This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
From the statistics published by the Board of Agriculture in England, and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Ireland, it appears that, out of a total of 77,836,769 ac, about 178,548 ac. of land in the United Kingdom are planted with Apple trees. England, with an area of 32,527,070 ac, is far and away ahead of either Scotland, Ireland, or Wales, having about 168,762 ac. out of the whole. Ireland, with an area of 20,819,928 ac, comes next with 5797 ac; then Wales, with an area of 4,712,281 ac, has 3087 ac; while Scotland, with an area of 19,777,490 ac, has only 901 ac under Apple cultivation. The latest returns (1911) show 166,522 ac for England, 2841 ac for Wales, and 789 ac for Scotland; so that there has been a decrease in the area of Apple culture of about 2600 ac. in a couple of years in Great Britain. It is easy to understand why Scotland should have so small an acreage. The climate is more severe and the soil more unsuitable in many parts; and the difficulty of transit to distant markets has no doubt also had an influence in keeping Apple culture down. In Ireland, where the climate is much more genial, and where Apples could be grown in almost every part, there is probably a great future for the industry once economic conditions begin to improve and emigration begins to subside.
Considering its mountainous character, and the fact that it is only about one-eighth the size of England, Wales has a very fair acreage under Apples.
Taking the counties of England, the following figures show centres where Apples are most largely grown: -
Area in Acres.
Apple Area in Acres.
Area in Acres.
Apple Area in Acres.
From the above table it will be seen that six counties - Devon, Somerset, Hereford, Kent, Gloucester, and Worcester - having an area of 5,489,482 ac, devote 115,209 ac. to the cultivation of Apples, or nearly 65 per cent of the total Apple area of the United Kingdom. According to the latest returns this area has been reduced by about 390 ac. to a total of 114,919. There are over 973 ac. less in Somerset, and 333 ac. in Gloucester, but there have been increases in Kent, Worcester, and Hereford.
Of the 5797 ac. devoted to Apple culture in Ireland the province of Ulster absorbs 3638 ac, and of these there are 2463 ac. in the county of Armagh alone. The province of Munster has 1151 ac, of which 435 are in the county of Cork. The province of Leinster comes third with 784 ac; and Connaught, with 224 ac, last.
In Wales the most important Apple-growing county is Brecon, with 1120 ac. Radnor, with 706 ac, comes second, and Montgomery, with 502 ac, third. The other counties vary from a minimum of 13 ac. in Anglesey to a maximum of 262 ac in Glamorgan. Of the Scottish counties, Perth is a long way ahead, with 355 ac, the next largest Apple county being Lanark, with 138 ac Apples are least grown in Sutherland, Nairn, Bute, and Peebles, the first-named having a record of only 1/2 ac, and the last named 1 3/4 ac On the whole Wales has declined by 246 acres up to the end of 1911; and Scotland by 112 acres.
In addition to Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man has 37 ac, Jersey, 1055 ac, and Guernsey and the other Channel Islands, 136 ac.
Taking the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands together we have an area in round figures of 170,000 ac. at the end of 1911, against 179,700 ac. at the end of 1908, upon which Apples are grown. Assuming that there are only 160 trees planted on each acre of land, this would give the total number of Apple trees for the area mentioned as 27,200,000. It may be taken for granted, however, that there are very few market gardens at any rate, although there are many orchards, in which Apple trees are planted a rod apart. It is probable, therefore, that there are at least more like 35,000,000 Apple trees in cultivation. Taking an average crop of 2 bus. of fruit per tree, the annual crop would be 70,000,000 bus., or nearly 1 1/2 bus. per head of the entire population. Reckoning 40 lb. of apples to the bushel, the total annual crop represents a yield of 1,250,000 tons of produce taken off the land, or just over 6 tons of fruit per acre.
So far as the value is concerned, if reckoned at the rate of £10 per ton, the total apple crop of the United Kingdom and Channel Islands is worth about £7,500,000 sterling per annum. This is not really much, and if better methods of cultivation were more generally adopted there ought to be no difficulty in doubling the crop of apples, so as to make it worth £15,000,000 sterling. In 1908 the importation of apples was valued at £2,079,703, but there is probably a great difference between the "declared value" and that actually realized.