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FRUIT-GROWING AND FRUIT PESTS IN NEW ZEALAND.

TO THE EDITOR. Sir, —Some remarks on the prospects of fruit culture m New Zealand having special bearing on the future export trade of the colony, together with notes on some insect pests, may be of interest to your readers. Fruit-growing, like many other industries m New Zealand, has its draAvbacks, but the latter, as I will presently explain, are almost solely of our own making. Until within the last few years there"were few obstacles m the way Of growing superior fruit of {many kinds m the colony. Since the introduction, however, m recent years of numerous pests, highly injurious to fruit, its culture is likely, at no distant date, to be attended with serious difficulties and loss to the colony. With a view to placing the matter before your readers m a practical way, I venture to offer some observations on this important subject, which I have gathered for many years past. Many of your readers will have seen the reports on the late Conference of Australian fruit-growers, held m Sydney m the middle of last month, and which proved an unqualified success. The meeting was convened by and held under the Presidency of the Hon. Sydney Smith, Minister for Mines and Agriculture of New South Wales. The delegates numbered about one hundred m all, and were composed, for the most part, of practical fruit-growers and hard-working men engaged m the various fruit-growing branches of the trade. During the meeting some thirty papers were read on the present state of fruit-culture m New South Wales, and the best means of improving it. The papers read on the third and last day of the Conference were confined to tike various fruit pests which attack all fruits grown m New South Wales. The papers and the discussion that followed on each are shortly to be published m pamphlet form, which should prove of much interest and value to fruitgrowers m New Zealand, seeing that so many injurious pests are rapidly spreading m this country. To enumerate only a few of these I may mention the great deterioration of the peach, caused by a very minute boring grub, or "cankerworm," and quite recently we know that whole vineyards m the vicinity of Auckland have been destroyed by the greatest scourge of vine culture the dreaded Phylloxera vastairix. Added to these are the codlin moth and a small fly, whose grubs bore into and consume the flesh of apples. Then there is also the currant moth, which bids weU at present to make the culture of currant bushes m a few more years a difficult task, while only last summer a new pest (the caterpillar of a a small moth) attacked the flesh of apricots and plums, doing much injury to the fruit over a considerable area of the South Island. When dealing with this moth fur] ther on we will give all that is known m its history. In addition to all these, and hosts of others, there are the numerous species of scale insects, and the American blights, but on. the latter insects we will shortly offer a separate communication. Before proceeding to give some account of the life and habits of these injurious pests and their modes of attacking fruit and fruit trees, it may be well to inquire into the causes favoring their introduction, and to ascertain, if possible, if no repressive means can be adopted to stop their wholesale introduction to the country, which, like the rabbits and sparrows m their respective stations, augurs well at present to very soon materially affect fruit-growing, and the whole fruit trade of the colony. The chief mode by which nearly all fruit pests have been introduced to New Zealand is by the importation of infected trees, and fruit from infected countries. When once a species is introduced to New Zealand it is very easy, from a naturalist's point of view, to explain the causes favoring their increase and distribution. These are the mildness of our climate compared to their original home, the abundance of food, and the almost total absence'of their natural enemies. With these, however, we are not much concerned here, although they will sen* to clearly illustrate the subject. Another great want to the colony is a Government entomological department, or even a single consulting entomologist to the Government. The Governments of all the Australian colonies (except Western Australia) have each a consulting entomologist, and m the United States of America an entomological department, with a considerable staff, is maintained by the State, while the annual reports by the chief entomologist on the noxious and benificial insects observed during the year is of equal importance with all other State documents. These facts are given to show how far behind we are m some departments of knowledge to other colonies and other countries. Generally speaking, the duties and eager search for gain characteristic of colonial life leaves little time for original research m any direction ; but another great drawback to lovers of gardens and all interested m fruit culture is the extreme paucity of literature on garden and farm pests m New Zealand. The papers hitherto published on our native insects are .scattered through numerous scientific journals, and owing to the strictly scientific tone m which • they are written are anything but lively reading, at least to the general reader. However, the question of injurious pest 3 and the very serious aspect of the case* at present is one of vital importance to the colony ; and sooner or later some decisive action must be taken to prevent their further introduction and for their suppression if fruit cultivation is to be made a, success and profit to the community. The immense loss by these pests to the fruit industries m France, Germany, Spain, the United States, and m Australia for some years past should prove a sufficient warning to our Government and people to unite and use every possible means for their suppression. Tn regard to the production or culture of fruits of good kinds and quality, I desire to call attention—particularly at the present time—to one very serious drawback, namely, the extremely foolish habit of some people of purchasing the rubbish trees frequently sold m auction rooms. The trees disposed of m this way are almost invariably the off-cast" of nurseries, such as bad varieties, or others which have lost their true names. Of course they are generally decorated Avith names of good kinds, and on this account sometimes realise good prices. JNow, taking a common sense vlcav of the matter, one would imagine that buyers would knoAV that no respectable nurseryman could afford (<*< ny more than any other tradesman could afford) to send his best stock for cheap (sale m an auction room. Such trees are generally worse than useless, a fact fully realised by many owners of both large and small gardens who purchased their trees at auction. To my mind, it is better to be outspoken m this matter, as the habit is a pernicious one, and one which entails a great loss of labor and profit; the necessity for procuring healthy trees, and profitable bearers from a reliable source cannot be too forcibly argued. We will now refer to another cause which lias enabled some pests to attack and make headway against certain kinds of fruit. We allude to overcropping of trees. No one, we suppose, who has investigated the subject Avould doubt that the deterioration of the peach is due chiefly to overcropping m former years. ■,

