It wasn't so much the fruit that made the Rogue Valley famous, it was the packing.
From a 1909 Medford booster booklet.
. . . one of our leading commission merchants recently made a fruitless trip as far as Rogue River Valley in search of fruit. Though he found plenty of men who expected to have fruit to sell this fall, he was unable to convince them that it must come to market in an attractive form. They could not see why they should be required to buy new boxes, when they could get all the old barrels and soap boxes they wanted for nothing, not even when they were informed that to do so would add more to the value of the fruit than the cost of the boxes.
West Shore, Portland, May 1884, page 125
First Shipment of Oregon Pears
Over the Northern Pacific.
The Bartlett and other varieties of pears raised in California find a ready sale in the eastern markets. Several companies are engaged in packing and shipping them, and they find the business profitable. The method adopted is to wrap the fruit in tissue paper as soon as it is taken from the trees. To do this properly and quickly requires considerable practice. The pears are then placed in twenty-five-pound boxes which are provided with holes to freely admit the air and then put aboard of the cars. These cars are attached to the express trains and hurried to their eastern destinations as fast as possible. The packers usually buy the fruit on the tree in the orchard and pluck it before it is ripe in order that it may not spoil while en route. The shippers can afford to pay a high price per carload, and still realize a handsome profit. Oregon raises Bartlett pears, the like of which cannot be found elsewhere. With the opening of the Northern Pacific Railroad there comes a chance to dispose of the surplus fruit to the people of the East. It is an opportunity which should be immediately taken advantage of. One commission merchant, F. H. Page, has had the foresight to see the possibilities in this direction, and yesterday he sent the first lot of 100 boxes of Oregon-raised Bartlett pears to the East via the Northern Pacific Railroad. By so doing he has made himself the pioneer in a business which is destined to be one of great importance to the people of this section.WE KNOW HOW TO PACK APPLES.
Ashland Tidings, August 15, 1884, page 1
Oregon Fruits Going East.
Eastern buyers and dealers in fruit find that the demand for Oregon fruit has increased amazingly. The leading commission houses of Portland have been filling orders by the carload right along during the entire season. F. H. Page on Saturday sent a carload, another leaves this morning, a third tomorrow, and orders for like quantities still remain to be filled. At present the White Doyenne pear is claimed to be the favorite. Each pear is wrapped in soft paper and laid carefully in the box in layers. The boxes when filled are put in a device that clamps the ends of the lid, when a slat is laid on top and then the top, and all are solidly nailed. Each box contains forty pounds, and 500 boxes make a carload. These shipments are going direct to St. Paul and Chicago. It takes the fruit about six days to go to the former and eight days to the latter place. Mr. Page's packing rooms is a beehive of industry and presents an interesting and instructive sight to the visitor.--[Portland News, August 31.
Ashland Tidings, September 11, 1885, page 1
"Another drawback to the green fruit business is that, with but few exceptions, it is impossible to get a carload of any particular kind of fruit in one orchard. The fruit producer should confine his product to a few choice varieties in order to make the business a paying one."
Fruit dealer H. E. Battin, "Fruit Trade in Oregon," Ashland Tidings, January 8, 1886, page 1
The picking season had already begun at the time of our visit, and in the orchards were heaps of apples and pears waiting to be packed for shipment. In some of the gardens we found wonderfully high berry bushes laden with fruit. Contrasted with some other Western scenes, the country about Ashland seemed delightfully tame and natural and subdued. There was exquisite blending of colors, and the orchards, with their long rows of trees and apple heaps, made a lovely picture.
Edwards Roberts, "A Western Summer," The Evening Post, New York City, July 19, 1887, page 3
We are prepared to furnish any quantity of extra fine fruit boxes, of any style or weight desired, at prices that defy competition. Our boxes are all made of thoroughly seasoned sugar and yellow pine; they are brighter, lighter and stronger than any other box made on the northwest coast. Box ends stamped with desired brands. With our extensive box factory, just erected at Merlin, we are prepared to fill large orders on short notice. Prices, laid down at all points, furnished on application.
SUGAR PINE DOOR & LUMBER CO.
Grants Pass, Or.
Ashland Tidings, July 27, 1888, page 3
During the past season immense quantities of apples were sold on the ground to California companies, who sent experienced packers into the orchards, packed the fruit and labeled the boxes "Mountain fruit, grown in the foothills of California."
"The Rogue River Valley," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 18, 1889, page 1
Fruit Boxes.Before buying boxes get prices from the Sugar Pine Door & Lumber Co. at Grants Pass. They will sell peach boxes at 4½ cents, and all other boxes in proportion.
Ashland Tidings, July 31, 1891, page 3
People who are fortunate enough to obtain peaches from the "Peachblow Paradise Orchards" of Max Pracht this year will be fully apprised of the celestial character of the fruit, no matter in how distant a clime it may be unpacked and eaten. Mr. Pracht has just had nearly 100,000 peach wrappers printed, each bearing in blue ink on white paper his orchard trademark designed by himself. It advertises the climate of southern Oregon, the city of Ashland, the orchard business of Mr. Pracht, and there will be no danger of retail dealers in Oregon, Washington, Montana or elsewhere selling his peaches as "California fruit." Neither will there be any likelihood of any scrubby peaches being shipped in those wrappers. Mr. Pracht's method of paying the strictest attention to the details of selection, packing and marketing, proves its value from the fact that he is able to ask and receive for his peaches 25 percent above the market price. The farmers of the state should have their attention called to this fact, and much good to Oregon would undoubtedly result if his example were to be generally followed. One of the most striking instances of the injustice he seeks to correct by advertising is the fact that Rogue River apples, pronounced by connoisseurs the finest by long odds on the coast, are shipped to eastern markets branded "California fruit," says the Oregonian.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 18, 1893, page 3
A Fruit Farm that Pays.
The fruit farm of J. H. Stewart, situated halfway between Phoenix and Medford, about ten miles north of Ashland, presents an attractive scene of busy industry this week. The great Bartlett pear orchard of 60 acres planted by Mr. Stewart six or eight years ago is beginning to yield its generous returns for the intelligent and vigilant labor and care expended upon it, and the first crop of consequence is now being picked and shipped.
Page & Son, of Portland, have bought the entire crop at 1½ per pound. Mr. Stewart picks the pears and delivers them in boxes to Page & Son at the packing house on the farm. Here they are wrapped and boxed by Page's people, after which Mr. Stewart delivers them to the cars. Twenty-seven women and girls are employed packing the fruit, and about as many men are at work picking, boxing and hauling; so the farm, as remarked at first, is a busy camp at present. The crop is picked and shipped at the rate of a carload a day, and will make from twelve to fifteen carloads bringing Mr. Stewart about $4,000. The girls are paid by Page & Son 4 cents per box for wrapping and packing the pears. They are camped in tents on the farm.
The orchard is an object lesson to people interested in fruit growing in Southern Oregon. The trees are free from the scale, and the fruit is free from the grub of the codling moth.
Capt. Teel and R. S. Barclay, of Ashland, visited the orchard last Monday, and George W. Crowson, of this place, and Mr. Sheffield of Portland were there Tuesday. They advise everyone who may be inclined to grow discouraged over the fruit business, on account of the orchard pests that have appeared within the past few years, to go and see the clean trees and fruit of Stewart's orchard. It shows that an orchard may be kept free of the San Jose scale, and that apples and pears may be saved from damage of the codling moth.
The Tidings will have more information in a future issue concerning Mr. Stewart's successful orchard management.
Ashland Tidings, September 1, 1893, page 3
Nearly thirty females have been employed at Hon. J. H. Stewart's farm near Phoenix the past few weeks, in wrapping and packing Bartlett pears for the eastern and northwestern markets. The product of the entire orchard of sixty acres has been purchased by F. H. Page & Son at 1½ cents per pound and is of the finest quality. As about fifteen carloads will be shipped, Mr. Stewart will receive about $4000 gross for his pears. He is one of the most prominent, painstaking and intelligent horticulturists on the coast, and well merits his success
"Here and There," Democratic Times, September 8, 1893, page 3
F. H. Page, of the firm of Page & Sons, Portland, was a visitor in Medford yesterday, after having spent several weeks' vacation on the fishing grounds of the Klamath country. Mr. Page has the distinction of being the first [fruit] shipper from the Rogue River Valley [H. E. Battin & Co. preceded Page & Sons.], and his reminiscences of old times are replete with interest. The first car of pears came from the old Stewart orchard, now the famous Burrell property. This was in 1889 or 1890, Mr. Page is not certain which. [Fruit was shipped by the carload from the Rogue Valley in 1884, the year the railroad arrived.] In order to make the pack worthy of the quality of the fruit, which was destined to astonish the New York and other markets and create a standard which has never been equaled by any other fruit section, Mr. Page brought a force of ten or twelve people from Portland to sort and pack the pears, wrap and box them in fancy style, and personally supervised the work. The result was so satisfactory that the banner price of 80 cents per box gross was paid to the grower. Nothing but the very best fruit was packed, Mr. Page stating that thousands of boxes of pears and apples were annually thrown away, and yet worthy of being considered first-class stuff in the desire to confine strictly to fancy grades.
"Early Days of Fruit Shipping," Medford Mail Tribune, July 27, 1910, page 4 The remainder of the article is transcribed here.
Southern Oregon Pears Are All Right
From the Rural Northwest.
The statement recently appeared in one of the leading newspapers of this state that Oregon-grown Bartlett pears do not stand shipment well unless packed before they are fully grown. Although this statement was made by a gentleman who ought to know what he is talking about, the Rural Northwest is not inclined to accept it as a fact. A great many of the pears which were grown in Oregon this year would not stand shipment well for the simple reason that the trees had not been properly sprayed with the Bordeaux mixture and in consequence the fruit was attacked by fungus and made ready to rot on the slightest provocation. No such fruit should ever be shipped out of the state. On the other hand, the Medford Mail reports that returns have been received from the several carloads of pears shipped from that place and that in every instance they were reported to have reached their destination in splendid shape. Messrs. Stewart and Weeks & Orr, the orchardists who raised these pears, have the reputation of caring for their trees in the most thorough manner, and they did not have to pick their pears before they were grown to make them keep, even when they were shipped to New York.
Medford Mail, October 27, 1893, page 1
Medford Apples at Chicago.
Below is a letter received by Mr. J. H. Stewart from the World's Fair superintendent of horticulture for Oregon:
J. H. Stewart,
Dear Sir:--We received the shipment of fruit from you on the 10th inst. and found it in prime condition--in fact it was packed perfectly and could come in none other than good shape. Your variety was very good, and size, quality and color cannot be equaled anywhere. The judges of the department say, and do not hesitate to say, your Jonathan, Hoover, Baldwin, Monmouth and others were the finest they have ever seen. In this instance it is a matter of sixty or seventy years experience in fruit, and it is a feather in the cap of apple culture in Oregon to be the subject of such favorable comment. We are far in advance of all competitors in all fruits, and it is through the efforts and enterprise of our growers that enables me to make this statement. I wish to thank you and the people of Oregon for their kind endeavors to assist me here. With great consideration, I am yours truly,
JAY GUY LEWIS.
Medford Mail, October 27, 1893, page 2
C. W. Skeel ad, August 11, 1893 Medford Mail
A great many apples of inferior quality are being shipped to eastern points from this valley, which is likely to result in much injury to our reputation as a fruit-growing section, as some of them are likely to be represented as of standard grade. Nothing but a first-class article of fruit should be shipped from southern Oregon.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 29, 1894, page 3
DEPENDS ON THE PACKING.G. W. Barnett, of Chicago, president of the international league of commission merchants, says that the future of the fruit industry in this country [i.e., in Jackson County] is in the hands of the packers. "You have the fruits, and it only depends upon your own actions as to how great your profits shall be." We should put nothing in our boxes that we would be ashamed of in St. Paul and Chicago. Mr. Barnett called attention to the fact that we should learn by the experience of others as well as of ourselves; it is the fool who learns nothing except by his own experience.
"Farmer's Column," Medford Mail, March 9, 1894, page 4
At the fruit house apples with a mere speck on each can be bought for twenty cents per bushel.
Reese P. Kendall, "He Writes of Medford and Her People," Medford Mail, March 30, 1894, page 1
Messrs. Weeks & Orr are among our most prominent orchardists, and in these gentlemen are recognized such growers as not only grow and pack fruit in such manner as will profit themselves but their products and work being such that will redound to the good of the entire valley. They have had returns from four carloads of Bartlett pears sent to Chicago, and these returns are very flattering. "They were in excellent shape, well packed and the fruit a good seller"--is the language used. Mr. Orr states that they take special care in packing and have had the same packers employed for eight years.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, September 27, 1895, page 5
SUCCESSFUL FRUIT GROWER.
High Prices Paid in New York for Fruit Shipped by J. H. Stewart.
The Fruit Trade Journal, published in New York, has the following to say of fruit shipped from Medford, Oregon, by Mr. J. H. Stewart, the former well-known fruit grower of Quincy:
Mr. J. H. Stewart, of Rogue River, furnished a car of Beurre Clairgeau pears and astonished New Yorkers when sold. Lately he furnished Page & Son a car of Winter Nelis pears that were sold in New York for fabulous prices, because they were large and very fine. He had cultivated and packed them so that they reached New York in the best shape; discarded all small or inferior fruit, and sent only the best. The result was that they sold for double the price a car brought that were average pears, and not packed well. That car was very heavy, much heavier loaded than the average, selling for over $2,000. They paid for size, cleanliness and excellence. J. H. Stewart sprays his trees, and his pears and apples have no insects, no fungus, no blight; are extra large and extra fine. Such fruit goes on the tables of the "nobs," and they pay extra to have the best. The man who can command that trade will make money where merely ordinary fruit will hardly pay at all. Excellence will always pay in fruit growing.
The Quincy Morning Whig, Illinois, February 5, 1896, page 3
The Fruit Industry.
This is the time of year when orchardists who desire a good, merchantable quality of fruit, should carefully prune and spray their orchards. It is a notable fact that more small, worthless fruit is grown on account of lack of proper and sufficient pruning than from any other one cause. Fruit pests are bad, of course, and trees must be protected against them to bear good fruit, but no tree can bear large and fine fruit, although it be perfectly protected from pests, with four times as many fruit-bearing branches as it ought to have.
Those who are careful and painstaking with their orchards are constantly disparaged in the markets by those who are not. It is certainly the duty of shippers of fruit from the county to protect, as far as possible, the clean and worthy fruit raiser from the unclean and careless, by refusing to handle fruit of a small and inferior quality. The reputation of the county, as a super fruitgrowing section, cannot be maintained unless the standard is carefully kept up, and shipments closely guarded as to quality. It should not be forgotten that if intelligently prosecuted the culture of fruit is destined to be one of the important industries of the county. With proper care a large annual revenue may be confidently depended upon from this source. Experience and results will soon teach those who handle and deal in this product that it must be carefully picked and properly packed when intended for market. There is much room for improvement in the line of drying, evaporating and tastefully preparing this character of the product for market. Much depends on appearance. A case of fruit nicely put up and tastily exhibited will sell, when one of equal quality, but less attractive, will go begging for a buyer.
Medford Mail, March 2, 1900, page 2
Oregon Red Apples Go Everywhere.
Hon. J. H. Stewart has done much to establish a reputation for Oregon fruit in almost all countries of the known world. His fruit has in years agone been eaten in London, Liverpool, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Glasgow, Paris, and we truthfully say, we think, in every important city in the United States and Canada. He has established this reputation by growing only the very choicest fruits and in packing them in the most careful and painstaking manner. For years Mr. Stewart has packed and shipped, each season, several hundred boxes of both pears and apples for J. J. Valentine, president of the Wells, Fargo Express Company, these addressed to officials of the company and to his friends in all parts of the United States and Canada. This year Mr. Valentine's order is for 170 boxes of Winter Nelis pears and over a thousand boxes of apples. An order is now here for the pear and part of the apple shipments. These boxes will all be labeled and shipped, with few exceptions, one box to an individual and go to nearly as many different cities as there are boxes sent. An idea of the range of shipments can be gotten when we give a list of a few of the cities to which they go, namely: Chicago; Portland, Oregon; Portland, Me.; New York City; Galveston, Texas; St. Paul, Minn.; New Haven, Conn.; Montreal, Canada; Englewood, N.J.; Boston, Mass.; Washington, D.C., and hundreds of other eastern cities. Several years ago Mr. Valentine sent to his eastern friends boxes of California nuts, but the growers, after a time, began gouging him on prices and flim-flamming in quality, and he switched to Oregon fruits and for a number of years has paid his compliments in Southern Oregon products. Mr. Stewart charges Mr. Valentine no more than the fruit will bring elsewhere in the market, and in all his shipments no inferior or disease-infected fruit has been packed. Nothing could more substantially advertise Oregon than the sending of this fruit broadcast throughout the East, and to Mr. Stewart belongs the credit for having made it possible for us to so advertise.
Medford Mail, October 19, 1900, page 3
Messrs. Weeks & Orr, the orchardists, have just finished packing and shipping ten carloads of Yellow Newtown apples--the majority of which were shipped to eastern cities, where fancy Oregon apples bring the top-notch price on the market. In these ten carloads there were an even 6000 boxes, and the price they received for them here was close to a dollar a box. In all, Messrs. Weeks & Orr have shipped about eighteen or twenty carloads of fruit, including three or four carloads of Ben Davis apples and a half dozen or more of Bartlett and Winter Nelis pears. These gentlemen, as do a few other orchardists hereabout, put their fruit up upon honor and with a view to establishing a permanent trade wherever the excellent qualities of their fruit becomes known. The fruits of Southern Oregon have created an envious reputation in many of the best markets of the world--and it is the painstaking efforts of such gentlemen as these which have given it that reputation.
