P. L. GRANGER, LEXINGTON.
“Michigan as a fruit state is a back number.” Do you believe this? Is that putting it too strong? Anyway that is the essence of a prominent two-column article in a national fruit magazine of over one hundred thousand circulation. And the men who were responsible for that expression are, I suspect, in this room at this time. Furthermore, I believe that they were more than half-justified in making the statement.
Michigan has always had the reputation of being a conservative state, in horticulture as in polities formerly, and that conservatism has held sway to such a degree that it has developed a flare-back and almost dismembered its own supporters. We have been conservative until that word has developed a meaning almost criminal.
But I believe that an awakening is at hand and that this splendid Apple Show is the inspiration for greater things in the future. You all realize that fruit-growing, as an industry, is growing more highly competitive every day. The next five years will witness greater strides than the past twenty-five have. For instance, do you know that in the Inland Empire of the West fifteen million apple trees will be in bearing in 1915? If 25% of these produce a crop there will be 25 thousand cars of choice western fruit on the market in that year. Further, do you realize that the men marketing that crop have the ad-vantage of 10 years of progress and thousands of dollars in advertising their apples and creating a market for their crop? Sunset Magazine has spent 35 thousand dollars in the past six months; telling of the West and its products in all the big magazines of the country. Every rail-road and the fruit organizations of the Pacific Northwest have spent other thousands advertising the land of the “Big Red Apple.” Lastly, the West has the finest fruit paper in the United States, which has never paid a dollar in dividends, simply because every profit has gone back into the paper to advertise the West and its apples. All this is going to be a mighty advantage in selling apples when apples are a drug on the market and we must stand up and compete with them for that market or get out of business. My friends, you’ve got to “go some.”
The first thing necessary is organization in every fruit community.
Second. Michigan needs a fruit paper devoted to the fruit interests of the state and boosting first, last and all the time for Michigan horticulture.
Third. Michigan needs a land boom which will accomplish two ends: 1st. Place before the entire country the possibilities of this most favored state for fruit-growing and; 2nd. Rid the state of its back-number farmers and fruit-growers as far as possible, incorporate progressive spirit in their place and give Michigan a fighting chance for place in commercial horticulture. This state lacks nothing in the way of soil, climate and markets to make it the greatest fruit state in the union. But Michigan does lack men. Men with big ideas and with a fighting, boosting, spirit for Michigan. We have a few of them and they are making good just as far as it is possible under the limiting conditions set by the hundreds of others who never had a live idea in their lives nor the backbone to push that idea if they did get one.
Lastly, in conjunction with the above there must be an effective, judicious, persistent campaign of advertising of Michigan fruit, particularly Michigan apples. One year ago, advertising Michigan apples under the then present packing conditions would have been useless expenditure of money. Now the whole solution lies in your hands. Beginning July, 1913, Michigan apples standardized under the Sulzer Law can go out to show the West, the East and the South what real apples are and create a demand for more. In conclusion we must admit that Providence and an insurgent Congress have been very kind to Michigan, let’s make the most of it.