Imágenes de páginas

It is believed in some parts of the island that a change is about taking place and that labor ere long will be abundant, and it is pretty certain that in some places the natives do not manifest the same decided disinclination to work that they do in others. The estate of R. W. Wood, Esq., at Koloa, also that of Messrs. Peirce, & Co., at Libue, have, the writer has been informed, received re-inforcements of laborers from Honolulu and Hawaii. This plan of introducing laborers from other islands will undoubtedly be productive of beneficial results. Some idea may be formed of the position in which agriculturists here for a considerable time past have been placed, from the following facts :-Natives have refused to work for less than four dollars per day ; they now demand at Hanalei one dollar per day and eighteen dollars for breaking in a pair of steers.

There is no doubt that matters are much worse than they would have been had the so long and anxiously expected Chinamen arrived in due season.

The sugar crops are generally expected to be pretty good; the new plantation of Messrs. Peirce & Co. is flourishing and the works are fast progressing towards completion. These enterprising gentlemen appear to be determined to overcome every obstacle by which they are beset, and it is to be hoped that they will ere long be amply remunerated for the care and expense they have bestowed in subduing the wilderness and rendering it subservient to the uses of civilized life.

The coffee plantation of Mr. Titcomb is in excellent order, the trees healthy, and he expects a tolerably large crop from it. The plantation belonging to Mr. Hunt and myself and those of Messrs. Archer and Wundenberg, should, if in good order, yield at least seventy tons of coffee this year, but I am sorry to say that owing to the want of labor they are in a very bad state and the most we can expect from them is one third of that amount ; and even this we shall not be able to collect if the Chinamen do not arrive, as the natives will not work.

The condition of the public roads under the superintendence of foreigners is wonderfully improved, and the amount appropriated by government for their further improvement will render them tolerably good and easy for travelling on horseback. It is hoped that in the course

of a very few years the whole of the distance between Hanalei and Waimea will be traversed by a good carriage road.

Vice Pres, of the R. H. A. S.

for the island of Kauai. Hanalei, Kauai, July 31, 1851.



KAUAI, JULY, 1851.

Pater ipsi colendi
Haud facilem esse viam valuit. Virg. Geo. Lib.

Within the whole range of agricultural pursuits it would be difficult to discover any branch affording a more pleasing occupation, or a better subject for contemplation and study, than the cultivation of the coffee tree. In the earlier stages of its growth, a weak and unpromising plant, it becomes under favorable circumstances, by care and the application of science, an object of great beauty and a prolific source of wealth.

With respect to tropical agriculture, independently of the pleasure afforded in watching the full development of the beauty and symmetry of this plant, it possesses the weighty advantage of not requiring so great an outlay in the erection of buildings and provision of machinery for its manufacture as the sugar cane. In our islands it is more certain to find a ready market than indigo, cocoa, cotton, &c., and should the market be overstocked and no immediate sale found for it, instead of deteriorating it improves by keeping.

The great object to be obtained in the cultivation of the coffee tree, is a large annual crop with as little distress to the plant as possible, and to its attainment a judicious use of the pruning knife, as well as

constant care to keep the plant clear of weeds, is necessary ; this is a highly important study to the coffee planter, and one on which there is great diversity of opinion.

With my limited experience I approach the subject with much diffidence, and although I give my own method of cultivation the preference over others, I am far from believing that it may not be materially improved.

The coffee tree is known to, and described by botanists as follows : “Coffea Arabica, or Jasminium Arabicum, a genus of the Pentandria order, belonging to the Mongynia class of plants and ranking in the natural method under the order Rubiacea.”

The coffee tree is generally supposed to be a native of Arabia, but according to some authorities there are reasons to believe that it was imported into that country from Ethiopia, where the use of coffee as a beverage had been known from time immemorial. It is said by some that its exhilarating qualities were first discovered by the prior of a convent in Arabia, who observed the effect produced on goats by browsing on the leaves of the plants, and who afterwards prepared the infusion as it is now used and gave it to the monks to keep them awake during their night devotions. There is no doubt that the use of coffee was discovered in the East, and Constantinople was the place where public establishments were first instituted for the use of this then luxury.

It was introduced into England in the thirteenth century, but for a long period was very little used; the consumption of it however has gradually increased until at the present day it is generally considered one of the necessaries of life.

