Page images

ations which effect the demands for rosins and turpentine. Even with the small group of dependent operators his control goes but little farther than an expression of opinion as to the desirable course, for not infrequently, despite a desire for crop reduction, the situation of the dependent is so precarious that the attempt to force curtailment might cause disaster. A turpentine location heavily involved must necessarily produce liberally in order to utilize the only means or hope of salvation. Overhead expense and interest would otherwise quickly bring about bankruptcy. Sharp curtailment of production by the minor producing group would fail in any event to bring about the desired end, hence the responsibility devolves upon the major group of independent and semi-independent producers. It is my experience that these men seek the views of their factors, listen intently to the summing up of the situation, but heed them not in actual practice. Inability to resist the temptation of available timber, necessity of cupping under leases already contracted for, pressure from timber owners who are in need of funds and must cash in their holdings, are some reasons which impel enlarged operations. The desire to be a "big operator" sometimes is the cause of better judgment being suppressed, while always the hope springs eternal that “maybe prices wont be so bad anyway.” Agreements among the operators themselves have proven of no avail in the past and conditions in the naval stores industry do not lead to the belief that a coöperative movement along the lines followed in several of the fruit and vegetable industries could prove effective.

The salvation, so far as conservation of timber is concerned, lies in the operators themselves, who individually must study conditions and act intelligently. The factors will gladly aid and will supply such information as will assist their patrons in reaching wise conclusions, but the final decision as to the volume of production lies almost entirely in the hands of those who actually manufacture the goods.


Mr. Thomas Gamble, Editor of the Naval Stores Review, Savannah, Ga.: I know the industry and trade appreciate the great courtesy this Southern Forestry Congress has shown to it in assigning an entire day to the consideration of questions regarding the protection and needs of the naval stores industry. Those who have followed the history of naval stores know what a tremendous slump has come in receipts, until the last year, when there has been another forward movement. The forward movement in the production this year, those who have investigated this matter feel, has been to a great extent due to the utilization of the small timber that should not have been cut or boxed. In South Carolina, for instance, where nature has come to the rescue of the industry, and where for twenty-five or thirty or more years young timber has been growing prolifically, there has been a tremendous increase in production this year, perhaps forty or fifty stills being operated in that State where probably there were not eight or ten in operation a few years ago.

Men who have recently traversed a great deal of the new growth timber lands of South Carolina tell me that their hearts have been made sick by the destruction of the small trees in that section, trees that if left alone for a few years would have been enormously profitable as turpentine producers and would also have been valuable as lumber trees. The same doubtless holds true in Georgia, where there has been great boxing and cupping of new timber, as a result of which we have seen a large increase in receipts at Savannah and Brunswick. This has been especially noticeable in the production of pale rosins. In fact, the activity of Georgia in the production of pale rosins has been astounding, and to some extent has upset all calculations and done material damage, one might say, in holding down the market value of the upper grades. Mr. Pringle, in his paper, laid special stress, and very properly so, on this boxing and cutting of young trees. The Government has demonstrated conclusively that the working of immature trees is not only unwise but unprofitable to the operator, for the operator loses on every small tree on which he puts an axe or hangs a cup. I asked a factor in Savannah the other day, if this bad practice of cutting young trees was to continue, and he said that only a short time before one of his best operators was in the office, and he said to him, "Why are you operating these small trees? They are not sources of profit to you,” but it was impossible to convince the operator that that was the case. "Why," he said, "I have leased this timber, it temporarily belongs to me, to work for three or four years, and I am going to work everything on the place,” and it was utterly impossible to convince him that he wasn't even getting the cost of labor expended out of the small trees. Not only does the working of young trees destroy the future prospects of the producing timber that would be of great value, but by the increasing of the crop it serves to bring down and hold down the prices of the turpentine and rosin derived from the larger and more mature trees—so that it works two ways. The operator works such trees at a loss to himself, and at the same time by overproduction he reduces the value of the output from the trees that would be profitable. The Georgia crop this season is said to be increasing somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent, to a great extent due to the working of young trees that ought wisely have been left to a future time. The Government showed a year or so ago that there were in sight in the United States, out in the woods and at the ports, in the hands of the producers and otherwise, about one million two hundred and fifty thousand round barrels of rosin. This excess supply of rosin has been hanging over the United States market, as we all know, for several years, and the result has been the holding down of the market to a point that the production of rosin and turpentine has been unprofitable. This morning I asked three large operators whom I saw here what the conditions were in their section. They said there was a very bad feeling of depression as a result of the unsatisfactory rosin prices that are ruling this year.

