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)
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 39
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