In the 17th century the Dutch obtained the coffee plant from Arabia which they introduced into their possessions in Batavia, and thence to Amsterdam. Louis the 14th obtained a plant from this place, the seed of which he sent to the French West India Islands, whence the plant was introduced into the British West Indies by Sir Nicholas Laws ; it is probably from this neighborhood that it found its way to South America ; it is also highly probable that the coffee now cultivated throughout the East India Archipelago is from the original stock of the Dutch settlements in Batavia.

Lord Byron is, I believe, entitled to the honor of having first intro

duced it into these islands from Rio de Janeiro ; Mr. Charlton, H.B. M. late Consul, also introduced some plants from Manila, and later still Capt. Little from the same place or Batavia ; those introduced by Mr. Charlton were planted on H. E. Kekuanaoa's land in Manoa valley, and they are the parent stock of the Hawaiian plantations.

The tree will thrive in most of our lands which are sheltered from the violence of the trade winds, and in which the soil is sufficiently deep to allow the tap root to descend two and a half or three feet ; it delights, however, in rich ravines and valleys, in which the soil is alluvial, and in favorable situations the tree attains an extraordinary size, sometimes yielding eight, ten, and even as high as twelve pounds of fruits. The whole of that large belt of rich land on the west coast of Hawaii, situated between the lava on the sea-side, and the range of forest trees on the mountains, and the corresponding lands on the island of Maui, would, I have no doubt, furnish excellent coffee grounds.

No lands on which the soil is not two or three feet deep, or in which volcanic remains are very perceptible should be employed.

The coffeee tree in its natural state grows to fifteen or twenty feet in height ; in Arabia it is said to attain the height of thirty feet ; the wood is soft and white and is covered with a greyish bark ; it is furnished with a long fibrous red tap root, the branches are cylindrical and jointed, and shoot alternately and at nearly regular intervals quite round the tree ; from each joint issue the leaves in pairs, these are of a beautiful dark green color and glossy on the upper side ; they are nearly oval but pointed at the end about four inches long and two wide, with a short footstalk ; they bear a resemblance to the Portugal laurel; the flowers spring from the joints in clusters; they are of a pure white, and delicious fragrance ; they are formed of single petals, and are much like the jasmine but smaller, it is from this resemblance that it derives its botanical name. Upon the flowers falling the berry is discovered of a pale green color, but it soon assumes the dark green hue, which it retains until full-grown when the fruit becomes first whitish, afterwards a bright scarlet, and at length when quite ripe of a deep red color, in this state it bears some resemblance in appearance to cherries. The flowering season lasts, with little variation, from the end of January till the middle of May, and during this time

there are generally three distinct blossoming times when the trees simultaneously break out into flower ; at these times the plantation presents a most beautiful appearance, and the perfume of the flowers pervades the air ; viewed from an eminence it appears as though the trees were covered with flakes of snow ; they remain in this state of surpassing beauty but three or four days when the flowers drop. The berries grow very closely together and in such numbers that as they increase in size the overloaded branches are gradually borne down towards the ground by their weight, and it sometimes happens that they actually break beneath their burden.

In consequence of the different times of blossoming and close growth of the berries, they cannot all ripen together; this is a wise provision of beneficent nature, by which time is given to secure the crop, for should the whole field ripen at once it would be impossible to save it.

About the time that coffee is full grown and before it ripens, rain is necessary to perfect the berries ; in this state should it be favored with a few soaking showers the coffee will be much improved both in quality and quantity ; on the contrary, should the weather be perfectly dry, a few weeks previous to the ripening of the coffee, the berries will be generally found small and shrivelled.

Crop generally begins about the middle of August, and lasts without intermission till the end of November when the fruit becomes scarce ; at the last picking it will be necessary to gather all that remains whether ripe or not, in order to stop the exhaustion of the tree; an exercise of judgment will be necessary here, to determine the proper time for the last picking so as to prevent too great a waste by the gathering of a large quantity of unripe fruit.

The coffee tree generally coinmences bearing about two years after planting, but does not arrive at its full bearing point until it is five years old. As the tree advances in age, its produce is generally less abundant but superior in quality ; it lasts fifteen or twenty years, and in the island of Jamaica there are records of coffee fields which have been in bearing for more than half a century.

In forming coffee plantations at these islands, it will generally be found necessary to commence by making nurseries, and for this purpose it is requisite to choose the best seed; the largest and most fully

« AnteriorContinuar »