CANNING INDUSTRY IN CALIFORNIA Owing to the wide variation in soil and climate, there is great divergence in the canning products and the canning industry in the states of the Pacific coast and Rocky mountains.
California. having a climate favoring the widest range of products and a location best suited for marketing them, has shown the largest develop ment in this industry. With the rapid increase in fruit crops throughout the state, large tracts of land have been set out without regard to any particular market. Nearly every fruit-growing community in turn has found it difficult, if not impossible, to market the crop in the fresh condi tion. The local cannery, often started on a semi cooperative plan by growers and other interested parties, has been a natural though rarely success ful development. When operated on a strictly business-like basis, it has given reasonably good returns to the owners. In some cases, the canner has grown his own fruit, but he has usually bought from year to year according to the crop and mar ket conditions, or has entered into a term contract with growers for a period of years to buy fruit of a size, quality and condition suitable for canning, at an agreed price or scale of prices. Through such term contracts the canner has exercised a beneficial influence. It has been to his interest to see that only the most improved varieties of fruit are grown ; that the orchard is properly pruned, plowed, cultivated and protected against pests of every kind ; that the crop is thinned when neces sary and that it is harvested properly. Operating under such contracts, orchardists have been brought to see the benefit of intelligent and busi ness - like farming. Information from the best authorities, relating to preferred varieties of fruits, methods of cultivation, pruning and fighting of pests, harvesting and the like, has been distributed to the growers through the agency of the canners, and the latter have frequently pioneered some sug gestion of the State College of Agriculture or of the United States Department of Agriculture, looking to improved conditions of horticulture.
In the growing of vegetables, canners have appeared even more prominently in bettering the conditions surrounding the growth of canning products. From the very limited acreage of aspara gus grown for the local produce trade, has devel oped a great industry, thousands of acres now being grown for the exclusive purpose of canning. When this industry was threatened by the para sitic rust, canners were the first to propose and con tribute to a fund handled by the College of Agri culture of the University of California in making scientific investigation, which promises to be of lasting benefit. Similar conditions have arisen in connection with the growing of peas, tomatoes and string beans. Sweet corn has not been grown to good advantage in California, and practically none has been canned. The worm which almost invariably appears in each ear of corn has made it impossible for canners to operate with any profit. The past season, through means provided by the canning interest, the College of Agriculture has had the opportunity of experimenting on sev eral hundred acres of corn. While the results have not seemed to justify development in this business, a distinct advance has been made.
The season begins in March with the canning of asparagus, the better packs being made in the peculiar peaty soil found in a few favored locali ties. Fig. 233 shows a small part of an asparagus field of 1,000 acres grown exclusively for canning purposes. The light loose soil is built up over the root crowns to a considerable depth, so that the shoots can grow without resistance during the time of harvesting. During the height of the sea son the entire acreage must be cut daily, as the asparagus is not allowed to grow above the sur face, and each spear is cut as rapidly as the point is exposed to the air. In this way, the white as paragus, so much preferred, is secured. If exposed, the point turns first to a purple then to a green color.