PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS H.G.Lucas, Brownwood,Texas
On behalf of the members of the Texas Pecan Growers Association, allow me to express to Judge Usener and to the citizens of your beautiful city and county our most heartfelt thanks for the friendly warmth of your greeting so graciously expressed to us by the Judge. We knew before coming that you were interested in pecans and you have further shown that you are interested in your visitors and you make us feel very much at home and very glad to be here. It is indeed a pleasure and an honor to meet in this beautiful city among a people so hospitable,thrifty and industrious in this county of homes.
As Texans ourselves we are proud,with you,of the wonderful scenery that lies about us and in the splendid resources of your county. We are very grateful and appreciative of the complete arrangements and program made for us during our stay. It shows that here in Gillespie you are united and know how to cooperate in whatever you undertake,which is after all one of the first essentials of any town or community which hopes to grow and prosper. We felt sure of our welcome when at the last convention at Brownwood we noted the deep interest in the proceedings taken by your delegates and the cordial invitation extended to us to make this our next meeting place,and now we know that we were right,for our expectations have been more than realized in the wonderful welcome accorded us,and in the hearty address of greeting of Judge Usener's.
Gillespie is to be congratulated in having as County Judge a man who holds the interest of the people so closely before him and who believes in rendering them every service possible.
It is very fitting that this convention should be held here where we have more members than in any other county and where the epoch-making budding campaign started on a comprehensive scale about a year ago. This remarkable plan,worked out by your County Agent Mr. R.S. Miller, and backed by Judge Usener and other leaders and the co-operation of your citizens as a whole,sets an example and a challenge to every county in the pecan belt. It would be hard to estimate the tremendous possibilities of such a campaign throughout all our pecan counties;the results would certainly run into millions of dollars in increased yearly revenue to the pecan growers in those counties,if properly followed up with the necessary care of the pecan trees. I am glad to note the spread of this idea. A group of counties to the north of you is putting on a budding campaign under the direction of the A&M Extension Service. When the College trains our people to do work such as this we know they are accomplishing something tangible and enduring,for one top-worked tree is worth many times what the native one is and it keeps on increasing in value. This is a development of one of our natural resources that is simple and can be done by our farmers and ranchmen themselves to their own very great personal advantage and allowing them to leave to posterity a monument more lasting than stone. We should commend the Extension Service for taking up this work and re- quest them to continue and extend it.
Again I wish,before going into the business of the occasion,to thank your local committee and your citizens for the friendly greeting extended us,and the care shown in working out every detail for our entertainment and comfort. We sincerely appreciate it all.
The Fourth Annual Convention of the Texas Pecan Growers Association finds us very much alive with lots of new blood and the largest attendance in our history,and with ideals enlarged to meet the increasing demands and interests of our members. The Association may be said at last to have found itself and its place in the economic life of the state. The attendance here today and the interest manifested throughout the past year not only justifies the existence of our Association but speaks well for its future.
Last year for the first time we published the proceedings of our convention in a pamphlet which supplied a very real need,and in fact which constitutes one of the few reference books on the pecan industry. I am sure the present program will be equally as worthy of preserving.
The monthly service letters prepared by your secretary have also met a real want and should by all means be continued. The Association is fortunate in having Mr. Gray as Secretary, since he has the technical training, the practical knowledge,the energy and the willingness to be of service,actual and direct service. It would be hard to find a man in this or any other state who possesses the ability and the unselfishness to fill so well this important place. He has devoted a great deal of time during .the past year to Association affairs and that without any pay whatever. We certainly owe him a vote of thanks and I hope that in the near future we will be strong enough in members to allow him some remuneration tor the time devoted to Association work. If we had 500 members perhaps some such provision could be made. The life of the Association depends in large measure upon the activity and ability of its secretary as well an upon the interest and co-operation of its members.
I think we should set 500 members as our goal for 1924-25 and ask every member' to help get this number. Certainly no one who is interested in pecans or who owns any pecan trees can afford to stay out.
One of the matters for consideration at this meeting will be that of revising our constitution and by-laws. I will announce a committee for this task during this session and request them to make their report before we adjourn Wednesday.
The interests of the pecan growers of Texas are so varied and so important and it is so essential that every phase be given due emphasis that I wish to recommend to the incoming officers the plan of making each director the head of a standing committee covering some important branch of our business. For instance,there should be a standing committee on marketing headed by a director who is vitally interested in the marketing question,another on top-working,headed by a director who is actually doing this work on his place and who is enthusiastic about it,and another on pecan tree planting,another on legislation,and so on. Perhaps these committees,with the aid of the secretary,could supply the material for one or more service letters during the year bearing on their particular subject.
Another,matter that I believe the Association should take note of is the unscrupulous promotion schemes that are being started with the intention of fleecing the public and which must eventually hurt the legitimate pecan industry. The usual method is for some promoter who possibly does not know whether a pecan grows on a vine or a tree,but who does know how to sell stock,starts a company to plant a pecan orchard. He writes a list of pecan men,who oftentimes are enthusiastic,about the possible profits of an orchard. Then he takes the most favorable or parts of the most favorable replies and draws up a table showing how much profit his investors may expect from each year beginning about three\' years before they can possibly expect any returns at all. This type of man is interested solely in making promotion fees or more,and the public should be warned against him,as he injures the real pecan man who has an honest business proposition for investors. The public should be informed that pecan growing does not constitute any royal road to wealth or get-rich- quick scheme,but that eternal vigilance and hard,intelligent work is the price of success in this as in any other line of endeavor.
The most encouraging thing about the future of the pecan industry in Texas is the large and increasing number of farmers and ranchmen who are ceasing to look upon the pecan crop as a pick-up and who are working to improve their pecan trees by intelligent top-working and who are beginning to object to turning over their crop for any price at which the speculator thinks he can buy it. Another group that will influence the future of the industry is the city and owner who,wanting a safe investment for spare funds,has his trees top-worked by trained men who know their business and who are prepared to give the trees the necessary care afterwards; or perhaps he plants some ideal pecan land in grafted trees,realizing that he is making an investment and being willing to wait a reasonable time for the trees to come into bearing,in the meantime giving his trees the proper care and cultivation. Both these groups are growing in Texas and to them the Association can render a service and in turn they can help the Association by their influence and cooperation. Nor must we forget the young man who is taking up pecan culture as a life work under experienced men by actual field work,or else taking the course at the A&M College where he gets the scientific training as well. From the above three groups we can expect much.
To the older men,the pioneers and trail blazers,we look for the lessons learned in the hard,practical school of experience;to the young ones for new methods and new ideas. In our annual meetings,we can gather the information from all sources which is needed by our members and in the printed papers this can go out to those of us who are not able to attend and can be kept as a reference book by all of us.
For the splendid program arranged for this convention,we are in- ebted to our program committee, consisting of D.F. Moore, of Bend, one of our directors and one of the founders of this Association,a pecan grower of thirty years'successful experience; F.R. Brison,County Agent of San Saba,former instructor in pecan culture at the A.&M. College,and R.S. Miller, County Agent of Gillespie,who developed the idea of county-wide pecan budding so successfully.
As we are here for definite work,I do not wish to take up more of your time in talking of the past or prophesying as to the future. The past has shown the need for the definite service rendered by the Association and the future depends upon its rendering that service efficiently. To give the best service it should have a large supporting membership. mentioned 500 and I believe this is a reasonable figure for this year, though really a state as large as Texas,producing over 10,000,000 pounds of pecans annually,should have at least a thousand members in the only Association attempting to reach the growers.