Umatilla County, Oregon 1922
Umatilla County's wheat production is so tremendous that often the great importance of the county's horticultural interests are overshadowed, but in orchard fruit production the county ranks third in the state with products aggregating around a million and a half dollars. There are about three thousand acres in orchards, chiefly in the Milton-Freewater district, although Hermiston and Stanfield ship about fifty cars each year. The 1919 census shows that there are in the county about two hundred thousand bearing apple trees producing over a half million boxes. Most of this is commercial fruit of exceptionally fine quality, color and size. With mild winters, plenty of sunshine, a good fertile soil and an abundance of irrigation water, the acre production is phenomenal. It is not uncommon for a ten-acre apple orchard to produce as high as five or six thousand dollars' worth of fruit in a single year and full bearing orchards have sold for as high as $2,000 per acre. The varieties are principally Winesaps, Jonathans, Rome Beauties and Delicious, although some summer apples and nearly every other variety of winter apples are produced by a few growers. In 1919 there were 25,000 bearing peach trees producing 50,770 boxes, 11,300 pear trees bearing 23,000 boxes and 19,000 cherry trees producing 60,000 crates.
One of the most profitable orchard fruits, however, is prunes, which are sold as they come from the tree. In 1921 about 600 cars were shipped from the Milton-Freewater district. The price received for them has nearly always been good, because of the fact that the prunes ripen somewhat earlier than in other Northwest districts and are hard and firm and of good quality.
In addition to the orchard fruits nearly every small fruit is raised in the sufficient quantity to ship. In 1919, 131,600 quarts of strawberries, 77,400 quarts of raspberries, 68,500 quarts of blackberries and dewberries, 2,000 quarts of loganberries and 238,000 pounds of grapes were raised. The marketing facilities are very good, all the fruit growing districts being located directly on good railroad lines with well kept roads leading to the shipping points. Seven or eight fruit buyers operate packing plants and a co-operative fruit growers' union give good marketing service to the growers.
In the same districts truck farming is carried on quite extensively. Beans, peas, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet corn, cantaloupe, watermelons, squash and other vegetables are grown in abundance. As this is one of the few truck farming sections in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington the market is generally good.
Just as good land as that which has been sold as high as $2,000 an acre is available in the Milton-Freewater district for orchard planting at a valuation of around $300 per acre. Plans are under way now by several new growers to plant out tracts this year. Openings for increasing the orchard acreage in the Milton-Freewater district are abundant. At Hermiston and Stanfield new acreages are being planned, with small fruit increasing in popularity.
SEED POTATO GROWING
Perhaps no other section of the county presents a better opportunity for the settler than the plateau regions above the foothills of the Blue Mountains. There are many thousands of acres of this tableland adjoining big tracts of fine pasture land, awaiting development. One such section has demonstrated the possibilities of this character of land. On the hills above Weston, known as Weston Mountain, Reed and Hawley Mountains and Basket Mountain, nearly 100 farmers have taken some of the raw land at a comparatively cheap price and have developed it to the point where the sale of a single crop of potatoes often more than pays for the original price paid for the land. The rich, heavy soil, with an average of around 25 inches rainfall, bordering on good pasture land, makes this section well adapted for a system of crop rotation consisting chiefly of forage crops and potatoes, the feed being consumed by livestock.
Conditions for seed potato production are ideal and the certified Weston Mountain Netted Gems are in great demand by commercial potato growers.
This year the Mountain growers could sell at a premium ten times the number of cars which they have produced.
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