This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In a notice of Prof. C. S. Sargent's paper on timber culture recently we said that we thought that the profits of timber culture could in many cases be made much greater than he had presented them. On the whole we believe he under estimated rather than exaggerated what one could make. We dearly love, however, to present both sides of all questions and particularly this one of tree culture and its profits, for, if we make an error in our calculations on such subjects it is one which cannot be remedied in our lives. It is a matter on which it is better to be right than to be President of the United States. A correspondent of the Country Gentleman from Connecticut, makes the following objections to Mr. Sargent's figures, and not to head off what any one may have to say about the paper, we give it without comment:
"I observe in your last journal an article strongly commending the late report of Professor Sargent upon arboriculture. Referring to the table on p. 195, I observe that the profits on ten acres in European larch are rated, for a period of fifty years, at 13 per cent, per annum. Will you excuse me for thinking there must be some exaggeration in such an estimate?
"The charges for land, fencing, plants and labor are perhaps fair enough; but the credits seem to me to be very ' rose-clored.' Thus, the cutting, after 20 years of growth gives a thousand posts to the acre, worth 20cts. each - or two posts to a tree. I cannot help doubting the certainty of such developments. As a case in point, I may mention that I have a European larch, just 20 years planted, growing in a very favorable locality, where it receives wash from a hill-road, and I find by actual measurement that it has scant nine inches of diameter at the butt, and would make at best only one merchantable post.
"At the end of 30 years, the table printed gives a second thinning of about 2,000 merchantable sleepers (railroad ties) to the acre. This is an exceptionally good cutting for our average woodland that has had no previous thinning. At the end of 50 years the table shows credit for 3,800 piles, worth $5 each.
"Now, admitting that the best of exposure and well adapted soil would secure such growth, what is to be said of cost of cutting and carting?
"The figures given represent prices on delivery, but the cartage of such heavy masses of timber from any of our average farmlands, would represent at least one-third, if not one-half of its market value. It must be a very superior pile tree which in our latitude, and in any ordinary situation, will command more than $2 as it stands in the wood. Trees contiguous to a railway will naturally command more. In fact the consideration of locality, and costs of getting to market, make up so important an element in the calculation, that no table with a uniform scale of figures can be relied upon.
"There are live oaks contiguous to water courses in Florida which are worth $20 per tree, but place them at a remove of eight or ten miles, with interlying canebreaks and jungles, and they would not be worth $3 per tree.
" I do not make these remarks in any hypercritical spirit, but only through fear that a very good cause - to wit, that of arboriculture - may be injured by exaggerated statements. Is there not reason to ask, in this case, further explanations?
"There is no branch of agriculture at once so pleasant and so productive of possible gains as farming on paper. It is a dangerous pastime however, and often leads into grave errors and great dangers, as the agricultural population has learned to its cost."