Weeks and Orr packing house 1895, March 23, 1989 Medford Mail Tribune
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 23, 1900, page 7
There are sixteen girls employed at Olwell Bros.' packing house. They will not be able to finish the apple crop for a month.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail, November 30, 1900, page 3
J. A. Whitman loaded and shipped two carloads of fancy apples last week, direct from Medford to Liverpool, England. They were Yellow Newtowns and were an especially selected lot--dainty and choice morsels, as it were, for England's nobility. While in years agone much of the fruit of Southern Oregon has found market in foreign cities, it has not been a common occurrence for it to be shipped direct from place of lading. It is usually put through from one to three eastern commission houses before it reaches its place of consumption.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 30, 1900, page 7
The orchard comprises 160 acres, all in apples but 1500 trees of Winter Nelis pears. Every apple shipped from the Olwell orchard sold in London or important eastern markets comes out of the original box wrapped in paper. The box is sugar pine, marked in large letters "Oregon Apples," together with the additional private stamp of the orchardists. The bottom and sides are lined with paper. Between each layer is paper, blue in color and of cardboard variety. On top is a paper of the same kind, and the lid is sprung in place with a machine and nailed. The apples in the box are packed with such exactness that when the lid is finally nailed on there is no shifting of position by the fruit inside.
For packing purposes, the apples are classified into four-tier and five-tier grades, according to size. Four-tier apples are those in which four apples exactly make a row in a tier and in which four tiers fill a box. The five-tier size takes its name for similar reasons. No apple is packed that is not absolutely perfect. The color must be right, the shape proper, and there must be no flaw or blemish that the eye can see. In the picking, 50 men are employed. During the packing season 20 girls are kept constantly busied at their duties. The packing is done in huge fruit houses, fitted with convenient tables and appliances for systematic prosecution of the work. Packing of apples for a carload does not begin until the fruit has been contracted. A telegram is received in the morning while the apples are still in bulk. At evening time the car of newly packed apples stands on the siding, to be taken way by a train within an hour or two after the process is completed.
"Oregon Apples Bring Top Price," Medford Mail, January 18, 1901, page 2
Stealing Oregon Honors.
From the Eugene Register.
A great injustice is being practiced upon our orchardists and other fruit growers year after year by Oregon cannerymen and fruit jobbers. Our fine fruits, after being canned and packed, are labeled "Choice California Fruits," and sent to the markets as products from that state. We understand that Lane County's excellent crop of Royal Anne cherries now being canned by the carload and prepared for shipment at the Eugene Cannery and Packing Company's factory are to be labeled in this manner. California is noted for her grafting tendencies in the matter of exploiting the best products of other states on the public as her own, and it is small wonder that her reputation as a fruit-producing state is widespread. The cannerymen reply in defense of their action that it is doing the fruit men a kindness in labeling their product "California fruits," claiming that it causes a very ready sale on account of California's great reputation as a fruit producer. While this may be true in a measure, how soon would Oregon attain distinction as a producer of fine fruits if the annual yield of her orchards is credited to some other state? The sooner this practice is discouraged the better it will be for Oregon fruit raisers. We should feel justly proud to stand on our own merit as a fruit-producing state.
Medford Mail, July 26, 1901, page 2
OUR APPLES IN GERMANY.GRANTS PASS, Feb. 26.--(To the Editor.)--I have seen a letter from W. N. White, wholesale fruit dealer, of 10 Jay Street, New York, published in The Oregonian two weeks ago, wherein Mr. White, by implication, reflects on the integrity of Weeks & Orr and J. A. Whitman, apple-growers and packers, of Medford, Or., because the German authorities at Hamburg rejected 600 boxes of apples alleged to have been grown by Weeks & Orr, and one lot bearing the brand of J. A. Whitman.
Reply to the Statement as to Infection with San Jose Scale.
Mr. White, in his letter, assumes because the Germans rejected, and assigned as a reason that the apples were infected with San Jose scale, that it must have been true.
In the case of the 600 boxes bearing the brand of Weeks & Orr, I know that it was not true that any of these apples were infested with scale, and the rejection was for other reasons than scale. The Germans have but little knowledge of the San Jose scale, or if their knowledge is such that they could identify the scale their rejection and assigning that as a reason was a mere pretext. On November 28, 1901, I received a letter from Olwell Bros., of Central Point, stating that they had bought a car of apples from Weeks & Orr, and that they intended shipping them to Hamburg. They wanted me to make an inspection of the same, as they had been informed that the Germans were very strict in regard to San Jose scale, and as they were putting up a fancy pack to enter that market for the first time they were anxious to meet all quarantine regulations of Germany.
I wrote Olwell Bros. that I would be at their place on December 3, and for them to have the apples carefully assorted, rejecting any apple that had the least suspicion of being infested with scale, and to have the apples intended for the German market in their assorting boxes, so that I could make a thorough inspection before wrapping and packing. On December 3 I made a most careful inspection of this lot of apples, using a strong glass, as I was determined if I found a single scale in the lot not to issue a certificate. I found the apples free of scale, as well as the worm, and issued my certificate to that effect. At that time I advised Olwell Bros. to attach the certificate of inspection to their shipping bill, which they did.
As a precaution to prevent the possibility of a single infested apple being packed I tested the knowledge of the girls who did the packing as to scale, and found them experts as to its identification. I instructed each of them, as well as the foreman of the packing-room, that any apple that created a suspicion of scale in their minds to reject it.
J. A Whitman, of Medford, is one of the largest packers and shippers of apples in the third district. He has been engaged in the business the past 11 years. On November 5, 1901, I made a careful inspection of his packing-house at Medford. By referring to my notes on that inspection, I find the following remarks, to wit: "Inspected several hundred boxes of apples, and found them free of scale. This packer is exercising great care in shipping clean fruit."
In the case of Weeks & Orr, I personally know there was no scale in the 600 boxes. From what I know of Mr. Whitman's careful methods in packing, I cannot believe apples offered under his brand were honestly rejected by the Germans because of San Jose scale, but that scale was made the pretext.
In the past we know Germany has discriminated against American meats, without any just cause. For trade reasons might not Germany use any pretext she thought best to keep our fine red apples out of her markets?
A. H. CARSON,Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 1, 1902, page 11
Horticultural Commissioner, Third District.
Careless packing of fruit is a suicidal policy. It not only hurts the individual shipper, but reverts with the force of a boomerang upon the whole community. If the practice is continued it will drive buyers away; and then the fruit men will be at the mercy of the middlemen. Most fruitgrowers in Oregon know what that means. The orchardists of the valley have made themselves independent by their own enterprise, and cannot afford to sacrifice that independence through the carelessness of a few people in not properly packing their fruit. In some parts of Oregon the fruit-raisers give all of their profits to the middlemen. They are little more than slaves toiling for their masters. Many of their farms are mortgaged. They can hardly call their souls their own. Their product is hawked about from one commission merchant to another until in despair they sell it for whatever they can get; and, worse still, even when the demand is good, and they figure on getting a living price, the deft manipulations of the middlemen exact full tribute from the luckless producers. The fruit is reported as having arrived at the market in bad shape, or some other of the many excuses used by the commission men in keeping their slaves' noses to the grindstone. In contrast to such a picture the true independence of the farmers of the Rogue River Valley is a birthright of priceless value.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 15, 1902, page 2
BARTLETT PEAR HARVEST ON.
Medford Crop Will Be Larger Than Last Year and of Fine Quality.
MEDFORD, Or., Aug. 18.--(Special.)--The Bartlett pear harvesting began here in earnest this morning. The pears are in excellent condition, and the growers expect a much heavier yield than last year. The pear crop is one which necessitates much care in handling and dispatch in its shipment to market. The Bartlett trees are picked over three times during the harvesting season, thus ensuring the best grades as to size. The fruit is gathered quite green, and each pear is nicely wrapped in paper, and is ripened during the period of shipping and being placed on the market.
Large crews of men are at work in the orchards of Weeks & Orr, Gordon Voorhies and E. J. DeHart, and at the packing house of J. A. Whitman, the buyer. It is estimated that 45 to 50 carloads of Bartlett pears will be shipped from Medford this season.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 19, 1902, page 4
The cost for picking, packing, wrapping, etc.--that is from the tree to the car where the station or siding is near the orchard--is from 25 to 30 cents per box. The paper alone for one year's crop will cost about $1,000, boxes $1,000 and nails $150. This will give some idea of the cost of a large commercial orchard. Pickers are paid $1 per day and board. Picking season lasts for about three weeks, and from 40 to 80 pickers are employed--50 being the average. The packing is done by girls. They employ about 16 who are experienced. It takes about two years to become an expert packer; some never can become expert in that line.
The apples are picked off the trees by hand, placed in what are called orchard boxes and hauled to the packing house on long racks with springs under them, 60 to 70 boxes being hauled at each load, and they are stacked up. The red varieties are run through a polisher and are assorted into two sizes. The polisher is made by fastening brushes on a wheel, there being a circular strip upon which brushes are also fastened, all being attached to springs. The wheel is revolved quite rapidly, the apples passing through between the brushes on the wheel and those attached to the circular strip, which gives them a glossy appearance. The imperfect apples are set aside. The perfect apples are then wrapped in fruit paper, each piece having the advertisement of the orchard, and packed in standard boxes. The green-colored varieties are assorted, wrapped and packed, but not polished.
A good packer under favorable circumstances can pack from 40 to 50 boxes per day of eleven hours. Ordinarily they pack from 25 to 30 boxes. The boxes are lined with paper, a blue cardboard is placed between each layer, and in [the] top and bottom of the box. The art in filling a box is in building it up, as each variety of apples is placed in differently.
* * *Olwell Bros. have built up a reputation for honesty of pack; hence they sometimes sell ten thousand dollars worth of fruit on a telegraphic order. The buyer knows that he will get just what he orders, and the seller knows that the buyer will be pleased.
"A Rich Orchard," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 2, 1902, page 4
A few years ago, not more than five or six, California fruit packers came over into Oregon and bought our pears, packed them in boxes bearing California labels, shipped them east and sold them as California-grown pears. A great howl went up at this, and the Mail sent up a protest that was louder than any of the howls. We, at that time, only hoped that a time would come when we could even up the score. That time has come--it is here now, and we are paying back the California pilferers--the whole indebtedness, with interest compounded. California apples are now being packed in Oregon boxes and sold as an Oregon product, and the price paid is better than that realized for the California product. The California fruit is undoubtedly as good, especially the apples grown in northern California, but they have not the reputation which the Oregon red and yellow apple has on the market--hence the packing of this fruit in Oregon-labeled boxes. It is also gratifying to note that the pears of Southern Oregon are no longer packed in California boxes. The excellence of our pears has forced itself into the markets of the world, and there is no longer a question raised as to quality where the Southern Oregon stencil or label is in evidence. As will be seen by the San Francisco market report, published elsewhere in this paper, Oregon apples are quoted in that city at twenty-five cents a box more than California apples.
Medford Mail, November 21, 1902, page 2
"We grow Newtown Pippins and Spitzenbergs principally, and our climate, altitude and soil enable us to produce a better apple of that variety than can be grown in the eastern states. For that reason we can demand and receive a higher price for our fruit than can the eastern growers. There is always a plenty of the common grades of fruit; and it is by raising something extra good that an extra price is obtained. People who go into fruit-growing should study the conditions of their localities, so as to determine what variety of fruit will do best, and then not be content with growing anything inferior to the best that the conditions will permit."
J. D. Olwell, "An Apple-Raiser on a Tour," quoted in Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 31, 1902, page 1
Jos. Olwell, the clever horticulturist, has gone to Spokane. He has been invited to deliver an address at the meeting of the Northwest Fruit Growers' Association, which will be held in that city this week, on fruit packing in Southern Oregon, a subject he is well qualified to discuss.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 4, 1903, page 4
From the San Francisco Chronicle.
It is stated that California now ships about 350,000 boxes of apples a year to Great Britain, and that with more care in packing, the sale would increase very largely. A number of Oregon packers, who engage in the business with the determination to perfect packing, regularly outsell any California apples by about $1 a box. This is not because the apples are better, but because the packing is better; the result is that since but a few Oregon packers are in the business, all of whom do good packing, Oregon apples have come to be regarded in the British markets as "better" than California apples. Prestige earned in this way is well deserved, and we respectfully take off our hats to Oregon; but it is disgraceful that our California shippers should compel us to do so.
Medford Mail, August 21, 1903, page 1
CALIFORNIANS WILL APE OREGONIANS.
They Are Going To Pack Their Fruit As We Do in Oregon--
Oregon Orchards a Treat to the Eye.
From the California Fruitman's Guide.
A. S. Greenway, general manager in the United States of E. A. O'Kelly & Co., of London, returned recently from a trip to the apple sections of California and Oregon. He expresses himself as highly delighted and impressed with the appearance of the apple crops in both states. The Pajaro Valley, he ventures to predict, will turn out a much better crop than it has in the past three or four years. Newtowns show a good and full crop, and Bellflowers are even fuller. Mr. Greenway noticed that the Pajaro Valley orchardists are taking more care of their orchards; they are thinning out conscientiously, and spraying is now almost universal.
"The Oregon orchards," said Mr. Greenway, "are a veritable treat to the eye. The crop is a good one. The Newtowns are a large crop, even if not so full as the other varieties, and the apples are looking remarkably fine and clean.
"In California there will be less five-tier apples than ever before. The growers have learned their little lesson from experience and are hunting for four-tier stock. I look for a great improvement in the Californians' packing and grading this season and believe that they will emulate Oregon in these regards."
Medford Mail, August 21, 1903, page 1
The Rogue River Fruitgrower's Union has now taken up the principal object for which it was organized, that of marketing fruit. The union has leased J. A. Perry's big warehouse and fitted it up for a packing and shipping room. . . . A large percentage of the fruit of this section will be shipped this season by the union, and it is quite certain that within a year or two the bulk of the fruit of the Rogue River Valley will be handled by the union. The union fruit all having one standard of grading and being packed in the best manner possible, it will gain a reputation in the markets of the world that will enable the union to secure better prices than can be had by small shippers. The affairs of the union are handled on the strictest business methods, and fruit men will find that they have no occasion to find fault with their returns.
"Rogue River Fruitgrower's Union," The Daily Journal, Salem, September 1, 1903, page 3
THE LOST RING IS FOUND
And Now a Romance Should Follow.
A few weeks ago, Miss Elsie Tucker, one of the young lady packers at the Clay & Meader orchards, was unfortunate in having a gold ring slip from her finger while packing pears, and as she could not tell which box of fruit it had fallen into [it] was given up as lost. Under date of September 5th, A. J. Roadhouse, a fruit and vegetable dealer in Jennings, Louisiana, writes Messrs. Clay & Meader as follows:--"Will you please ask packer No. 3 if she lost a piece of jewelry in packing a box of Bartlett pears? If so, let me know and I will send it to her." Thus it seems that the ring has fallen into the hands of an honest man and that the young lady will have it returned to her.--Medford Mail.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, September 24, 1903, page 2
Sale of Rogue River Fruit.
MEDFORD, Or., Oct. 9.--(Special.)--The Rogue River Fruitgrowers' Association shipped two carloads of Winter Nelis pears this week--one to Cincinnati and the other to New Orleans, La. They also shipped one carload of apples to New York.
E. J. DeHart just received returns from a carload of very fine Beurre de Anjou pears, which were shipped to Chicago. The pears were sold f.o.b. Medford for $1.50 per box, and Mr. DeHart was highly complimented on his methods of packing and the quality of fruit.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, October 10, 1903, page 4
In another part of this paper is an article telling of the prices realized by J. W. Perkins for some fancy Comice pears shipped to New York City. The price paid per box was larger than ever heretofore paid in open market there. It was due, of course, principally to the extra quality of the fruit, but the packing also had something to do with the fancy prices. These pears, as stated in the article before mentioned, were packed in fancy shape, they were extra quality pears and as a consequence broke the record for high prices. Mr. Perkins, with other pear growers, claim that this valley is first of all a pear country. They are in all probability right. But we are of the opinion that fancy Newtown or Spitzenberg apples, packed upon the system followed by Mr. Perkins in his pear shipment would bring a price as comparatively larger than the ordinary price for apples, as the amount he realized was greater than that received from pears packed and handled in the usual manner. The proposition is simply this: If you have an article that is a little better than anyone else has and it is put up in a little better and more attractive shape than the other fellow puts it up, you can get a whole lot more money for it than he does. "A rose by any other name smells as sweet," but an article of food--from an apple or a pear to a porterhouse steak--brings the prices accordingly to the way it is put up.
Medford Mail, October 13, 1905, page 4
ROMANCE HIDDEN IN PEAR BOX
Missive Deposited by Rogue River Maiden Secures Response from English Buyer.
Mr. G. H. Lewis, a few weeks since, shipped a carload of Beurre Clairgeau pears from his orchard, south of Medford, to London, England. Never but once before has there been a shipment of pears made to this market from the Rogue River Valley, and this first time the experiment was not entirely satisfactory--in fact it was quite the reverse, and wholly because the fruit was not iced en route, and when it reached its destination it was in bad shape. This shipment, made by Mr. Lewis, was in every way satisfactory, and while fancy prices were not received for the fruit the experiment of shipping was very gratifying notwithstanding the fact that the fruit arrived in London at a time when the market was loaded down, and it was necessary to hold it three days before putting on the market.The Fruit Box Law.
There were 860 half boxes in the shipment, and the net price realized was a little better than they could have been sold for in Medford--and Mr. Lewis has the experiment as an extra margin on the credit side of his account.
There is a bit of romance connected with this shipment of pears--just a little strand of pleasantry such as packer girls have before been known to indulge in, but which oftentimes has proven a means of building a lasting friendship. When these pears were being packed, one of the packers, Miss Alma Gault, knowing they were to be shipped to England, wrote a little message to the consumer of the fruit, whoever he or she might be, and placed it in one of the boxes. That the message did not escape the notice of the purchaser of the fruit is conclusively proven by the receipt of the following letter:
46 Russell Street, Southsea, Portsmouth, Hants, England.
October 17, 1906.
