Page images

demand, giving in one year an over-supply with a low market and the next year an under-supply with a high market, with the consequence that neither the producer or consumer are benefited. Moreover, putting it on the ratio basis, it takes an investment or expense of 100 cents operating such timber and the best returns possible to expect at the prices which the consumer can afford to pay would be about 75 cents, causing a loss of 25 cents. Therefore, instead of actually creating wealth those producers are absorbing wealth from the South. Moreover, it is not good business. Operators should inform themselves better as to the statistical position of their product and operate with a view of stabilizing market conditions and prevent violent Auctuations existing from over production.

The producers for many years past have gone along in a careless and wasteful way paying little or no attention to conserving the timber, disregarding the fact that the supply is being rapidly depleated by wasteful methods of operation. The chief of which is the working of small immature trees which are not large enough to make a profitable yield, thereby, making a loss to the producer and in many cases consuming all the profit derived from larger trees which not only results in a loss to the operator doing the work but works an injury to his neighbor as well as all who are engaged in the business, as the product from small unprofitable trees is placed on the market and reduces the price. When the sensible thing to have done would have been to work only such size trees as will produce sufficient to give a profitable return on the operator's investment.

The worst feature of operating a small tree is the fact that an asset has been consumed that if left until it becomes of proper age and size would be of greater value and prove instrumental in prolonging the life of the industry on a profitable basis.

The size tree from which a profitable yield can be expected has been worked out and fully demonstrated by the Forestry Department under the able supervision of Mr. Austin Cary which clearly shows that no tree under 10 inches—15 inches from the ground should be worked for turpentine. I make the assertion without fear of successful contradiction that if only trees of the size above mentioned had been worked since the close of the World War that the operators would not be in the deplorable financial condition the majority of them find themselves today. I fear the operators are not profiting as they should from the splendid work being done by the Government in the National Forest Reserve at Crest View, Florida, which is further developed by practical experiments being made at Stork, Fla., and other points from time to time by Mr. A. Cary. I strongly recommend that all operators procure and study closely all bulletins covering these experiments. If the life of the industry is to be prolonged as it should be more conservative methods of chipping must be adopted. It has been clearly demonstrated by the Government in experiments conducted by its efficient Microscopist, Miss Olose Gerry of Forest Products Laboratory, that we have been chipping too deep and climbing the tree too fast both of which detracts from the vitality of the tree and retards production and consumes chipping surface on the tree that should be conserved for later production. A place under my supervision has been operated this season with the chipping done by the method recommended by Miss Gerry namely 1/2 x 1/2 with most gratifying results as to yield and conserving of timber. I think all factors and bankers should coöperate in the matter of conserving small timber to the extent that no advances would be made any operator who would not agree to only work timber of the proper size. Think how foolish it is to spend 100 cents operating timber that at best can only produce 75 cents which only results in reducing the price and in so doing labor is being used that should be utilized for other profitable work.

If we hope to prolong the life of the industry the time is now at hand when we must resort to reforestation and conservation of the young timber which the South Atlantic and Gulf States are so wonderfully blessed with soil and climatic conditions suited for reproducing.

Let's all return to our homes with a firm resolve to coöperate to the utmost to conserve our young timber for the benefit of present and future generations.





In order that I may properly approach the subject which has been assigned to me, it will first be best to consider exactly what is meant by “reckless turpentining.” I should say that the term would apply not only to the wasteful cutting and cupping of small timber, the rapid draining of the trees by chipping too deeply and too frequently, but also the failure to properly protect the timber from the winter and early spring fires which annually visit the forests. Factors may exercise actual control only over a comparatively small percentage of operators and are loath to apply pressure even under conditions where they are in position to dictate to the operator the methods which he should employ. The factor would much prefer adopting a policy of education for a producer who is not susceptible to the improved methods which are now being evolved is naturally an undesirable patron and one who must eventually fail to survive.

