The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., June 28, 1901, page 2


     Hood River's most successful strawberry season has virtually closed, and the total shipments of the berries will foot up close to 40,000 crates as compared to 28,000 last year. Although the season was backward and the weather conditions unfavorable to the production of anywhere near a full crop, the berries produced were of good quality and market returns to the grower were never better. It is safe to estimate that this year's crop has netted Hood River farmers $75,000 in hard cash, and there is hardly an acre in the valley planted to strawberries that has not netted the owner from $100 to $400. A few of the farmers with patches along the river bottom favorable to the early ripening of the berries secured fancy prices at the opening of the season, which netted big profits, but a conservative estimate of the average returns for the valley would give the farmers a net profit of $1.50 per acre for their strawberry crop. The shipping union will return to the growers and average of $1.90 per crate.
     The 40,000 crates sent out from Hood River would have filled 65 fruit cars. There were billed out a total of 34 cars, 19 of them by the Hood River Fruit Grower's Union and the rest by the Davidson Fruit Co. The latter company shipped something over 16,000 crates, and the union 15,000, while individual shippers and growers marketed about 8,000. Of the 19 cars billed out by the union, eight went to Montana, seven to North Dakota, three to Winnipeg, and one each, to Duluth, Denver and Omaha.
     A point of special interest to note here is that Hood River's $75,000 worth of strawberries was produced on less than 400 acres, something between that number and 350. This may appear incredulous at first glance, but is nevertheless true. The average size of the individual berry patches is considerably less than five acres.
     The car shipments fell off that of other years, the small towns nearer home affording better markets and higher prices than the big cities. The Davidson Fruit Co. consigned but one car to Omaha this year, while in 1896 Hood River sent that city 13 carloads of berries. The people of Omaha and other cities want our berries bad enough and constantly send in orders for them, but it was impossible this year to supply the demand. While the quantity of berries in Hood River has materially increased it was fallen far short of filling the ever increasing demand for the fruit.
     In North Dakota and the states of the middle Northwest the people demanded our berries in car load lots, but there were not enough grown to meet the demand. Montana this year took more berries at higher average prices than ever before, while the cities on the Sound and British Colombia furnished a big demand, at least four times as many berries going to Portland and the Sound cities as ever went before. The Davidson Fruit Co. made a number of consignments to Alaska, some of the fruit of which was marketed in the interior.
     The season for strawberries all over the United States is reported to have been better than ever before, and the berries from California and the middle South were supplying the markets of the large cities at the opening of the season here which tended to put down prices. G.J. Gessling, secretary of the Hood River Fruit Grower's Union, says, that at the height of the season, owing to the supply of Eastern and California berries the union couldn't have handled more berries than they had, but it was a pity the carload shipments could not have been kept up at the end of this season. "The farmers in the foothills," said Mr. Gessling, "have a big advantage here, as their berries ripen after the other berries are out of the market, and furthermore, the berries are of a better quality, and more of them can be produced to the acre than on the sandy soil of the lower part of the valley. The people in the Crapper district have a good chance to get rich just because their berries are late."
     The strawberry business in Hood River never was on better basis. More berries were produced this year than ever before, but the demand was far from being supplied. The early berries, of course, bring fancy prices, but for the past three years there has been an increasing call for late berries which would furnish a good market until the middle of July. Other berries are out of the market by this time, and as the land in the upper valley can produce berries of larger size and superior quality the farmers of Hood River need never to despair of overdoing the thing. No section in the country can produce berries that will stand shipment like the Hood River product, and when the farmers of our valley, by raising strawberries, can clear from $100 to $200, and sometimes $400 per acre above expenses, they have got something that's a sure thing and which will pay them better dividends than most of the gold mines in the country.
     Said H.F. Davidson of the Davidson Fruit Co., "What we need is more berries. Why, I actually hate to open my mail these mornings, for the Eastern buyers are constantly demanding more berries and in most every other letter we are met with the query, 'Why don't you fill our order?' or 'Why don't you send more strawberries?'"
     The strawberry that has made Hood River famous and is making our fruit growers rich, is the Clark's Seedling. The peculiarities about this variety is that it seems particularly adapted to the valley, and cannot be grown successfully elsewhere. For shipping quality the Clark's Seedling is without a doubt the best in the world, and as to flavor it is equally hard to beat. Though within late years an attempt has been made to put forth Magoon berry, and some of our farmers are being deluded into thinking that it surpasses the good qualities of the Clark's Seedling. The Oregonian of the 24th inst. it a laudatory article upon the Magoon berry erroneously asserted that this berry is now conceded to surpass in every particular the good qualities of the Clark's Seedling. A few credulous people may be deceived by such misstatements, but the majority will prefer to take the facts as they are. But facts or no facts, the Magoon berry has already done considerable mischief, and if Hood River wants to sustain its established reputation for strawberries the Magoon be left out. They are 50 per cent more productive than the Clark's Seedling, but for shipping purposes they are absolutely worthless, and for canning they are equally unfit. When shipped in cars this year, with the Clark's Seedling they invariably brought from 50 cents to dollar less per crate. The Magoon will not stand shipping at all, and commission men everywhere registered kicks on receiving even a crate or two in a car of the Clark's Seedling. This ought to be convincing enough to keep our fruit growers from speculating further with the worthless Magoons, and to make them satisfied with the sure thing that they have in the famous Clark's Seedling.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer