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each case does best under local conditions, and best meets the requirement.
As a step towards ascertaining these points, the respective Governments have each arranged something in the nature of trial plots, in which greater variety is introduced than would usually be done by a private grower or even by a nurseryman. In the Transvaal some 400 varieties are on trial, in Natal about 1000 varieties, while in Cape Colony a smaller number of selected kinds is being distributed for trial at many centres.
It is generally conceded that only a few varieties are wanted at one place, but the point in this experiment work is to find which are the few kinds best worth attention in each locality. Experience in America, Australia and elsewhere has been that each locality eventually produces locally a few kinds best suited to itself, or selects and adopts as its own a few chance trees of unknown history but of special quality.
And in this selection not only has the effect of local conditions on all available varieties to be tried, but the special requirement of the market to be supplied has also to be considered, for it is surprising how some kinds are in demand in one market, and unsaleable another.
Proving these problems is public work if the Colony desires to benefit, otherwise a few energetic men control the trade and make the profit, and the public is left out.
Experiment work in other directions, as to soils, fertilizers, pruning, cultivation, espacement, irrigation, intercropping, shelter, stocks, packing, cold storage, transport, etc., are also in hand as Government work, and each Government has an officer in charge of such work.
EXPORT OF FRUIT.
After a century of slow progress, fruit culture made a fresh start when, in 1889, a first attempt was made to ship fruit to England on a commercial scale. The Castle Steamship Co. responded to the growers' demand by fitting up in one of its steamers a cool chamber with a capacity for 30 tons. Whether the growers filled this or not does not appear, but the Cape Agricultural Journal (Vol. II., page 208) contains a report, dated March 11th, 1889, by Mr. J. Willard, Member of the Fruit Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society, to the Secretary of the Cape Agricultural Society, on a trial shipment of apparently three cases of fruit, which included Grapes, Pears, and Melons, the two latter being in one box. During the next two years export business was still in the initial experimental stage, but in 1892 some 500 cases of fruit in variety were shipped, and the results led both the Castle and the Union Steamship Companies to fit up cool chambers of 60-ton capacity in each of several steamers for the next year's trade, when a large business at once sprang up.
unremunerative, and had reduced the export in the following season,
From these figures it looks as if the trade for 1902-3 had been
Incomplete Information. : : : : :d
: Information not in detail. : : : : : :
the subsequent oversea trade as follows :
Information in hand, which is unfortunately incomplete, shows
9,169 10,817 17,336 17,263 14,998 21,968 34,723 22,533
but the true explanation is that the prohibitive Transvaal duty was removed in time for the 1903-4 trade, and the growers naturally took that market in preference to Europe, overdoing it, however, and causing a slump for that year. But even in recent years the English trade does not show such expansion as might have been expected, and prices for the present year (1905-6) have not been satisfactory. This may be accounted for partly by cold weather at the time of arrival, partly by unsatisfactory distribution arrangements, partly by too high expectations, and partly by the nature and condition of the fruit itself, for even after all these years of experience some shippers have still to learn that only certain kinds command the London market at any season, and that it only pays to ship the best, and that only if graded to a reliable brand.
Since 1904 an endeavour has been made to open up a market in continental Europe, as also in North America, fruit being transhipped at Southampton to prevent delay; but thus far the demand remains small, and fruit from the Argentine at the same season may affect these markets in the near future. The fact that the Cape Fruit Exporters' Association ships almost the whole export, and that into one London office, seems to be an arrangement possibly open to improvement, while, on the other hand, London Agents interested in West Indian, Canary, Australian and other goods, prefer to ignore Cape fruit, lest it interfere with their own established connections.
That the oversea export deals with only an insignificant proportion of the whole production is proved by figures showing the destinations of fruit sent from the Western Province Railway Stations during fruit season 1902-3, as follows (Cape Agricultural Journal, XXIII., 83): To Docks
228 To stations in Orange River Colony
The Cape Colony naturally has by far the largest area in fruit.. the figures, according to information kindly supplied by the Agricul-. tural Departments of the respective Colonies, being about as follows, including trees and vines scattered around homesteads, viz. :
Cape Colony (1904 census)
37,985 acres. 35,297 acres. Transvaal (1904 census, allowing 100 trees or 430 vines per acre)
1,000 Orange River Colony. Statistics not available, area small. Natal, approximately
Except for citrus and sub-tropical fruits which belong to the North-Eastern portions of Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal and Rhodesia, the fruit districts are located in the South-Western part of Cape Colony, where the wet winters, dry summers and rich, suitable soils, give conditions probably unequalled elsewhere, though deciduous fruits do well throughout colder South Africa. Among the districts of Cape Colony, the following is the order in which they are placed by area under fruit trees, vines and vegetables, respectively, expressed in morgen, as shown in 1904 census, viz. ::
FRUIT ORCHARDS. Paarl 2,3531 Morgen. Cradock
297 Morgen. Stellenbosch
Calvinia East London
100 morgen each.
VINEYARDS. 3,782 Morgen. Caledon
Van Rhynsdorp 1378
All others under 100 morgen.
A very considerable proportion of the fruit trees have been planted within the last few years, and are not yet in bearing, the proportion in the largest fruit districts—Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Wellington—being about half. The comparative production of
different fruits throughout Cape Colony is approximately shown by the following figures, also from the 1904 census :
In the other Colonies statistics are less detailed, but the number of trees standing is approximately :
Trees. 2,024,018 2,000,000
Citrus and other sub-tropical fruits.
Vines. 430,383 21,500 2,500
The Customs returns indicate what becomes of the Cape produce in so far as not used for domestic requirements, viz. : for 1904 :