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.
IT is a question with some growers which size basket should be most preferred, quarts or pints. This depends upon the kinds of berries to send to market, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries. If strawberries, it makes but little difference which size is used; but if raspberries or blackberries are sent, the pints are preferable, as the quarts are too large for these last varieties. The baskets most preferred in New York are the Beecher and the American; the former round and the latter square.
The crates should be neatly marked, with a stencil-plate, with the names of the owner and of the firm to whom the fruit is consigned; all of which the dealers will furnish to every one who has a reasonable sized crop.
The practice of nailing cards on the crates is a bad one, for they are easily torn off, and occasion a considerable amount of trouble to the railroad company and the dealers.
All berry growers should provide a suitable and convenient shelter, easy of access to the " patch," to protect the fruit from the heat, as well as storms. And those having their fields of berries near their houses, might make use of their cellars for that purpose, as they are far preferable to any open shed; for one hour in a cool, dry cellar will cool and harden the fruit more than three hours in the open air, and will make them stand a night's transportation in a hot car, and preserve them in a more perfect condition.
The lids of the orates should never be closed until the last moment, and care should be taken while loading and carting them to the depot, to see that they receive no unnecessary rough handling or jolting before they are delivered to the transportation company.
Should the road bo dusty, have them carefully covered to prevent the dust from penetrating the crates, thus spoiling the fruit; and always protect them from the heat of the sun. If they are shipped in cars, see that your fruit is always placed together, so as to enable the dealer to get it at once; for sometimes it happens that the crates get scattered and mixed up in the cars, and a loaded team must be kept waiting a long time in order to find a single crate, even if the detention causes a loss in the sales of several crates of fruit.
The baskets should be filled rounding full, in order that they may look well upon opening, and to allow for the shrinkage and settling of the fruit during transportation, and those on the top should be filled fuller than the others, for the space between the lid and the fruit is greater than between any other layer, and the heat from the others rises to the top and causes the fruit to soften, which permits it to become displaced, and injures the sale of it.
It is a noted fact that the top layer of berries, which should always be as good as any, is generally the poorest; and it frequently happens that it is so badly damaged, that the dealers are compelled to take them off, and place them in a crate by themselves, and sell them for just what they are - damaged fruit. But this changing requires time, and, when the quantity is large, more than can be spared; consequently, the fruit is sold for less than it is really worth.
While securing the crop, it should be the duty of one person to see that the ripe berries are all picked clean as the; go, and that the pickers begin where they left off, thus securing a uniformity in the ripening that will secure a good article in the market. Some pickers arc very careless, and retain a larger quantity in the hand than they ought, consequently bruising the fruit, and although the damage is not observed at the time, nevertheless it is done, and shows very plainly on its arrival in the market.
This one point is just where bo much injury is done to the fruit, and yet some growers cannot understand why it is that the dealer is constantly complaining of the quality of their fruit, when the whole grand secret lies just with the growers; they damage the fruit before it leaves their possession, merely through careless handling.
A word in regard to the topping or dressing of the fruit. I think it pays to do it, but it should not he overdone, and I think the safer rule is to dress just as you would wish it if you were the buyer.
Before your fruit ripens, make an arrangement with some good, responsible dealer about the selling of it, informing him of about the quantity you expect to market, and require from him the terms upon which be will sell it.
The general custom of dealers is to charge ten per cent commission over the sales, and pay a stipulated price for those crates and baskets that they fail to return to the line from which they received them. C. W. Ideli,.
New York City.