English walnuts for dessert, walnut confectionery, walnut cake, walnuts
in candy bags at Christmas time--thus far has the average person been
introduced to this, one of the greatest foods of the earth. But if the
food specialists are heard, if the increasing consumption
of nuts as recorded by the Government Bureau of Imports is consulted--in short, if one opens his eyes to the tremendous place the walnut is beginning to take among food products the world over, he will realize that the walnut's rank as a table luxury is giving way to that of a necessity; he will acknowledge that the time is rapidly approaching when nuts will be regarded as we now regard beefsteak or wheat products. The demand is already so great that purveyors are beginning to ask, where are the walnuts of the future to come from? In 1902. according to the Department of Commerce and Labor, we imported from Europe 11,927,432 pounds of English walnuts; each year since then these figures have increased, until in 1906 they reached 24,917,023 pounds, valued at $2,193,653. In 1907 we imported 32,590,000 pounds of walnuts and 12,000,000 more were produced in the United States. In Oregon alone there are consumed $400,000 worth of nuts annually. When we consider the limited area suitable to walnut culture in America--California and Oregon practically being the only territory of commercial importance--and the fact that the Old World is no longer planting additional groves to any appreciable extent, there being no more lands available, we begin to realize the important place Oregon is destined to take in the future of the walnut industry: for in Oregon, throughout a strip of the richest land known to man--the great Willamette basin with its tributary valleys and hills, an area of 60 by 150 miles--walnuts thrive and yield abundantly, and at a younger age than in any other locality, not excepting their original home, Persia. In addition, Oregon walnuts are larger, finer flavored, and more uniform in size than those grown elsewhere; they are also free from oiliness and have a full meat that fills the shell well. These advantages are recognized in the most indisputable manner, dealers paying from two to three cents a pound more for Oregon walnuts than for those from other groves. Thus the very last and highest test--what will they bring in the market?--has placed the Oregon walnut at the top. However, in all of Oregon, throughout the vast domain that seems to have been providentially created to furnish the world with its choicest nut fruit, there are, perhaps, not more than 200 acres in bearing at the present time. The test has been accomplished by individual trees found here and there all the way from Washington and Multnomah counties on the north, to Josephine and Jackson counties, bordering California. In a number of counties but two or three handsome old monarchs that have yielded heavy crops year after year, without a failure for the past twenty to forty years, bear witness to the soil's suitability; in other counties, notably Yamhill, sturdy yielding groves attest the soil's fitness. In none of the counties of the walnut belt has but the smallest fraction of available walnut lands been appropriated for this great industry. People are just beginning to realize Oregon's value as a walnut center and her destiny as the source of supply for the choicest markets of the future. Were it practical to plant every unoccupied suitable acre in Oregon this year to walnuts, in eight or ten years the crop would establish Oregon forever as the sovereign walnut center of the world; and the crop, doubling each year thereafter for five years, as is its nature, and then maintaining a steady increase up to the twentieth year, would become a power in the world's markets, equal if not superior to that of North American wheat at the present time. The United States Year Book for 1908 estimates the food value of the walnut at nearly double that of wheat, and three times that of beefsteak. Colonel Henry Dosch, the Oregon pioneer of walnut growing, says: As a business proposition I know of no better in agricultural or horticultural pursuits. Prof. C. I. Lewis, of the Oregon Experiment Station, writes: In establishing walnut groves we are laying the foundation for prosperity for a great many generations. Mr. H. M. Williamson, secretary of the Oregon Board of Horticulture, writes: The man who plants a walnut grove in the right place and gives it proper care is making provision not only for his own future welfare, but for that of his children and his children's children. Felix Gillett, the veteran horticulturist of Nevada City, California, wrote shortly before his death: Oregon is singularly adapted to raising walnuts. Thomas Prince, owner of the largest bearing walnut grove in Oregon, expresses the most enthusiastic satisfaction with the income from his investment, and is planting additional groves on his 800-acre farm in Yamhill county, in many cases uprooting fruit trees to do so.
Next: History In Brief
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