Mr. Kayton has shown in his paper that this cannot be controlled by the factor, that the factor is not in a position where he can dictate any more, though he might have done so at one time,—to the operators as to what they shall do, and that the remedy lies entirely in the hands of the producers. The demand for naval stores has been more active during the past year.

The foreign demand for turpentine is 50 per cent greater than a year ago, and practically the same for rosins, but while the outside world is taking so much more rosin and turpentine than it did during the previous season, it is not taking enough to take the increased production of 20 per cent, and to bring down the visible supply that was brought over, so that we have not benefited very much from the improvement in consumption, and if we go on another year and increase the crop, it looks as if it is perfectly hopeless to expect better prices from the operations of the naval stores industry.

Mr. C. F. Speh, Turpentine & Rosin Producers Association, New Orleans, La.: The factor and the banker-I say banker, because he furnishes the money--but the factor essentially, has it within his power to remedy the situation. It may not be that he can dictate to the producer and say, "You must only operate so many trees," but the producer needs a little outside education. The solution of this problem is going to be not so much in dictation as in education. If we can bring about a change through education we are going to have much more easy sailing than if we try to force it. So I think we have a perfect right, as producers in the industry, to look to the factor, the man who has always a common interest, to try the educational remedy,—to educate the producer that it is unprofitable to work these small trees. He can do that in several ways, by always telling them that it is to their advantage. He can always have it in his mind to point out to the producer that there is no sense in any business man operating an unprofitable enterprise. It is merely a question of dollars and cents, the foolishness of putting a hundred cents into something and getting back from it only seventy-five cents. We would not do it in the timber business, and we would not do it at anything else. Why, that's not the way we do any of these things. Furthermore, it is unfair, it is wrong

for any man to take upon himself to withdraw from our wealth of one hundred years and destroy it just simply as a means of keeping himself in labor, when we know that he cannot possibly add thereby to his wealth. So I really believe I am going to pass the buck to the factor, that it is up to him to pass the education on to the producer. I believe you will get the more advanced operators to listen to you, and they might help you and take on themselves the work of educating the smaller producers.

Mr. A. K. Sessoms, Cogdell, Ga.: I know this, that a great destruction of small timber has been going on in the woods, but, as to how to best control that, my own views are that it is a matter of education. Now, whether the operator, or whether the factor can best educate him to do it, or go after the man that owns the land, I hardly know, but possibly all of them together could do something. In my opinion it is a question of education of the man owning the timber, or owning the land, to prohibit that gross destruction of his own resources, and that it is not profitable.

Mr. C. S. Hodges, Cyrene, Decatur County, Ga.: Out of thirty years experience in the yellow pine belt of Southwest Georgia, I have observed that necessity is a severe schoolmaster, but I have learned that the turpentine operator will learn in no other than the school of experience. In my own county, Decatur, which is right at the southwest point of Georgia, and in Douglas and Early and other counties in this section, the yellow pine has been the chief source of wealth. It has been heartrending to see the destruction of the yellow pine in southwest Georgia. It is surprising to me that the great Giver of all gifts has allowed the reproduction of that yellow pine harvest. It has been in spite of our efforts, for we have lent nothing to it. We have not protected the yellow pine from the forest fires. In our operations we have been guilty as a man who would pull up young corn. We have cut everything that you could stick a cup on. I thought one time,—and I am sure that we were correct—that when we got cups for the timber it would be a blessing, and I guess it was, but the trouble is that we have not profited by it, because we would stick a cup on a little tree that we could not get a box in. I heard a man say last year

that thousands of those which were cupped were so small that it took two men to do the job,—one to hold the tree steady while the other put the cup on; and that is very nearly true.

The forest in our Southwest Georgia is fast reproducing itself. We have thought the turpentine operators were due no protection, for they use no common sense, you might say, but only greed for gain. We destroy the very thing that would in time be of value to the rising generation and to the State and to ourselves. I do not know how to conserve the forests, though I have made it a study for years. I have tried it in a small way on a few thousand acres of cut-over lands, and the reproduction of that forest has been phenomenal. I have ridden through the holdings of other men near me. I have watched the reproduction there and in the adjoining counties to me, and it is wonderful there, with nothing save what Nature has done. No effort or no man's hand has been turned to save the tree. We live in

« PreviousContinue »