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Accounts with Pickers.
As he comes to the shed, he slips his number into the basket on a bit of card or splint, and he sees the basket weighed and the credit given; or, if the picker has no suspicions, the foreman may gather the baskets from the field. Growers generally pay 2 cents a quart for raspberries, or 1.6 cents a
Fig. 88. Picker's tag.
pound (since a quart weighs 14 price can be dropped to 1 cent varieties and in good picking.
In the picking of fruits, it is always essential that each picker finish the particular job to which he is assigned. This is especially important in the smallfruits, for the picker must follow a certain row, and
pounds), but the a pound in some
Picking and Packing.
not be wandering over the plantation in search of the best picking. Fig. 90 shows the method of "lining off" cranberry pickers.
Necessity of hand-picking.-It would seem to be unnecessary to say that all fruits which are to be put into a good market should be hand-picked, and yet it is a fact that a great quantity of the apples, and even of the pears and plums, which go into our common markets are shaken from the trees. It is impracticable to grade or sort such fruits, because the proportion of jammed or bruised fruits is so great that the samples of first quality are found to be very few. It is an axiom in fruitmarketing that only the best fruit pays for careful packing, and that the poor fruit is rarely worth the trouble of grading. The better the fruit, therefore, and the more carefully it is picked, the more profitable may be the attention which is given to sorting and packing.
THE PACKING OF FRUIT.
What is first-class fruit?—The very first thing to be considered in the packing of fruit is to determine what first-class fruit is. Even amongst those persons who sell apples for the export trade, there is very little exact practice in the sorting of the apples. It seems to be ordinarily considered that any fruit which is sound enough to reach its destination is good enough to be called first-class; but such standard is a serious error. The fruit
Fig. 91. Apples taken from a commercial "first-class" barrel. None of the specimens are above second-class, and some of them would grade as third-class in careful sorting. The topmost apple is alone perfect, but it is too small to grade uniformly with the other specimens, and is therefore discarded because of the company it keeps. The specimen at the extreme right was perfect as it left the tree and of proper size, but was ruined by careless handling. This picture represents fairly well the type of grading which is frequent with farmers; and it suggests the reason for much of the low price of the fruit.
What is First-class Fruit?
should not only reach its destination in approximately the same condition in which it leaves the orchard, but it should also be attractive and uniform in quality, and capable of being held for some time when it reaches the wholesaler. Mere soundness or perfectness of form and freedom from all bruises and blemishes do not constitute a first-class apple. All the specimens should grade up to a more or less uniform standard of size and shape, and any fruit which is ever so perfect in itself would not be considered to be first-class amongst fruits which average either very much larger or very much smaller. In other words, there is a great difference between a perfect specimen and a firstclass parcel. Perhaps it will answer all requirements to define first-class fruit as a quantity of sufficient amount to be quoted in the market (as one box, basket or barrel), which is thoroughly well packed and of one variety, and in which the individual specimens are very nearly uniform in size, shape and degree of ripeness, are possessed of fulllength stems (in stem-bearing fruits), are free from bruises and injuries and all insect and fungous blemishes, are fully characteristic of the variety, and are in that stage of maturity which the market demands at the time of their exposure for sale.
This is well illustrated in Fig. 91, which represents a tray of winter apples. It shows a variety of apples of second and third class, and yet they were taken from a lot which sold for first-class fruit. It may be well to designate the particular points in