This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As a general rule, no better plan can be adopted to ascertain what varieties of fruits pay best than to ascertain what growers bring to market in largest quantities.
Thinking that a few facts from so important a fruit centre as this might be of some general interest, even though of little practical value, I submit the following facts:
Strawberries are grown in very large quantities and brought to this market, and from here shipped to nearly every village within a radius of one hundred miles, in addition to those sent to New York. The Wilson's Albany, are almost exclusively grown, and after the first few pickings, bring the growers, for table berries, about four cents per quart, retailing from the stores at five cents. Growers claim the Wilson is profitable at this price. Col. Cheney is beginning to be rather plentiful, and commands a cent per quart in advance of Wilson. Triomphe de Gand are brought to market in moderate quantities, and retail at about ten cents. These three sorts include all the varieties seen in market here in any quantity.
Plums of late years are becoming abundant, and bring the grower about two dollars per bushel. Monroe Egg is chiefly grown for market here, but in other parts of the State Lombard leads, and will do so here, I think, after a few years.
Pears last season brought the growers about a dollar and seventy-five cents per bushel, Bartlett and Duchess being the varieties chiefly brought in. Seckel and L. B. Jersey are considerably grown, however.
Peaches, for the first time in many years, were abundant and cheap, retailing for about fifty cents per basket for fair quality, and eighty cents for extra nice.' The Crawfords, Early and Late, lead, and in fact pretty nearly to the exclusion of other sorts.
Apples are our great staple. Red Astrachan seems to take the lead in summer apples, while Baldwin reigns supreme as a winter fruit. I am told by dealers that fully three-fourths of all the apples they ship are Baldwins. R. I. Greenings follow next in quantity, Russets and Spys and various odd sorts making the balance. Apples brought the grower this past season about one dollar and ten cents per barrel, or about eighty-five cents for two and one-half bushels of fruit.
Grapes are abundant. Concord is chiefly grown, bringing the grower for table fruit about three cents per pound, and for wine grapes about two cents. Some of the Rogers Seedlings are beginning to make their appearance, particularly Salem and Wilder, and retail for ten cents. Martha sells for the same. Delaware are plentiful at eight cents retail.
If one were to moralize on these facts, there would be a strong temptation to say that the moral to be drawn is, that the poorer drive out the better fruit from market. But the real facts are that very productive, large, high-colored fruits drive out all others. Apparently most people buy fruit not to please their taste, but because it pleases their eye.
I have doubts about this being the case always, however. As the people learn the value of fruits, such coarse productions as Baldwin Apples and Concord Grapes must give way to better sorts, and in my judgment the shrewd grower is he who plants new orchards or vineyards, with good eating sorts.