Little Storie of Nuimber I Florida Agriculture September 1934
New Farm Crop for Florida
Found in China's Tung Oil
TELLOW men, pigtails dangling, vent
rudging along tortuous mountain paths, the burdens on their shoulders becoming more tiresomee with every step. They were on the way from the primitive and undeveloped interior of a vast area to streans down which the produce they carried could be floated until it reached seaports whence shipments in international trade might go forward, perhaps to American manufacturers.
Chinese thus transported and disposed of tung oil, extracted from seed grown on midget faris. When these had been plucked by hand from the tung trees, the husks were removed, much as in the United States the hulls are taken off of black walnuts. In large logs rectangular troughs had been hollowed out. A plank was placed along the side of each, and the remaining space filled with the tung nuts.
Wedges driven between the wall of the trough and the plank applied pressure to the nuts that squeezed out most of the oil. Wicker baskets were used in conveying the product on the first laps of the long journey required before it could be utilized in making paints and varnishes. Sales were closed on the banks of the waterways, for paltry sums, with which the growers bought daily bread.
Freighting the oil downstream was arduous. Rapids frequently must be run, with danger of upsetting the cargoes. Tribute often had to be paid for permission from bandit chieftains to cross the territories they held in subjection. Chinese traders in tung oil are beset with difficulties until they make deliveries aboard the ships that sail the seven seas.
Diluted on the way to the seacoast, and of none too good quality in the beginning, tung oil from China, formerly the sole source of supply, was not always satisfactory when received by the ultimate processors. Paint facNOTE-Findings of the State Agricultural Experiment Station (established at Lake City 1887, removed to Gainesville 1906-7) are furnished to the farmers and
>rower of Florida mainly through these channels: (1) a 1tic.es written 'by staff members appearing in farm journals, newspapers and other periodicals; (2) bulletins, mIlore than 270 of which have been printed, 'noW having a circulation of approaching 100,000 copies annually; 3) correspondence consisting of some 5,000 letters a nonth, most of them r tn in response to requests for information; (4) radio b broadcasts, daily from State and University of Florida Station WRLF, frequently or other stations; (5) field contacts by the Agricultural Etension Service, which 'federal, state and county government jointly maintain 'with farm agents in 40 counties and 1ome demonstration ag ets in 30. (ltradi. cation and control of plant pets or diseases requiring iegal action arein charge of the Florida State Plant Board.)
tories in this country began to seek a purer product from nearer fields. Culture of the trees within the United States on a commercial scale would solve the problem.
Would tung trees grow here? Research was drawn against for an answer to the question. Tung oil mostly comes from the warmer sections of China, indicating that the trees should be tried out in the southern half of the United States. Plant collectors for the Federal Department of Agriculture obtained seeds, which were distributed from Florida to California, between 1905 and 1909.
Young plants from these seeds were closely observed. At this point, the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station entered the Iicture. Tung trees on the grounds of the main station at Gainesville made the best growth of any that were under test. Then the experiments were extended to cover a larger territory.
North-Central Florida proved especially hospitable. Plantings were made in almost every direction from Gainesville. In five or six years, the young trees began to bear seeds in limited quantities. Production gradually increased until in 1928 it was sufficient to justify the erection of a crushing plant. The first carlot shipment of oil was dispatched shortly thereafter.
Initial movement to foreign ports of tung oil from Florida took place through the port of Tampa in the early part of January, 1934. The output of the crushing plant in Gainesville is pure, and of a high grade. The nuts are rapidly handled and the equipment is modern. Plans have been worked out for additional mills elsewhere in Florida.
The tung oil industry in the United States
is established. From the yellow men in China has come Ia now source of income to Florida agriculture.* Success in growing tung trees was achieved largely through the endeavors Nf the State Agricultural Experiment Station. And the Station continues to foster the industry,
,_ A few years ago a serious disease, called "bronzing", began to menace the trees. Within the past two years-effective control nwasures have been discovered. The treatment recommended by the Experiment Station starts the trees into normal growth and specimens in bad condition have shown astounding recOveTIes.
Crops now extensively. and profitably grown in Florida thut were introduced by the State Agricultural Experiment Station also include velvet means, the dm ostra tip of the value of vetch and Austrian peas, estImated annual value $,000,000.00, the crotalarias, with a million dollar a year output, and numerous others. isea e-reiislant varieties of tobacco, sugarcane and yovernI additional products, developed or introduced by lle Station, have saved important farming industry es from d estruin.
Published and Distributed by UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRIC LTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
W.LMON NEWELL, Director
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