Agricultural Education.

Material Information

Agricultural Education.
Series Title:
Writings and Speeches 1891-1920
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Rolfs, Peter Henry
Physical Location:
Articles, Speeches and Other Writings
1. Agricultural Education.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural extension work -- Florida.
Agriculture -- Florida -- Experimentation.
Agriculture -- Florida.
Citrus fruit -- Florida.
Pineapple -- Florida.
Tobacco -- Florida


A presentation giving a summary of agricultural work in Florida.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida Archives
Rights Management:
Copyright Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier:
MS Coll 63a

Full Text

SAgrieultural Education as Influenced by Scientific Work,

Someone has defined a farmer as a man who

liv-e in the country and spends his money in the city; P.nd ari

agriculturist is a who lives in the city and spend. his

.oricney in the co;uLtry. I should to paraj-phra'.se this by

sayin.l- that te.o fiarmpr is a man who roTs the lind to produce a

crop, while the agrioui..ti-rist is a man who produces a crop annd

adds to the fertilvty ofhli land.

Agriculture, though tl.e ;-,ost primitive of industries, has

long remained in the most priJmitive -.state. As l:ng' aa' we pt-.
-., .. r. P.r', e Sa
essed large areas of unoccupied terrd oryr it was ary to

give any thought to tr,,P conservation of soil fertility.

Th -elerients need for trop production were supplied on vacant
lands more rapidly tiLan thi,.. c,'.ild be expended on the tilled A

There was no occasion for an,. one to wantn" his -rain power on

problems of every day fnarm projects. Wien one farm or section

of a farm :ec:ume strile, another was simply placed into ser-

vice and the worn out field allowed to rc-caperate by natural

methods. Our hillsides were washed by gullie,, our lower lands

covered with alluvium, our once fertile haimocks rtduoed to

sterility, And finally the time came when; such practices failed

S"to yieJd sufficient returns, It was then we had to expend

more of our grey matter on questions as to how to more cheaply


produce our Agricultural crops. The more crowded sections of

Europe were reduced to this condition somewhat earlier than the

sparsely settled America. That people will not use their brains

unless they have to has been abundantly illustrated by the fact

those of the Eastern population of the United States have flock-

ed Westward, and settled up the rich lands in the interior of

the country, leaving behind years and decades of improvements on

the old farms and starting on the unoccupied lands of the West.

Here only to build up homes, deplete the soil and then move

again. If in the place of wasting vL& oaf this musj64ar energy '

a-oertain amount of brain ew.rry.^"Ifat 1 i. ,.
WES ; .j. t

very few of the old Eastern farms would have 'been' snbo'aned.

We now find the anomalous conditions of Eastern farms, with

their improvements, selling for less than the Western lands with

out' any improvements. These conditions, however, have been

rapidly changing during the last decade,

.The Westerner,, however, by his migration seems to have

profited more by this peculiar condition than his Eastern


To find the best types of Agricultural Colleges and the-

best generally informed agriculturists, we must go to the newer

sections of the United States. As much as three decades ago

Michigan, then ,a far western State, p:;aced her Agricultural


College on the high plain of educational efficiency, and for

many years this college proved to be a model upon which were

founded many of the western Agricultural Colleges, many of the

southern Agricultural Colleges, and she also had a very strong

modifying influence in remodeling the older eastern agricul-

tural colleges. Many of these newer colleges, which were mod-

eled after the Michigan college, profited by the experience and

varied their institutions so as to meet more perfectly the local

conditions. We now find that some of these daughter colleges

have quite outstripped their mother, both in equipment and in

general training facilities. : .:. .-.

