Bayfield’s Big Berries – Harvey Nourse

Harvey Nourse Berry Patch BHA 83.11.106

Harvey Nourse Berry Patch
BHA 83.11.106

Bayfield’s Big Berries

Harvey Nourse Tells all the State Horticultural Society’s Winter Meeting this Week about Bayfield’s Big Berries”, Apples and Other Fruit.  Mr. Nourse and Townsman William Knight, “Who owns the biggest Apple Orchard in the State, Near this City, are Delegates, were the sub-title headlines in the Bayfield Progress, Thursday, January 26, 1910

Excerpt from the text of Harvey Nourse Address: 

The subject assigned to me by your secretary suggests the style of berries grown at Bayfield, but if size of berry were all, this in itself wound not warrant berry growing a success, however, we have the quality and yield as well.

Frank V. Holston of our city, one of the first men to engage in strawberry growing, a number of years ago sold to the Stone-Ordean Company in Duluth five twenty-four quarts of strawberries at $5.00 per crate under the guarantee that not a berry in the crate should measure less than five inches in circumference.  They wrote Mr. Holston afterwards that they were very much pleased and the berries were satisfactory in every way.

First, as to big berries, I have seen berries picked from my strawberry field measure seven inches in circumference.  One of our growers declares he filled a quart box with eight berries and quite a number of boxes with sixteen and twenty berries.  I have known a day’s picking of the Senator Dunlap variety to count 26 berries to the quart and there are other varieties much larger than the Senator Dunlap, but have yet to find in our section a better variety.

From two and one-fourth acres we picked 860 crates which sold for $1, 272, 68, which, after deducting cost of crates and picking left a balance of $922.54 or about $400 per acre. Our field last season containing about three and one-half acres yielded 1,250 crates that sold for $1,989.98, which after deducting costs of crates and picking, left a balance of nearly $1,500.00.

Our crop last season was cut down by an exceedingly heavy rains storm which prevented our shipping of any berries for nearly a week.  Some idea of what we might have done may be had from the fact that from two days picking of this field, after deducting commission and freight, we received $1,019 for the berries.  Most of these berries were also of the Dunlap variety.  A neighbor of mine from less than one-sixth of an acre sold $206.00 worth of berries.  No spraying was done on any of the fields mentioned and very little fertilizer was used, but they were thoroughly cultivated and dust mulch maintained on the new fields during hot and dry weather and on old fields, after fruiting.

Bayfield berries are extensively known to excel in quality, extra size and appearance.  I have a letter in my office from the largest commission house in Duluth written me after the close of the berry season, stating that our berries were the finest shipped to that market.  The berries were shipped in refrigerator cars and sold for about $2.00 per sixteen quart crate, less commission and freight.  We shipped one care to Minneapolis that sold for $2.25 per crate.  Nearly 100 acres have been planted to strawberries the past season and as an evidence of the development of the Peninsula as a small fruit section allow me to quote from a letter received by one of our townsmen from W.H. Hanchett of Sparta, Wisconsin. Mr. Hanchett says, “This order for berry crates makes a total of over 23,00 crates for Bayfield for the coming season and places this point second in importance in the state with Sparta and Eau Claire a close third.  If you double again next year, Sparta will have to look to her laurels as the chief place”. The indications are that we will double and Sparta will have to give way to the Bayfield peninsula. 

The Raspberry has not been planted extensively, however several acres were set this past year and I understand quite a number of acres will be set this coming spring.  One grower alone will set five acres.  Those that have been grown in a small way prove to us what can be done.  I don’t think anyone could possibly grow larger Cuthbert’s than were picked from my small plantation last season, and the Plum Farmer Black Berry yielded at the rate of 7000 quarts per acre.  I shall plant quite largely to this variety next season.

As to the blackberry, the Ancient Britain is the variety generally grown. It grows to enormous size and bears abundantly. We have one field in our town containing one-third acre that was planted eighteen years ago (1892) and has borne a good crop of berries each year since, however, new fields will be set largely to the Eldorado.  This variety following the Raspberry more closely and makes it a more satisfactory berry in several ways. I will also say that a great many acres will be planted to the currant which fruit also reaches perfection in our climate.

With this much for our small fruits I would like to say just a word concerning what we are doing with larger fruits.  One hundred and twenty-five acres will have been set to cherries by next spring. This fruit excels in the Bayfield Peninsula: the trees load up with fruit each year. There is no doubt but that the Peninsula is destined to become one of the greatest cherry growing districts in the country.

The largest apple orchard in the state is now located at Bayfield.  This orchard comprises sixty acres and will have twenty acres more added to it next spring.  The orchard is owned by Mr. William Knight, our delegate to the convention. A great number other orchards of from tow to ten acres have been planted and the trees generally are doing fine.  There is something about the soil and climatic conditions of the Peninsula and Apostle Islands that make this section particularly adapted to fruit growing.  This is very evident from the way the trees load up with fruit and in this regard I should like to repeat what I stated in my paper read before the Minnesota Society. “Think of a one year English Morello cherry tree, thirteen months from planting yielding seventy-six cherries and a Patten Greening apple tree planted in the spring of 1906, yielding this season one hundred and sixty apples that averages half a pound each.” Two small Wealthy apple trees in my garden gave me four barrels of beautiful apples with not a wormy apple or one affected with scab to be found in the lot: and so I might mention many instances of remarkable yield but time will not permit.  

I should like to call your attention to the Duchess apple as grown with us.  Think of having Duchess Apples in the middle of January that are firm and solid kept on a shelf in an ordinary cellar.  We have just such Duchess grown at Bayfield. I heard one gentlemen at the Minnesota meeting make the complaint because their town had no suitable express rate on apples and for this reason he could not ship the Duchess as it would be twenty-four hours  in transit by freight. Our Duchess would ship to California and then back to New York, if necessary; and the planting or this variety in our section is going to make the growers lots of money, and I might mention the Wealthy, Patten Greening and other varieties but this is out of line with my subject.

A few more words concerning another peculiarity that we cannot account for and that is this, the Thimbleberry; sometimes found in New York state and part of New England and Washington: grows wild throughout the peninsula and islands.  But is confined entirely to this section; and what is known as the Washington Hazelnut, very large specie, is produced in the same way indicating that there is something peculiarly beneficial in our soil and lake climate for producing all kinds of fruit.

This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.