DEAR MISS GAULT:
I opened a box of pears today (Wednesday) and inside I found your message. I was the individual that unpacked the pears and was very interested, so take the liberty of writing to you. I should think it a very pretty country where all those pears grow. They are so splendid that I have seen them sold at one shilling each. That is twenty-four cents in your money, and the people in London will think nothing of that price for a pear. I suppose they are much cheaper out there. I have never been to America. I have been to Cherbourg and Boulogne in France and in Scotland and in a good many large cities in my own country. I think your people know how to pack fruit. You must write and let me know what sort of place the States are. It must be a few months ago when you wrote that note, as I have had the pears in my shop for a month to ripen.
Yours sincerely,Medford Mail, November 23, 1906, page 1
MR. MARK GOUSTICK.
This year's crop packed out from 35 to 40 pears to the half box, of 70 to 80 to the full box of 50 pounds. Last year's carload was the first half-box packing ever shipped out of the state. These pears are packed in lithograph labels, lithograph top-mats and lace borders. The boxes are made of clear lumber. This is a very expensive way of packing fruit, but so successful that all the large fruit growers in the Rogue Rogue Valley have adopted the plan, so that the fanciest fruits that we ship are given the fanciest pack regardless of cost, and we have all found that the returns have justified it.
J. W. Perkins, "What an Oregon Grower Has Done with Comice," Pacific Rural Press, December 1, 1906, page 340
The following is the text of the law introduced by Representative Perkins of Jackson County, which has passed both houses of the Oregon Legislature, to require boxes of green fruit to be so marked as to show the name and address of the grower and the name and address of the packer:Brand Your Fruit Boxes.
Sec. 1. Any person, firm, association or corporation engaged in growing, selling or packing green fruit of any kind within the state of Oregon shall be required, upon packing any such fruit for market, whether intended for sale within or without the state of Oregon, to stamp, mark or label plainly upon the outside of every box or package of green fruit so packed the name and post office address of the person, firm, association or corporation packing the same. Provided, further, that when the grower of such fruit be other than the packer of the same, the name and post office address of such grower shall also prominently appear upon such box or package as the grower of such fruit.
Sec. 2. It shall be unlawful for any dealer, commission merchant, shipper or vendor, by means of any false representation whatever, either verbal, printed or written, to represent or pretend that any fruits mentioned in Section 1 of this act were raised or produced or packed by any person or corporation, or in any locality other than by the person or corporation, or in the locality where the same were in fact raised, produced or packed, as the case may be.
Sec. 3. If any dealer, commission merchant, shipper, vendor or other person shall have in his possession any of such fruit so falsely marked or labeled contrary to the provision of Section 1 of this Act, the possession of such dealer, commission merchant, shipper, vendor or other person of any such fruit so falsely marked or labeled shall be prima facie evidence that such dealer, commission merchant, shipper, vendor or other person has so falsely marked or labeled such fruits.
Sec. 4. Any person violating any of the provisions of this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $5 nor more than $500 or imprisonment in the county jail not less than ten nor more than 100 days, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.
Medford Mail, March 1, 1907, page 1
Now that the fruit shipping season has begun, growers are confronted with the necessity of complying with the new law, enacted by the last legislature, requiring that every box or package of green fruit shall be marked with the name and address of the grower and packer.FRUIT PACKING SCHOOL FOR ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.
"Any person, firm, association or corporation engaged in growing, selling or packing green fruit of any kind within the state of Oregon shall be required, upon packing any such fruit for market, whether intended for sale within or without the state of Oregon, to stamp, mark or label plainly upon the outside of every box or package of green fruit so packed the name and post office address of the person packing the same; provided, further, that when the grower of such fruit be other than the packer of the same, the name and post office address of such grower shall also prominently appear upon such box or package as the grower of such fruit."
Medford Mail, June 7, 1907, page 3
So much depends on the quality of the fruit sent forward in determining prices, that the advantage is with the small grower, who personally superintends every detail. Everything connected with horticulture is an engrossing and fascinating study, and the man who gives it his undivided attention is sure to make it a success, is the opinion of Mr. Tronson.
"Life of the Orchardist in the Rogue River Valley Appeals to H. B. Tronson," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, December 22, 1907, page C3
From a 1909 Medford booster booklet. A newspaper article pointed out that the photo is misidentified; this particular packing house apparently wasn't in Medford.
A fruit packing school is the latest move to raise to a higher standard the pack and thereby add to the saleableness of Rogue River Valley fruit. This commendable undertaking is being inaugurated by the Rogue River Fruit Growers Union, and the arrangements are now being worked out by manager J. A. Perry.
The Fruit Growers Union has two large warehouses in Medford, and one of these will be fitted up for the school and sufficient packing tables placed in it to accommodate a large class. The school will open about the 20th of July and will continue until the regular packing season opens, which will be about August 12 when the Bartlett pears are ripe. The only fruit that will be available will be early apples, and these will be used in the demonstration work. The apples will be used over and over so long as they are usable and will be supplied by the Union, as will be all other equipment.
There will be no tuition or other charges to be paid by the scholars, all being free to them. Those that attain the required degree of proficiency in packing will be given a certificate. Packers holding these certificates will be given the preference by the manager and the members of the Union when making up the packing crews for the season's work. An apt person can learn the method of packing in one or two days, but it takes long practice to become a fast and expert packer. The average packer earns from $2 to $3 a day, but there are packers who sometimes earn as much as $5 per day. It would be well for those desiring to attend the packing school to file their applications so soon as possible with manager Perry.
In selecting packers the preference will be given women and girls, though men and boys will be employed, but no girl or boy under 16 years will be accepted. The reason for giving women and girls the preference is that they usually are more painstaking and put up a more attractive pack than do men. The boys are credited with being the poorest packers of all, for they are too inclined to play and be careless and not willing to strictly follow orders.
The value of strictly first-class and honest grading and packing has been demonstrated in all the markets of the world. To get such a pack and the reputation and the price that will come of it is the aim of every fruit growers' organization in the United States. The Hood River Fruit Growers Union is the first association to attain a pack that is recognized as perfect by the buyers, and for the past three years the Hood River apples have been sold without inspection in the markets of New York and London, and at record prices. The Hood River guarantee is recognized by all the buyers, and not a box is ever opened to ascertain if there is an imperfect apple in it, or that the bottom layer may not be up to the standard of the middle layer or the top layer. This is a distinction not had by any other fruit growers' association or individual grower in the United States, and it is proof that it pays to be honest in grading and careful in the packing of fruit. To secure this remarkable high standard in grading and packing it was necessary for Hood River Union to have the entire control of the packing, the growers having nothing to do with this work other than to furnish the packing houses, the equipment and the helpers to handle the boxes. And to secure a corps of graders and packers that could do the exacting work required, the Hood River Union has for several seasons past conducted a training school for beginners.
While the standard of the Rogue River pack is high, yet it is not so high but that dealers in the East and in Europe insist on inspection before they will buy a box of fruit. With the establishment of a school for packers and the enforcement of more rigid rules in the picking, handling, grading and packing that have been lately been adopted, the time is not distant when Rogue River fruit will be sold without inspection and at prices much higher than heretofore had.
Rogue River Fruit Grower, May 1909
WILL ESTABLISH SCHOOL.
Fruit Growers To Teach Packing of Fruit Scientifically
A special meeting of the Rogue River Fruit Growers' Union was held yesterday, and a large portion of the membership was in attendance.PRECOOL FRUIT FOR SHIPMENT
The main subject discussed at the meeting was the establishment of a packing school. It was decided to establish such a school at the packing house during the season, where the art of packing all kinds of fruit will be taught the boys and girls, and when they become proficient in that line a certificate will be given them, entitling them to a preference in their employment by packers. All have so far showed their willingness to raise the standard of teaching.
The annual meeting of the association will be held on the last Saturday of the month, when the matter of providing boxes and other packing material will be taken up. At the annual meeting an estimate of the crop of each member will be required.
The commission last year to the union for packing was 6 percent for 2000 boxes and under, and 4 percent for over that amount, and at the annual meeting the rate of commission will again be established. The order for the lithographed labels for the boxes will be given after the annual meeting.
All fruit growers who are not in the union are invited to become members at an early date.
Medford Mail, May 14, 1909, page 1
Advice by Prof. G. H. Powell of Great Value to the Fruit Growers
The visit of Prof. G. H. Powell, the special representative of the Department of Agriculture at Washington, to Medford and the Rogue Valley promises to "bear abundant fruit," as it were, for he gave some valuable information which is sure to prove of great value to the fruit growers.FRUIT PACKING SCHOOL.
Prof. Powell's specialty is precooling, and he has spent the last seven years studying and experimenting along those lines. Just what this means in theory and practice is explained by Prof. P. J. O'Gara, who has been in close touch with Prof. Powell both before and during his visit here.
Picking and Handling.To begin with, the most important matter is that regarding the picking and the handling of the fruit, more particularly what is known as perishable fruit. That is peaches, apricots, pears and grapes. Then, next to that, oranges and vegetables. With all of these, the most extreme precautions must be taken both in the picking and the packing.
The department has experimented in all with 1200 cars. Out of that it has been found that about 80 percent has been damaged more or less in the picking or the handling. When the department first took the matter up, the growers claimed that the trouble was in the soil, but they were shown that perfect fruit would not rot under proper conditions unless it was damaged. This means not only getting the fruit to the market in good condition, but having it remain that way for a reasonable length of time.
System of Precooling.In the system of precooling it means that the growers and shippers can not only get the fruit to market in good condition, but under normal conditions it would keep from 60 to 90 days. So well impressed have the railroad companies become from what has been demonstrated in this line that it is understood that the Southern Pacific Railway company is contemplating erecting two precooling stations along the line in California.
The plan is in the precooling to bring the fruit down to a temperature of between 36 and 40 degrees before it is shipped on board of the cars. Then it is all cooled through, whereas it is claimed that when the fruit is placed in the cars and cooled there that if it is wrapped only the fruit on the outside is thoroughly cooled.
As to the benefits to be derived, it can be stated that if the fruit is placed in the refrigerator cars while it is warm that the car will require icing from five to seven times during transit to the East, while if it is precooled it will usually carry to its destination with only one icing on the way. On that account two cars could easily carry what it takes three cars for now. It is claimed, therefore, that between the matter of less icing and the greater carrying capacity of the cars that there would be a great saving in the shipment of the fruit by the precooling process if it were put into practice.
Advocates Confederation.Prof. O'Gara also claims that by getting a confederation of all the different growers' associations that the fruit could be placed on the markets through their own agents in place of letting the middle or commission men get the cream for handling it just as they please. It also says that the precooling system is only in its infancy, but that it will soon become a great factor in the fruit industry when it has been thoroughly demonstrated to the growers and the shippers.
Excerpt, Medford Mail, July 30, 1909, page 1
It Will Open Next Thursday in the Union Packing House.
The Rogue River Fruit Growers' Union will open its fruit packing school in the Union's packing house in Medford on Thursday next. The Union expects to pack and ship a few carloads of early apples and pears, and it is upon this fruit that the students will be put to work. There have been already upward of 50 applicants made to enter this school, and there will undoubtedly be a great many more before the school starts. Mr. Perry, the manager of the Union, has half a dozen first-class, experienced packers who will be instructors in this school. The students will not be shown how to do correct packing by watching the work done by experts, but they will be compelled to pack the fruit themselves under the direct supervision of the instructors. It is expected that these several carloads of early fruit will be packed and repacked several times before the fruit will be considered in proper shape to go on to the markets. The school will continue until about the 15th of August.
Medford Mail, August 6, 1909, page 1
Medford Ice, from the January 2, 1927 Medford Mail Tribune
WILL BE ICED HERE
Fruit Cars Will Be Supplied with Ice by Local Concern
The management of the Medford Ice & Storage Company are making preparations so as to be able to fill a contract with the Southern Pacific railway to supply a large quantity of ice during the summer for the fruit refrigeration cars. It is expected that they will supply with ice from 300 to 500 cars during the fruit season.
Formerly all the icing of the cars was done elsewhere, but for certain reasons the company are changing that arrangement and will have all the fruit cars which are loaded at all places between Central Point and Phoenix supplied with ice at the plant of the Medford Ice & Storage Company, which is situated on the railroad track at the south end of the city.
In order to be able to handle the work promptly a two-decked platform is being erected all along the railroad side of the building, 153 feet long and nine feet wide. The factory is already supplied with elevators, and the ice will be taken to the top platform and from there placed on the cars as they are run alongside on the sidetrack.
The first car will be loaded next Monday. It will be a carload of Rogue River valley pears. From that on it is expected that not a weekday will pass without one or more cars being stocked with ice for the journey to the eastern markets.
Although supply a large amount of the finest quality of ice to city customers and several outlying places, the Medford plant is equipped so as to furnish the cars as well without the slightest extra effort on the part of the staff. It might also be mentioned that all the ice is made only from the best distilled water and is perfectly pure.
Medford Mail, August 13, 1909, page 4
FRUIT PACKING SCHOOL.
The fruit packing school is progressing finely, there being about 20 students in attendance every day. Several have already graduated, and new ones are constantly taking their places. This school is costing the fruit union about $25 a day, but there is satisfaction in expending this money in knowing that when the busy packing season begins the packers will not then be students--and the fruit--will be packed right.FRUIT PACKING SCHOOL.
Medford Mail, August 13, 1909, page 6
PACKING FRUIT IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY, OREGONOn the general principles of picking, practically all growers agree. A great many, however, are careless in the handling, the fruit often being needlessly bruised. It does not matter a great deal whether buckets, baskets or sacks are used to pick in, but the essential requirement is that the fruit be picked and transferred to the box very carefully.
BY C. I. LEWIS, S. L. BENNETT AND C. C. VINCENT, CORVALLIS, OREGON
A few of the growers practice the method of using their packing boxes for field work. The market demands good clean boxes, and it is almost impossible to take boxes into the orchard to be dumped around, filled and hauled into the packing houses without getting them more or less soiled. Hence, by all means, orchard or picking boxes should be used.
Of late the subject of wiping the fruit is attracting considerable interest, and many questions were asked, such as, "Does wiping injure the keeping quality of the fruit?" "Does it pay to wipe apples?" It always pays to wipe fruit if the trade prefers, as they generally in such cases realize more than enough to repay the additional cost. If wiping is done in the proper manner it will not impair the keeping quality of the fruit. Severe rubbing would probably be an injury, but if the unnatural spots and color resulting from the presence of sprays, etc., are removed, this is all that is necessary, though if the fruit is to be sold for immediate consumption, a higher polish would probably be of material aid, since the market appreciates this extra effort. This wiping should be done immediately after picking, on account of the sweat or oil that may gather on the surface of the fruit.
The fruit should be carefully culled and graded before reaching the packer, because first-class packing cannot be done if it must be graded and sorted at the same time. This, as well as the wiping of the apples and pears, may be done as soon as the fruit is brought from the orchard, and then placed in packing boxes for storing until packing begins.
Quite a large number of growers were found to pile their fruit in bins, but this is very detrimental indeed. It admits of a great deal more sweating, due to poor ventilation, and also of considerable bruising in handling.
It is a very commendable feature that many of the growers are using the lithograph instead of the old method of having an ink stamp on the end of the box. Another plan which should he followed is to stamp on the other end of the box the number of apples, pears, etc., which it contains, as well as the number of tiers.
The writers believe that better grading can be done if, instead of packing the apples on side benches, where the fruit is packed from single boxes, the packers had a large amount of fruit to pick from. This would mean a modification of the benches or else the adoption of tables. Certain it is that better grading can be done from large quantities than from small quantities.
The packing of any fruit is largely a matter of experience. There are certain principles which apply to all fruits, though more care must be exercised with some varieties than with others.
The pear is a very perishable fruit and requires the most careful handling. It must be picked while yet in the green state. Although the picking season varies with the prevailing climatic conditions each year, August 15 is about the time for the harvest to begin. Whenever, on slightly twisting the stem and turning the pear upward, it will snap off, the fruit is ready to pick. This generally means several pickings from the same tree. This method relieves the tree and gives it an opportunity to mature the remaining fruit to best advantage. Great care must be exercised not to have the pears hang too long, for it deteriorates the shipping qualities quite materially. After picking, the pears should be packed and shipped as soon as possible, as they are quite perishable. The principles of culling, grading, etc., are the same as those of other fruits. The boxes are shorter but wider than the apple boxes, having the following dimensions: depth 8¾ inches, width 12 inches, length 18¾ inches. They must he packed with lining, layer and wrapping paper. There is an increasing demand for pears packed in the half-size boxes. This means a very fancy price if a handsome lithograph is placed on the top layer and lace paper lines the edges, with an additional lithograph on the outside of the box. This only makes a slight increased cost, and the fruit sells at a very large advance over the ordinary pears. It is understood that the fruit itself must be first class. It is a splendid illustration of the statement that the greatest profit is realized by handling a number-one product in a first-class manner.
There are several forms of packs, but all are diagonal. The first pears are placed in the box with the stem from the packer, the calyx to the end of the box. In what is known as the three-two packs there are three of these, one in the middle, the other two being at the sides. Then a pear is placed in each of the two intervals formed by the three and with the stem pointing toward the packer. Then alternately, three and two, the remainder of the pears in the tier are placed in the same way, there being twenty-three pears in each of four tiers, or ninety-two per box, when packed in the full-sized box, or forty-six in the half-boxes.
With the four-three pack there are twenty-eight, and with the three-three offset twenty-four pears in a tier.
The pears must be packed tight, so that when the box is nailed there will be pressure enough on the fruit to hold it firmly in place. A larger bulge is allowed on pears than on apples.
Packing Peaches--At the Ashland Fruit Growers' Association peaches were being packed in boxes 4½ inches deep, 19¾ inches long and 11¼ inches wide.
