The Rural Economy of New England: A Regional Study

By John Donald Black | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 23
Fruit

Few are the areas of the earth that do not boast some indigenous fruit with its own qualities of flavor and texture that endears it to its own people, and leads to its dissemination over wide areas to quicken by variety the stale palates of millions outside. The northern latitudes in general have a paucity of fruit species. The rigors of winter are even harder for fruits to endure than the parched horizons of the desert. Nevertheless, Massachusetts has its cranberries, and Maine its blueberries. If New England is to have the handicap of acid soils, then surely it is entitled to the acid-loving fruits that go with them. Neither of these fruits is peculiar to New England, but nowhere else has the commercial growing of cranberries been developed so extensively as in the bogs of the Cape Cod region; and until recently only in southeastern Maine did blueberry production reach the magnitude of a canning crop.

New England, however, is not limited to these idiosyncratic fruits. As a matter of fact, the winters on the coastal lowland are mild enough, and the springs delayed enough, so that nearly all the small fruits can be produced, and the orchards may include peaches, pears, and the sweet types of cherry. A winter comes along now and then, however, when severe cold may swoop down from Canada and deal harshly with the peaches, and at rarer intervals -- as in the winter of 1933-34 -- with even as standard a variety of apples as the Baldwin, in orchards planted on the uplands.

If orchard fruits are not so widely dispersed on the farms of New England as formerly, the reasons are mostly not to be found in the climate. Neither are they to be found in the soils; if the trees are well tended they attain an age and girth that one does not generally find in the Midwest. Instead, in New England as elsewhere, the battle with the diseases and pests that afflict most fruits is coming more and more to be an assignment for

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