It may not be amiss to take a step backward into the past and trace the naval stores business from the early days up to the present time. We find records showing that naval stores were made through the efforts of the early English settlers, who secured pitch tar and rosin from the then vast pine forests which overspread the Virginia shores. The industry has been migratory and has steadily moved southward, then westward, as the virgin forests fell before the axes of the lumbermen, after having been first bled for rosin and turpentine. It has been barely fifty years since the naval stores business was firmly established in this territory and it is less than fifty years since the pioneer factorage house was established in Savannah. For the first twenty-five or thirty years of that period production in this territory developed rapidly and timber was so plentiful and so readily available that turpentine leases could be obtained at very low cost and as a consequence slight capital only was necessary for the establishment of a turpentine still.

As the timber became depleted farther north, the North Carolina operators moved into Georgia and factorage houses in

Savannah were organized and prepared to furnish such accommodation as was needed by the naval stores producers. The facilities required for concentrating and distributing receipts of rosin and turpentine were promptly established and Savannah has remained the chief port for naval stores and bids fair to maintain her premier position.

In view of the low cost of turpentine leases and supplies, loans by factors were comparatively small. Losses were negligible and despite the fact that producers generally were men of little or no education and had not been afforded the opportunity of business training, the profits accruing to them and consequently to the factors were sufficiently remunerative to warrant the factors taking what we would today consider unsound risks. The factors were prepared to furnish their patrons with their entire requirements of supplies, food-stuffs, tools and equipment and as few of the operators enjoyed established credits they were not in position to secure their needs from sources other than the factors. At that time there were practically no country banks, hence banking accommodation was not available, and even actual payroll money was obtained from the factors, who sent it out by express or registered mail as needed.

Conditions gradually changed and the personnel of the naval stores producer has been developed into a type which in intelligence and business capacity compares favorably with the personnel in other lines of industry. Many producers are men of substances who have acquired a goodly share of wordly goods, in fact, must be men of means to control considerable acreage of timber at present values. They are frequently leaders in their communities and many hold public office. They can secure their supplies where they please, can market their product when and as they see fit, and need not market through the factor unless they consider it to their best interest to so do. The independent operator is no longer the exception, though possibly not yet the rule.

Naturally the factor has changed also and where formerly his hold upon his patron was through the purse strings, today his hope for success lies in his ability to perform service. His supply business is obtained only in the keenest competition with modern merchants and in many cases he finds it impossible to

sell goods to an otherwise staunch patron. He must himself be familiar with modern improvements and discoveries and acquire knowledge in such way as he can so that he may intelligently discuss with his patrons the newer thoughts and suggestions which are being thrown out by the research workers of the U. S. Forest Service. Improved methods of chipping the trees have been discovered through painstaking tests extending over a period of years, modification of the tree workings are recommended by the Forest Products Laboratory Microscopist, who has exhaustively studied the structure and processes of the pine, better gathering and stilling methods are taught by the Department of Agriculture's Naval Stores demonstrator, and the factor who desires to prove of value to his producer patrons must coöperate with the various governmental agencies, exchange experiences therewith and act as an intermediary in the dissemination of practical, useful and beneficial discoveries. The factor must further take upon himself the duty of educating his clientele in the desirability and necessity of fire prevention, and creating among the naval stores producers a sentiment in favor of a state organization for forest fire control. Therein lies the hope for permanence of the industry.

I think I may safely assert that fifty per cent of the present day producers are men who operate entirely upon their own capital and are independent. Possibly another 25 per cent seek some accommodation, and borrow from factors since the terms of repayment are more liberal than those offered by banks, but these men could readily secure the funds from other than factorage sources if they so desired. Many of the remaining twenty-five per cent offer their business on a desirable basis and only a small number of present day operators are of the wholly dependent type. It should be obvious, therefore, that the power of the factor to control the volume of production is highly circumscribed and limited mostly to such influence as he can exert in the way of advising for or against curtailment or augmentation of operations. The factor is called upon constantly for his views on market conditions, his ideas about the size of the next crop, and is looked upon as a fount of wisdom from which the likely happenings of the future may be freely drawn in copious streams. He must keep himself well-posted on world conditions and continuously study the changing situ

« PreviousContinue »