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Wisconsin State Horticultural Society / Transactions of the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society. Proceedings, essays and reports at the annual winter meetings, held at Madison, Feb. 1, 2 and 3, 1870 and Feb. 7, 8 and 9, 1871
(1871 [covers 1870/1871])

McAfee, H. H.
Our native woods, and timber culture,   pp. 37-41 PDF (1.1 MB)


Page 39


TRANSACTIONS FOR 187.3
their succession of growth and decay, carry on their work of renovation and
recos-
struction till they have obliterated the sterility forced upon the soil by
our wrong-
doing, our robbery-not culture. This, if atmospherical conditions are favorable,
is
the cycle of organic life, often observed; and it proves, what? that the
plant is the
salvation or the redemption of the soil from the abhorred vacuum of sterility.
The grandest problem of any age remains for us to work out by tree-planting
upon the so-called Great American Desert This immense area, sloping from
the
great central axis of upheaval of our continent down almost to the center
of the
Mississippi valley, is from some cause strangely deficient in timber, and
it is very
dry and almost sterile in some parts. To just how great an extent artificial
tree-
planting will increase the humidity of the atmosphere, and consequently the
pro-
ductiveness of the soil, cannot be predicted, but that good effects in that
direction
will follow arboriculture, there is no reason for doubt All the evidences
which can
be obtained go to show that the grass covered area is getting larger, and
the cactus
and artimesia area correspondingly smaller, since this region has been known
by
civilized people. The firebrand of the Indian and the wandering white man
has
been reducing the groves until at many places the only timber growth left
is upon
the large river islands, where the trees stand literally intrenched behind
the flowing
waters; but the few outliers which have for centuries withstood the flames
on the
highlands prove that wood growth is possible even on the high prairies at
many
points, and the suggestion which has come to many a mind, is that if our
national
legislature and our gigantic railroad corporations would but support proper
organized
effort, the most benificent results to our present and future population
could be ac-
complished upon the " Great American Desert."
In support of the profitableness of tree production so many facts, established
by
actual trial, could be cited, that any man should be convinced that trees
will pay on
any bare farm. True, we are too young in forest-planting to have proved more
than a few years' growth; but taking the results of these few years for data,
and
allowing for every contingency, making in all respects a conscientious estimate,
the
show of profits to the grove-maker are so large as to surprise even the calculator.
Mr. Budd of Shellsburg, Iowa, who has grown the several species of ash to
quite a
large extent, estimates the net receipts from ten acres of red ash, of twelve
years'
growth, at $3,720. Mr. Schofield of Elgin, IlL, estimates the value of pine
and
European larch plantations as more than double these figures; and I have
taken
known trees for a guide, and after making every deduction for culture, interest
on
investments and taxes, I find that the net profit upon a ten acre grove of
red
maple, honey maple, red elm and white elm, at twelve years old, amounts to
$1,152, or $9.60 per acre per year clear profit, above all expenses. (See
Transac-
tions of Illinois Horticultural Society for 1868, page 249.) An objection
is raised
that these are only estimates, not facts. So everything in the future is
an estimate,
an expectation, or even a wish; your next year's harvest and your next year's
bread
are but expectations, and they are reasonable or unreasonable expectations
in just
so far as they are based upon actual knowledge, and in just so far as they
take into
consideration all the probable causes likely to affect the production of
the expected
harvest. If all adverse probabilities have been duly considered, all favorable
con
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