A three-quarter-inch space is left between sides and top and bottom. Holes are also bored in the sides of the boxes to allow circulation of air. These boxes allow two layers of peaches, and in nearly all grades every peach is wrapped. Although the fruit is very hard when packed, care must be taken not to bruise it in any way. The peaches must be packed in such a way that they are held firmly in the package, and under no condition must rattle. The peaches are delivered in clean one-half bushel baskets and the grading is done at the time of packing, Most of the packing is done by women and girls, who are allowed two cents per box. Each packer puts up from sixty to eighty boxes per day. Two grades are made according to quality, the second grade being marked X. Grades are also made according to size. Fancy contain sixty-four or less to the box; A, sixty-four to eighty; B, eighty to ninety; and D contains the small and low-grade peaches and are unwrapped. The cost of putting up a box of peaches, including material and work, is about nine cents. From sixty to eighty carloads of peaches are shipped annually. Twelve hundred of the twenty-pound boxes can be loaded in a car, and at this rate it would cost about fifteen cents a box to send as far east as Kansas City.
Better Fruit, September 1909, pages 28-29
Will Be Held in Medford from September 13 to 24.
All fruit growers should, and doubtlessly will, be interested in the fruit-packing school which is to be conducted in this city from Monday, September 13, to September 24. Two instructors have been secured for the work from the Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis. The place where the school will be held is the Cox warehouse, on South DeAnjou Street. The room is sufficiently large to accommodate 20 students at a time.
The scholarships are free, but it is expected local orchardmen will be asked to contribute money to defray the necessary expenses. They will also be expected to furnish apples upon which to work.
Persons who wish to enter this school should at once notify C. E. Whisler, either in person or by letter. Those booked first will be given first opportunity to learn, and all names will be taken in rotation as the applications are filed.
As it is expected the apples used will be practically worn out when the school is concluded, it is advisable that a cheap variety of fruit be supplied, that is, it will not be necessary to furnish standard varieties such as Newtowns and Spitzenbergs.
Medford Mail, September 10, 1909, page 8
The fine packing has been one of the keynotes of the success of Rogue River Valley fruits in eastern and European markets.
"The Fruit-Packing School," Medford Mail, September 24, 1909, page 4
Until within three years there was the same effort made by the grower to excel in size of individual Newtown Pippins that still distinguishes the demands of the American red apple trade. It became evident, however, that the more conservative Englishman finds the four-tier, or 128 to the box, size more to his liking than the abnormally large apples, and that is the type most sought for at present.
The matter of standardizing the pack of the valley has received much attention during the past year, and through the different associations of growers, it is a certainty that within another year this valley will be distinguished by as uniform pack and thorough business marketing of our product as now characterize any other district. Each year it becomes more apparent that quality and uniformity alone will bring the largest returns.
Wm. H. Holmes, "Southern Oregon Apple Growers--'Rogues' in Name Only," Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Fruit-Growers' Convention of the State of California, Watsonville, December 7, 8, 9 and 10, 1909, State Printing Office, pages 21-25
YOUNG FOLKS LEARN TO PACK
School of Instruction Being Conducted by Local Fruit Association.
With the advent of the peach it is self-evident that skilled packers are needed to handle the crop direct at the orchard. With this result in view the local fruit and produce association is conducting a packing school which is under the charge of T. F. Smith, manager, whose vigilant eye is always open to observe best methods either in the cultivation or handling of horticultural products. The other day recently about a dozen young folks were employed around the establishment, being instructed as to the best way of packing fruit, the early peach in fair quantity being in the market just at present. With experienced packers in the orchards direct the fruit can be gotten ready for immediate shipment without so much handling at association headquarters, being only subject to inspection when delivered for loading, and it is for the purpose of furnishing skilled packers that this school is being conducted. Of course there is always a certain percentage of the product that has to be handled at the packing house, and as the season advances this will continue to be disposed of as heretofore.
The six principal commercial packs embrace three classifications of standard grades, as follows:
2-2--7-6, 56 specimens to the box; 8-2--7-7, 70; 3-2--7-6, 65. These packs are specified as "Extra Fancy." 3-2--8-8, 80 specimens to box; 3-2--8-7, 75. These denominated "Fancy." 3-3--8-7, 90 specimens to box. These are classified as "Choice." Some other classifications range from 48 to 56 specimens per box.
The trick is to select the fruit to best advantage in packing these respective classifications. It takes discrimination as to size, quality, etc., and until one has gained proficiency in the knack of selection considerable of the work has to be done over again. A system of numbers in duplicate keeps tab on producer and his shipments.
Alexanders are being handled at the headquarters just at present, and quite a number are coming in. Several wagonloads are being dispatched to Klamath every week, in addition to shipments by rail, while the shipments by Wells Fargo express, several hundred boxes per day, mostly go to Portland.
A limited number of Early Harvest apples are also being packed, and the instruction school will be kept busy as long as deemed necessary.
Placards displayed at the fruit and produce warerooms announce that contracts on Logans, raspberries and blackberries closed some time since.
Ashland Tidings, July 11, 1910, page 1
In packing apples the Rogue River Fruit and Produce Association will adhere strictly to the principles of uniform grading determined upon by the Fruitgrowers of the Northwest, in convention at Spokane, November 17. At that time the following resolution was adopted:
Whereas, It is clearly apparent that the boxed apple growers of the Pacific Northwest should work together to mutual advantage for our rapidly increasing industry; and
Whereas, There is great confusion in the naming of the grades in the different districts, mystifying the buyers, shippers and consumers, greatly to the disadvantage of the industry; therefore be it
Resolved, That we, the undersigned committee representing the exhibitors, apple growers, and apple shippers of the Pacific Northwest, recommend to our various districts:
First: That our apples be packed in three grades.
Second: That said grades be named "Extra Fancy," "Choice," and "Orchard Run."
Third: That where the words "Extra Fancy" are stamped on the box, it should signify that the apples when packed were sound, uniformly graded as to size in each box, smooth, practically free from bruises, worms, worm stings or disease, and have reasonably proper shape for the variety, fully matured. All red varieties in this grade shall be at least 50 percent red, except Spitzenberg, Winesap, Jonathan and Arkansas Black, which shall be at least 70 percent red. Yellow Newtowns, White Winter Pearmains, Grimes' Golden, Bellflower, Ortley's Winter Bananas and Red Cheek Pippins will be allowed in this grade.
Fourth: The "Choice" grade shall consist of apples sound, uniformly graded as to size in each box, free from any breaks in the skin or black bruises, also free from worms or any disease which materially injures the quality of the apple.
Fifth: Where for any reason the grower or packer does not desire to use "Extra Fancy" or "Choice" grades, we recommend the varieties be packed in one grade, termed "Orchard Run." The apples in this grade shall be practically free from worms, or any disease which materially injures the quality of the apple, and shall not be smaller than five-tier, nor less than two inches in diameter.
It was also decided to publish the rules in pamphlet form for distribution to growers, packers and buyers.
This year a new-style box for apples will be used, to be announced later, when the instructors, professors Cole and Brown, arrive from Corvallis.
* * *The packing school of the Rogue River Valley Fruit and Produce Association is in full swing. About a number of tables, forty men, women and children are busy wrapping and packing pears under the direction of an instructor. A competent corps of instructors, the best the valley affords, is in charge. The association requires pears for use in the school, and will pay for the same. Each pupil will be given two days' instruction in the art of packing, and then, if O.K.d, will be given a registration ticket bearing his name, and rubber stamp containing his number as a packer.
We were promised and expected to publish at this time the rules governing the packing of pears, but up to the time of our going to press were unable to obtain them.
"Horticultural," The Saturday Review, July 30, 1910, page 1
Medford Saturday Review, July 30, 1910
HARVESTING ROGUE RIVER VALLEY'S PEAR CROPThe Rogue River pears are famous the world over for the excellent quality of the fruit and the scientific methods in handling them. All varieties do equally well here; in fact, this is the acknowledged home of the pear. There are, however, only about half a dozen varieties grown commercially--the Bartlett, Comice, Anjou, Bosc, Howell and Winter Nelis. Each of these varieties have their good qualities, and it is often a disputed question among growers as to which variety brings the best returns. While the writer has handled hundreds of cars of each of these varieties, he is not prepared to say just which variety has made the best record. All have made big money for the grower. We have seen the Comice sell in the markets for five dollars per half box. Again, we have seen the Anjou do equally as well. The Bartlett has made its record of four or five dollars per box, and when we take into consideration the wonderful productiveness of this pear we are constrained to say that they stand at the head of the class.
BY J. A. PERRY, MEDFORD, OREGON
While we believe that nowhere in the world do pears grow to such perfection as they do in the Rogue River Valley, yet we realize that the high prices and the splendid reputation our pears have attained is due to a certain extent to the scientific methods employed in growing, picking and packing the fruit.
The commercial pear orchard receives the very best care possible from the time the young trees are planted until they are producing their golden fruit, which is usually from five to six years. Anyone seeking a position as foreman on one of our pear orchards must, before he is allowed to take charge, convince the owner that he is experienced in orchard work. The trees are too valuable to permit of taking any chances, or making mistakes in pruning or caring for them in anything but a scientific manner.
The orchardist who grows pears has a decided advantage over the one who grows apples, the young pear trees being much easier cared for from the time they are planted. Insect pests do not attack them as much as they do apple trees. In fact, pear trees are very little trouble or expense to grow; they simply want pruning and reasonable cultivation. Anyone may grow a first-class pear orchard in the Rogue River Valley with what information he may get by attending our horticultural meetings and hearing the methods explained by scientific orchardists and by specialists stationed here to assist the growers.
Pears never require over two sprayings to keep out the worms. San Jose scale is much easier kept out of pear orchards than the apple orchard. Many people think that because the pear is a very delicate fruit that they are difficult to handle, but we wish to say that after ten years' experience in handling all varieties of fruit we much prefer handling pears to apples. Grading is easier. There are not nearly as large a percent of seconds or culls as there are in any apple crop, and where the grower is prepared to handle fruit in the proper manner, as they are in the Rogue River Valley, pears are handled with scarcely any loss from injury in handling.
All fruit must be handled carefully, and the grower that does not exercise great care in picking, packing and shipping his fruit cannot expect to be successful. Pears must be picked at the proper time. We may say there is no fixed rule to go by, but the orchardists of the valley are experts in this respect. They are able to determine the very day the fruit will do to come off the tree and yet mature into perfect fruit. This is a very important factor in marketing a pear crop. If picked from the tree too green the fruit will be lacking in sugar and will shrivel and decay without ever getting fit to eat. On the other hand, if allowed to stay on the tree too long, the shipping quality of the fruit is materially injured. The grower must have everything in readiness when the fruit is ready to come off, as there is no time to be lost.
First, he has all his orchard boxes gone over to see that they are in good condition. Then he gets his wagons that are to haul the fruit from the orchard to the packing house, and from the packing house to the car, in shape, providing each with a set of springs and cover to keep out the hot sun and dust. He then procures enough pickers and packers to pick at least one car of pears every day, and if the crop be large he may load two or more each day. We always like to load each day's pack in the iced car the same day it is packed, and get the fruit cooled out as soon as possible, thus stopping the ripening process. We hope in the near future to have a pre-cooling plant established in the valley. This will extend the marketing period of our pears over three or four weeks, which will mean much to the grower. Bartletts are usually ready to pick from the tenth to fifteenth of August, and the grower who has several varieties is able to keep his crew working from the time Bartletts ripen until the first of October, as the different varieties ripen one after the other, Bartletts first, then the Howell, the Anjou, the Bosc, Comice, and last of all the Winter Nelis, which ripen about the same time, or just before, we commence to pick winter apples. Where a grower has a good-sized orchard, it is very desirable to have several varieties, for this reason.
The methods of packing fruit have changed quite noticeably in the last few years. In former years we used printed boxes, having the grower's name and the district from which the fruit was grown printed on the end of the box. This has been discontinued, for various reasons, and we now use a plain box made from the best pine lumber, and place on the end of the box a nice lithographed label. The grower's name, the variety and number of pears is neatly stamped on the box, thus giving the buyer a chance to know just what the box contains.
Pears are packed at less expense than apples, for the reason that no lining or layer paper is used. Grading is not as expensive. Pears must be packed in a nice, neat manner to make a good appearance in the market, as nothing looks worse than a ragged, poorly packed box of pears. We use for most all pears eight by ten duplex wrapping paper, except some of the very largest sizes, which require a larger paper. The paper should always be full large for the pear, and serves to a certain extent to form a cushion for the fruit. The folds of the paper should always come underneath the pear, being perfectly smooth on top. Pears should have a larger swell in the box than apples, and should weigh at least fifty-two pounds.
In order that the box may look neat and have full weight, the swell must be built in the box as it is packed. Packing schools are conducted each year to give the new beginners a chance to learn the work before they are required to commence packing for shipment. The accompanying cut shows a class of twenty-five taking lessons in one of these schools. Several instructors are employed, as it is necessary to show the pupil, it being very hard to tell anyone how to put up a pack so that they will be able to do the work properly. With a good instructor to show them, it is possible for a new beginner to learn so that they may put up a very good pack in a few days if they really try to learn. We find many who never learn, for the reason that they do not take an interest in the work. The accompanying cut shows a very good commercial pack of pears. They are all four-tier, however. We are sorry that we haven't a cut of a five-tier pack, as that is used mostly and is the most desirable size. The cut shows very well the manner of placing the pears in the box, the diagonal pack being always used. Box No. 1 shows the three, two pack, four and five up the box, and contains ninety pears. A person that does not understand packing will think that the box contains ninety-two pears, but the tiers are not all the same. The first tier put in the box was two pears, put in calyx toward the packer and about equal distance from the sides of the box and from each other. In the next row we place three pears, stem toward the packer, in the three spaces on the sides and in the center. Next two, then three, and so on. You will find this tier has only twenty-two pears in it, while the next tier will have twenty-three, so that we have two tiers of twenty-two and two of twenty-three, or ninety pears. Box No. 2 is three-four pack, four-four up the box, and contains twenty-eight to the tier, or 112 pears. Box No. 3 is three-three pack, four-four up the box, and contains ninety-six pears. This box is packed exactly like the largest size five-tier, and should have been packed five-tier. If packed the same way five-tier it would contain 120 pears. The five-tier packs are three-three pack, four-four up the box, 120 pears; three-three pack, four-five up the box, 135 pears; three-three pack, five-five up the box, 150 pears. We seldom pack smaller than the latter size in the five-tier pack. Six-tier are sometimes packed in winter Nelis, or some of the small varieties, and may pack as many as 200 pears to the box. Some of our fancy pears are packed in the half box, such as the Comice, Anjous and other varieties when they are very large and fine. We believe it pays to put up pears in the half box if the fruit is really fancy. In this pack the work is done almost the same, except we use a fine lace paper to line the sides of the box; a beautiful lithograph top mat is placed over the top of the fruit after the box is packed, the lace lining being folded over so that the center of the mat shows, making a very attractive package. The half box contains from thirty to fifty pears.
Better Fruit, August 1910, pages 20-22
For the packing of pears, below are the instructions for growers and packers as issued by the Rogue River Fruit and Produce Association.
Instructions to Growers.It shall be the duty of every grower of this Association to handle fruit as follows:
Pears shall be picked at the proper stage of ripeness and must have stems on; they must be picked by hand and put in boxes so as to avoid any bruise or skin puncture. Handle carefully, as you would an egg.
Do not let fruit stand in the sun.
No pears that are diseased should be placed in boxes to be packed. The grower should use every effort to put his pears up to the packer in the best possible condition. Packers are to be paid 5 cents for packing sorted fruit. The grower who has his fruit packed at his own orchard shall provide a suitable place and tables for the packers. The growers shall at all times keep the packer supplied with fruit while at his place. The growers shall not at any time interfere with packers, but shall confer with the foreman about all matters regarding the packing.
Nailing press and nailer are to be provided by grower.
All pears that are packed or loose must be hauled in a wagon with springs.
All pears that are packed at the Association packing house or at the orchard must conform to the standard of the Association pack or they will not be shipped by the Association.
No fruit will be shipped without being packed by packers registered with the Association.
It shall be the duty of the growers to either furnish comfortable board and lodging at the orchard or furnish transportation for packers from their homes to the orchard.
At any time that any difference arises between the grower and foreman that they cannot adjust, it shall be the duty of the grower to notify the Chief Inspector at the central office, whose duty it shall be to settle each dispute.
"Horticultural," The Saturday Review, Medford, August 6, 1910, page 1
INSTRUCTIONS TO PACKERS.
All packers must be registered with the Association, get a rubber stamp with number, which must be placed on each box packed.
Foremen.Over all crews packing for the Association there shall be a competent foreman. It will be the duty of each packer to look to him for all instructions.
Any packer packing for the Association who is found doing unsatisfactory work, and who will not do the work as instructed by the foreman, will be discharged immediately from any further services with the Association.
Grading of Pears.All pears shall be packed in two grades, namely, "Fancy" and "Choice."
Fancy grade shall consist of pears of the proper stage of ripeness, free from disease, bruises, worms, worm-stings, or any other defects.
Choice grade shall consist of pears of proper ripeness, free from diseases of any kind, but may contain pears slightly misshapen or limb-rubbed or worm stung where it is healed over.
The Association is going to put out another grade which will be marked "Special," and which will contain slightly weather-marked pears.
Size of Packs.All five-tier pears shall be packed 3x3 and shall contain 120, 135, 150 or 165 when possible to do so and get the weight, which shall be 52 pounds gross.
All four-tier pears shall be packed 3x2 and shall contain 80, 90, 100 or 110 when it is possible to do so and get the weight of 52 pounds gross.
Packers' Schedule.The packers' schedule with these instructions shows the eight packs described above.
The packers shall be paid 5 cents per box for sorted fruit. It shall be the duty of the growers to either furnish comfortable board and lodging at the orchard or furnish transportation from the homes of the packers to the orchard and return.
The Saturday Review, Medford, August 6, 1910, page 1
CALIFORNIA TO FOLLOW OUR LEAD
Fruitgrowers of Bear State Prepare to Standardize their Fruit,
Hoping To Gain Reputation Similar to that Already Secured by the Fruitgrowers of Oregon.
