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planted 18 to 20 feet apart, depending on the stock and the variety. Commercial fertilizers are extensively used to compensate for the light soil, improve the quality of the fruit, and assure early maturity. The main harvesting season is from August to October for export, but continues to April or May for domestic consumption. The fruit is packed by growers and by independent packers in crates or boxes of 70 pounds net weight. Growers usually sell the fruit when it is delivered to the packing house in the Isle of Pines. After packing, it is trucked to the dock at Nueva Gerona, where it is loaded on boats and shipped overnight to Batabanó, in Cuba, from there by rail to Habana, and finally again by boat to foreign markets. Commission merchants handle the transportation and marketing for export, usually on consignment for sale at auction in New York, St. Louis, and Chicago, as well as in the English market. During recent years, 1936-41, Cuban exports of grapefruit ranged from 90,000 to 200,000 boxes annually, of which from 76 to 97 percent were to the United States and the remainder almost entirely to England.
United States imports of grapefruit from Cuba are very small compared with the total consumption (table 30). Domestic production in the United States, chiefly in Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona, has increased steadily in recent years to about 40 million boxes compared with imports, almost entirely from Cuba, of only about 100,000 boxes. The United States exports about 10 times as much as it imports.
TABLE 30.-Grapefruit production in the United States and quantities obtained from Cuba and Puerto Rico, 1921-40
Imports from Cuba arrive in August and September at a time when production in the United States is seasonally low.41 Because of this supplementary nature of Cuban shipments, the duty on Cuban grapefruit was reduced under the trade agreement in 1934 to 0.6 cent per pound, or 42 cents per box, effective only during the 2 months August and September. From 1935 to 1938 about 99 percent of the shipments from Cuba arrived during these 2 months, but in 1940 shipments continued relatively heavy during October. Arrivals from Puerto Rico are greater than those from Cuba and continue through
41 During the month of August United States marketings are only about 5 percent as large as during each of the months October to May. In September United States marketing begins to increase but is still only 20 to 30 percent as large as during winter months.
a longer season, principally from April to October. Imports from Cuba, therefore, are largely supplementary to production in continental United States but compete with shipments from Puerto Rico during August and September.
United States imports from Cuba of the famous salad fruit, avocado, usually amount to between $100,000 and $200,000 annually. During 1938 and 1939 the value of avocados from Cuba considerably exceeded the value of grapefruit and thus became Cuba's thirdranking export fruit.
The avocado tree grows in most parts of Cuba, but does best in deep, well-drained soils, preferably gravelly clays. Only about 10 to 15 percent of the total production comes from groves or orchards, the bulk being from numerous farms having 5 to 100 trees scattered over the farm. Where trees are grown in groves, the practice has been to graft shoots from heavy-bearing trees on to the stronger but light-bearing trees. The fruit grows easily from seed, but trees vary much in productivity. Some never flower, others flower but bear little fruit, while others bear heavily. The trees begin to bear in about 4 to 5 years. Commercial fertilizer is used only after the trees come into production.
The principal harvesting season is from June through October, the peak being in July and August (fig. 23). Yields vary widely, from 200 to 2,000 avocados per tree; the average is reported to be about 400.
Although many growers pack their own avocados, about half of the fruit exported is handled by dealers who buy the crop from farmers and grade and pack it in Habana or in production areas near Habana. The fruit is packed either in crates containing about 50 pounds or in flats or lugs of about 20 pounds each.
Practically all the avocados exported from Cuba are shipped to the United States; Cuba is practically the only source of imports into the United States. Production in the United States has increased sharply during the past 10 years to nearly 30 million pounds annually. More than three-fourths of this production is in California, averaging about 25 million pounds, and the remainder in Florida, with roughly 5 million pounds during recent years (table 31). Cuban exports to the United States average about 10 million pounds. TABLE 31.-Avocado production in the United States and imports from Cuba, 1926-40
Florida avocados are of the same general type as those produced by Cuba, but those from California are of the Mexican type. The principal season for the Florida crop now is the fall but extends to the middle of March, whereas that for California is the winter and early spring from December to May. Together the seasons in both States leave a period during the summer when supplies are low, and this is the season when Cuban fruit is most plentiful. Avocados have long been imported free of duty, but under the trade agreement of 1934 Cuba undertook to limit its shipments to the months June through September, thus restricting shipments to the season when domestic supplies are lowest. Imports from Cuba, therefore, are now largely of a supplementary nature.
The papaya, known in western Cuba as fruta bomba, is produced essentially for domestic consumption because it is not well adapted for long shipment. Nevertheless, exports although still small have materially increased during recent years from a value of about $1,000 in 1937 to about 20,000 crates, worth about $21,000, in 1940. Commercial plantings in 1940 are reported at 785,081 plants (1). Assuming an average planting of about 6 by 10 feet, or 700 plants per acre, these would be equivalent to an area of about 2,000 acres. Commercial production in 1940 was estimated at about 57 million fruit.
The papaya is a semiwoody plant of treelike growth and usually attains a height of 6 to 15 feet, with a central stem and leaves from the top of the plant. The fruit is borne along the upper part of the stem, each plant commonly bearing from 10 to 30 fruit at one time. The fruit is cylindrical in shape, usually twice to three times as long as wide, and in general resembles a melon (fig. 24). Some varieties are long and narrow and others are pear-shaped and slightly ribbed (4). The fruit is from 6 to 20 inches long and usually weighs from 3 to 10 pounds. The smooth, thin skin is green until thoroughly ripe, when it develops an orange-yellow color. The flesh is from 1 to 2 inches thick and has a pale yellow to orange-red color, and the center cavity contains many small, round, black seeds. The flesh is sweet, with a slight musty tang and has a high papain and a low acid content. The papain resembles animal pepsin in digestive action, and consequently the fruit is considered to be of medicinal value. The juice of both the fruit and the leaves has the property of tenderizing meat, and papain can be obtained commercially by tapping immature fruit.
Papayas grow best in a warm climate on rich, deep, well-drained loam soils. They are easily grown from seed, reach maturity in about a year, and continue to bear for 3 or 4 years. The principal varieties grown in Cuba are the Rosado de Mejico, Mamey, and Colombiana.
Papayas are picked at the first sign of ripeness, and if they are to be shipped are packed in single-tier crates containing 10 to 15 papayas and weighing from 30 to 60 pounds, net.
The guava, or guayaba, is used essentially for domestic consumption, but considerable quantities of guava products, with a value of nearly $100,000 annually, are exported. The guava is borne on a low busblike tree, which grows wild in Cuba. The fruit is yellowish and about the size of a lime, with thin skin and a pulp full of seeds. The fruit is eaten in the natural state but is also used extensively for making sweet jellies, pastes, and preserves. Jelly is made from the clear juice, whereas the paste contains fine particles of pulp. Both are marketed in Cuba in small bricks wrapped in transparent paper rather than in glass containers. Guava exports consist only of the manufactured products.