Agricultural properties, such as farms, orchards, and plantations, do not, as a rule, involve so many details. Such properties are usually placed under the management of a superintendent skilled in that particular branch of work. The payments are comparatively few, consisting of monthly pay-rolls, bills for fertilizers, tools, etc., and the receipts consist of annual returns from the crops. Under these circumstances, all the business may be carried on the general books of the concern, and, if necessary, a sub-ledger containing the account of each piece of property so operated may be opened.
As an example, let us consider the case of a large concern which had loaned considerable sums secured by mortgages on orchards and, owing to bad seasons, was obliged to foreclose on a number of them. It was necessary either to maintain the orchards or lose the chief value of the property, which lay in the trees rather than in the land and improvements.
This concern engaged a traveling superintendent, who installed a resident farmer in charge of each orchard, this latter approving all expenditures. These were charged monthly, through a special column in the cash book, to "Care of Orchards," and each item was posted to the account of the particular orchard concerned, which was opened in an "orchard" sub-ledger, the superintendent's expenses being prorated among all the properties in his charge. All receipts were treated in a similar manner.
The result was that the general ledger always showed the totals of the orchards as a whole, while the sub-ledger showed the result of each orchard. The general ledger enabled an annual analysis to be made, showing the total amounts expended respectively for management, labor, repairs, fertilizer, picking, and tools.
In such accounts care must always be exercised to see that the items charged to repairs and improvements are properly distributed. The distribution of these charges must be governed by the principles laid down in Chapter X (Property Costs. Section 56. The Elements Of Cost).