This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
IN looking through the columns of your beautiful monthly, I have been very much interested in the different articles on the culture of the Pear, and I also learn that you, with a number of gentlemen, are growing this fruit largely in the State of Delaware; consequently, in a few years, there will be a large quantity of this fruit to market. And, as many of those growers are without experience in this line, I thought a few suggestions in regard to packages, etc., might not be uninteresting to them.
The present mode of the Delaware growers is to make use of the peach crate and baskets, and, I will admit that they are very convenient, but, among the poorest, consequently, the dearest packages that can be made use of.
The crate is one of the worst packages ever made use of, for they expose the fruit to all changes; bruises them by coming in contact with the slats, and exposes every defect that the fruit possesses, and in addition to this, will not aid the fruit in coloring.
Baskets are worse than the crate, for in handling they become bruised, and, when exposed for sale, are open to the handling of every customer, who often find it impossible to resist the temptation to try the quality of a fine ripe one. And even frequent handling will soon spoil any choice variety; and where the fruit is so exposed, the dealer cannot prevent it.
Where persons have but a few pears to market, and are compelled to make use of the basket, I would suggest to them, that they fill it rounding full, cover with paper, then take a little fine hay, which, place upon the top, then draw the cover down tight over all and secure it by sewing with a coarse twine. The hay will prove a good protector in case the basket is upset or is handled carelessly; and it will also assist the fruit to color.
In the first place, the pear is a very delicate, tender and valuable fruit, provided it is placed in market, sound, perfect in form, bright and beautiful; and in order to do that - admitting it is sound and perfect - it must be handled with the greatest care, and kept from too much exposure to the atmosphere; for there is no fruit in this country so sensitive to changes in the air as the pear, and just here is where the difficulty lies in marketing this fruit.
Therefore, every grower should provide for his use a sufficient number of new half-barrels to market his entire crop; for they are considered the best package for this fruit, and are used by the largest and most successful growers in this State. Should those which have once been used be procured, the greatest care should be used in the removal of all dust, or any foreign substance that has a tendency to injure the fruit.
These packages can be ventilated, to suit the judgment or taste of the grower by boring a sufficient number of holes in them. The number of holes necessary should be governed by the ripeness of the fruit, and the heat of the weather.
It may be that the fruit is so green and hard that the owner may desire to hasten the ripening process; in that case, it may be prudent not to ventilate at all.
The half-barrel has this advantage: that the grower can control the ripening of 14 his fruit, better than in any other package. And, the real beauty of the fruit, after the size and perfection is considered, is produced by this sweating process, which produces a clearness of the skin which makes them so desirable for first class customers, and consequently enhances their value.
In addition to this, when carefully packed they will bear transportation as well as any other mode, and the dealer is enabled to handle them to a better advantage.
In order to pack in the most approved mode, take out the end you design for the bottom; begin packing by placing the fruit in rows around the bottom, standing it on the blossom end. Be careful that this tier is packed tight with a good average quality of fruit; when completed reverse the order for the next layer, chambering the stems so as to make all tight; then continue to fill in irregularly, until the package is full; then, on the top place a few imperfect ones that may be bruised with impunity, pressing the head down on them hard enough to hold the entire contents of the package so tight that none of it will move. Nail this head strong, and on the other head place the variety, with your initials and the consignee's address, so it may be opened in order to show the fruit to a good advantage.
Almast any one can succeed, after a few efforts, in becoming a good packer, and I would advise young beginners to open the head a few times so they can see the result of their labors, and "If at first, they don't succeed, Try, try again :" until they do, for good packing is very necessary to realize good prices.
In handling this fruit, always avoid breaking the stems, for they add to the beauty and value of it.
There is another very essential point to be observed in packing, and this is, to have all the fruit in one package as near one degree of ripeness as possible; then part of it will not perish before the other ripens. The grower must also take in consideration, the time it takes to get his fruit to market.
In regard to sorting of qualities of the fruit, I should be governed by the character of it. If the general quality is even in size and of a fair average quality, I would reject the culls and make but one quality of the remainder; but should a great difference exist, I would make three. And be careful to mark the package showing the quality of the contents, so there may be no mistake made in selling. And in the invoice that you send, state the number of packages, and the contents. It is a very neat plan for growers to procure stencil plates to mark their packages with.
The pear growers of the Eastern States make use of a tight box with holes in the opposite sides large enough for handles; the fruit is carefully wrapped in paper, doubtless, for the purpose of safe carriage - to aid the sweating process and hide the imperfection of the fruit.
This fruit is seldom sent to our market until the fruit from the central part of the State has been disposed of and the weather is cool. How it would answer for the hot months, I cannot say; but, I think this is a much better package than the crate or basket. And when the growers cannot procure the half-barrels, I would advise them to try these boxes. G. W. Idell.