KansasGenWeb Logo


The three reports below were written by Lincoln County farmers who grew apples commercially at the end of the 19th century. They appear on pages 121-123 in the following book with a very long, wonderful title:


According to this book in 1897 Lincoln County had 19,619 bearing apple trees and 18,846 trees not bearing fruit with a total of 38,465 apples trees in the county. Many apple growers' reports appear throughout the book. These three reports are indicative of the small and large apple grower. They also offer a good look at a part of agriculture in Kansas that most don't consider when they think of growing crops in Kansas

WILLIAM BAIRD, Vesper, Lincoln County: I have lived in Kansas twenty-seven years; have an apple orchard of 300 trees, from one to fifteen years old; the old ones measuring twelve inches in diameter. For commercial purposes I prefer Ben Davis, Missouri Pippin, Winesap, and Huntsman's Favorite. Think I shall discard Red Astrachan and Red Betigheimer on account of shy bearing. I prefer bottom, sandy soil, clay subsoil and a northwest slope. I prefer good, stocky, low-headed, yearling trees set from twenty-five to thirty feet in the row; have tried root grafts; that is the only successful way to grow trees here. I cultivate my orchard to potatoes for the first two or three years, after that to any kind of vines. I use a stirring plow, plowing very shallow near the trees and deeper near the center. I grow nothing in a bearing orchard, and cease cropping after five years. I think windbreaks are essential and would make them of seedling peach, Russian mulberry or any quick-growing trees, in three or four rows on the south side of the orchard. I trap the rabbits and use my knife on the borer; am not troubled with them very much. I prune trees while young to give the proper shape to the top and later to remove the crossed limbs and cause them to spread out and shade the trunk and as much space as possible. I have thinned the fruit on trees to a limited extent; it should be done when about the size of quail eggs. Think it makes little difference whether trees are planted in block or mixed up.

I do not fertilize my orchard; the soil is rich enough; water is what it needs. I pasture my orchard with hogs and think it advisable as they eat all the wormy fruit and destroy many insects by rooting; I find it pays. My trees are troubled with root aphis; my apples are bothered by codling-moth, gouger and blue jays. I spray with London purple and lime, about 100 gallons of water to one pound of purple and six pounds of lime. I think Paris green would be better. I spray for canker worm as soon as I see them, and am of the opinion that one application is enough, but do not think spraying of any use for codling-moth, as the moth itself does not eat anything but the honey from the base of the bloom, and not enough of the poison reaches them to amount to anything. My method of fighting them them is, as soon as the moth appears in the spring, to put old fruit cans in the trees filed [sic!] with sweet water. This attracts the moths and they drown in it. I also burn torches in the orchard at night. Another way is to hang a lantern over a tub of water that has a little coal-oil in it; this will kill a great many insects.

I hand-pick my fruit into sacks slung over the shoulder; I use a step-ladder for those I cannot reach. I sell apples in orchard; also retail; sell best ones to best customers; I dry second and third grades; of culls I make cider and vinegar and feed to pigs. My best market is at home. I dry some apples; use a Victor evaporator and one that I made; after drying we heat in an oven and put in double paper bags, and find a ready market; but it does not pay. I store apples in five-bushel boxes, in a tunnel-like cellar, dug in solid sand rock; it is fifty feet long, five feet wide and six and one-half feet deep with rooms on each side; it is perfectly dry and the temperature even, but it is too warm for winter; I find it is excellent for summer and fall apples. Those that keep best are Rawle's Janet and Missouri Pippin. We have to repack stored apples before marketing; I do not lose many. I use or sell as soon as fit. I irrigate my orchard from a small creek fed by springs. I have two large dams, with ditches running along the hillside, with gates to let the water into the ditches; from the main ditch I have laterals, also provided with gates; the surplus and seepage goes back into the creek below the main dam; the creek below the dam has small dams in ti to hold the seepage water at the desired height--which serves for subirrigation, the best irrigation in the world. The water should not stand nearer than five feet of the surface for apples. I run the water between the rows in wide, shallow ditches, any time from March to September. It is not necessary to have a creek to irrigate an orchard. A good, big ditch along the hillside above the orchard will catch enough melted snow and rain to pay for its construction; this should run into a reservoir. Prices have been from seventy-five cents to one dollar and dried apples from five to twelve and one-half cents per pound.

