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Earle on Refrigerator Cars.


fruit to be put on the market after its full flavor and quality has been developed. The flat, insipid quality, and lack of flavor so often noticed in California fruits on the eastern markets, comes very largely from the pernicious habit of green picking. A peach that is ripe enough to be fully mellow is hard to handle without bruising, but they should hang on the tree till fully grown and colored. A peach that would be mellow if left on the tree till to-morrow, is in just the right condition to pick to-day. Pears, on the other hand, should be picked green, at least ten days to two weeks before softening, and should be ripened in a close, dark place. For this reason, they can be safely shipped in tight boxes or barrels in open cars, unless it is intended to place them in cold storage on arrival. In this case, they should be shipped under refrigeration, to retard the ripening process as much as possible.

"Refrigerator cars were first built for the meat trade. The meat was hung in cold-storage houses, and was loaded into the cars at or near the freezing point. In a tight, well built car such a cold load would warm up very slowly, and a small amount of ice served to carry it safely to its destination. When it was attempted to use these cars for fruit, the hot load, fresh from the fields, soon melted the limited ice supply, and the cars invariably arrived heated and in bad order. To use these cars successfully, it was found necessary to build cooling houses at the shipping points, in which the fruit could be cooled off before loading, as in the case of the meat. This caused delay in getting the fruit on the market, and made much additional expense. It, however, demonstrated the success of refrigeration for the transportation of fruits, and soon cars were built especially for the fruit trade, with sufficient ice capacity to cool off a load of hot fruit in transit, and to keep it cool. At the present time there are a number of refrigerator car lines, with specially built fruit cars, that are actively competing for the fruit and vegetable carrying trade; so that any point, having sufficient business to offer, can secure efficient car service, with competent men to look after the proper loading and icing of the

cars. Each line, of course, claims to have the best cars; and for difficult service there would certainly be considerable choice between them, but with the numerous re-icing stations that are now available, any of them will give satisfactory service, if properly loaded and handled.

"The main points to consider in selecting a refrigerator car for transporting produce are first, its ice capacity, and second, its insulation. The ice tanks should hold at least five tons of ice, and six tons is even better. The position of the tanks, whether overhead or at the ends, is a question of minor importance. The car should be tightly built, with double walls and roof, with the space between them filled in with some nonconducting material, or by numerous linings of building paper, with dead air spaces between them. The doors should be built like the walls, and be of the same thickness; and they should fit as nearly air-tight as possible. Of course the car should be sweet and clean.

"It is usual for the refrigerator companies to furnish their own men for loading the cars, for proper loading is a point of so much importance that they do not care to trust the reputation of their cars to inexperienced men. The important points to secure in loading are first, that the packages be so spaced that the cold air has immediate access to all sides of them, and second, that they be so secured that the load cannot shift by the bumping of the cars while in transit. These points are usually secured by piling the crates or other packages one above another in tiers or ranks, from three to six inches apart, and with lath or strips between each layer. Strips are placed upright against the end of the car, and a row of packages is placed on the floor, with the ends set snugly against these strips, and carefully spaced. Light half-inch strips, as long as the width of the car, are placed across the ends of the packages; and the front one is nailed down with a light nail to the head of each package, to prevent side shifting. Another row of packages is placed on these strips, each one directly above one in the lower row. These are again stripped and nailed, and so on to the top. The

Associations and Pools.


next course is placed with the ends snugly against the ends of the first course, so that the air spaces are continuous. When the center of the car is reached, begin in the other end and load in the same way. A space will usually be left at the last, too narrow to admit another course of packages; and the car must now be braced, to prevent the courses from shifting endwise. Pieces of one by six inch boards are set up against the ends of each rank of packages, and other strips are nailed across these uprights, near the bottom and the top of the car. The distance between these opposite cross-pieces is now carefully measured, and pieces of board are cut for braces about an inch longer than this space, so that they will have to be driven home with considerable force. The braces are toe-nailed in place, to prevent their falling, if they should chance to loosen in the bumping of the car. When thus loaded and braced, the contents are absolutely immovable, yet each package is separated from its neighbors on all sides by a layer of cold air, which, when it becomes warmed by the hot fruit, rises, and is carried by the currents thus generated to the ice, where it is quickly cooled again, and where it deposits the moisture that may have been taken up from the fruit. This rapid circulation of the air is very important, and the ice, instead of making the fruit damp, as might at first be thought, really serves to dry it very effectually."

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Shipping associations. In many many parts of the country, the grower, if he is a good business man, can find a special market for all that he can raise; but, in general, it is no doubt true that a thoroughly competent organization of fruit men is the best means through which to distribute fruit. Such an organization should make it a particular business to determine just where the best markets are, and to make out lists of those towns which are within practicable reach of the fruit region, with the popu

lation and the consuming capacity of each, the transportation rates thereto, and all incidental matters which are likely to influence the market from day to day. Having such information before it, the association, if it has the shipping of the larger part of the fruit of any region, can place such quantity in each city or town as can be consumed, and thereby prevent the glutting of the markets. All this can be done only when the system of organization is exceedingly thorough and when the growers are willing to coöperate; but it would likely be a mistake for any organization to expect to enlist in such an enterprise those fruit-growers who are able to find special and personal markets for themselves, as indicated in the next paragraph. Such growers are ordinarily so few, however, that they do not influence the general market conditions.

Much has been said during the past few years about the shipping of fruit in pools or unions. When the market is very far removed from the producer, so that transportation rates are high, an organization of interests is often necessary. In districts which are SO far from markets as the Pacific coast, it is necessary that a man have either a large quantity of fruit to ship or that he ship in conjunction with his neighbors; or, that he sell his fruit outright to buyers. In districts which are close to market, it is rarely advantageous to the growers of the very finest fruits to ship through pools or unions. The difficulty is that the best fruit. is sold for about the same price that the poor fruit

Shipping in Pools.


is, and it is very rare that all the growers of any locality pack their fruit in the same degree of excellence. If the union were to exercise very stringent oversight over the packing, this difficulty might be overcome. If, for example, the fruit were brought to the union in the trays or crates directly from the field, and were then re-packed uniformly before shipment, and each grower paid for the exact amount of good fruit which he delivers, the union might prove to be very advantageous, because there should be an economy in the purchase of baskets, in the cost of packing, in transportation rates, and also in the finding of the best markets. The unsatisfactory results which have arisen from fruit unions have not come from inherent difficulties in the system so much as from the lack of a thorough business system of oversight to the packing and grading of all the different samples which are submitted.

The number of persons who can and will grow a dessert quality of fruit is very few, and such persons can really not afford to pool their interests with the common run of fruit-growers. These persons are the ones who find special markets here and there, and they should use special and personal means of disposing of their produce. The more cities there are within a given distance, and the greater the number of transportation lines, the greater are the chances that a man will be able to find a personal and special market for his produce.

An illustration of a fruit market.-A knowledge of the destination of fruit after it reaches a

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