This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The fourth annual meeting was held at Macon, on the 29th of July, President P. J. Berckmans, presided. The meeting was well attended. Mr. Berckmans in his annual address, expressed gratification at so many being present in spite of the great discouragement of severe losses to the fruit crops from the past unfavorable Spring. He spoke of the unremunerative fruit growing in the South as an impossibility, when understandingly pursued. There was often a drug in poor fruits, but never in the best. The experience of the past twenty years has shown that the demand has kept full pace with the supply. Vegetable culture was also progressing rapidly and profitably. He advised great care in the selection of varieties, especially in early peaches. In this the business was certainly being overdone. The railway companies were willing to give the best encouragement to Southern shippers as soon as it was evident that there would be a permanent trade and enough to make it worth while to give such encouragement. The Southern Express Company, he especially praised for its liberality to fruit growers.
In regard to shipping North, he said: " At our previous meeting I mentioned that Georgia peaches had received the highest quotations in New York during May, June and July, 1878. I am happy to state that the earliest shipment of peaches to New York has again been made this year by our Vice President, Mr. Samuel H. Rumph, on the 20th of May last, the variety being the Alexander. The market reports also have quoted Georgia peaches higher than those received at the same time from other States, thus proving that our State has attained the front rank among the fruit-producing sections of America. A proud distinction which our people must retain by careful cultivation, and still more careful selection in packing and shipping to Northern markets".
No report was made by the committee on ornamental planting. The president said full attention would be given to this branch in future proceedings of the society.
Mr. Stark said that in his district pears and grapes were the leading fruits. The pear blight worse than last year; the Leconte exempt. The Japan Persimmon is fruiting in Thomas County. Peaches are liable to rot before maturity. They do best in the northern part. Dr. Hape said so bad had been the fruit season that even the blackberry had been a partial failure at Atlanta. Grapes are healthy, and the yield is fine. At Atlanta there is no abatement in the love of fruit culture.
The exhibition of fruits was the best ever seen in the State, and elicited the admiration of many ladies and gentlemen who visited it. P. J. Berckmans, was re-elected president for another term, amidst great enthusiasm. A committee reported that over-heating manure and improper drainage, are the causes of the pear blight, which last year affected twenty per cent of the trees. The Leconte Pear was free from blight, but of poor flavor. Mr. Rumph had fifty-one varieties of peaches on exhibition; of grapes eighty varieties were on exhibition. In regard to shipping pears, Mr. Woodruff said the fruit was easily wrapped in paper and sent in forty-five pound crates.
Dr. Hape thought there was no necessity to strap the crates, that it added to the cost. He used poplar slats for his crates. Mr. E. C. Grier replied that experience showed that it was best to strap the crates. The weight of one-third bushel crate was eighteen pounds. The straps which were best and lightest were thin white oak strips. Mr. Berckmans stated that he had been in late years shipping in one-third bushel crates without straps and found no difficulty at all. Mr. Sanford said that they had adopted twenty-two by eighteen inches boxes, holding three pecks. He wrapped all of his pears; one ream of paper wraps fifty crates. He had shipped pears with space left in the crates to New York, and rats destroyed them. No space was needed. The size of the crates was spoken of. Mr. Berckmans stated that in regard to the size of crates the society should let the demands of the market govern the size of the package.
Much attention was given to the subject of wine making. Mr. Woodruff was called on and responded, giving many practical suggestions. His process was described at length, giving the German method. The grapes were crushed and the juice pressed out and placed in a large cask and allowed to remain some days, a sand bag being placed over the bung hole to exclude the atmosphere, but to allow the gases to escape. Afterward the juice is drawn off into casks and care taken to keep the casks full.
On shipping peaches. The Downing Peach was said to be slightly earlier than Alexander, the general favorite hitherto, and two stars were given it.
Of pears, Mr. Berckmans spoke highly of the B. F. Fox, a California variety.
In grapes. Among the new varieties Mr. Anthony highly commended the Irwing as bearing very fine fruit with bunches twice the size of the Concord. It was evidently hybrid, and pronounced as belonging to the best class.
The Japan Persimmon was discussed. Mr. Sanford stated that in February, 1878, he heard of the fruit and sent for some. He planted them, and last Spring one small tree had forty persimmons on it. He cut all off except ten. They grew until they were as large as crab apples when eight fell off. A rain caused another to fall, and at last the other fell to the ground. The taste was quite sweet but no seed was found in the fruit. Colonel Stubbs and Mr. Berckmans reported success with the Japan Persimmon. Mr. Berckmans had received two boxes of the dried persimmons from China. They were about two inches long; the taste was somewhat like a fig, and somewhat like a date. He planted the seed and they germinated.