Landowners themselves are also endeavouring to find a way out of the difficulty. One such, who desires to encourage fruit growers on his estate, has devised a form of agreement which he says has cost him and his advisers much time and thought, and which he thinks may prove a model fruit-growing agreement. It is in the nature of a hiring of the fruit trees and bushes from the landlord, who supplies them as he does the land. Among its provisions are the following: -

1. Reservation to the landlord (except for provisions of Ground Game Act, 1880) of all foxes, game, hares, rabbits, woodcock, snipes, rails, quails. All rights of hunting, shooting, fowling, hawking, coursing, and fishing, with full and free liberty for the landlord, his friends, gamekeepers, and servants, and every other person authorized by him, to search for, hunt, shoot, course, fowl, hawk, sport, fish, and preserve over and upon the said land.

2. That the tenant will not (except as mentioned below) plant any fruit trees or bushes, except such as shall be provided by the landlord.

3. And it is hereby agreed and declared that when the premises or such part of them as is to be planted have been well cleansed and prepared to the satisfaction of the landlord, the landlord will (subject as hereinafter mentioned) at the request of the tenant provide upon the premises all Apple, Pear, and Plum trees, also Currant, Raspberry, and Gooseberry bushes of the varieties selected by the tenant. The landlord shall be at liberty to object to any variety. And it is hereby mutually agreed that no more than so many varieties of any one kind of fruit trees should be planted.

4. All trees and bushes planted during the tenancy shall be and remain the property of the landlord, and the tenant shall not claim or be entitled to any valuation or tenant right in respect of them nor for the superintendence in planting thereof. The trees and bushes so to be supplied by the landlord shall be maidens, and the tenant shall not permit any fruit to be borne by the trees during the first two seasons after planting or by the bushes during the first season after planting.

5. The landlord will replace any Apple. Pear, or Plum trees, and any Raspberry, Gooseberry, or Currant bushes, that may die within two years of the date of planting. If and whenever any tree or bush shall die after the expiration of two years from the date of planting it shall be replaced by the tenant, who shall maintain the same number and variety of trees and bushes as supplied by the landlord, unless by the growth of the trees it shall be found that any variety is unsuitable to the soil, it shall be replaced by the tenant by another variety approved by the landlord.

6. All fruit plantations of trees or bushes shall be guarded from hares and rabbits with wire netting, 4 ft. wide and l 1/2-in. mesh, laid with 6 in. turned in under the soil. Landlord to supply posts, and tenant to provide wire netting, and lay same without any compensation.

7. Schedule of hiring for fruit trees and bushes.

Annual Rent payable on

Per 100 or Portion of 100 Trees.

Per 1000 Bushes or Portion of 1000 or 5000 Raspberries.

a.

d.

S.

d.

1st year

...

Nil

...

Nil.

2nd „

...

Nil

...

Nil.

3rd „

..

Nil

...

1

0

0

4th „

...

Nil

...

2

0

0

5th „

...... 0

3

4 ......

3

0

0

6th „

...... 0

10

0 ......

and subsequent years.

7th „

...... 0

15

0 ......

8th „

...... 1

0

0 ......

9th „

..... 1

10

0 ......

10th and subsequent years

...... 2

0

0 ......

As this particular agreement very nearly captivated one beginner on the lookout for a holding, and might prove seductive to others, it may be worth while staying to see how its provisions will work out. If the land were fully planted with half-standard trees and bushes, as is the custom generally in Kent, the landlord would have to provide, roughly -

s.

d.

160 maiden trees per acre at 40s. per 100 ...

3

4

0

1000 „ bushes „ 80s. per 1000...

4

0

0

Total expenditure of landlord per acre ...

7

4

0

In the case of the bushes he is two years without interest. Allowing 5 per cent at compound interest his 4 will have grown to 4, 8s. 2 1/2d., for which he receives on the third year 1 or 20 per cent, which is doubled on the fourth year, increased by 50 per cent the fifth year, and thereafter remains at the modest figure of something over 65 per cent per annum.

On the fruit trees he gets no return for four years, by which time his 3, 4s. has increased to 3, 15s. Id. In the fifth year he gets 3s. 4c?., nearly 5 per cent, but on the sixth year he gets 10s., and by the tenth year, when high-water mark is reached, he is receiving 40 per cent per annum, and at this figure the charge remains till the termination of the tenancy or the end of the tenant's resources, whichever comes first. The only deductions from these returns the landlord has to suffer is the cost of replacing trees or bushes that die during the first two years. Now, how does the tenant fare? He has to pay the rent of the land from the commencement of the tenancy, which in the case under consideration was to be 2, 10s. per acre. On this also he pays rates. He has to clean and prepare the land, to plant it, to provide and fix the wire netting, to keep the land clean, to prune and tend the trees, and if any trees or bushes die after the second year to replace them and still pay hire to the landlord for them. His expenditure will amount to 20 for the first year, and by the third year it will have grown to 35 per acre, from which he has not received one penny of return, unless indeed he has managed to take a catch crop from among the trees and bushes, which would take a little of the charge for rent of land and rates off the account of the fruit plantation. Thus at the third year the position is: -

Tenant's Investment on Fruit Plantation. 35 per acre.

Landlord's Investment on Fruit Plantation. 7, 18s. 9 1/2d. per acre.

Tenant's Return.

Nil.

Landlord's Return.

1.

How does the tenant stand at the tenth and subsequent years, when all the fruit rents have grown to their full stature?

s.

d.

Rent of land...

2

10

0 per acre.

„ 160 fruit trees ...

3

4

0 „

„ 1000 bushes....

3

0

0 „

Total annual rent...

8

14

0 „

This, plus the preservation of foxes, hares, rabbits, etc, makes as good an example of the " heads I win and tails you lose " sort of arrangement as could well be imagined.

The cost of the trees and bushes forms so small a part of the expense of making a fruit plantation that it would not be generous of the landlord to give them, if he expects the tenant in return to waive his right of compensation in respect of them. [w. G. L.].