STOCKTON, Cal., Dec. 8.--One of the most important subjects taken up by the California Fruitgrowers' Association in convention here--standardization of pack--is being considered by the delegates today. The season just closed has marked the first year of organized effort for standardization of fruit in California. Five counties shipped no fruit this year that was not standardized, and the result was most satisfactory.
The growers hope to make the label "Grown in California" standardized, a sufficient guarantee of size, quality and condition in eastern markets to obtain the highest prices, and to that end will make an effort to induce all fruitgrowing counties to adopt standardization rule.
Marshall De Mott of Corning, in a paper on "Growers and Packers of Standardized Fruit," said that the apple growers of Oregon were the pioneers in the movement for standardization. By making every apple in the box of standard size and quality they soon made Oregon famous the world over for its apples.
California fruitgrowers are just now awakening to the fact that the success Oregon has accomplished with her apples this state may do with every other kind of fruit by adopting standardization rules. Mr. De Mott advocated carrying the rules of standardization into the nurseries and insisting that the nurserymen conform to certain rules in keeping tree stocks up to a high grade.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 8, 1910, page 2
TO TELL EAST HOW TO PACK FRUIT
Three Young Fruit Experts Studying Handling of Pear and Apple Crops in Northwest--
Will Report to Eastern Associations.
For the purpose of making a study of the methods of handling and packing deciduous fruits in the Northwest, Messrs. Auchter, Markell and Davis of Cornell University have arrived in the valley.
The young men are very much taken with the idea of packing and shipping fruit in boxes instead of barrels, and they will recommend to eastern associations that barrels be discarded.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 19, 1911, page 2
HINTS ON PACKING PEARS.
C. E. Whisler of Medford, Oregon gives his way of packing pears in the Fruit and Produce Distributor:
Pick the pears when the stem snaps on a short upward turn of the fruit, while it is firm and hard. Use the regulation pear box and wrap each separate fruit in wrapping paper. The size generally used is 8 by 10 inches.
In packing, raise one end of the box about 5 inches higher than the other, to have the fruit retain position in row, beginning at low end toward the packer.
Place the wrapped pear in the box with the excess paper gathered well together and placed underneath the pear, forming a cushion for the fruit to rest upon, and place in the box with the calyx end toward the end of the box next to the packer, in the left-hand corner, then place two pears at equal distance between that and the right corner. The next three pears place with stem end reversed in intervening spaces, and the remainder of the layer will have all stems toward the packer.
Begin each layer in the same manner as the first, except that you begin in the opposite corner each time from the layer just preceding. By this method the square pack is avoided, which should never be employed.
The 3-3 pack will give six rows up the box. They may be four pears long, which would give 24 pears to the layer, or 120 pears to the box; or 3 rows 5 pears long, and 3 rows 4 pears long, which would give 27 pears to the layer, or 135 pears to the box; or there may be six rows of 5 pears to the row, or 30 to the layer, or 150 pears to the box; or 3 rows 5 pears to the row, and 3 rows 6 pears to the row, or 33 pears to the layer, which gives 165 pears to the box; or 6 rows with 6 pears in the row. This gives 36 pears to the layer, or 180 pears to the box. This is the smallest size that should be packed in five layers.
The four-layer packs are made by what is called the 3-2 pack. It is begun by placing a pear in each corner of the box and one in the center. This divides the open space into two equal spaces, and then 2 pears are placed here, then 3, then 2, then 3, and so on till the layer is filled.
This will give 5 rows of 4 pears each, or 20 pears to the layer, or 80 pears to the box; or 3 rows of 5 pears each, and 2 rows of 4 pears each, or 23 pears to the layer, or 90 pears to the box; or 5 rows of 5 pears to the row, or 25 pears to the layer, or 100 pears to the box; or 3 rows of 6 pears each, and 2 rows of 5 pears each, or 28 pears to the layer, or 110 pears to the box.
Pears smaller than 180 to the box may be packed in 6 layers, by what is called the 4-3 pack, which may be studied out from the foregoing.
The bulge on a box of pears when nailed should be one inch on each side. This is obtained by placing the pears a little more upright as you near the center of the box and gradually flattening as you approach the other end. The box, when packed, should weigh 52 pounds and contain 46 pounds of pears.
The most popular size for Bartletts is 135 pears to the box. But this seems to vary a great deal, depending on whether you have them or not.
Fifty boxes per day is a reasonable day's work per packer, for which the average price is 5 cents per box.
The pears in the box should be as nearly uniform in size as possible, and two grades should cover all shippable pears.
Great care should be exercised in handling the pear, both before and after packing. When packed the box should always be handled on the side, never on the swell or on the end. Just good common sense is all there is to it.
Pacific Rural Press, August 30, 1913, page 196
Packing of "C" Grade ApplesMedford Mail Tribune, September 29, 1914, page 4
The Northwestern Fruit Exchange has been making an investigation into the practicability of picking and packing "C" grade apples this year. They have received by request an unlimited number of analyses along that line, and a very ingenious and interesting contribution on this subject was made by Kenneth McKay, manager of the Fruitgrowers' Exchange of Hood River. Mr. McKay says that "C" grade apples cost the grower as much as quality grades up to a certain point, but they must be picked in order to get the first grades, and that they must be sorted for the same reason.
While it may be admitted that "C" grade will have a hard time to pay expenses in 1914, we do not admit that they cannot be made to pay expenses by a radical change in our marketing of them. It is true that it costs an average of 55 cents to market our "C" grade, or about the same as the extra fancy, so the root of the whole matter is, "Can we put our C grade on the market cheaper than we are doing without hurting our best grade? Is it worthwhile, or is it sensible to put a low-grade apple through the same expense as the apple that would bring twice the price, pulling our average down to nothing on the good apple?" Compare the boxing of this grade with the barrel method. The barrel is considered the cheap grade method. Then why not use it with the cheap grade apple? A box costs 10 cents, a barrel 25. Three boxes would go into a barrel, saving 5 cents on every barrel. Packing three boxes into a barrel, facing top and bottom, would cost no more than packing one box and would save another ten cents. Twelve cents would be saved on paper, and exchange could handle the barrel at 25 cents, saving another 5 cents per barrel. This same would apply to any local exchange. Assuming these figures to be correct, a barrel would cost:
Barrel, 25¢; local, 10¢; packing, 5¢; hauling, 15¢; exchange, 25¢; total, 80¢.
Three boxes, 30¢; local, 15¢; paper, 12¢; parking, 15¢; hauling, 15¢; exchange, 30¢; total, $1.17.
It is a question to be worked out whether this grade of apple can be marketed by the barrel. If it can, and along economic lines, it seems more than possible that it will be done someday.
Just one year ago today a box of Yellow Newtown apples from the Westerlund orchards were placed in the window of the Commercial Club. Today this same box of apples still remains in the window, proving beyond doubt the excellent keeping quality of the Newtown apple. These apples have been exposed to all conditions of heat and cold, even withstanding the intense heat of last summer. The Newtown apple today stands as the peer of all apples, and it is believed that in a few years when the apple-eating public of America learns of the excellence of this apple, as the people of England already know, that the demand will far exceed the supply.--Sun
Jacksonville Post, October 17, 1914, page 1
CENTRALIZATION OF PACKING.My subject covers two features that are vital to the success of deciduous fruit growing in the Pacific Northwest. First, the physical handling of the fruit; second, standardization of pack. To successfully grow good fruit, to cultivate, to prune, to combat scale, codling moth, blight, scab, Baldwin Spot, water core, and the other diseases that deciduous fruit is heir to; to produce good crops of good fruit every year--these are problems which call, in my opinion, for a high degree of intelligence and eternal vigilance. On the other hand, to successfully distribute and market the fruit when grown and produce good prices, year after year, is another equally important and equally difficult problem demanding the best energies of the highest trained men in that specialty. But the production of good fruit and the intelligent marketing of it will not avail if the assembling and packing of the fruit is poorly done, resulting in an unattractive package and physical damage to the fruit itself.
By S. V. Beckwith, General Manager,
Rogue River Fruit and Produce Association, Medford, Oregon
The Rogue River Fruit and Produce Association has just completed its sixth consecutive season as a cooperative deciduous fruit growers association. In that period it has acquired no less than five different packing and warehouses at five widely separated points in the Rogue River district, each packing house being located upon the railroad and having its own sidetrack. The most recent of these houses was acquired no less than three years ago. In the early history of our organization we packed the growers' fruit at each one of these five warehouses, having crews working in all of them at the same time, and in addition to this perhaps fifteen or twenty of the larger growers ran their own packing houses at which their own fruit was packed under our supervision. This imposed upon the management a nearly impossible task--that of supervising and inspecting all of these packs so thoroughly and so successfully as to insure standardization and careful handling at all times. We did our best, but were distinctly not satisfied with the results. Another bad feature of this method was apparent in the handling of the early pears, such as Bartletts and Howells. We found it physically impossible to clean up each one of the packing houses every night, and to pack out during the day every pear, whether first, second, or third grade, that had been brought in the day before. Then again, even the packed Bartletts would of necessity lie around occasionally for twenty-four hours or longer before being loaded into an iced car. There might be, for instance, only a half-car packed and ready to roll, which would have to wait until the next day without refrigeration, for enough fruit to complete the car. I do not mean to say that this was a frequent occurrence, but in spite of our best efforts it would happen once or twice a season.
In the spring of 1913 we built in Medford a cold storage warehouse with a capacity of approximately forty cars of real refrigeration and sixty cars of dry tonnage. In 1914 we began to realize the possibilities of the auto truck as an assembler of fruit. We tried this out in a small way during that season, hauling some pears and a considerable quantity of Newtown apples loose in packing boxes to our cold storage plant in Medford. The experiment was so successful that we laid our plans in the winter of 1914-15 for complete centralization of packing at our cold storage plant. We transformed our second story, by inserting plenty of windows, into an ideal packing room, where we could, if need be, operate a crew of 100 packers. We built a conveyor at one end of our building, by the use of which one man could unload the fruit from the truck, and it would be carried to the second story, there to be received by roustabouts and distributed for packing.
Not being financially able to purchase our own trucks, we made early negotiations with all of the available trucks in our district, and arranged with them to haul the growers' fruit upon a regular tariff, based on the length of haul and condition of roads. We concentrated at our cold storage plant all packing supplies, gathering them in from our outlying houses. We offered to pack for the grower, furnishing all labor and materials for the sum of twenty-five cents per box for pears and twenty-eight and one-half cents per box for apples, plus whatever the auto haul might be. We have permitted some growers with short hauls over exceptionally good roads to haul their own fruit, but wherever the haul was long or the road rough, we have insisted upon the use of the auto truck. Our largest truck has a capacity of two hundred fifty packing boxes of loose fruit. We have hauled crops of both apples and pears, a distance in some instances of fourteen miles. The bruising to the fruit has been negligible. In fact, it is our experience that a good auto truck loaded to capacity rides as easily as a five-thousand-dollar touring car. Our operations began the first week in August with Bartlett pears and have been kept up continuously until the 13th of November when our packing was completed. The hauling of the Bartlett and Howell pears, which are picked in extremely hot weather, was all done at night. The grower would advise us at the end of his picking day what he had to be called for. This he piled at some convenient place in his orchard where the auto truck was able to go. At any time between 10 o'clock in the evening and 3 o'clock in the morning the truck called for this fruit, and it was delivered at our central house during the cool hours of the night, received thereby a night crew whose duty it was to segregate it according to growers' names, check up carefully the number of boxes received, place in each box a card bearing the name of the grower, and stack it in front of the packing tables for the next day's operations. The packing crew came on at 8 o'clock and in every instance cleaned up all of the fruit set before them for that day. As soon as the fruit was packed it was labeled and sent downstairs by gravity, either into an iced car, or, if necessary, into our cool rooms, where it would be held twenty-four or forty-eight hours, or two weeks if advisable, under ideal conditions. With later varieties of pears and apples the necessity for night hauling was removed, although we continued to haul, at night as much as possible because of the convenience of so doing. Thus we have had one crew varying in size according to the amount of fruit to be packed, in constant operation since the first week in August. There has been one head packer over this crew, whose constant and only duty has been to supervise and inspect the pack. The growers have not purchased from us a single box or a single sheet of paper, and we know where every particle of material has gone, and exactly what, if any, our waste has been. Perhaps, fortunately for us, the crop of our district has this year been a light one and we have been permitted to work out this experiment under conditions which did not result in tremendous crowding. We have made mistakes, but no vital ones. We have gained the experience of a full season's work, and can most certainly correct these mistakes another season and improve in many minor details upon the general method. The improvement in the physical handling of the fruit, both from the standpoint of bruising and of keeping the fruit in proper temperatures, and the improvement in our grading and general standardization of pack and mechanical excellence of it, has been very marked. One large foreign buyer, after careful inspection of our methods and our packed fruit, characterized the pack as the best he had seen.
We are peculiarly fortunate in our district in having on the whole very good roads and comparatively easy hauls. Our association is also peculiarly fortunate in having cold storage facilities which are available immediately after the fruit is packed.
The possibilities of this system seem to me very far-reaching. Our district, and I believe, every district in the Northwest, must come sooner or later to a cooperative use of our waste material. With all of our culls or otherwise unpackable fruit collected in one place, the day is not far distant when we may be able to install as an adjunct to our packing and cold storage plant an up-to-date cannery and apple juice factory. This will do away with the great problem of what to do with our culls, and while we all hope for the time when the percentage of culls shall be reduced to a negligible quantity, we all know full well that there never will be a year when a large fresh fruit packing plant, such as ours is bound to be, will not have an abundance of waste material that can be advantageously turned into some byproduct.
In conclusion let me say that centralization of packing has in my opinion come to stay; that it will do more, especially in connection with cold storage facilities, toward the proper handling of our fruit and the proper standardization of our pack and improved deliveries in all the markets of the world, than any single plan or idea that has ever been tried out by the deciduous fruit growers of the Northwest.
The question was asked President [Robert C.] Washburn as to what was done with cull fruits in the Rogue River Valley.
Answer: In the Rogue River Valley last year our culls were sold locally and some of them were shipped east of the mountains to neighboring cities. A great many were shipped to a cannery. This cannery last year started making canned apple juice, which was very satisfactory and which has proved a very popular beverage. Some of the culls were used by the cannery in making apple butter and canned apples.
The matter of culls is going to be a very serious one to the grower of any size. The matter of reduction in the cost of fruit has been taken up in the hopes that it might result in better returns to the fruit grower, and if the cost is to be reduced, the matter of culls is an important phase to be considered.
The members present were unanimous in their feeling that the fruit growers of the Northwest are not, and have not been getting fair returns for their fruit, one reason being that there are too many sharing the profits, and when the railroads and others along the line have taken out their share, the amount left for the fruit grower is not worth mentioning. The commission man is being dispensed with to a certain extent. There are those who say the commission man has served a great purpose. So has the horse car, but there are some things and some individuals who outlive their usefulness, and in the evolution of the distribution of products of all kinds in this country, the commission man is going to play a less important part each year. What we want is a fair return, through a series of years, for our fruit. The question of getting the produce to the consumer with a fair profit to the producer is one of vital importance, and this problem is already being taken up by the Government.
Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Meeting of the Oregon State Horticultural Society, 1916, page 62. This address was reprinted in Better Fruit, May 1916, pages 18-20
Packing Apple AmmunitionThe writer desires to present to the apple growers of the United States a preparedness program to be used in the impending war with fruit consumers in this and other countries. The great war has proven the importance of plenty of ammunition, rightly prepared. Battles are not decided so much by the number of men engaged as by the projectiles which the attacking army is able to throw into the ranks of the enemy.
By O. H. Barnhill, Ashland, Oregon
So it will be in the impending fruit fight. The army of growers which is best prepared with projectiles in the shape of Baldwins, Jonathans, Greenings--and, of course, Spies--will be the first to cause consumers to capitulate and pay a handsome tribute in the coin of the realm. The most effective work is done by the big guns: those which land on the eating public with three- and four-tier fruit balls. It is well nigh useless to shoot little five-tier culls and crabs at the consumer.
It is a debatable question whether these luscious balls should be encased in barrels or boxes. It is an undeniable fact, however, that the apple-growers' army of the Northwest has succeeded in exacting the highest tribute from consumers in previous wars, and with them the bushel-box cartridge is a prime favorite. Other armies have emulated their example in a small way, generally with excellent results. More would prepare the same kind of ammunition if they knew how. Skilled packers are hard to get and demand high wages.
This message from a private in the ranks is addressed to other soldiers of the soil and gives away all the secrets of the apple-box trade. The first thing needful is a factory for filling fruit shells, or boxes, with apple ammunition. A cheap building will suffice, but it should be roomy and well lighted with windows on the south side. It need not be more than eight feet to the eaves, as it is unprofitable to pile boxes more than six high. A long building is best, because it affords plenty of room for packers and graders along the south side. Sixteen by forty-eight feet is about right for a thousand-box crop. Large growers have picking and packing crews working at the same time, the fruit being delivered from the orchard at one side of the building and the packed product taken away to the warehouse from the other side.
It is a common practice to pack from a table consisting of a square frame with burlap or canvas stretched across the top, upon which the apples are poured. The apples are more or less bruised by this method, especially the odd specimens, which are apt to be picked up and thrown down again a number of times. A better plan is to pack direct from the boxes, using the same table on which the fruit is being graded. This table is made of two twelve-inch boards running along the south wall and supported by cross strips underneath four feet apart, from which legs extend to the floor. To get the right height, set a box crosswise on the table and have a workman of medium height stand in front of this box, which should be high enough so the tips of the fingers will touch the bottom when the arms are extended. The table should slope upward toward the wall so the end of the box farthest from the packer will be about six inches higher than the near end. A half-inch strip or a row of cleats nailed along the lower side of the table prevents the boxes from sliding off.
