Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/508

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494
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

rattoons give the best fruit, and there is a steady degeneration with succeeding rattoons. The limit of profitable yield for a plantation varies especially with the soil. But the maximum for deep and moist banana lands may be said to be about ten years. Then the ground must be cleared and a new culture begun with fresh sets. Very little is done in rotation of crops, and the soil has as yet received little fertilization except such as results from the decay of the old, plants.

It is not alone on the great estates, nor even chiefly on them, that our enormous supplies of fruit are being produced. Scattered

PSM V44 D508 In the golden vale plantation.jpg
Fig. 3.—In the "Golden Vale" Plantation.

all over the hills are little clearings of a few acres, or even less than one acre, thickly set with banana plants. It is from these little patches that perhaps a majority of our fruit comes. For even the Boston Fruit Company, with all its estates, is compelled to buy largely to supply its trade, and most of the other shippers are wholly buyers. Thus the smaller and less available tracts are turned to account, which is a matter of the first importance in a country so irregular and so mountainous as Jamaica.

Whether for shipment or for home consumption the fruit is cut as soon as it is "full"—that is, when it has reached its adult