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be the best market for the following year. market details should be followed up with the same thoroughness which the grower gives to the new development in varieties, and in means of contending with fungi and insects.
The selection of the middleman, through whom the fruits are to be sold, is one of the most important features in the whole range of fruit marketing. The first requisite is that this man should be honest and capable. Then the grower should place great confidence in his judgment, for, as he is nearer the point of consumption, his advice should be worth much more than the judgment of one who is far away. Too many growers are guided in their selection of a merchant by high quotations and flattering letters which are sent out at the beginning of the fruit season, but it is often true that the man who at the beginning of the season makes the most moderate and conservative quotations, is the one who secures the most profit for the grower in the end.*
If one is to reach special and personal markets, the small package is nearly always advisable; but in the wholesale and impersonal methods of marketing, the large package will no doubt prove to be the most economical, not only because it costs less for a certain quantity of fruit, but because the expense of packing is less. In the early days of commercial fruit shipping in this country, the large
*For a sketch of the rise of the auction system of selling fruits in this country, see Annals of Horticulture for 1892, p. 40.
Sizes of Packages.
package for peaches and other tender fruits was commonly used. Peaches were shipped almost wholly in bushel baskets. With the increase and specialization of the business, however, smaller packages were in demand, and in some of the largest peach regions of the country, the product was finally shipped in fifth and sixth-bushel baskets. Now that the production has come to be enormous, however, and the returns to the individual grower are comparatively light, there has again arisen a demand for the large package. All this is well illustrated in the Lake Michigan region, in which the bushel basket has recently come into great use. The probability is that if the low price of grapes continues for a few years, there will arise a great demand for a larger package. The individual grower who has a special market to reach, however, will still find that the small package is as useful as ever, and it may perhaps have an added advantage because of its contrast with the larger ones in common use. There is likely to be, therefore, a differentiation in the use of fruit packages, tending upon the one side towards a larger wholesale package, and on the other towards a small retail and personal package.
It should be said in passing that one reason why the small package falls into disfavor is because the fruit is so completely packed by hand that there is a great temptation on the part of the grower to include fruits of poor quality, or at least not to keep up the standard of an arbitrary grade. When
large packages are used, and the grades are not so carefully made, there is less reason for finding fault with a few poor fruits. It is also true that many of the packages, especially in the handling of peaches, have been too small to allow of thoroughly honest packing. This is true of the fifth and sixth-bushel baskets especially. They are either too high or too low to allow a given number of full tiers of fruit to be placed in them, and in order to bring the top layer up to its required height, it is often necessary to insert a layer of small fruits somewhere below the top; and this small fruit is commonly placed in the middle, because the packer cannot always discover if he must use it until the package is partially filled.
In the distribution of fruit, it should be remembered that the establishing of a reputation for the fruit is quite as important as the securing of a remunerative price for the present samples; therefore, the inferior fruits and culls should be kept in the home markets, or manufactured into cider or other secondary products; or, if shipped, they should be placed upon the market without guaranty and without the grower's name. They are then sold simply upon their merits, without the recommendation of the grower's name or any attractive label or description.
Refrigerator cars.-Fruit which is of superior quality will pay for considerable extra effort in transportation. If it is of a perishable nature, and the market is more than six or eight hours away,
it may pay to ship in iced cars, particularly if the weather is very warm. In shipping fruit in iced cars, it is important to know that the car should be iced some time in advance of its receiving the fruit. This is for the purpose of completely cooling off the car. The ice should be put in at least six hours in advance of the loading, if possible, and a longer time is very often advisable. The transportation companies should be notified in advance of the number and route of the cars which are shipping, in order that the ice may be renewed at the necessary intervals. It may be said, also, that the car should not be completely filled with fruit. The upper part of the car is apt to be very hot, especially in summer, and if space is left above the fruit there is better opportunity for ventilation. About three hundred bushels of fruit in bushel packages should be the limit of the amount in any
Earle writes* as follows upon shipping in refrigerated cars :
"Many difficulties and much prejudice were formerly encountered in shipping fruits under refrigeration. Dealers and buyers were afraid to handle fruits that had been on ice, claiming that they would melt down and spoil as soon as they were removed to the warmer air. This belief was widespread and deeply seated, and it has taken much time and many practical demonstrations to fully convince the trade of its falsity. It probably originated in attempts to save fruit that was already over-ripe, and on the verge of spoiling, by placing it in the ice-box. Such fruit will be preserved for
*F. S. Earle, Bull. 79, Ala. Exp. Sta.
some time, if kept cold enough, for cold arrests the growth of the organisms of decay. The decay is only arrested, however, for these organisms are not killed by the cold, and as soon as such fruit is again brought into a warm atmosphere they rapidly complete its destruction. If, however, the fruit is taken from the field at the proper stage of maturity, and is placed at once in a refrigerator car, the cold prevents the beginning of incipient decay; and the fruit will arrive at its destination in a condition to keep almost as long after taking it from the car as it would have kept in the open air at the time it was picked. Strawberries must be in the best possible condition, and the weather not too hot, for them to stand thirty-six hours' transportation by express; or, in other words, for them to reach market in good condition on the second morning after picking. In the writer's experience, strawberries have been repeatedly sent from southern Illinois to Detroit, a three-days' run, by refrigerator freight, and have been successfully reshipped by express to Canadian points that were not reached till the second morning after leaving Detroit.
"Again, no fruit is more perishable than a fully ripened peach; but peaches fully mellow, and ready to eat, have been put in refrigerator cars in California, and, after a six-days' run to Chicago, have been reshipped by express to New York, reaching there in condition to bring good prices. Of course, to endure such severe tests, it is necessary to have the fruit very carefully assorted and packed. A very few specked peaches or rotting strawberries would spoil an entire package before reaching so distant a market. Good judgment, too, is necessary in picking fruit at the proper stage of maturity for refrigerator shipment. Of course, it should not be too ripe, but the mistake is much more often made of picking it too green. In shipping by freight in open cars, it is often necessary to pick rather green, but with most fruits this is done at great sacrifice of quality. Under refrigeration, fully matured ripe fruit will keep better than that which is grass green. This is an important point in favor of refrigeration, and one that many growers do not understand, for it enables