General agricultural education has been somewhat slow in

coming, but the event is as certain as it is slow. There is

a steady and progressive increment in agricultural education

from year to year, the movement is pushed along first by one ele-

ment then by another. More than twenty years ago, when the

Florida Agricultural College was established, the whole sub-

ject of agriculture was taught by one man in addition te his

duties as Professor of Greek. The tid e of Greek and Agricul-

ture was .certainly unique in the history of our Agricultural

CollegesB Fbo this very modest beginning, however, the sub-

ject has been gradually expanded until at the present time

we have nearly a score of men whose entire.time is devoted


directly to this subject. Twenty years ago such an officer as

State Chemist was scarcely dreamed of, and the Commissioner of

Agriculture for the State of Florida, was only as an appointive

officer with many conflicting duties, mainly outside of Agricul-

ture. Today a visit to Tallahassee would show a lively, hust-

ling, busy office, gathering useful information and distribut-

ing it to the agriculturists and others of the State. Our Com-

missioner of Agriculture is ably seconded by the State Chemist

and by their united efforts they are driving from our quarters

fraudulent fertilizers and feed concerns and protecting the hen-

est dealer as well as the honest p.W;c- r .Qf thosp.ae4,. -* -.-

Our able State Chemist with his two assistants, both of whom

are trained in Universities, stand constantly ready to supply

the needed information to every farmer in the State, I have

thus briefly outlined the general situation of agriculture in

Florida, and will new take up some specific illustrations, which

might be greatly multiplied to show how'~Irectly scientific

investigations bear upon our agricultural welfare in the State

of Florida. ,he illustrations I am us*ng' have been drawn from

work done by men in the United States Department of Agriculture,

as well as those employed directly as State officers. All of

these men have, pade it a rule to work directly upon economic

agricultural problems, especially as related to the State Qf,


Florida, regardless of the source from which their compensation

came. As a matter of fact, the salaries received were in

all cases very inadequate to the results obtained. These

workers have caught the spirit of investigation and enthusiasm

that goes with true scientific investigation, forgetting entire-

ly the matter of pecuniary reward, and taking as their reward

for th.e greater part, the coommendations from their fellow



Pineapple Growing. The soil upon which pineapples are grown

in Florida is so extremely sterile, that in all other portions

of the world no crops are grown on soils of similar character.

The typical pineapple field of Florida is merely a sand dune,

this character of soil stretches along the East Coast for manr ..

miles, also on the west coast, especially on the Gulf islands.

The native vegetation on the pineapple ;and is the typical

sand dune flora, consisting in our State, principally of the

spruce pine, technically known as Pinus Clausa. Chemical analy.

sis of this soil shows that it is composed of over ninety nine ,

per cent of sand and insoluble matter ..,T.Upon such .soil no .gg,7-,-

culturist in an. other country would have the hardihood to at-

tempt to grow a crop, even in the most densely populated Europ-

ean country this sort of land is considered waste land. In

Florida, h.e;ever, the price of this land before it is cleared is

held at from ten to two hundred dollars an acre, varying in

price with the location. The agricultural pursuits carried on

on this lana would have been practically impossible fifty years

ago, even twenty years ago the possibility of raising pineapples

on this land was a very doubtful questi n. ,The fact that it is

possible to grow pineapples on this soanl ustthe present time

cannot be doubted when we remember thlt 750 thousand crates of

pineapples are produced annually on this charracter of soil.


Naturally our, friends who are familiar with the fertile lands,

and especially those who have farmed on the alluvial T'ottoms

will l1ok upon this as a somewhat visionary time of agricul-

ture. When you remember, however, that these pineapples are ,

shipped into the northern market in direct competition with the

Cuban and Mexican crops, grown on the fertile lands of these

countries, you will wonder how it is possible for the Florida

pineapple grower to exist, or anyone to exist under these con-

ditions. Fine painted houses, towns and even small cities

have sprung up in the last twenty years with the pineapple <

growing as the basis of their prosperity,. ..
^. .. .. .. ..? .. .. .. ..- ,

1Not only are pineapples grown on this soil, but in the

hands of the experienced agriculturist, pineapples of the most

superior quality are produced under the conditions. Fruit

plants as we all know, take the nourishment from the soil, it

is a matter of indifference to them whether the nourishment

the take from the soil produces an excellent fruit or an in-

ferior one. The pineapple grower ha3 learned from experience

and from scientific men how to grow a quality of fruit in his

field that possesses all the desired qualities and none of the

undesired ones. In the alluvial lands the condition of the

season plays a very important part on the production of quality

in these fruits. The pineapple grower places nothing in the


soil that is deleterious, therefore the pineapple under no con-

dition of weather can secure anything that will make any but

the first quality fruit.