Grading machines are a great convenience, but they are quite costly and only separate the fruit into sizes, leaving the quality grading to be done by the packers. The latter are not apt to do a good job of grading, since they are paid by the box and haven't time to inspect each apple. If the apples must be given a separate sorting in order to grade for quality they might as well be divided into sizes at the same time, as this will take little extra work. It isn't necessary to have all the apples in a box of exactly the same size. In fact it is easier to pack from a box in which some of the apples are slightly larger than others, as it is sometimes necessary to use a little larger apples in the middle of the box to make the bulge or crown.
All the four-tier sizes--96 to 125--of one grade may be put into one box and the four and one-half-tier sizes--138 to 175--into another. Those smaller than 175 go into one box and those larger than 96 into another, making four boxes into which the apples are separated. The packers subdivide the four-tier fruit into four sizes: 96, 104, 112 and 125; the four and one-half tiers into an equal number: 138, 150, 163 and 175. The number of sizes into which the little and big apples are divided depends upon how small are the former and how large the latter.
Sample apples are a great aid in size grading. Select specimens of the largest and smallest sizes which go into each box and keep them in front of their respective receptacles. These guide apples should be of characteristic shape, as unusually long or flat apples are apt to mislead.
Here in the Northwest there are three standard grades: Extra Fancy, Fancy and Choice. These grades have been found very unsatisfactory, and growers elsewhere are not advised to follow them. In the first place, the names are misleading, because the word "choice" conveys an idea of quality equal to "fancy" in the mind of the eating public. Furthermore, it is impracticable to divide fruit into more than two merchantable grades. Fancy and Extra Fancy are practically the same, no material blemishes or defects being allowed in either, so why take all the trouble of keeping them separate? The difference is more in name than in fact, or would be if the grading rules were followed to the letter.
As a matter of fact each man is a law unto himself when it comes to grading fruit. No two persons will interpret a set of grading rules in exactly the same way, any more than they will a collection of rules for conduct, such as the Ten Commandments. Furthermore, a consideration for one's own interests or the interests of one's employer, real or fancied, will influence one's judgment, consciously or subconsciously, no matter how conscientious one may be. To these peculiarities of the human mind is due the differences in individual brands of fruit, as much as to the quality of the product produced.
Regardless of grade names, most fruit is considered as either first or second quality and may--in fact should be--considered as such. Just where to draw the dividing line between firsts and seconds is a debatable point and one upon which no hard-and-fast rules can be laid down. It is well enough to say that "all red varieties shall be at least seventy percent good red color," but what constitutes "good red color"? Moreover, some varieties are a good deal redder than others and it would be an obvious mistake to insist that a Ben Davis should have as much color as an Arkansas Black, or even a Gano. So let us say that red varieties shall be well colored to admit them to the first grade, and let it go at that.
First-class apples must also be well shaped, which is another place where one's judgment is permitted considerable play. Both first and second-grade apples must be in good condition--not shriveled--free from worms, scale or other insect pests, and the first should be practically free from scab, stings, soft or dry rot, bruises, watercore, limb rubs, skin breaks, missing stems, russet spots and any other injuries or imperfections. In the interpretation of this rule care should be taken to distinguish between picking and other bruises, since the former may be admitted if not too large or numerous. Small and inconspicuous russet spots and frost marks may be passed. It is hard to draw the line here, because some varieties, such as the Newtown, naturally have a good deal of russeting around the stem. So it is with stings, scab and limb rubs, which are often concealed near the calyx or hidden by russeting, being of such microscopic dimensions that only the closest scrutiny will reveal them. And yet, if a grader be instructed to admit even the very tiniest of blemishes he is apt to overlook some that are quite large. The old saying, "Give a man an inch and he will take a mile" applies with peculiar force to fruit grading. The most stringent rules are the safest for the average workman.
Second-grade apples should be in good condition and free from insects. They may be somewhat misshapen, but should not be "crooked up" by aphis. Neither should they be too badly "stung up," although a few blemishes of this kind may be omitted, care being taken to distinguish between a sting and a worm hole. When in doubt, throw it out. The rule for scab is to pass a spot as large as a dime, or a number of spots whose combined size is no larger than a dime. The same rule might apply to limb rubs. Bruises and rotten spots should, of course, be excluded.
The four boxes into which the four sizes of first-class apples are graded should be placed on one side of the box from which the apples are being sorted, with four boxes to receive the seconds on the other side. Culls are thrown into a box beneath the table. As the boxes are filled they are stacked away for packing, each size and grade being piled separately.
Girls make better packers and graders than men, because they are more careful and teachable. On the other hand, they are not strong enough to handle a box of apples, so it is necessary to furnish male help to carry the fruit to and away from them. The usual price paid for packing is five cents a box and for grading two cents, the latter for boxes level full. One cent a box is paid for nailing up boxes, a nailing press being needed for this work. The same price is paid for making boxes, for which a table is provided with two sets of thin boards fixed in an upright position to hold the end pieces. Five-penny box nails are used, four for each cleat and side board. If the deals split they should be soaked in water.
Apple paper generally comes in two sizes, 10x10 and 9x9, the former for four-tier sizes and larger, the latter for four-and-and-one-half tier and smaller. Cardboard is no longer used between the layers, but one sheet is placed in the bottom of the box and one on top, inside the lining paper. Two sheets of the latter are folded over the sides of the box, the edges lapping over the crack in the bottom. The wrapping paper is held in a shallow tray fastened to another box. A rubber cot is worn on the thumb to assist in picking up the paper.
Wrapping apples is quite a trick. As the paper is held in one hand the apple is picked up with the other and placed, or rather thrown, into the middle of the sheet. As the hand closes over the apple the edges are caught by the other hand and given a slight twist, after which the apple is placed firmly in position in the box, folded side of the paper underneath.
Nearly all sizes of apples go into two styles of diagonal packs, three-two and two-two. The former is so called because three apples are placed across the end of the box, then two, and so on. Of the first three, one goes in each corner and one in the middle. The next two fit into the spaces between them, while the next three are placed in a position to the first three. The third and fifth layers are packed the same, but the second and fourth layers are packed two-three. That is, only two apples are laid next to the end of the box, fitting into the spaces below, between the apples in the layer underneath.
The two-two pack is started by placing an apple in one corner and another midway between it and the other corner. Of the next two apples, one is laid next to the space between the two just placed and the other in the space between one of the apples and the side of the box. All the layers in this pack are started the same way, only the corner apple is placed in the opposite corner from the one which contains an apple in the layer below.
Apples of which 104 or less fill a box are put into two-two packs, which have four layers, four rows to the layer, while all smaller sizes are packed three-two, having five layers of five rows each.
A postal scale is a great aid in determining in what pack apples of a certain size will go. This is found by dividing the weight of the apple into the weight of a box of apples, the latter being 45 pounds, or 720 ounces. For example, apples weighing a half pound each go into the 88 pack; seven-ounce apples pack 104; six-ounce, 125; five-ounce, 150; four-ounce, 175. The use of a scale makes it possible to pick out for the grader guide apples of exactly the right size.
In exhibition packs the apples are all turned one way, but in commercial packs they are turned any way to make them fit closely together, so they won't work loose. In some packs, such as the 104 and the smaller three-two packs, the apples in each layer fit closely together, while in others, such as the 112, they must be left quite loose, being held in place by the apples above and below.
Given apples of a certain size, how can they be packed to "come out right"? It is all a matter of selection and knowing which way to turn the apple when it is laid in place. An expert packer must be a good judge of form and size, able quickly and accurately to measure the size and shape of an apple with his eye. Since most apples are wider than they are long, the following suggestions will be found useful: To make the rows come out longer, lay the apples on end or on the side, crosswise; to make the rows shorter, lay the apples on the side, lengthwise; to make the layer wider, lay the apples on end or on the side, lengthwise; to make it narrower, lay the apples on the side, crosswise--that is, with the stems pointing across the box. If the box is too full, lay more apples on end; if not full enough, lay more on the side. It is sometimes necessary to choose very flat or very long apples to fit certain positions.
A similar application of the above principle is used to get the bulge on a box of apples, which is especially difficult for a beginner. Not only are slightly larger apples selected for the middle of the box but wide, flat specimens are picked out for that position--if the apples are being packed on the side--and long, narrow apples for the ends. If the apples are being packed on the end this process is reversed, the flat apples being used at the end of the box and the long ones in the middle. When the boxes are nailed up the bulge or crowns should be about three-quarters of an inch on both top and bottom. Before the top is nailed on the apples project above the top of the box about an inch and a half in the middle and half an inch at the ends, when pressed down firmly with the hands.
Better Fruit, September 1917, page 5+
APPLE PRICES PUZZLE GROWER
Orchardist Asks What Producers Get Out of Business Men's Venture.
TRES PINOS ORCHARDS, Lyle, Wash., Oct. 13.--(To the Editor.)--I read in The Oregonian that the business men of Portland are conducting a market for selling "seconds" in apples and pears at cost, and in the news item printed on October 8, they put the price at from 50 to 75 cents per box, these apples shipped from Medford.
Now how long since the state of Oregon has had a grade of apples known as seconds? Are they not what is known as "cookers," or culls, and in using the term "seconds" are they are not violating the law made to prevent untruthful advertising? Mr. Berg has had some experience lately along that line with silk stockings, I believe.
Now if they are really selling a packed box of apples in Portland, shipped from Medford, for 50 cents, I would like to know how it can be done. Boxes cost this year about 15 cents, paper 8 cents, packing 5 cents, making 35 cents. I presume they pay freight from Medford and that there is some expense in getting the apples from the freight yard to their place of business. What I would like to know is how much does the man who cultivated, sprayed, pruned and otherwise cared for these apples up to the time they were picked get out of them? This is not idle curiosity on my part, but I am trying to make a living raising apples and "'tis information I am after."
F. E. MANCHESTER.
The apples sold by the Progressive Business Men's Club, of Portland, are what is known as picked culls. They are not wrapped and packed, but are tossed into the box and the lid nailed on, which is otherwise known to the fruitgrower as the jumble pack. The apples that were sold on the Portland market brought 65 to 80 cents per box, while the pears were sold for 50 and 60 cents.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, October 16, 1917, page 10
We were interested in having even competitors tell us, in such markets as New York, Chicago and Boston, that the heaviest pack and finest packed pears offered to the trade this year were our Blue Triangle pack from the Medford plant of the Oregon Growers Cooperative Association. Many went so far as to say, "Your pack has been so fine that your pears will be received next year at a premium."
"Oregon Pears," The Oregon Grower, April 1922, page 22
ASHLAND TO TRY UNIFORM PACKING
According to S. D. Taylor, manager of the Ashland Fruit and Produce Assn., uniform grading and packing of Ashland fruit, with the Ashland foothill label on all produce, will be started this year.
In past years, growers have packed their own fruit before sending into the association. This year, expert packers will handle the packing, and fruit will be marketed in such a manner as to pass government inspection. This, it is promised, will result in growers getting better prices.
"Packing will be done at actual cost, and will relieve growers of bother and worry," declared Taylor. "No other district with the interests of the growers at heart attempts to pack in 50 or 100 different places."
By means of the new plan, selling in carload lots to growers who demand standard pack will be made possible, it is stated.
Jackson County News, May 21, 1926, page 1
[Talent orchardist Martin L. Pellett] made a record during the days when the box packing was a novelty in the fruit trade, which showed his sagacity and foresight, and through him the growers of the valley were shown the real value of their product.
"Funeral Sunday Martin Pellett, Pioneer Fruitman," Medford Mail Tribune, October 15, 1926, page 5
FRUIT WASHING MACHINES FOR VALLEY PLANTSFruit packing plants up and down the railroad tracks throughout the city are beginning to be busy places these days in preparation for the fast-approaching pear season, which will begin about August 10. While the hum of industry that comes with the packing of the fruit has not begun as yet, there is a great deal doing nevertheless. Machinery for washing and grading the fruit is being set up and installed. New sheds are being constructed, and additions are being put up on the old ones. Shook for boxes and paper is being unloaded, box makers are beginning work, and in fact there's something doing everywhere.
Will Meet British Tolerance Provision
With fruit washing machines being installed in practically every packing house throughout the county, local orchardists are equipping themselves to meet the spray residue problem, and preparing for the pear movement which begins the first week in August.
These machines, which wash the fruit in an acid solution, removing the arsenate spray, have attached dryers which dry the fruit in a few seconds and render it equal to the British tolerance, .01.
Among the 15 or more machines recently ordered by local growers were two improved models to be installed by L. A. Banks, orchardist and packer of Oregon and California. The first, which will arrive today and will be set up in one of his packing houses at the Suncrest Orchards, is the lately perfected Stebler machine, the first of its kind to be used in Southern Oregon. His other packing house will be equipped with the Bean washer and dryer, which has already found popularity among local growers.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 24, 1927, page 8
The preparation isn't all going on inside the packing plants, however. Railroad officials are also getting ready for the busy season. Hundreds of empty refrigerator cars are now parked along the side track ready to be brought into use when they are needed.
New $4,500 Addition.Sgobel & Day, under the management of C. C. Lemmon, have built an addition on their plant which will enable them to handle a much larger amount of fruit this season. The new addition is 46x104 feet and cost $4,500. Two Cook graders and one Cutler washer will be used.
Denny & Co. and the Growers Exchange, M. E. Root, manager, which is also one of the larger plants of the city, will operate two Bean washers, two remodeled Ideal graders, and one Cutler grader. Ample porch and floor space is one of the big assets of this house, as several thousand boxes of fruit can be stored while awaiting packing if the occasion warrants it.
The C&E Fruit Co. together with Steinhardt & Kelly is constructing a new platform on the front of their building on which to store boxes of fruit, and are adding new washing machinery and other equipment for handling their increasing business.
Firm To Pack 25,000 Boxes.Rosenberg Bros., who own and manage the Bear Creek Orchards south [of] Medford, are preparing to harvest one of the finest crops in the history of their orchard. They operate their own packing house on their farm and pack and market their own fruit. David Rosenberg estimates that they will pack about 25,000 boxes of Bartletts alone. The later varieties are also heavy and will run late in the fall. The cold storage rooms in connection with the plant are being improved so as to make it easier to handle more fruit in less time.
The Southern Oregon Sales, Inc. at the end of North Central Avenue is one of the largest packing establishments in the Rogue River Valley. They operate their own pre-cooling plant, and when the season is in full swing over two hundred men and women will be employed. Already about fifteen men are at work making boxes and setting things in order. Their washing machinery and graders are now set up and awaiting the coming of the fruit.
Installing New Machinery.The Stewart Fruit Co., managed by R. G. Bardwell, will operate four fruit washers and four graders of the latest improved kind. These are now being installed and will be all ready by the time the fruit is ready to pack. During the peak of the season about 200 people will be [at] work in this plant.
The American Fruitgrowers Inc. have their machinery all in place and are waiting for the fruit. They will operate the Stebbler-Parker washer of 2,500-box capacity per day. This washes by the submerging and jet spraying method.
One large washer with three times the capacity of the average machine will be used at the Edgell Packing Co.'s house. About 70 people will be employed here.
The Pinnacle Packing Co., owned by Reginald Parsons and managed by Raymond Reter and Frank Isaacs, will operate two Bean washers and two Floyd Cook graders. This concern does independent packing for the growers who may market their fruit any place they care to.
C. A. Knight Packing Co., South Fir, also does independent packing. Mr. Knight has just completed a new shed of modern construction, and it will be equipped with the newest in packing equipment for washing and grading. Packing is done at this plant for the Kimball Fruit Company also.
The Kauffman Packing House will have two Cook graders and one Stebbler-Parker washer installed. The large basement in this basement is one of its big assets. All of the box making and labeling is done there, making more space on the main floor for packing and sorting.
Simons, Shuttleworth & French Co., Guy W. Conner, representative, have established their offices on South Fir Street. Most of the company's fruit will be packed at Phoenix and Talent. This company is one of the largest exporting firms in the business, and they have marketed Southern Oregon products in Europe for several years.
L. A. Banks is installing washers and renovating his plant near Voorhies in preparation for packing there again this season. Mr. Banks is planning to handle a greater quantity of fruit than ever before and will ship several hundred cars.
Purchase Cold Storage Plant.E. J. C. Hearty & Co., who recently purchased the Medford Precooling and Storage Co. on South Front Street, are equipping their packing house with the latest machinery and are making ready to begin packing soon. They also handle an immense amount of fruit for houses not having precooling plants of their own.
The Medford Ice and Storage Company, where all the refrigerator cars are iced before being loaded, is also getting things into shape for the summer business. Additional men will soon be put on to ice the cars. The company operates equipment which makes it possible to ice 21 cars at the same time. This work continues day and night.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 31, 1927, page B3
Medford Pears Are Sorted--Yes!--But Not the Peaches
A Vivid Pen Sketch of What Started Today in the Local Packing Houses.
The long grading belts that revolve and hum along their circuitous route in the big packing houses of Medford, separating the "fancy" from the "extra fancy" pears, make no discrimination between the potential "peaches" and the "prunes" who stand along the sides and feed them all day long.
At 7 o'clock in the morning the great droves of unsorted femininity file in to take their places by the boxes of unsorted pears set upon their standards. The long grey belts are set in motion, and the day begins. All hands are gloved--and the sorting belts know not whether they are receiving from the milk-white mitts of a latent movie beauty or the toil-worn hands of an overworked housewife.
Side by side they stand. There is the blonde-haired flapper, whose proclivity for gold-digging makes her an unconsciously shrewd sorter. She recognizes at a glance the perfect from the imperfect, the possible from the impossible, the money-makers from the "flat tires." She is apt to be retained the following year if she wants to work.
Next to her is the buxom housewife whose mind is on the kiddies at home. She is anxious to make the money offered because it will buy "Johnnie" the things he needs for school. Her mind wanders. She has a vague notion that there isn't much difference between the pears, anyway, but is willing to separate them as best she can.
And Grandma, Too.Then there is the grandmother, who grasps the big pears and scans them with the shrewd appraisal of a veteran shopper. There is no mistaking values with her. She is a good worker, but the sharpness of her retorts when disturbed by her neighbors sometimes makes her unpopular with the cuties.