PETER NOON, Vesper, Lincoln County: I have lived in Kansas thirty years. Have forty apple trees eleven years old, eight to ten inches in diameter, twelve to fifteen feet high. I prefer for all purposes Winesap and Ben Davis. I prefer bottom land with a black soil and sandy subsoil. I plant young trees in rows twenty-five feet each way. I cultivate my orchard for seven years with plow and harrow, raising no crop. Windbreaks are essential; I use cottonwood trees, planted in three rows, around my orchard. I prune with a saw to make the trees bear better and keep them from getting top-heavy; I think it beneficial. I thin my fruit on the trees by hand in July. I never pasture my orchard. My trees are troubled with bud moth. I do not spray. I pick by hand. Never dry any. Do not store any. Do not irrigate. Prices have been from seventy-five to eighty cents per bushel, and dried apples eight cents per pound.

JACOB WEIDMAN, Lincoln, Lincoln County: Have lived in Kansas twenty-eight years. Have an apple orchard of about 1,000 trees, nineteen years old. For commercial purposes I prefer Winesap, Ben Davis, Rawle's Janet, Huntsman's Favorite, Jonathan, Maiden's Blush, Early Harvest, Grimes's Golden Pippin, Duchess of Oldenburg, Autumn Strawberry, Rambo and Gano. For family orchard would prefer Winesap, Huntsman's Favorite, Gilpin, Milam, Early Harvest, Maiden's Blush, Red June, and Limber Twig, the last one being a very good keeper. Have tried and discarded Red Astrachan, Lawver, Golden Russet, Yellow Bellflower, Willow Twig and Smith's Cider on account of blight. I prefer bottom land with rich soil and loose subsoil, with a northern slope. I prefer two-year-old stocky trees planted in a furrow. I have tried root grafts with the best success; the best trees in this county were grown by me. I cultivate my orchard to corn, using a stirring plow; I cease cropping after six years, but keep cultivating until the trees smother the weeds. Windbreaks are essential. I have native timber on three sides, the south, west and north; and a hill on the east. For rabbits I wrap the trees with corn-stalks, which also protects them from sun-scald. Am never troubled with borers. I prune moderately to give shape to young trees and let the sun and air to the fruit on old trees; many trees are injured by heavy pruning. I never thin.

Mixed plantings of trees are best; my Jonathan do well; all do well that bloom at the same time. I do not fertilize. I never pasture my orchard; would not advise it. My trees are troubled with wooly aphis and root-louse. I have sprayed with London purple; last year I sprayed with Paris green and my apples were free from worms; if London purple is used without lime it burns the leaves; Paris green does not mix well, and has to be stirred all the time. I am going to use carbonate of soda and white arsenic this year; four parts of carbonate of soda to two parts of white arsenic, and one gallon of water; boil for fifteen minutes, then add another gallon of water and use two quarts of this to fifty gallons of water. I pick my apples in a sack from a ladder. I sell apples in the orchard; have regular customers for the winter apples. I supply some stores with early and fall apples; never peddle any. I put my second-grade in piles of about thirty bushels each, and cover lightly with dirt until cold weather comes. A little freezing will not hurt them. In March or April I market them, and get as much for them as I get for the first-class ones in the fall. Those that keep best are: Ben Davis, Winesap, Rawle's Janet, Gilpin and Milam. We dry some apples for home use. We put them on frames in a spent hotbed under glass, to keep flies off. I have a large cellar in which I store apples; have never packed them in barrels. I do not irrigate. Prices have been from 35 cents to $1.50 per bushel. Have help of my own.

Return to Lincoln County Kansas Agriculture main page.

Return to Lincoln County Kansas Genealogy main page.

Bill and Diana Sowers, Lincoln County Coordinators
Tracee Hamilton, Lincoln County Coordinator

Home Page for Kansas Search all of Blue Skyways

Copyright 1997, 1998 by Bill and Diana Sowers