It may be considered by some that as Floridians we may

be over zealous as to the quality of the pineapples, if this is

so, this enthusiasm has extended itself through the fruit to

the consumers thereof. The consumer who probably cares very

little whether the fruit is grown in Florida or Porto Rico still

pays a very handsome bonus to ,secure the fruit which we ship

into the market. As an illustration of this I may cite the

fact that two years ago Dade County pineapples sold at whole-

sale market in St. Louis bringing $4.60 a orate, while Cuban

pineapples selling on the same day and in the same market

brought $1.50 a crate. It is not likely that the retail "Dago,

spent any mYoney on sympathy or sentiment, but he bought the

fruit which would bring him "de mon." It should not be infer-

red that I wish to maintain that every crate of fruit shipped

from a Florida pineapple field brings the top market price, be-

cause we will have some inferior agriculturists, who inspite of

better knowledge will do poor work.

t "

i .-9-

In preparing our fruit for market, the pineapples are now

almost entirely shipped in what is known as the half barrel

crate, this weighs about eighty or ninety pounds. The pine-

apples in the field are sized according to the nuriber that it

requires to fill these crates, in the nLarket vernacular they are

known as 12s, 18s, 24s, 30s, 36s, 42s, and 48e, the figure a ig-

nifying the number it takes to fill one of these crates.

The retail markets exhibit preference for certain sizes, for

example, a year ago the 24s were bringing the top market, this

year the 30a were pretty generally in the lead. It is there-

fore desirable for the pineapple grower to be able to grow that

size which is bringing the best money. Our Experiment Station

Chemist has demonstrated that it is within the power of the

pineapple grower to produce the aize pineapple he desires, with-

in certain limits, As our 24s and 30s are pretty sure to bring

the best price it is more desirable to produce these sizes

than those that are very jiuch larger or very much smaller,, con-

sequently by manipulating our fertilizers proper, we have it in

our power to' produce more of these sizes than any other. All

of these would be entirely beyond our control if our fields

were located o' fertilee soil, likewise the production of the

highest aroma anr the tenderest pulp would depend entirely upon
the climatic conditions of the year.


Citrus Withertip. Among the achievements of scientific work,

in connection with the citrus disease, we may mention that of

the withertip. I will not burden you with a historical resume

on this fungus disease nor with the technical description of it,

but wish to call your attention to the fact that we have here a

disease in the citrus orchards in mant respects like that of the

black rot of the apple. This fungus attacks the bloom, twigs

and fruit, in fact it may infect the tree at any stage of its

growth. Fifteen years ago the disease was practically unknown

in Florida. The fungus has been present for many years, but

in previous years its effects were not worth noticing. Its

virulent character, however, has become very pernicious since

the memorable freezes of 1894 and t95. Previous to these years

the disease was practically unknown excepting to scientists.

Since that time it has been increasing in virulence until almost

every citrus grower in the State has become painfully aware of

its presence.

Five year ago the United Sta~tesDepartment of Agriculture

sent a Botanist to this State to investigate the citrus diseases

immediately upon his arrival it was found that this was one of

the most serious troubles confronting the citrus grower.

I will not burden you with a recital of the details in connect-


ion with this disease, the immense amount of labor necessary

to understand it toohnically, frequent disappointments, and

many surprises. At the end of five years, however, it has

been made possible for the citrus grower to protect his crops

cheaply and certainly against this insiduous foe.

*-*' .-.: 1. .. ,*'*',*,* *.'- .


Fighting Seale Insects. Th-ere is scarcely anyone in the

United States today connected with agriculture, either scientif-

ically or practically, who has not come in active contact with

some of the scale insects, especially the San Jose acale.

