other business, is undoubtedly overdone, and there is only a vicarious
living in it. This is most emphatically illustrated in apple-growing-to which the least skilful attention has been given-for the years of crop are years of low prices. This means that apple-growers allow the seasons and other environmental circumstances to absolutely dictate the bearing time of the orchard, and when one man has a crop every other man has one. Yet there is no fruit which comes SO near to being a staple commodity as the apple does, and none which has a longer market season, or is capable of manufacture into a greater number of secondary products.
Perhaps the last thing which the farmer learns, in respect to his own business, is to thoroughly master his local conditions. He must feel that his problems of soil and exposure, his limitations of capital, and his own tastes, are all unique and personal, and he must then begin to work out his results in his own way. What he can learn from books and teachers are principles and truths, he can pick up suggestions, and he can, above all, acquire an ability to grasp his local problems; but he must solve his problems for himself. This is the secret of that close and singleminded attention to business which makes for the greatest success.
The most profitable stock in trade of the fruitgrower, therefore, as already indicated, is training; and if a good part of this training is in pure business methods, very much will be gained, for there are probably ten men who can grow a given quality of fruit where there is one who can sell it to advan
Farming and Business.
tage. All this is proved by the fact that very many of our best farmers are men who were not brought up on the farm, or who, at least, soon left it for other business. Good business men nearly always make a success of farming. They come into the business with trained minds, skilled judgment, and especially without too much stereotyped knowledge, and, therefore, without prejudice. They are willing to learn, and they quickly assimilate new ideas. It sometimes seems as if the farmers of the future are to come largely from other occupations, where men are free from the bonds of tradition.
In other words, there are two distinct lines of effort in farming one is the farming proper, or growing of crops; and the other is business method, which is a matter of executive management. One difficulty with agriculture at the present time is the fact that every farmer is his own business manager, and it is probably true that less than one-fourth of the men, taking them as they run, are competent to manage a business. When the boys leave the farm for the city, they fall under the management of the proprietor of an industry or a business, and after a time all those individuals who show special aptitude for executive business rise to their opportunities, and themselves become managers and proprietors. In the increasing complication and complexities of the future, those farmers who are not good executive business men will be obliged to give their attention solely to those enterprises to which they are best adapted; so that there must gradually come to be a separation be
tween the business of growing fruit and the business of handling and marketing it.
It may be stated as a general principle that the commercial outlook is best in those fruits which readily yield themselves to the greatest number of secondary or manufactured products, such as canned or evaporated goods, jellies and sauces, liquors, oils, or other commodities used in the arts. In these fruits the grower is not dependent upon a single outlet for his crop; and it should be said that if there is but a single important outlet for a fruit, that outlet is usually the sale in the fresh state, which is the most vicarious disposition which can be made of perishable products. This truth is well illustrated in the eastern grape business. The grape is consumed almost wholly as a dessert fruit, the only other emphatic outlet being in wine-making, which is comparatively unimportant in the east. As a consequence, the grower is largely at the mercy of the market, and this market may be definitely and easily overstocked. In the case of apples and peaches, the grower has the alternative of canning or drying the crop, and he may, therefore, be comparatively independent of the contemporaneous market.
In years of heavy crops the returns from poor fruit are the least, and it often happens that the only good which comes from such yields is the lesson upon the business and the morals of good grading and packing; yet even this forceful lesson seems either not to reach the major part of fruit-raisers,
Lesson of the Apple Crop of 1896.
or else it is forgotten before the next year of superfluous yields. The enormous apple crop of 1896 was one of these epochs. W. C. Barry makes the following remarks upon this crop, quoting at first from an English fruit-receiver: "In the first place, quantities have been far too excessive, and a very large proportion of the fruit has been and is of a class that prevents rather than favors extended consumption. With the knowledge of the exceptionally abundant crop, we should have thought shippers would see the necessity for extra care in selecting the fruit, but instead of this, indiscriminate shipping seems to have been practiced largely, while the heavy percentage of faulty conditioned barrels indicates that the packing has also been defective.' In this way, at home and abroad, the crop was practically lost. The outlook is certainly discouraging, but if we are willing to profit by the experience of the year and learn a lesson, it will be of advantage to us. It must be self-evident that hereafter greater care must be exercised in packing, and choicer fruit must be selected for both home and foreign markets. It will probably be many years until a similar crop will be produced. In the meantime, growers should provide themselves with storage houses, where the fruit can be kept till the time arrives to market it advantageously. * * * As the years pass and our experience increases, it becomes evident that a greater variety of products is necessary to success. The fruit-grower should en
*President's Address to Western New York Horticultural Soc., Jan. 27, 1897.