To continue to rear seedlings or to bud from trees whose vigor or constitution is impaired by overcropping will assuredly m time reduce the trees to such a state as fco be incapable of producing fruit, and thus render the trees a prey to disease and pests. Some years ago an influential committee of colonial gentlemen appealed to the Royal Horticultural Society of England for advice or assistance m dealing with the failure of the peach m New Zealand. The overcropping, or the continuing to propagate from trees m an already exhausted condition, does not appear to have ever Occurred to them. When the trees were m their weakest state they were vigorously attacked with the'now so-called "peach disease." Of course we now have our work set before us to get rid of it,, but even this difficulty could be overcome considerably m a few years by importing fresh and vigorous stocks occasionally, from. England only, by uniting the old with the new, and by I careful and limited cropping enable the former to restore its best vigor. The same remarks will apply to the partial failure of the apricot m some districts of late years, and will doubtless follow with other kinds of fruit, if a consistent and limited style of cropping be not practised. Now m respect to the export trade, it seems incredible that, while England expends six millions sterling annually on imported fruit, such an exceedingly small portion of this vast sum should be drawn |by New Zealand for this commodity. Of I course, I am aware that small shipments j of fruit have been exported for yeairs past from New Zealand, but owing to imperfect packing or improper storage, these generally resulted m comparative failure. The recent success, however, of Tasmania and Victoria m exporting apples to English markets, and the high prices they realised, were no doubt due to the new and improved methods of packing, and to cool storage during transit. Another i important case, and one which should prove re-assuring to fruit-growera m this colony, was the late trial shipment of twenty-five cases of apples sent per Tainui to. London by Mr Thomas York, of Woolston, near Christchurch. Much credit is due to Mr York for the excellent | order m which they were sent, the full account of which appeared m the " Lyttelton Times" of Saturday last. The result of the.trial, as the reports put it, "will show "our fruit-growers that! there are many things to learn m connection with the fruit trade." The report should also form an excellent guide to intending shippers, and altogether the success of the shipment appears to have been most satisfactory. We certainly commend the report to all fruit-growew. I When we read of a guarantee having been given by England to Tasmania alone for | 80,000 cases of good apples annually, it | should suggest the development m the near future of an immense trade for Tasmania with the Mother Country. It should also awaken New Zealand colonists to the great importance of developing the trade amongst ourselves. If we cannot compete at present witli other colonies m quantity, we can at least for quality. That our soil can produce very superior apples and pears suitable for export at a suitable time of the year has been fully demonstrated long ago, and considering that we now have every facility-for rapid transit and cool storage m the magnificent line of traders leaving our ports bi-monthly, there appears few obstacles at present m the way of dereloping a large export trade. When once the quality of our fruit, like our mutton and butter, is known, there is no doubt the trade will rapidly develope. Let us only begin on sound principles by exporting prime qualities, shipped m prime condition, and a great stimulus to fruitgrowing will follow m New Zealand. The case of exporting inferior flax, especially when the the fibre could be better prepared with them use, should serve as a warning to fruit-growers to export only material of b^st quality. This subject has already been fully discussed m able leaders by the Ashburton "Guardian" and the "Lyttelton Times," and it is therefore unnecessary to add more to it here. Before referring again to pests, we may inquire into the best means of discussing the whole subject. Undoubtedly fruitgrowing is almost at a deadlockjat present, and when we consider that a considerable amount of capital has been expended m the planting of orchards and gardens, we should endeavour to devise the best means to make them remunerative, and this, I think, can only be done by pushing a healthy export trade, and this would also tend to produce a better style of culture than that generally adopted at present. . Could not the Canterbury Fruit Growers' Association take the matter up.? The members are certainly fully qualified to deal with the question. If a meeting of fruitgrowers was held, say on similar lines to the one lately held m Sydney, and have the question of fruit-growing for export, the suppression of fruit pests, etc., fully discussed, it would, I think, result m immense benefit to the Colony. In the foregoing I have endeavoured to ventilate this important question, and hope soon to see iShe matter taken up by others, with a view to benefiting the fruit industry of New Zealand. We will now give some account of four fruit pests inhabitating our district — the corlin moth (carpneapsa pomonella) This moth has been about Ashburton for the last four or five years, but until the last summer appears to have multiplied slowly. It attacks the fruit m the following manner:—The egg is laid on the calyx of the apple, and hatches shortly after the young apple is formed. The caterpillar, eating its wa,y to the core, devours the soft pips, and makes its egress on the opposite side of the apple to Avhich it entered. If two apples are on a bunch, the caterpillar sometimes passes from one to the other. It is generally easy to detect its presence by the fruit: affected assuming a brighter colour, or by dropping prematurely from the tree. When the latter occurs, or when any suspicious looking apples appear on the trees, they should be carefully picked and destroyed. When the caterpillar is matured it eats its way out of ithe apple, ! Mid conceals itself m any small crack or crevice m the bark of the tree, on which it was reared. It generally remains for some considerable time about the tree (sometimes for months) before it changes to the chrysalis state. As soon as the apples are gathered the affected trees should be thoroughly well syringed with a solution of London purple, m the proportion of lib to 200 gallons of water. It is necessary to well stir the mixture after every few applications of the syringe. Although it is an arsenic poison, the foliage and fruit can be syringed with impunity without any injurious "effect to the crop or consumer, and is very deadly to nearly all pests and parasites attacking fruit trees. Another apple borer (trypela pomonorum) is the caterpillar of a small fly, much resembling the common house fly, but slightly smaller. It appears later m the season than the codlin moth, and attacks the fruit when well advanced. The eggs are deposited m any little depression on the skin of the apple, or near the fruit stalk, and soon hatch. The minute grub then commences to burrow into the apple, and although not so destructive as the codlin moth, it ruins the fruit, either for sale or keeping purposes. When matured it leaves the fruit, and drops among the leaves beneath the trees. It then rolls itself up m a dry leaf, forms a slight cocoon m which it changes to the chrysalis stage, and passes the winter m the way described. When jts presence is detected m an orchard it is: most important that all affected jf r «ic!

