What is the gross yield from these trees? Like wheat, or any other staple crop, the average per acre is very much less than one would expect.
There are often such heavy losses from late frosts, drought, insect pests, and fungoid diseases that only a person of more than ordinary intelligence can successfully manage large orchard interests. The average orchard, like the average farm, just about makes a fair living for an industrious man. That this is true can be easily shown by the following figures, and deductions from them:
Orchard and Vineyard Products in 1891.
|Total shipment, in pounds||386,972,884|
It requires not less than 600,000,000 pounds of fresh fruits, besides the nuts, to produce the above results. In round figures, then, 600,000,000 pounds represent the fruit surplus of the State, in the departments of deciduous fruits, citrus fruits, raisins, and table grapes. In addition there was a surplus of
|Olive oil (eases)||12,088|
Now, there are in California about 500,000 acres of the trees and vines which produce these 600,000,000 pounds of fresh fruit. That is 1,200 pounds to the acre, worth in the orchard from twelve to forty dollars, the average gross value of the crop from an acre of fruit. Of course, many of the trees are not yet in bearing, and some fruit-growers will always have far better returns than this. But the above average is very significant. It shows plainly that the industry can not exist upon a lower average price than one cent a pound for fruit in the orchard. But if the present orchards were in full bearing there might come an especially favorable season which would give a total, even without further planting, of fully 1,500,000,000 pounds. If there are 50,000 acres planted every year, and the old orchards are kept up, the present acreage will be doubled by 1901.
But, to show what has been done under favorable circumstances, I give the following statement of the yield of a 700 acre San Joaquin Valley irrigated orchard in 1890: