Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of oil heater: 2. single burner type of oil heater, with

California oil heater that started orchard heating: 2. an

size of the flame being regulated by closing the holes.


all his calculations, all his plans, and all his business arrangements contingent on the hope that the frost

would miss him. And beWhat CREATE THE "TROPICS."

fore the development of orchard heating From left to right, row one: 1. graduated burner type

the chances against him were getting center draft; 3. reservoir heater that may be set to burn any desired length of time. Row two: 1. the original

worse and worse in the frost belt. In the

modern commercial orchard, the land, orchard coal heater: 3. pan type of reservoir heater, the

machinery, labor, spraying equipment

and cultivation total as heavy an investmillions to orchard owners in the last

ment as many manufacturing enterprises. year and a half have banished from the

And when two or three crops in succesfruit grower that annual early spring

sion were wiped out by frost, the average nervous prostration from fear of frost;

grower was completely bankrupt. that periodic, paralyzing fear that he

It was in the nature of a revelation may go to bed at night and awaken to when in 1908 some experimenting find his whole year's labor chilled to ers in Colorado began what was characdeath by a sudden frost. The cumulative

terized as a theoretical attempt to heat despair of losing three or four fruit all out-doors. There was much jesting crops in succession that has put fruit and skepticism about the ridiculous idea growers out of business and made them of warming up a whole orchard with dependent on charity or day labor is past. little fire-pots, but the experimenters An orchard with a reasonably indus- were not to be discouraged. The frost trious and provident owner can be made came, one of the worst in the history of to yield an average crop every season the state, and the only crops produced so far as the frost is concerned. Scien- were those on the small experimental tific frost fighting with fire is as much areas that had been heated. There was a fact as seed testing, irrigation, fertil- an immediate rush to get on the “smudgizing, spraying or pruning. It is the ing wagon.” All through the West, in last and greatest advance in systematic Oregon, California, Montana, Iowa, horticulture, and has placed the fruit Missouri, and Florida, heaters are being grower abreast o. the scientific farmer. shipped as fast as they can be manu

Since the beginning of commercial factured. Frost fighting has been dehorticulture, the fruit grower has been veloped into a genuine insurance. Heatat the mercy of the elements. He made ing a large part of the outdoors of a

ers there ting has fruit are acoperite colorant

community has been proved eminently orchard heating committee, the first in practical. The advanced fruit grower existence. With an appropriation of now knows that even a heavy freeze $1,000, its members set zealously to such as destroyed millions in fruit, cot work on a series of experiments to deton, grain and other growing things can termine just what could be accomplished be neutralized so as to insure practically in raising the temperature of entire orfull crops every year. The fruit grow- chards, and what the cost and the coners of the Grand River Valley jearned ditions of work would be. For six their lesson after the loss of millions in months they worked with every kind of successive frost attacks, but they learned fuel and all the various devices for proit well. The twenty-five hundred car- ducing fires. At the end of this time loads of fruit that went out of Mesa they unanimously recommended oil as County alone last fall testify to the thor- the most practicable fuel owing to the oughness with which they operated this ease and rapidity with which heat could gigantic system of crop protection in one be generated. The experiments of the of the severest of late springs. It is orchard heating committee had showed estimated by government authorities that the temperature of an orchard could that from $75,000,000 to $100,000,000 be raised fourteen degrees with one hunhas been lost annually to the fruit grow- dred small oil pots to the acre. The ers by reason of frost and freezing record of that historic spring fight of weather. Careful and methodical or- 1909 fully bore out this conclusion. The chard heating has saved a large percent last night of April the temperature in the age of this in the fruit areas where heat- Canon City district fell to seventeen deing has been generally adopted. The grees above zero. The orchardists with orchard heating committee of the Colo- heaters kept the temperature up to rado fruit growers estimates that twenty-eight or thirty degrees, which $4,000,000 was saved to the growers of they considered the safety point. On that state alone in 1909. For as many the preceding night there was a terrific as five years in succession in many fruit blizzard. The wind blew a gale and growing communities the crop has been there was a snow fall of over eight either totally or partially destroyed. inches, weather that made very trying

Smudging, or the formation of a dense conditions for the free burning of oil. blanket of smoke over the orchard, had In spite of this unusually severe test, been practiced with varying degrees of the temperature was kept up to the success in some parts of Europe. Or- safety point for over five hours. As an chard heating proper, was first used in experiment, several acres of the test California, and the original California orchard were left unprotected. On the smudge pot is still successfully used in heated part there was a banner crop, many orchards. In the spring of 1908 more than 15,000 boxes, while on the several growers in the Grand Valley several acres not heated, with one hunof Colorado experimented with the burn- dred ten year old trees in full bearing ing of oil in simple pots of the “lard pail” condition, there was not a box of apples. type, with the result that they saved their Frost fighting is not an easy job. It entire crop on the heated areas and lost is necessary to have a force of men, init on the unheated tracts. The spring of dustrious, careful, and observing to the 1909 saw the adoption of smudge pots last degree. And it is no pleasant task in every fruit section of the state, and to rush out into the still, cold darkness they reached the experimental stage in to drudge the better part of the night to several other states. In the spring of save your own or your neighbor's or1910 there was not a fruit growing state chard. In the early days of orchard without them, and many sections of sev- heating, a man was detailed to watch the eral states were as fully equipped as tested thermometers that were hung in Colorado.

different parts of the orchard and at the The thrilling and successful frost farm house some distance away from the fights in Colorado were an inspiring fruit trees. If the temperature was not object lesson to the growers. At Canon sinking fast, perhaps the rancher went City they organized and appointed an to bed for a brief nap, setting his alarm

ard, men The lighorch, an

ing fanger point: this wire, thead of th

clock to wake him at intervals through oil, they apply the torch, and the blaze the night. Nowadays he can go to bed is at work. The lighting is done as fast with a feeling of security, leaving the as the men can walk through the orfrost alarm thermometer to watch for chard, leaving a trail of smoke and fire him. This electric watchman has for its behind them. In fifteen minutes each business end in the orchard a specially man has his tract of orchard transformed made thermometer, with a fine platinum into a sea of flame under a cloud of wire fused into the mercury at the freez- smoke. ing point or at whatever is considered Then comes the first period of rest. the danger point. As soon as the mer. The men gather in the packing house or cury sinks below this wire, the circuit is barn, for lunch or smoke, making ocbroken and the alarm at the head of the casional trips to the thermometers to see orchard boss' bed rings out its warning that the fire is doing its work. By nineAny interruption of the current causes thirty the thermometers outside the the bell to ring so that if the apparatus orchard register twenty-eight, and those should be out of order it automatically in the area of heat show a comfortable tells on itself.

thirty-seven. Then the frost fighters But the orchardist is usually fore- know that the battle is half won, for warned, even before he goes to bed, and keeping up the temperature is a good makes ready for the fray. Late in the deal easier than raising it when it has afternoon he notices great fleecy clouds once reached the limit. The rest is a hurrying from the northwest, chased by matter of vigilance. If the heater is of a bitter wind which seems to have been the regulated type, with enough fuel to intended for January rather than this burn through the night or longer, a few April night. He goes to the post office men are left to watch and open the for the day's mail and in every window burners wider if a later sudden fall of sees the warning of the diligent local temperature shows that more fire is government weather forecast: “Freez- needed. If the heaters are of the uniing temperature tonight.” By seven form single burner type, they may need o'clock the government thermometer is to be refilled when they are nearly at thirty-seven and falling fast. At burned out, if the frost battalion should seven-thirty he telephones the weather come back for another charge. The outman and gets the reply: “Bitter cold all side thermometers drop to twenty-four, over the country; temperature is already and those in the orchards stand at thirty, down to twenty-seven in many parts of the danger mark of the orchard frost the valley and will drop to twenty de- fighter. The heaters are opened wider, grees on the Western Slope of Colorado or refilled if burning low, and the mertonight." By eight o'clock it has fallen cury shoots up to thirty-three. The to thirty-two, his alarm begins to ring, eight degrees of frost has been driven and he knows that King Frost with his away, and if the oil supply is plentiful, icy-fingered warriors is marching on the and the labor unflagging, the orchardist camp. Steam whistles are beginning to may now consider the battle won. When shriek all through the Valley to warn the the sun has shed his rays over the trees growers of the all-night siege. Farm long enough to make the outside temwagons laden with coal and oil rattle perature more nearly that of the orpast, giving evidence that the laggards chard, the heaters are shut off by merely who have been hoping to the last, are be- putting on the covers. ginning to get their heating machinery Heating in the spring of 1910 was into action. Already the early ones are much easier than that of the year before, firing heavily. Clouds of smoke hang and proved more conclusively than ever low over the trees, and the little spots of the effectiveness of the fires. The crop fire beneath punctuate the blackness with in the Colorado fruit area for 1910 avrays of hope.

eraged about fifty-five per cent. The unThe orchard firemen dash for the heated orchards yielded from twenty to trees, a torch in one hand, and a gasoline seventy-five per cent of a crop, while can to aid in quick lighting in the other. the yield of the protected orchards was Dashing a few drops of gasoline on the from ninety-five to a hundred per cent,

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]

"HEATING ALL OUT-OF-DOORS" IN THE GRAND RIVER VALLEY OF COLORADO. Panoramic night photograph overlooking an expanse of fifty square miles, wherein was waged a most spectacular

battle against frost.

so heavy that thinning was necessary in what can be done with care and cultimany of them.

vation. The entire orchard this year Individual testimony to the efficiency gave the largest crop in its history, of orchard heating in every fruit grow- while adjoining tracts, not heated, got ing state could be multiplied indefinitely.. only thirty-five per cent of a crop. Fruit crops valued at $250 to $750 an An Iowa grower who had lost several acre were frequently saved at a cost of crops from frost, came to the conclusion seven to ten dollars an acre. A few that he must do something to save his striking examples are typical of general crop or go out of business. By experiresults. A Colorado grower with fifty menting with the burning of brush, he heaters to the acre raised the tempera- saved a peach crop of 6,000 bushels, and ture of his forty-acre orchard from was induced to go into the heating busieighteen to twenty-eight degrees and ness in earnest. In his orchard of 900 produced forty-one carloads of apples. bearing trees he placed 1,000 of the small

Another one in the Grand River Val- single burning oil pots. The temperley, who was one of the pioneer orchard ature was held to thirty-three degrees in heaters, holds some world's records for the orchard while it was twenty-three heavy apple production. He produced outside, and accompanied by the most this season 4,150 boxes of apples from adverse weather conditions that could be 2.6 acres, an average of 1,600 boxes an experienced. The wind was blowing so acre, valued at one dollar a box. A hard that it was difficult to pour oil into block of two-thirds of an acre in this the pots. It was snowing heavily, causorchard produced at the rate of 2,200 ing the oil to sputter and pop from the boxes an acre, the largest yield on rec- pots, wasting a good part of the fuel ord. This orchard was carefully pruned, supply. He fired up nine nights during heated, sprayed and thinned and proves the season. He harvested this fall a full

[ocr errors]

nlinnumenna Dmon OTTIMETATABATA H



el Master


Fruit growers filling wagon canks and barrels, from oil cars, with the season's full supply for the heaters.

crop of apples, the only one in the state, ing prevents the warmed air from rising, at a cost of only seven cents a bushel and keeps out the cold currents from for heating. This figure includes the above. Frost injury is greatest where storage tank, wagons, and all necessary there is poor air drainage and the radiequipment, including labor. With the ation is consequently uninterrupted by plant established, his next season's ex- clouds or moisture. This is why fruit pense will, of course, be much smaller. growers located in valleys had much

There is seldom necessity for firing harder fights against the common more than two or three nights in a sea- enemy in the early history of smudging son. A grower in the Rogue River Val- than their neighbors on higher ground. ley of Oregon, saved ten acres of apples The cold air settled in the valleys and valued at $6,000, at a cost of $6 an acre, chilled the life out of their fruit for where one freeze on May 5 of the pre- many years before they discovered the vious year had destroyed his entire crop. reason. In a neighboring apple orchard which T he definite system of building a mulhas yielded as high as $1,000 an acre, titude of small fires and actually heating a full crop was saved at about the same "all outdoors” was a long time developcost. Many acres of crops in this ter- ing, but when once the idea was born its ritory valued at $500 to $1,000 an acre growth was like a forest fire. When it were saved at a total expense for the finally seemed inevitable that the fruit season's firing of $15 to $20 an acre. grower must build a fire big enough to There were frequent object lessons of heat his orchard, naturally the first fuel unheated orchards, with the entire crop thought of was wood, as a result of the killed, adjoining heated tracts that had burning of smudging materials. It is full yields.

still successfully used in some sections One of the most remarkable stories of of the West where cord wood is cheap. heater successes comes from Missouri. The labor of handling it, however, and A 240 acre orchard located in a deep of keeping the fires going, with the valley had suffered severely from frost added uncertainty of getting quick every year and had not produced a full enough action to get ahead of the frost, crop for fourteen years. Against the has militated against the general use of advice of all the wise-acres, two brothers wood for large orchards and for all secfrom Kansas City bought it, and tions of the country. The sticks of cord equipped it with 5,000 heaters of the con- wood are usually piled along the sides trolled or graduated fire type. With of the orchard at odd times during the thirty-five or forty pots to the acre, the winter months when little else could be firing was done for four nights at the done. One Oregon grower saved seven time the apples were in bloom. They acres of Bartlett pears two years in sucharvested a crop of 15,000 barrels, cession by burning old fence rails. Fires valued at $45,000, and it was the only of about six pieces of good cord-wood crop in that fruit growing territory. The last four or five hours. Constant attennet profit on each acre approximated tion is necessary, for the sticks must be $200. This valley is an excellent fruit moved forward into the crater of the growing country, but on account of flame to keep the fire going. With wood regular frost damage for many years the plentiful and labor cheap, the cost of industry has almost died. Land has de- maintaining forty fires on an acre may preciated in value till good orchard tracts be as low as two to four dollars a night. are often sold at $40 to $100 an acre. Coal was the second fuel to be used, The successful experience of this one and is still employed with success in the orchard will revive a whole fruit grow- little coal furnaces on stilts or the coning community.

ical, perforated coal pails. Here again, Modern orchard warming is the ef- however, difficulty of firing and handling fective combination of smudging and the coal operate against its use in severe actua! heating. The principle of air weather. Where the supply is plentiful, drainage underlies successful frost and prices low, where the orchard is fighting Cold air settles, and hot air small and labor easy to get, coal makes rises. Heating warms the air; smudg- a very successful heat if amazing zeal is

« PreviousContinue »