Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wilkes and Alexander County Apple Farmers, 1948

Published in the Patriot Farmer, Tuesday, August 24, 1948

By Gene Knight, Editor, Patriot Farmer

J.B. Williams is convinced the finest apples in the world come from the slopes of North Carolina’s Brushy Mountains, and he says he’s eaten apples from a good many places.

He may be prejudiced, because the North Wilkesboro man helps turn out the million-dollar crop, but he has plenty of backers in Wilkes and Alexander counties who will agree with him on the fine quality of fruit produced there.

Last week, just as the picking started, the Brushy Mountain Fruit Growers, an association of apple growers, held a field day and picnic at the apple experiment station about half way between Wilkesboro and Taylorsville.

Several outstanding men from State College were on the program, and to climax the speaking Mr. Williams was called on for a few words.

His speech was brief but he drove home the argument that marking specialists have advocated for years in North Carolina: better grading and packaging and a distinctive trade name.

“We know we have the finest apples in the country,” he told the crowd, “but the public generally doesn’t know it. Our aim should be to make our product so distinctive and so well known that housewives will always select it when shopping for apples, even in preference to the famous Washington apples.”

In a rather limited way, some apples from the section are being marked under the trade name of “Blue Goose” by a fruit company in Maryland. “Brushy Mountain” also appears on the label but in much smaller letters.

Of course, the ideal situation would involve a well-developed local marketing organization that would place stress on the fact that the apples are a Brushy Mountain product.

Sold In Bulk
This year, as in other years, the greater part of the crop will be sold in bulk lots, either as tree-run or culls. Carl Van Deman, assistant farm agent who works with apple growers of Wilkes and Alexander counties, estimates that between one-eighth and one-sixth of this year’s crop will be marketed through the Maryland organization. The remainder will be sold generally in bulk lots.

Fruit peddlers and truckers have already begun to appear in considerable numbers in the section with the opening of the apple season. Actually, Mr. Van Deman says, they will buy up most of the crop.
. . . .

In Thermal Belt
Most of the orchards in the Brushy Mountain lie within so-called “thermal belt,” a fact which holds frost damage in the spring to a minimum.

Between 200 and 300 orchardists have trees along the slopes of the mountain. Mr. Van Deman defines “orchardists” as those having three or four acres or more of fruit trees and who carry out good orchard practices. Of course, there are many other orchards in the section which are smaller in size.
. . . .
Brushy Mountain orchardists produce about half of the commercial apples grown in North Carolina, and Wilkes holds undisputed first place as the principle apple producing county in the state. Adjoining Alexander takes second honors.

Delicious, now ripening, Stayman, and Limbertwig compose the principal varieties grown in the section, although several other well-known varieties are produced.

Picking was begun ahead of time this year, as the fruit began reaching maturity a couple of weeks early. Normally, harvesting starts about the last week of August.

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