This pernicious little creature has fastened itself upon the

horticultural industry in every State in the Union. Probably

no other pest of the orchards has demanded so large an amount

of tribute from the toils of the orohardist. In nanrjr States it

may be said that this species of insect was directly responsible

for the inauguration of the active, practical, scientific work.

Florida as well as other States fell a viti:".ji to its ravages,

the amount of destruction wrought here was quite commensurate

with the extent of deciduous fruit growing. Florida is prob-

ably the pioneer State in th- manufacture of contact insecticid-

es, consequently these means were first employed for combatting

this dangerous pest. It was, however, soon discovered that

these means were,,the most economical nor the most efficient.

For a number of years we preferred to blunder along with our

spraying machines, later, however, a new idea dawned in our

cranium, we wondered why it was not practical to start a new

warfare against insects. It was soon discovered that in Flor-

ida we had a species of fungus that was parasitic upon this

other mischievous enemy, by careful 'scientific work, it was


soon demonstrated that this worst of our enemies could be con-

trolled by the use of fLingi. It has taken sometime for this

form of procedure to become acclimated in the minds of the

practical growers. of the masses has gradually

gone on until at the present time the fungus remedy for S.n

Jose scale has been applied in orchards of the extent of five

hundred acres, also on smaller orchards. By keeping an exact

account of the cost of spraying and also of .the cost of applying

the fungi, it is found that the fungus treatment costs only

about ten per cent of tihe insecticidal treatment. At the

present time fully fifty per cent of our citrus growers have

stored their spraying machines carefully inside of the packing

house and are taking the fungus and distributing it through

their groves, Thus using the natural nimthod not only for com-

batting San Jose scale., .but also the nany other scale insects

that infest citrus orchards. Some of the hardy pioneers in

this method of insect warfare have not sprayed for scale insects

for ten years and yet ship fruit that brings the highest prices

in the markets,


Citrus Breeding. All the members of this Association are very

falniliar"* the fact that in December of 1894 a very disaas-

trous freeze occurred throughout the State of Florida. A phe-

riomenon ly low temiperat tU-re w.:- re..ched thr. .,'h out t th?, fintire

southeastern United Stiats. The tremp.rature in t'.is vicinity

ranged very low aj.proaLohing 15 degror5n, fP.rther west "in the

Statlo of Florida the te',liper-titre was even lownr than this.

18 degrees, under ordinary';,, is -suffioien t to 1o-

foliate all of our valiaalo cities trees .nd in measure kill ;i

the smaller branches. While the temperature of 15 degrees is

sufficient to destroy all 1th0e r I-"

ger branches, it is not sufficient, however, to kill citrus

stock out right, unless this low tempvrat,..r continues for a

considerable number of.hours in succession. A mere drop to

this point and sudden recovery does not mean killing down of

citrus trees. Following this very cold weather we had very

high temperature during Januarj the defoliated condition of the

trees and high temperature together stinulated 2 very rapid

growth. In the middle of February of that year occurred another

extremely eold period in which the thermometer dropped down abott

the same temperature as it did in December. The citrus trees

having been stimulated into active growth and entirely denuded,

were in no condition to withstand such severe treatment, as a

result the second freeze totally destroyed' the citrus orch-
ards far to the south of Jaoksonville. What this

freeze meant to Florjda no one, except those *who passed thro-

ough the severe ordeal, can imagine the amount of property des-
troi.ed is only a small portion of the havoc produced.

The direct loss of property to the Stc.te of Florida as result-

ing from th:s terrible freeze has been variously estimated from

sixty to eighty millions of dollars. Yet this immense loss

of wealth to the St:ate probably attracted less attention and

created less sympathy for the unfortunates, than the loss of

much less amount of property by fire.

