Mr. D.F. Wilber, United States Consul General at Halifax, makes the Apple Industry of Nova Scotia the subject of a Consular report which is published under date of January 8th.
The Report says:
Nova Scotia Apple Industry:
RAPIDLY GROWING HORTICULTURAL OP-
ERATIONS AND HOW CONDUCTED.
In stating that apple growing in Nova Scotia is confined to what is known as the famous Annapolis Valley, a district one hundred miles long and which really comprises Annapolis, Cornwallis, Gaspereau, and Windsor valleys, Consul-General David F. Wilber, of Halifax, fully describes this industry:
This territory, ranging in width from six to ten miles, is one great orchard, and here apples have been grown for two hundred years, but their scientific production for commercial purposes is of comparatively recent origin. There are yet wide regions in this province which are adapted to this industry and new orchards are being set out yearly, until now it is expected that Nova Scotia will in a few years play a very important part in supplying the demand for apples in all parts of the world where there is a market for this fruit.
Something of the magnitude of this industry and the improvement made therein may be gathered from the fact that during the season of 1880-81 the total number of barrels exported from Nova Scotia was 41,785; the season of 1906-7, 287,196 barrels; and the season of 1907-8, 438,237 barrels; while the shipments for the last week in September, 1908, amounted to 370,018 barrels, the total yield this season being estimated at 600,000 barrels.
The apple farms of this province are nearly all occupied by their owners, no doubt a strong factor in creating the great interest manifested in the introduction of newer and more scientific methods in caring for the trees and harvesting the crop. The farms are not large compared with those found in certain sections of the United States, but few orchards containing more than sixty acres. The trees are set out from thirty to forty feet apart, thus allowing plenty of room for them to get the required nourishment.
STANDARD QUALITIES - PRIZES SECURED:
The Canadian "fruit marks act, " copy of which is forwarded and filed for public reference at the Bureau of Manufactures, has done much to make the apple growers more particular in harvesting their crop. The fruit is picked from the tree in small baskets, then placed carefully in barrels and conveyed to a packing house especially constructed for this purpose where the fruit is gone over and packed for shipment. The best grade is marked "Fancy," and consists of "well grown specimens of one variety, sound, of uniform and of at least normal size, and of good color for the variety, of normal shape, free from worm holes, bruises, scabs, and other defects, and properly packed." Next in order, the selections being based on the shape, color, size, and condition of the fruit, are those known as No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3. This system which is rigidly carried out, has done much to popularize Nova Scotia apples in foreign markets. By it one know from the mark on the barrel the class of fruit contained therein and it effects a saving in time to all parties concerned in their handling.
Apples not shipped at once are stored in warehouses so constructed as to resist 62 degrees of frost. When the demand warrants their being put on the market the fruit is transported from the warehouses to rail in carts in which are charcoal fires to counteract the effect of the intense cold.
The variety known as Gravenstine has perhaps accomplished more than any other one apple to make Nova Scotia's reputation as an apple growing country. Annapolis Valley Gravenstines carry an aroma and flavor seldom, if ever, equalled in any other apple grown here. Besides this variety the Ribston, King, Bishop Pippin, Baldwin, Cox's Orange Pippins, Northern Spy, Greenings and Russets are grown to a considerable extent.
Apple growers here have had the same troublesome pests to contend with as in various parts of the United States. During the last twenty-five years they have had the canker worm, coddling moth, bud moth, black spot fungus, and now are battling with the dreaded brown-tailed moth. The practice of spraying has gone through the successive stages of bucket pumps, barrel pumps with one set of hose, large barrel or cask pumps with two sets of hose, and lastly, the power sprayer, with its one hundred and fifty gallon tank, operated by a gasoline engine, the latter having become necessary in spraying some of the orchards as often as three times a year.
It is a significant fact, showing the quality of the apples grown in Nova Scotia, that at the Royal Horticultural Fruit Show and Colonial Exhibition held last fall in London, England, the gold medal for the best display of apples went to one "parcel," consisting of one hundred and fifty varieties of that fruit from this Province. The gold medal was the highest award within the power of the judges to bestow.
At the present time there are scattered throughout the apple growing district small evaporated apple plants, which buy from the growers the spotted, rough, and undersized but solid fruit, not fit for export. This class of fruit is both evaporated and canned. An evaporating plant equipment valued at $4,000 and employing from twelve to fourteen hands can turn out from 1,200 to 1,500 pounds per day. Machinery is used for the peeling, coring and slicing, most of the machines being made by a firm of Rochester, N. Y.
The fruit is first peeled and cored, after which it is transferred to the bleacher and treated to the fumes from burnt sulphur, about thirty-five pounds being used for finished stock 1,200 pounds. After bleaching, the fruit is sliced and placed in drying kiln, capacity 1,000 pounds, and hard coal used for fuel. Three kilns will use one ton of hard coal in a day. At this stage of the process the fruit is thoroughly dried, the sulphur used in bleaching passed off with the moisture, and the apple left white and pure. In the kiln its contents are turned every two hours for twenty-four hours, after which it is transferred to the making or curing room, and here it is moved from bin to bin for six days. At the end of this time it is ready for packing.
Uniform sized boxes are used by all packers each holding fifty pounds and lined throughout with waxed paper. A layer of the fruit is first carefully arranged on the bottom of the box, and on top of this the slices are placed flat until fifty pounds are ready to press, the box is closed, and the apples are then ready to go on the market. They wholesale at about seven cents and retail at eight to nine cents per pound. (A sample package of these evaporated apples received by the Bureau of Manufacturers).
While there are a number of packers of evaporated apples in the province, almost all of the output is controlled by a Halifax firm and one of Belleville, Ontario. Both of these firms have factories in the apple district.
Besides using the inferior apples for evaporating, most of the plants run canneries, and in this way dispose of a large amount of the fruit. The apples for canning are peeled and cored, quartered, and four and one-half to five pounds are put into a gallon (No. 10) can. These cans are sealed and submerged in boiling water from five to seven minutes. This thoroughly heats the contents, but not to such an extent that the fruit becomes soft or mushy. These wholesale for $2 per dozen gallon cans.
It is evident that Mr. Wilber has learned much about the Annapolis Valley since he sent in his report about windmills and wellsweeps. He still, it is apparent, gets his information second hand. If he would visit a few packing houses he would see the absurdity of the London-made story that he repeats, about the charcoal stoves in the carts which convey apples from these packing houses to the cars. His experience in Halifax ought to teach him that a building to "resist 62 degrees of frost" (30 degrees below zero), is unnecessary in Nova Scotia.