The carefree high school girl, who is getting a thrill out of earning her first money, has a hard time keeping in step. Part of the time she works like fury, and then slows up and dreams. But the whole gang likes her.
Most of the workers work because they actually need the money, according to the local fruit men. Packing houses pay more than the average unskilled laborer can get anywhere else, and demands come from various sections of the country for jobs here during the summer season.
There is a large sprinkling of coeds from the Oregon, Washington and California colleges who make their pilgrimages here as soon as school is out in search of the work that will guarantee them expenses for the following term. College girls, according to the owners, are usually pretty good workers, and pleasant working companions. They are old enough to be serious and young enough to have the desired amount of pep and endurance.
Make $10 a Day.Envied of all are the packers whose cleverness and skill have graduated them from the sorting class. They get paid by the box, and many of them make as high as $10 a day. The simultaneous action of grasping wrappers in one hand and a pear in the other, wrapping, setting the wrapped pear in its proper place in the box, is a lightning process which makes the observer dizzy to behold. One is almost tempted to beg for a slow action on the method to analyze the full magic of the process. But try and make those $10 ladies slow up!
Medford Mail Tribune, August 16, 1927, page 10
Plan School for Fruit Packers at Medford, Ore.Medford, Ore., Nov. 25.--Following a request of the Fruit Growers' League, the Rogue River Valley Traffic Association is perfecting plans to conduct a fruit packing school in Medford sometime prior to the opening of the fruit season next year. It is the plan of the local association to conduct a course which will make proficient packers out of those who attend, with a view to meeting the demand for expert packers.
There was, according to C. T. Baker, secretary of the traffic association, a shortage of proficient local packers the past season, and it is to meet the demand of packing houses here that the school will be conducted.
The Chicago Packer, November 26, 1927, page 5
DEDUCTIONS FROM INVESTIGATIONSThe Chicago Packer, September 12, 1931, page 19
ON HANDLING OF PEARS
Work of Medford Winter Pear Committee in Connection with Protective Materials for Use in Handling Pears, Discussed by Henry Hartman--Results in Detail.
Medford, Ore., Sept. 11--Results of investigations and experiments in connection with the use of protective materials in packing and handling pears are discussed by Henry Hartman as follows:
----To gain more information on the use of protective materials for pears, an experiment was conducted during the 1930-31 season. As a phase of this experiment test, boxes were prepared using the various pads and collars then in general use. To eliminate error as far as possible, the fruit for each series of boxes was taken from the same bin, was all packed by one packer and all the boxes were shipped together in the same car. Upon arrival in New York City, the test boxes were all stored together, and toward the end of the season the fruit was carefully examined. A second phase of this experiment involved the use of cotton, moss, Vermiculite and other materials.
Obviously, the results of this experiment cannot be accepted as the final word regarding pads, collars, and other protective materials for pears. The results thus far obtained, however, at least indicate certain trends and should be of interest. A brief summary of the results follows:
(1) In the case of varieties such as Anjou and Comice, packing injury is largely the result of friction and rubbing. Injury from pressure also occurs, but this is secondary in importance. It is clear, therefore, that the tightness of the pack and the rigidity of the package are important factors in the prevention of packing injury.
(2) There is a definite relationship between packing injury and the length of time the fruit has been in storage. Anjou pears removed after two or three months of storage usually show only a small amount of injury. The same fruit held in storage for five or six months, however, may develop severe packing injury.
(3) Packing injury is confined largely to the fruit that comes into contact with the package itself. Attention must be directed, therefore, to the protection of the fruit at the sides, the ends, the top and the bottom.
(4) To protect the fruit that comes into contact with the package itself, a certain amount of padding or cushioning is necessary. It is apparent, however, that the cushioning material must be such that it retains its springiness throughout the transit and storage periods, and that it is free from lumps or ridges. Materials that break down as they become damp in storage are unsatisfactory.
(5) To insure against cutting at the edges the collars must extend above the edges of the box, and they must be made of substantial material. Beveling at the edges of the box at the sides and ends also aids in the elimination of cutting. The crown method of packing wherein the fruit is high at the center and comparatively low at the edges also afford protection against this form of injury.
(6) Under the conditions of this experiment, pads and collars made of corrugated paper board caused more or less marking and discoloration in the case of Anjou and Comice. They appeared to be satisfactory for varieties such as Bartlett and Bosc.
(7) Excelsior pads and collars, whether made of wood or paper excelsior, caused some injury to tender varieties and lacked in attractiveness.
(8) Full-depth chipboard collars, when made of fairly heavy material, afforded excellent protection at the edges and imparted an attractive appearance to the package. Due to lack of cushioning, however, these collars resulted in some pressure bruising. Chipboard pads were attractive in appearance, but did not afford sufficient protection.
(9) Pads and collars made of crepe paper covered with paraffined paper proved to be quite satisfactory. Pressure and friction bruises were largely eliminated when these were used.
(10) Pads made of cotton proved to be satisfactory, but may be impractical because of cost.
(11) Individual specimens wrapped in cotton carried to destination in excellent condition and kept well in storage.
(12) Anjou and Comice packed in Oregon moss carried nicely and kept well in storage but acquired a disagreeable taste and odor.
(13) Pears packed in spruce sawdust kept unusually well. The insulation properties of this material apparently afforded protection during the transit period. The method of packing pears in sawdust, however, appears to be of no practical value at this time.
(14) Pears packed in Vermiculite kept fairly well, but this material seems to offer no special advantages.
Handling Perishable Fruit Traffic
From the Rogue River Valley
By A. S. Rosenbaum, District Freight and Passenger Agent, Southern Pacific Co.
When the discriminating housewife who lives in a Midwest or eastern city tells her grocer or market clerk that she wants a "dozen of those fine-looking pears," does she ask where the fruit is from and then voice surprise that it could be shipped that distance from Oregon and still be "fine looking"?
It's likely that she does not. Probably she takes it for granted, just as do millions of other persons throughout the nation, that her favorite fruit will be right there in the market when she wants it. Perhaps she little realizes how the perfection of a complicated phase of rail transportation has influenced her buying and eating habits.
Yet it has been only through the process of refrigeration in rail service that the nationwide distribution of perishable products has become possible, which in turn has helped to develop in Oregon and other Pacific coast states the orchards and vegetable acreage that serve the far corners of our country.
The present high standard of rail refrigeration service is comparatively recent in its creation and is under constant improvement. It was, however, nearly simultaneous with the planting of the first commercial pear orchard in the Rogue River Valley during 1885-86, that fruit was successfully shipped under refrigeration for the first time from the Pacific Coast to eastern markets.
These first "fruit cars" were little more than ordinary freight boxcars. Blocks of ice had to be piled in each end of the car before the fruit was loaded. There was no insulation of the car, nor was there any provision for re-icing the cars en route. Crude and impractical as this method now seems, these cars were the forerunners of the modern Pacific Fruit Express "reefer."
Unfortunately, we can find no record of just when the first carload of fruit was shipped from the Rogue River Valley. Most likely it was a shipment to Portland probably made in the early '90s [It was in 1884.] as soon as the first commercial orchards came into bearing. There were, of course, many earlier less-than-carload shipments. Some of the fruit was shipped by express to the eastern markets at that early date.
By the turn of the century the rail refrigerator cars had been developed sufficiently to ensure protection of the fruit on the long transcontinental trip, and the Rogue River Valley shipments gradually began to assume greater proportions in this traffic as the acreage and production increased from year to year.
During the past ten years, for which records are available, the peak in carload shipments was reached in 1930, when 4519 carloads of fruit were shipped from ten concentration points in the Rogue River Valley. Of this amount, 3723 carloads were shipped from Medford. Phoenix was second with 354 carloads. Of this total for the valley there were 3933 acres of pears, 617 cars of apples, 19 cars of other deciduous fruits and 50 cars of miscellaneous perishables.
The train schedules for handling perishable shipments from this valley are not available prior to 1920, when the government returned the railroads to private operation. In that year the schedules from the Rogue River Valley provided delivery at Chicago in time for the ninth-day market and 13th-day at New York. Since that time service has been constantly improved and schedules shortened until at the present time shipments arrive in Chicago for seventh-day action and tenth-day at New York and other Atlantic Seaboard markets.
All rail shipments out of the valley are transported in Pacific Fruit Express equipment. That company was organized in 1906 by the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific companies. When the Pacific Fruit Express started operations in October 1907, it owned 6600 cars and during its first year handled 48,903 carloads of perishable traffic. Today it has more than 40,000 cars equipped for freight service, and in 1934 handled 322,523 carloads of perishable and semi-perishable commodities.
The Pacific Fruit Express company stands today as the largest operator of refrigerator cars in the world. At Roseville, California, where the majority of shipments from Pacific Coast points are re-iced and assembled into solid fruit trains for the transcontinental trip, the P.F.E. has constructed the world's largest ice manufacturing plant, with a daily production capacity of 1300 tons and storage space for 52,606 tons of ice.
Icing service of P.F.E. cars in the Rogue River valley are performed by commercial ice companies under contracts. At Medford, where most of the cars moving under refrigeration are iced, the work is done by the Medford Ice and Storage company, whose facilities consist of a plant with 110 tons daily manufacturing capacity, 19,350 tons storage, and platform that will accommodate 51 cars at a time. This platform was originally built to handle seven cars. In 1915 it was expanded to take care of 21 cars, and in 1929 built to its present size. The original ice storage capacity of 8,750 tons was also extended in 1929.
At Grants Pass such icing service as is required is done over a two-car single icing platform, from an ice plant of eight tons daily manufacturing capacity and 100 tons storage. Facilities at Ashland, consisting of an eight-car single icing platform, 18 tons daily capacity and 1,200 tons storage, have not been used to any extent in recent years, as it has been found more expeditious to perform the icing services at Medford.
Perishable commodities moving by rail to distant market require diversion and reconsignment far more than any other kind of freight. Also it is essential that shippers and consignees be promptly and properly informed as to the location of their shipments in order that they may take full advantage of the best possible markets. Through its scores of agents in the United States and Canada, the P.F.E. performs this service most completely. It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of all cars of perishables from the Pacific Coast territory are changed in some manner between point of origin and final destinations. With the improvements in telegraph during recent years, particularly the perfection of the teletype, the P.F.E. has developed its diversion and passing advice service to a high point of efficiency.
Indicating the magnitude of this service, the P.F.E. offices during the past five years have handled more than four million diversions, an average of 800,000 a year. When the Rogue River Valley fruit is moving in volume, the rail company has stationed an experienced diversion clerk at Medford to ensure the most expedited handling of shippers' diversion orders.--Pearoscope.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 29, 1935, page 9
"A packer is the most even-tempered animal in the world--he's always mad."
Those words of wisdom, uttered years ago by an irate packing boss, are still true today. Why is he mad? There are millions of direct reasons, as any dyed-in-the-wool packer will promptly tell you, but the underlying reason is just plain nerve fatigue.
The professional fruit packer, whose numbers are diminishing yearly, leads a hard life. He has no home, seldom living in one locality more than six or eight weeks. He has little or no time for recreation, as fruit is perishable and must be packed as quickly as possible. He lives continuously from one "peak" to another.
He arrives in Medford (Hood River uses mostly local packers) just in time for the rush of the pear harvest. By the time the peak has passed and the fruit starts coming in more slowly it is time for the apples in Washington. They last until Thanksgiving, when he hurries south to pack navel oranges are Lindsey, California.
Spring, summer, fall and winter? There are no standard seasons for the tramp packer. He lives from crop to crop. It is either apple season in Washington, pear season in Oregon, oranges in either Northern or Southern California, early apples in California, etc. And always hurry, hurry, hurry.
But most of his nerve fatigue comes from the actual work itself. The average fast packer (and most tramps are fast or they couldn't afford to stay in the game) wraps and packs on an average of from forty to fifty individual fruits a minute. Try moving your arms at that tempo continuously for even an hour!
The packer maintains that speed for ten or twelve hours a day, often working on Sundays. People weren't meant to stand in one place, hour after hour, moving only their hands and arms. Thus the packer is working on his nerves, crowding himself. As a result the least little thing causes a spark and he blows his top.
He's "mad" because he is placed following a cowboy, as a beginner or slow packer is called. Or else he's mad because he follows another fast packer and the guy following the cowboy gets [a] packer following him [who] is a fruit hog and packs him out of fruit.
He gets mad if the fruit comes too fast and snows him under, and he gets mad if it doesn't come fast enough so that he can keep busy. He gets mad if the fruit runs mostly to the small sizes (but there is still to be a first time for him to get mad because it runs large). In fact, there is very little he doesn't get mad about.
But unless he becomes angry enough to "pull his needle," which means removing his needle from the paper tray preparatory to quitting, a good packer never lets his temper slow him down. He feels a personal responsibility for the fruit in his tubs or bins and takes pride in keeping them packed down.
It may be that the process of getting "mad" is a means of releasing the pressure which accumulates from driving himself at top speed. He has to keep his muscles relaxed--tenseness would cause him to fumble and thus slow down.
Watch a good packer at work. His movements are fluid. Standing with the right foot advanced and leaning slightly forward so that he appears to be hovering over the box, he makes every move count. The fruit is thrown from the right hand to the left, followed by the hand itself so quickly it seems one movement.
Wrapping is done with such rapidity a layman doesn't notice the tiny twist of the wrist which locks the paper firmly around the fruit. Then, as the left hand places the fruit in the box and grabs another wrapper, the right hand reaches for another pear, etc.
There is a steady rhythm to the swish of the paper--a great many packers hum or sing while working, maintaining it keeps them relaxed as well as increases their speed. Actually, unless a person possesses both rhythm and perfect coordination between eyes and hands, he should never attempt to become a packer.
In [the] late 'twenties and early 'thirties, when work was plentiful, it was difficult for fruit men to find enough skilled packers. Then the Betz Company was formed. They were purely labor contractors. For a flat fee they would contract to furnish all the packing house labor: packers, sorters, roustabouts, etc.
To hold packers, Betz paid transportation to the northern jobs, kept his packers busy about eleven months of the year, and paid a cent a box more than the going rate. He demanded a premium pack, and to be known as a Betz packer was the best recommendation of a packer's skill that could be given.
Then came the depression. With many hundreds of home folks out of work, agitation started against hiring outside help to harvest the fruit. In vain did the packers explain that they had spent years perfecting their trade. Packing schools sprung up in most communities, and the rudiments of packing were taught to ambitious housewives.
In the face of such open hostility a large share of the transients gave up traveling and settled down. But home talent will never reach the high stage of proficiency the tramps had--they work such a short time out of the year. By the time they get well broken in the season is over.
However, they have one thing in common with their traveling brothers--they too are "always mad."
Ruth Powell JolleyCentral Point American, August 19, 1948, page 3
312 Ranch, Richardson Hwy.
Veteran Packers Reflect on Fruit Processing Changes
By MARY ALICE BRUSHA
The Rogue Valley's oldest industry is the pear harvest, and the multitude of workers employed in this crop annually are the packing house employees. Some of the veteran workers are still around and still working. Others are retired. Within the thirteen local plants are found packers who remember their beginning days.
Clarence Pankey, now retired, spent 55 years in the pear industry and started as a packer at Central Point in 1908. He recalls the early days with a chuckle.
"The weight of each box was a flat 52 pounds. The packer sorted, sized and packed the fruit. After a packer had packed 50 boxes he had to go home for the day." Pankey moved from the packing bench that paid four cents a box to the lidding job. He later went to work for Raymond Reter, where he was employed as a packing foreman. He was promoted to packing superintendent, a job he held until his retirement from the Reter Fruit Company several years ago.
Walked to Work
Ray Reter said he first became involved with the pear business when a lad of 16 years. He walked to and from work until he could save enough money to buy himself a bicycle. He didn't have to dodge the cars in those days, just the holes in the graveled road, and had to stay out of the way of wagon teams and horses. The lady packers were transported to and from work either in wagons or surreys.
Bob Root of the Myron Root Company began his packing career under the supervision of Pankey. It seems he was left in the foot bin, size 195's, until he learned how to pack. A week before school started he was moved up one into the 180's.
Fannie Whitman, recalling the pioneer days, said the packing season was of longer duration. It began in August, lasting into January. The packer had no paper needle to hold the paper in place then. The loose paper was placed on the left side of the packer. For finger stalls, the packer wore a rubber band around her thumb. The pack was different from the pack today. The first layer was packed in one direction and the next layer reversed. The packing hours were long. At five cents a box her biggest day was $5.50.
At Southern Oregon Sales
Mrs. Velma Singler, who was employed for 35 years with Southern Oregon Sales, says she believes the only two places in the packing house she hasn't filled are at the dumping and lidding machines.
She clearly remembers the first packing benches she used. The benches were not movable. When the packer moved up the belt she had to pick up her box and move onto the next bench. The fruit was brought to the packer on a wide belt. The packer sized her own fruit for packing.
Velma was employed for many years as an instructor at the local packing school. She thinks there have been some 2,200 students taught how to pack at the school since it was first started 25 years ago. Like Pankey, Velma has retired from the industry. She says she enjoyed every minute of it. Students in high school and college have been able to earn money which enabled them to help with the expenses of their education. Young housewives helped meet household needs with their paychecks from the pear harvest.
Florence Drake of Phoenix said she learned to pack in an orchard packing house minus.all the modern conveniences. In 1921 she was hired by the Bear Creek Orchards and continued to pack there for 27 years. She says the sizing in those early days was the problem. A packer had to be almost an artist in order to work. It was nothing to see several unfinished boxes sitting around on the floor with only one layer in the box. The packer packed a few pears in one then the other. Only the exact size could be used in each individual box because of the weight required by the management.
The spray dope was wiped from the pears with the gloves worn by the sorters. After packing, the gloves were washed by the men and hung up to dry for use again the following day. The hours were long, 12 through the week; five on Saturday, and during the peak of the season all day Sunday.