At the time of this terrible calamity, the United States

Department of Agriculture had working in th-e State or T'lrada,.-

two of its riost energetic and highly scientific men, Drs. Web-

ber and Swingle. Their special mission in the State was that

of investigating the various diseases of citrue. It at once

bec-une apparent to tTem that all the diseases combined were not

as serious a -:'enace to citrus industry as was the lack of hardi-

ness in our citrus trees. They at once set themselves to the

task of producing citrus trees which would be able to pass

through the severe freezes unharmed. The results of their

general investigations proved very clearly that the production

of a hardy tree in any reasonable length of time could hot be

accomplished by the ordinary methods of selection, but that

which must be brought about by a radical and rapid change such

as only can be produced by hy-ridisation, they therefore,

selected the h].rdy Citrus trifoliata, which produces a worthless

fr';it, yet m.intaiins itself as far north as Philadelphia and

New York, for one of the parents., This species was used to

produce hardiness, and for the other parent they selected the

,comiion -sweet oran,.re, with its delicious fla,.vor .\nd luscious

,fruit, to give these desirable qualities to the projedy.

The results of their labor, which was begn so recently,

has met with signal Scocess. kt thii meeting I have the priv-

ilege of placing before you spccimes isf"'th ''fruit 'wio,~:h .is '

the result of these efforts. I un also exhibiting for youm

observation fruits from, each of the parent.ts

To people who are so familiar with progress in agricul-

tural development, I hardly need tp present the details of

how this w.rork bas accomplished. The great aimunt of work of

the most technical and accurate kind, the patient and pains-

taking methods, and the supreme confidence needed for so bold

and daring an under king.

The originators of this work as ,well as of all those who

are familiar with their efforts do not claim that the end has

been reached, We have here, however, an ocular demonstration

of the results brought about in ten years. 'The hybrid which


hau been produced withatanids the w4int;err temperature which is

likely to owcur in the regions south of the Appalachian moun-

taF!ins, indeed tree, of tVis variety have passed the winters suc-

cessfully, I hav-e been told, at the Georgia cx:ernimeni-t Station.

The authLora of this work, I 'hinrk at no time expected or s~tmx

cla-ned to be able to reach the ooveted end in one single bound.

I exhibit to .,'ou also the leaves and brartches of both the

resulting hybrid and of eoth of the parents. These as you

will see sh;3ow a very striking disi:milarity to either of the

"S^ :-j *R- : ^ta M l


Tobacco Breeding. Rlorid% as is well known has for a long

time held an important place as a source of the finest grades

of tph1,acno. The c o.,wion gr.dt-e.s of tobacco are rarely ever grown

in Florida. Professor Co0by, who is with us :-~nd iill present

to us a lpapier on this subject, w.ll give us in more detailed

and 'qucci more interestinFi way than it is possible for mo to do,

the results of this most excellent work. To pass it over,

however, without a ientiol would be leaving out one of the most

important ad successful pieces )f -work carried out in Florida

by scientists in The ai d a-1rig1 ture. 4A

-19- ,

Final. The brief essay that I have prepared for you and

the rather frag-rentary wat,, in which it has been presented should

not be regarded as being at all a complete presentation of the

subject. As a matter of fact, I have only touched here and

there on some of the high points. The amount of work that is

now being done .dnd the aroi.nt of work that will be done in the

near future can only be surmised by what has been done in the


Many agencies will t"r required to carry fur,'ard the work

successfully on the high pl.;.n on which they have been so

.. ... : ..'. ,.
successfully inaugu.ratV .....A. ,

will doubt who has had anythingg to do *ith the agricultu A1.4

Florida. The resourcHs obttuinale for this lino of work have

been taxed to the utrMost. The funds available at tl. present

time might be multiplied many ;ti&as without the least danger of

anj of them being dissipated. The agents who have been in-

strutnental in bringing about these results have ao.d to take the

major portion of their comipeisation in the form of appreciation

from those for whom they have teen laboring. After ill, this

is the in,',t important reward that anyone can receive. High

salaries are useful only when they mean advancement in a par-

ticular line of work in which the .gnnt is concerned.

I e .

-.. 20-

The storing up of vast amount of wealth does not necessarily

iiiean advancement in well being and happiness.

t,,4 L. .. a .,.,, ..rS ^^..
^-' i !*- *' '^ *'.* gi m RMfi~ fiH ~ fK ^

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