should be destroyed, and all the leaves and rubbish lying about the trees carefully collected and burned. By this means the pest can be kept m subjection. THE APRICOT MOTH. ' In January last I sent a note to the " Guardian " announcing the presence of a caterpillar attacking apricots m the I Ashburton district, at the same time i appealing to your readers for affected fruit containing caterpillars/Through the kindness of Mrs G. W. Andrews, of Hampstead, and other friends, who sent me injured fruit, I have been able to rear moths from the caterpillars. The first moth which emerged I sent to Mr 0. G. Barrett, of King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, who is the best English authority on moths of this group. By the last mail I received his reply. We extract the following from his letter :— '' I am very glad that you have raised ' ' and forwarded the specimen. I have '' examined it carefully—for m conse- " quence of careful packing, it came quite "safely—and as yet I cannot identify it. "lam inclined at present to the belief " that it is an indigenous, and not an in"troduced species, but this is my own " opinion and may not be confirmed. It . "is a very common thing to find a " mischievous species appear m multi- " tudes m one year, and then to become " quite innocuous." Itmay be mentioned that the past season was phenomenally one of great swarms of insects. It was also an exceedingly floriferous one for the indigenous flora, and when we consider that the food supply was plentiful for the caterpillars of native insects, it is not easy to account for the development of new tastes m a species m a single season, at least over hundreds of miles of the country, but I hope soon to be able to trace its true source. The same method advised for the destruction of thecodlinmoth, and apple weevil, will apply to his moth. the cuB.UANTMOTH(f.roc/uii«ni. tipaliformis) —This is a very difficult pest to deal with 11 The eggs are laid on the points of the young shoots, and sometimes m the axils of the young leaves. When the eggs hatch the young caterpillars burrow into and consume the centre pith of the shoots. They may frequently bore down through the whole length of the shoot, into the old year's wood, and attack another fresh shoot, the caterpillar eating its way upwards. The moth may often be seen m the months of December and January resting with its wings outspread on the currant leaves. The body is purplish blue m color, with narrow transparent wings. The moth much resembles a large gnat, as its name implies for some time after the insects appears. A good way of keeping them m check is to pinch off the-points of shootp, and burn them, or the eggs before hatching can be distroyed by syringing twice a week with the solution recommended for the codlin and apricot moths, and by carefully collecting all dead leaves m the autumn and burning.—l am, etc., . W. W. Smith. July 21, 1890.

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Bibliographic details

FRUIT-GROWING AND FRUIT PESTS IN NEW ZEALAND., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2474, 25 July 1890

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FRUIT-GROWING AND FRUIT PESTS IN NEW ZEALAND. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2474, 25 July 1890

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