At Rogue River
The present packing supervisor for the Rogue River Orchards is Mrs. Jess (Vera) Cummings. She has been an employee of the company for 23 years. Beginning as a packer, she worked for Elmer Adams, who retired a few years ago. She has never packed for any other shipper, and is [as] of this date the oldest employee.
Lloyd Caton, the packing superintendent for the Myron Root Company, began his employment with the firm back in 1933 as a packer. In 1937 he was hired on a permanent basis. His promotion to superintendent soon followed. Once there were three generations of one family packing for the company in the same season. Nora Baker and Ethel Hockersmith were two of the original packers. Both have since retired from packing.
In 1936 the Myron Root Company purchased a sizing machine from the Food Machinery Company. That machine is still in use at the plant. Other than the addition of new tubs and a few minor repairs, it is the same.
The first sizing machine brought to the valley was in 1917. It was set up for the Parsons and Barwell Fruit Company and was manufactured by the Cutler Manufacturing Company of Portland. This particular type of machine was devised for apples, and according to Raymond Reter it wasn't successful in sizing pears. The Cutler machine sized by weight.
The first successful divergent sizer was brought to the valley in 1928 and was devised by Floyd (Cookie) Cook.
Happy day for the packers--no more picking, waiting for the correct size. The only worry after that was the weight of the box after it was packed.
Jim Semple, packing superintendent for the Nye and Naumes Company, was once a packer himself. He began at the Newbry company in 1938. A student in high school at that time, most of his earnings went towards his education. After a few years as fruit inspector for the state, Jim was hired by the Nye and Naumes Company. Jim believes that Mrs. Dora Blanchett, a packer, has been with the firm longer than any of the other employees.
However, the packing foreman Manuel (Red) Liebman of that company is one of the veteran packers of the valley pear industry.
Mrs. Mabel Penland, the packing superintendent for the Modoc Orchards, is also a former packer. However, she began packing in California in the apples and oranges in 1929. For over 20 years she has been with the firm. She is also the supervisor for the local pear packing school. Marjorie Pearson has the record for the longest time in the packing operations at Modoc.
George Anderson, superintendent for the Gorden Green Company, said their veteran packers are A. C. Puckett and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Rasmussen. The plant, formerly known as Stagecoach Orchards, is now in operation in the old Modoc packing house on Fir St.
This is not a complete list of all the packers from the pioneer days of the industry, only a few, but of the hundreds of persons employed in the pear harvest all seem to have a certain project in mind [sic]. The wages earned by the housewives, high school and college students are spent right here in the valley.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 3, 1963, page 6
Who Were Transient Packers? Many Now Live in Medford
By MARY ALICE BRUSHA
Mail Tribune Correspondent
Who were the transient fruit packers, and what lay behind the giant migration of people who took to the road back in the 1920s?
One of these people whose numbers are dwindling rapidly is Bertha Hayman, Talent. She has completed over 50 years of packing up and down the Pacific Coast. She has packed oranges at Porterville and Redlands, Calif., and pears in Southern Oregon, Courtland, Lake County and Walnut Creek, Calif.
She started packing in 1913. Then they didn't have graders. The crew packed out of lug boxes. Then the fruit was dumped into square canvas bins and was sized and packed out of that. Later sorters were hired to pick out culls. The mechanical graders came about the middle '20s.
Mis Hayman has had the same tiny cottage each year she has returned to work for the Apple Growers Association at Odell near Hood River. She has continued to pack all these years because she likes the people, she said.
The depression started most transient packers in their careers. It was in 1929 when the vast immigration to the fruit and vegetable industry began.
Before then the bulk of the transient packers were men. These were found mostly in the melon industry, such as cantaloupes and honeydew that were packed in California, Arizona and Colorado. According to a former melon packer living here in Medford, there is more money in the melon packing industry than in any of the others. But for a newcomer to break into this field, his chances are practically nil. These jobs are handed down from father to son. Sort of an inheritance.
Many of the unemployed were able to find work in the packing houses during the early years of the depression. Since no two kinds of fruit or vegetables are packed alike, packing is a skilled type of employment. It requires a lot of patience and hard work. In those days each piece of fruit was individually wrapped in paper; no sloppy packs were acceptable. Each box was carefully inspected as to grade and pack. The most successful packer was the speed ball, who was constantly in demand. Some of the packing-house foremen were paid the exact wages as the high packer.
It was nothing to see a packer from Washington packing tomatoes in Florida, or someone from Florida packing apples in Washington or Virginia. From the lower Rio Grande Valley the migrant packer spread out and covered the entire country from coast to coast. He followed the harvest, which may be apples, pears, apricots, peaches, citrus or vegetables. Some of the packers took their living quarters along, pulling house trailers; others accepted the quarters supplied by the employers.
War Brought End.Throughout the years of the depression the number of migrant packers increased. But when World War II began the packers seemed to disappear from the road as fast as they had come. Where once there had been such a surplus of packers, there was now a tremendous shortage. The shippers were now faced with the problem of looking for other methods and means to process their crops. For a time anyone who could pack at all was acceptable.
With the addition of transportation shortages (box cars) the worries of the growers increased. The citrus fruits had for some time been packed in wire-bound boxes, none of the fruit was wrapped, and [it] had reached the far-away markets in good condition. What could prevent many of the other fruits and vegetables from being shipped in a similar manner?
Probably the greatest boom to the growers and shippers was the new means of refrigeration now furnished by the railroad and the fast trucking service. The growers today don't have to hold their breath and pray their commodity will reach its destination in good condition. The bulk form of shipping has improved, also. It can be carried out with little or no loss at all. The tomato, which once was believed to be so delicate, can now be shipped successfully thousands of miles in the bulk form.
Since the last war relatively few transient packers are found in the country. The packers leaving the Rogue Valley are persons like Miss Hayman, packers that have for years gone back to their old jobs.
RelocatedThe majority of the former transient packers have returned to their places of employment they held before the depression, or they have relocated on other projects. Most of the college students, who for a time had to follow the road, have either been able to finish their education, or they have found gainful employment in fields of their own choosing.
Packers in this area seldom migrate any farther than to Washington for apples, or to California for pears and the citrus. Needless to say, none of these packers have packed any longer than Miss Hayman.
Here in the valley are a considerable number of both men and women who once traveled with this great fruit and vegetable industry. Some are native Oregonians; others are people that came here and have made the valley their permanent home.
Many of the former transient packers have happy and humorous stories to tell. Some remember the heartaches. But they all seem to have one thing in common with the growers, on the road or off, that is, the desire for favorable weather and a good market for the produce.
They all agree they were able to see and visit places that otherwise they would have never seen. Many made friends with which they still correspond.
Would Not ReturnOne of the local packers when asked if he could consider returning to the road replied, "Oh, no sir-ee. My wife and I had 15 years of that, from Medford to the Eastern Seaboard. Our children had to be left with my parents in order to attend school. All we made was a living. There was no security. The only thing I learned was the value of the dollar."
Another said, "Yes, I would readily go. The only thing that bothers me is my age. Sure there were times when the road was no bed of roses. But I enjoyed meeting new people. The road was a challenge, especially when the next move meant a new place. Really I would love to visit all the people I once worked with."
Many changes have come to the shippers of fruits and vegetables throughout the country. All have been improvements, most of which have been necessary. A product that is perishable has to be harvested at harvest time in the quickest way possible. There is still a great number of people here annually employed in the packing and processing of the pear industry. And with the harvest come some of the transient packers from Washington and California. But the number is comparatively small, remembering the depression days.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 3, 1964, page 7
Pears New Thing for Veteran Packer
By MARY ALICE BRUSHA
Mail Tribune Correspondent
When Tom Escamilla wrapped up his last box of pears for the season at the Gordon Green Company on South Fir Street, he was wrapping up exactly to the day a career of 40 years as a fruit packer.
From coast to coast this soft-spoken man of Spanish descent, a native of Texas, has traveled, packing tomatoes, citrus, melons, peaches, lettuce and green vegetables. But in all the years he has packed, when the pears were ready in Oregon he was already packing in another district.
In July he was packing grapefruit at Indio, Calif. for the Betz Packing Company. Bill Lamon, packing boss at the Green plant here, is the superintendent at the Indio packing house. Bill asked Tom to come to Medford to pack pears.
Tom believed that since he had packed a bit of everything else, he might as well try pears.
Tom's first day: The tubs at Green's are the big double type. Tom has packed off belts and out of bins, tubs and nearly everything known to the veteran fruit packer. But he's never seen tubs like these.
The rotation was far different from any method he had ever worked. The packers moved ahead every 15 minutes. Instead of following the packer directly in front of him, he was told to follow the packer across the machine, in a zigzag fashion. The packers on the front side of the machine were given preference over the packers on the back side.
"Always count the number of packers on the front side, then count the packers on the back. If you are number four on the back side, follow number four on the front. If you are number four on the front side follow number three on the back," he was told.
Sound confusing? It was for Tom. When he wasn't being told to "get out" he was being told to "move up." It was coming from all directions.
Before he quite savvied the rotation problem, he was informed that pears are packed by weight. He no more than got a box on the conveyor than it seemed he had another box coming back, either too light or too heavy. But with Bill's help, the box was repacked and was on its way back to the scales.
After a couple of days and a few hundred boxes later, Tom fully believed he had mastered the art of packing pears, even the rotation and weight problems.
Tom's only handicap at the packing house was the grading machine. It was set up to accommodate packers that pull the paper with their left hand and place the fruit in the box with the same hand. Tom pulls paper with his right hand and likewise places the fruit in the box with his right.
Not only does the fruit fall in the bins backwards to him, the conveyor overhead that brings the packing boxes and packing paper is also in reverse.
He was continually glancing over his shoulder looking for the paper. The packers nearest him sensed his difficulty. When he paper was near they would tell him.
He had little trouble with the D'Anjous, Comice or the Seckels. When the Bosc were ready so was Tom, he thought. Until he hit the fancy section (number twos). The foot tub filled to capacity, little brown and green pears, some completely round, others like gourds with necks three and four inches long.
Tom looked up at Bill in wide-eyed dismay. "What do I do with these?" he laughed.
"Your best," Bill answered.
His best in the Bosc was good enough for the man on the scales and the inspector. Before leaving, Tom told George Anderson, superintendent, and Gordon Green he hoped to be able to come back next year.
His next job is at Patterson, Calif., packing pink tomatoes. After that he will go to Pompano, Fla., for another pink tomato deal. In the spring he'll return to Indio for the grapefruit.
Tom is a veteran of World War II. The time he spent in the United States Army overseas was the only time he has been off the road. He is married and in between jobs lives at Monterey, Calif. with his family. He is the father of three grown children, a son and two daughters.
"It's always great to get back home," Tom said.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1965, page 7
78-Year-Old Lady Still Sorts PearsThirty-nine years ago, Mrs. Catherine Jay was hired by Frank (Pug) Isaacs to sort pears for one of the local packing companies.
By MARY ALICE BRUSHA
Mail Tribune Correspondent
Superintendent of the company then was Ray Reter. The foreman was Clarence Pankey. Maggie Ping was sorting boss. The year was 1926.
Two years later, Reter acquired ownership of the company, and Mrs. Jay, or "Mom Jay," as she is affectionately called, was kept on, as were all the other employees.
This pear season, Mrs. Jay was found still at the Reter Fruit Company, seated next to the head sorter on the first machine. At the age of 78, she was still smiling, and just as chipper and alert as the first day she went to work. Although her work is somewhat easier now than in the early days, sorting pears is no child's play.
In recalling those first days, she says, the pears were placed in field boxes by the sorters. They wiped the fruit with their gloves and carefully placed it on a conveyor made of wooden rollers. The pears were carried into the washer, where they were washed, and then moved out on belts and taken to the packing bins. The hours were extremely long through the peak of the harvest. There were a lot of 10-hour days, and many nights the workers returned after supper to work until midnight, sometimes all day on Sunday.
Mrs. Jay was paid 25 cents an hour those first years.
During the last world war, she and a daughter took a full-time day job with the Kay Lithographing Company here. Through pear season, they filled in at night for the Myron Root Company. Saturdays they sorted pears at Reter's.
Children All GrownShe is the mother of three children, all grown, a son and daughter here and a daughter at Bend. She has four grandchildren, one grandson now attending the University of San Francisco. Her bright blue eyes sparkle with admiration as she talks about her family. She says she is never happier than when they drop in unexpectedly for a visit or to take her for a ride.
Much to her family's disappointment, she lives alone in apartment at 435 South Grape St. The location is ideal for her, as it is within walking distance of the packing house and she can go home for lunch. She seems to radiate with untiring energy, spending many of her off-work hours preparing tasty favorite dishes for her co-workers when they go home with her at noon.
"I actually look forward to each pear season," Mrs. Jay remarked. "There are some of us who don't see one another from season to season. It's quite exciting to hear about the new babies, the children's accomplishments, hubby's promotion and all the many other developments related to the family and home. It usually takes about a week for us to renew old acquaintances and to meet the new employees.
"The packing house at Reter's is as modern and convenient as a person could want. The working hours are shorter. This season, we had all nine-hour days. The pay is considerably higher; sorters receive $1.53 an hour. Now, we can either stand up and sort or sit down. In the early days, we stood up all through the season.
"The management, in my opinion, is unbeatable. Phil McCormick, our superintendent, and Mrs. Walter Jensen, the floor lady, are the most patient people. Regardless of all the mistakes we make, they are always willing to help us correct them. There's never a harsh word from either of them.
"Ray Reter knows all the regular employees by name. It's always a big cheery greeting. 'Hi-yah Joe,' Bob, Mary or whatever your name may be. He takes time to inquire about our welfare and members of our family. He makes a person feel like he is really important to the company. There's not another man like him," Mrs. Jay said.
Besides her family and work, she has other interests. On Sunday mornings, she is always found at the 6 o'clock mass at Sacred Heart Church.
After each packing season she takes a vacation, sometimes to relatives in Arkansas and Illinois. Idleness holds no fascination for Mrs. Jay, and this year when she returns from her visit she plans to take a job, babysitting.
As for packing pears [as opposed to sorting], Mrs. Jay says she had never tried it, but this season when she heard of some of the wages packers were making, she kind of wished she had. Cynthia Wooten at Reter's in nine hours packed 255 boxes. Norman Bursing at the Nye and Naumes packing house packed 250, also in nine. At the Myron Root company, the entire crew averaged 200 boxes a day for two consecutive days in 10-hour days. All of the packers are local. They were paid 18 to 18½ cents a box.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1965, page 7
Associated Packing Company Becomes Local Institution
By MARY ALICE BRUSHA
PHOENIX--For the past 16 years, M. C. Winn, superintendent of the Associated Fruit Company at Phoenix, has heard packer after packer make this declaration, "This is my last season. I won't be back next year!"
But when the registration cards for employment are returned, the same packers are usually the very first to get their cards in the mail, stating that they will be at work the day the packing house starts.
Winn has been involved with the pear industry since 1933. He's listened to about all of the pet peeves and complaints of the packing house employees. Apparently they all have one thing in common. "They want to be kept busy," he remarked.
"Take the floor help and the sorters," he pointed out. "They like to get in all the time they can; these workers are paid by the hour. But packers are paid by the box, and they want to get all the pears they can pack."
All Local People"With the exception of two, all our packers here are local people. And the majority of these are housewives, and through the harvest they still have their responsibilities at home. The women with smaller children pay from two to six dollars a day for babysitters," he said.
"Since packing is all piecework, it's clearly understandable why packers don't like to stand around. However, there are times when this can't be helped, such as occasional bad fruit lots and machinery breakdowns," Winn explained.
This past season at Associated, the working hours were 8½ [per day] for five consecutive weeks; the remainder of the time was eight-hour days. In former years the plant worked mostly nine-hour days.
Packing ForemanPacking foreman at the plant is Ray Zemke, Phoenix. At the peak of the season approximately 140 persons are employed. Forty-two are packers. It is interesting to note that several of these packers this year had a count of over 200 boxes day after day.
Like so many of the Rogue Valley fruit men, Winn believes a packer gears himself to a speed to the hours he is required to work. For instance, on a 10-hour job, the packer will work at a slower pace to stay on the job all the time.
However, Winn said, he has found that with full bins all day long the average packer will accomplish as much in eight hours as he will in 10.
"This applies to all age groups," he emphasized.
The packing house at Phoenix is one of the oldest packing houses in the valley still in operation. It was started in 1925 and finished in 1927 by Bert Stancliff, Phoenix. It gives the effect of a two-story structure, since the covered balcony at the east end was added to afford adequate space for loading and unloading trucks.
When Winn came to the plant in 1949, the packers, all 15 of them, were packing out of wooden stationary bins. The bottoms had been carefully fashioned from chicken wire and padded with burlap and canvas. The very first improvement he made was to build and install the now existing revolving packing tubs.
Since then numerous minor improvements have been added, including a restaurant, where breakfast, lunch and snacks at break time can be purchased at reasonable prices.
Little TurnoverThere doesn't appear to be too much of a labor turnover at Associated. Most of the employees return year after year. In fact, three of the packers at the plant when Winn came are still there, Gladys Harris, Emma Roberts and Bertha Hanscom.
It has been evident for some time by the increased acreage and volume of production that more space is needed. In 1952 a new storage building was built directly across the street from the packing house. And in 1956 more space was added, bringing the present storage space up to 125,000 boxes.
If the tentative plans of the Associated Fruit Company are carried out, a new packing house will be built. The structure will be of the very latest in design, completely modern, equipped with all the conveniences and machinery needed and necessary to make for the best working conditions.
Winn has recently returned from a trip north, visiting the major packing districts of apples and pears. He wanted to see if Associated had overlooked any feature that might be of any value to the new plant they are planning.
Traveling on a tight schedule, he explained that he did not have time to investigate the housing accommodations of the harvest workers in the areas he visited. But he did learn that the packers in Washington and at Hood River packed for less wages than they are paid here. They actually get three to five cents less.
"I can't understand why a packer is in a hurry to run off to a wage like that," Winn said.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 4, 1966, page 11
Last revised October 22, 2019