The Dalles Optimist, The Dalles, OR., August 10, 1906, page 2

Improved Methods of Cultivation Bring Results

Evening Telegram
     Hood River will have the biggest apple crop this year in its history. The estimates now of the crop is 125,000 to 150,000 boxes. Last year's crop was only 60,000 and it was the "off year." All of the choice varieties have a tendency to bear every other year, and this is the full year. By judicious thinning and cultivation, the "off" year may be made to bear half a crop or more, which was the case last year.
     Another reason for the good crop this year is the fact that many of the young orchards are beginning to bear. The old bearing orchards are but about 500 acres. There are fully 3000 of young trees set out, which are from one to five years old, and from now on the increase in production will be very rapid. New orchards are being set out, also, at the rate of 300 to 500 acres a year. Of these the bulk of the Yellow Newton and Spitzenburg varieties, due to the fact that those are the highest-priced apples grown, and reach a greater degree of perfection at Hood River than any other known place.
     The quality will be good. Sunburn has affected some of the apples, but to not a greater extent than usual, and the yield is so good that a little more thinning on account of this trouble will be scarcely noticed when the crop is matured. The orchards are almost entirely free from worms, and the apples are now of a large size, so that prospects are for over ninety percent grading, first-class and four-tier.
     It is probable that not over 40,000 boxes will be Newtons and Spitzenburgs. The bulk of the yield will be from the old orchards, and these are largely of mixed varieties. Of these two varieties prices promise to hold up well with last year. They will no doubt be some lower, owing to the big crop all over the country, but will not be affected as much as the common varieties. New York buyers have already been on the market, but no sales have yet been made.
     The Apple Growers' Union will ask for sealed bids, and will sell the entire crop which it controls to the highest bidder. They control probably 60 percent of the crop.
     The Davidson Fruit Company handles most of the balance, most on commission and by purchase. The common varieties are harder to dispose of. With a large crop into the east, New York buyers will try to buy them cheap, but the growers will, so far as possible, make the best varieties sell a certain per cent of common.
     Two years hence the crop should be 300,000 boxes, and in four years it should again be doubled. The new orchards are 90 percent Yellow Newton and Spitzenburgs.
     Hood River methods are getting down to a scientific basis. The orchards were never in better condition than at the present time. The matter of spraying is reaching perfection, and the crop of codlin moths is this year at a minimum. The new arsenic of lead spray is doing the best work of any of the spray formulas, and nearly all are using it extensively. It is a little more expensive than the old lime and arsenic spray, but requires fewer applications, and seems to be a better preventative of pests and disease.
     The law prohibiting growers and dealers from selling wormy and insected fruit is also contributing to the general good. When the growers found they could not market wormy fruit, they redoubled their energies to kill the worms. The indifferent and shiftless grower is now compelled to spray like his thrifty neighbor if he would harvest his crop, and the result this year is very satisfactory.
     Cultivation is also recognized as necessary and profitable. The best orchards are cultivated tend to twenty times during the season. It is first plowed, and then it is gone through with disk and harrow, crossed and recrossed, until the ground is thoroughly pulverized. The object is to get a dust mulch of several inches on the ground as soon as possible after the rains cease in the Spring. This kills the weeds, lessens the evaporation of the soil, and requires little or no irrigation of the ground in the Summer.
     The matter of thinning is important. It is not unusual to pull off two-thirds or three-fourths of the apples in the spring, that the crop may be evenly distributed on the tree, and those that are left may reach a good size. It also insures a fair crop the next year, and often a well loaded tree the "off" year. This feature is receiving considerable study, and some of the progressive orchardists hope to see the time when there will be no "off" years.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer