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Grape Troubles And Their Remedy

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


The subject assigned to me is "Grape Troubles and Their Remedy."

In looking over the matter I think the excess of moisture has been the cause of much of the trouble we have had. The three troubles which has been given us the most concern in the way of pests are : Black rot, brown rot and downy mildew. The latter we are not troubled with, but the excess of moisture we have had during the last two years is responsible for the others more than anything else.

In Berrien county we have lost hundreds of acres of grapes during the past season—they would not ripen on the vines; and then the prices were so low that it was not worth while to pick them and many are seriously considering the idea of taking out their vineyards and engaging in some other line.

But when we come to look at the matter we find that the grape area is not very large in the United States comparatively speaking, and the consumption of grapes is increasing all the while, but the whole difficulty, it seems to me, lies in the inadequate distribution of the pro-duct.

The black and brown rot are controllable with the spray, provided the work is done thoroughly, and at the right time. In our own, and in the Lawton district, where they have had considerable of the black rot, we have sprayed and have been able to secure a fairly good crop, but in other places where they did not spray, the crop was lost.

If we want the spray to be effectual, so that we may raise good grapes, four sprays are necessary. This is our own, as well as the experience of others. First for the dormant spray, use 3 pounds of copper sulphate to 50 gallons of water and this should be applied be-fore any leaves have started at all. After pruning apply another spray— with two or three pounds of arsenate of lead just before the grape blooms, then another spray after the berries are formed and the leaves are out, 4-4-50. If the vines have been injured the previous year, a fourth spray is necessary and there are some who spray 5 times.

The disease in grapes are something like the San Jose scale. They come upon us almost before we are aware of them and require the utmost diligence to successfully combat and eradicate. Sometimes it seems like a question of the survival of the fittest, and yet they are not wholly unmixed evils. Sometimes I think they are "angels in disguise" and the grower who fights to raise good fruit will in the end surely get good prices. These experiences are putting the men out of business who are doing their work indifferently. Apple men have discovered that unless they keep their trees in good condition they had better get out of the business. We have some of these in our locality and they are injuring our business.

The grapes do not have so very many serious insect pests that at-tack them, and yet these pests seem to be increasing every year. I just recently heard of a new insect pest here in Michigan—the root worm. Mr. Scott, of Washington, who has been conducting an experimental station at Benton Harbor, has discovered them, but they have not as yet got -into our locality. We cannot, however, tell how long it will be before they will be with us. It is not an insect that can be controlled by spray, as it works at the root and goes through the cane.

A gentleman in Pennsylvania told me the only safe way to control it was to keep the ground cultivated thoroughly, so that the worm may be exposed to the air, in which case an exposure of half an hour to the air and sunshine will kill it. The Experimental Station at Washington has given much time and thought to this insect, and so far has discovered nothing in the way of a spray that will control it. The spray might help to kill its posterity; so if you have any difficulty, look out for this worm, for it increases very rapidly. I hope we will not be troubled with it, as it causes great damage.

The berry moth has been quite troublesome in some localities, is controlable with the spray. All trash, leaves, and stuff of that kind should be kept out the vineyard, and in this way insects of this sort will be destroyed.

The rose bug is another pest that in some localities is quite trouble-some, especially in the St. Joe River district, and there is nothing to control it. The best thing is hand picking, but in a large vineyard this makes it quite a serious problem.

The Michigan Experiment Bulletin No. 3 of 1909 is a report of some very interesting experiments on the subject of grape culture and the control of pests, and especially the Michigan special bulletin No. 49 of 1909; then also the department circular No. 65, of 1909, by Mr. Hawkins, who was here at the summer meeting two years ago, is very interesting and valuable. He has made most extensive experiments in grape troubles, and his work is very valuable.

As I said before, the most of these difficulties can be controlled by the spray. It has been found, however, that lime-sulphur is of no value whatever.

I do not think that Berrien county will be found wanting another year. We have outside of Van Buren county the largest acreage of grapes in Michigan. Last year from Benton Harbor, and vicinity there were 3,000 cars of grapes sent out.

Bad as are the various pests, and new ones coming right along, yet they have not been the most serious menace to the grape growing industry during the last year or so. There is one trouble that handicaps more than these, and that is the question of marketing. Here is where we experience our most serious trouble. The prices last year were so low—through the association bringing only 61/2 cents—that when I got through I concluded I had not made anything. If we are going to stay in the 'grape business we have got to wake up and provide some way to get our grapes on the market in better condition, so we can receive some sort of a compensation for our work. Our growers can produce good fruit, but for some reason they cannot sell it. What is the trouble? Where is the difficulty? I am glad that Mr. Thompson will be here; for I have heard much of the results of the co-operation they are carrying forward over in Canada. I am satisfied that we will never get the prices we should for our fruit so long as we let it go through the hands of several middle men.

We have this year had several associations in the vicinity of Benton Harbor. Some of our growers got as high as 7 or S cents while we sold for 6 1/2c, and some received as low as 5 cents.

I figured that the grapes would cost me 6 cents to put on the markets, and cent for S pounds of grapes is not a. very large profit. In-deed it does not pay. And when they went lower I stopped picking.

While we have had much to discourage us in the grape industry during the past two years, yet I do not feel that I want to go out of the business; for this is a great country and there is a great demand for grapes, and in places excellent prices are being realized. What we want is to put our grapes on these markets and then we will get some-thing like what they are worth. I wrote to a brother in Kansas while we were selling our grapes for 61/2 cents, and he was paying 35 cents for the same thing. Just the other day in St. Joe a man wanted two cars of grapes and he said to a broker, "I will give you 10 cents a basket, if you will go and buy me two cars." The broker went out, and bought them for 61/2 cents, and then turned around and sold them to the other man for 10 cents, making as you see, a neat little profit for his two carloads. And the next man who bought them from the second man paid him 15 cents. This shows that there is a big gap between buyer No. 3 and buyer No. 1, so until we get busy, or until we get together on some basis of co-operation, I am afraid that there will be little or nothing done.

And it is just as true of apples and other fruit as it is of grapes. The distribution problem is about the most serious problem that con-fronts the grape as well as the apple grower now. Unless we can find markets where apples and grapes are not grown, and get them where there is a demand for them, we will experience a continuation of the same difficulty ; but when we can overcome this, then the future of horticulture is assured. This year has shown that this is true in many lilies, especially in peaches but perhaps not so much as in apples.

Several organizations are trying to help us along but I am a little wary. I believe if we go at the matter right, and there is an unselfish effort put forth to carry forward the work on a business basis and with the elimination of personalities it will win out all right. A few years ago the Western farmers did this with grains. Why cannot we do the same thing with fruit? We have been talking about doing some-thing for a long time, and I think it is about time that we did some-thing. We find men with 10 or 20 acres who are having even a harder time than those who have a larger acreage. I should like to hear from others on the subject and, as there is said to be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, I feel sure we can get at some plan or work out some scheme whereby we will be able to win out all right.

Mr. Wilson—What do you think of the idea of growing just enough grapes to supply the demand as is done with many staple products which are controlled by the trusts?

Chairman—Mr. Friday is on the program to discuss this paper and he will now have the time, after which you are at liberty to fire in just as many questions as you want to.

Mr. Friday—There are many things necessary in the successful growing of grapes. First of all the fruit must be grown, but, even after it is grown, there is another thing that the majority of growers don't know how to do, and that is to pack it as it should be. This year the grapes were not very plentiful and they sold at ruinously low prices, and the real reason for this is the fact that the fruit was not packed as it should have been. Mr. Smythe said in substance that the farmers took what was thrown at them. A good many farmers should have had bricks thrown at them. Their grapes were not sprayed and the quality Was not there, and these went on to the market, and of course could not receive anything like first class prices. There were carloads of grapes shipped that were not even blue—just red. They had downy mildew and other diseases. We cannot put that trash on the market and expect to get anything in return for it. We must raise grapes that are grapes.

A great deal was said about co-operation, but I want to say that there is no way of co-operation when growers are so careless. The thing that must be done before any success will come through our organization is to grow the grapes that we can sell, and we will never make anything by selling them on the margin of a half-cent commission. There must be some standard maintained. In some places this is done. Every grape that goes into a basket should be as demanded in some organizations; a bunch of grapes without any black rot or any blemishes, each bunch at least three inches long, and the grapes should be wilted before being covered, so that the weight will be there and at the same time the cover will not have to be jammed down on the fruit so as to crush it.

Again I want to emphasize the fact that we must deliver the goods. One man from one of the associations bought over 125 cars of grapes and he made only one dollar on some of these cars of grapes. A number of cars were turned down because they were so poor. As long as the grape growers will abide by this system of raising and delivering such fruit they are right in line with being wiped off the earth. Many of these grapes were only vinegar grapes, not even wine grapes, and although the seller may dispose of a few car-loads of them to one man, he cannot sell a second car nor keep it up when the quality is not there.

It is not a question of ignorance. We know how to get the quality and this is what must be had, and it must be had not only by one or two farmers, but by everyone. There must be co-operation all along the line. The grape vine, even though it does not have downy mildew or is not infested by other pests, does not grow as good grapes without being sprayed as when it is sprayed. A basket of grapes from well sprayed vines will always carry better than those unsprayed, even though they are not directly attacked by pests. I am told that the men who went into the association they had in Van Buren county, where they did things right, got at least ten cents for their grapes and they started out at twelve cents. There were many at Benton Harbor who sold their grapes for five cents, but even that was more than they were worth. Two cars that I heard of went to Minneapolis, and were there condemned and sold out and made into vinegar. I think we will get money out of our grapes as soon as the grapes are delivered in the right way; but I don't believe we will ever realize what we should until this phase of the subject receives more serious consideration.


A Member—I think the grape grower is making all his own troubles, at least to a large extent.

A Member—I realize that we must do something. Apples are cheap and yet within fifty miles of where I live they do not have any apples at all, and are willing to pay good prices for right fruit. My apples have gone all right; they were sold out in little towns and I believe that there are hundreds of little towns that would take every apple raised in the State of Michigan, if they could be given a chance to get them. The trouble is, we rush everything on to the big markets and by so doing, they are glutted; and small fruits especially, being of a perishable nature, have to be disposed of at great sacrifice, or lost al-together.

A Member—I would not take it that Mr. Friday is opposed to organization, but that he does not consider the grape growers' association up to the standard for the business. I am sure that the principle is right, but his complaint is that it is poorly carried out. Everybody is saying that something must be done and no one seems to feel competent to tell just what that something is. It is hoped that we may here formulate some plan or make some recommendations or take some action whereby we will go on record in such a way that something will be done when we get back to our homes. The trouble with so many of us is that while the "spirit is willing, the flesh is weak." We are not willing to put our hands into our pockets and back our plans with our money. We must put our money up. It is a question of "put up, or keep still." We cannot get out with one-half cent brokerage and agents' agreement. But an association backed up properly will do something, and the longer we put it off, the further away will be the desired results.

Mr. Friday—I am not opposed to the association or the association idea when properly controlled, but what I do object to is an association controlled by one man for his own use.

A Visitor—Gentlemen and Ladies : When working men are paying all their wages for the necessities of life, they are not going to buy many luxuries. The average wage earner, when he must take all his earnings to buy bread and the necessities of life, will not stop to take baskets of grapes home. The cost of living of the average wage earner, with a family, necessitates a degree of economy that forbids spending very much for luxuries; and it is for this reason that so little fruit is found on their tables. Why ! your sugar should be sold for 25 to 30 pounds for $1.00 instead of 15 pounds as it is now. Whenever you wake up to these things and provide some adjustment of them, then people will use fruit. Fruit is a luxury; apples and peaches are luxuries, and the people of the United States are not able to buy luxuries. Whenever the living can be reduced, there will be no trouble about your fruit having a good sale. I am from the Pacific Coast, that great fruit growing country, and I know that the apple-men of Oregon are shipping carloads 'of their fruit eastward, running it right through your own district here in ice cars, in order to supply the English and European markets with a very inferior apple. I defy any woman to make a good dish of apple sauce out of an Oregon Northern Spy, or Greening apple, or to make a pie fit to eat. Now all this is done while you here are in shape to almost float your apples right on to these markets with-out a tithe of the expense. Michigan apple growers, you ought to wake up to the fact that you are here with gold mines on every farm, if you only understand it.

A Voice—That's right.

Mr. Young—It seems to me that all this talk will amount to nothing unless we take some action that will mean something. I therefore move that a committee of five be appointed to formulate plans for a permanent organization to market our fruit, and submit same to this convention at some time later in the sitting. This motion was seconded and carried.

A Member—I would like to ask if this organization is to be of a local or a general nature.

The Chairman—Undoubtedly the committee will make suggestions along this line.

A Member—Is this for general fruit, or for one particular kind? Answer—It would be of a general nature.

On motion the meeting was adjourned.

Chairman—There are two more numbers on this program and I think we had better have them before we admit of questions being asked. We will now hear from Hon. R. H. Graham, of Grand Rapids, on the subject of "Preparing the Land and Planting."

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