• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Copyright
 Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Introduction
 Procedure
 Industry characteristics
 Plumosus acreage and productio...
 Market outlets
 Market distribution
 Competition from other greener...
 Improving marketing practices
 Other fern crops
 Summary
 Acknowledgement






Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station - no. 647
Title: Marketing Florida ferns
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027538/00001
 Material Information
Title: Marketing Florida ferns
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 34 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Smith, Cecil Nuckols, 1920-
Brooke, Donald Lloyd, 1915-
Chiang, Tze I
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1962
 Subjects
Subject: Ferns -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Ferns -- Marketing   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: Cecil H. Smith, Donald L. Brooke and Tze I. Chiang.
General Note: Cover title.
Funding: Bulletin (University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027538
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000929031
oclc - 18352783
notis - AEN9795

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
    Introduction
        Page 3
    Procedure
        Page 3
    Industry characteristics
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Plumosus acreage and production
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Market outlets
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Characteristics of buyers
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
    Market distribution
        Page 18
        Distribution areas
            Page 18
        Prices in markets of different sizes
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
        Prices in markets at different distances
            Page 21
            Page 22
        Transportation
            Page 23
        Type containers and packages
            Page 23
    Competition from other greenery
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    Improving marketing practices
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Other fern crops
        Page 31
        Leatherleaf
            Page 31
        Sprengeri
            Page 32
    Summary
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Acknowledgement
        Page 34
Full Text





HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida










MARKETING FLORIDA


J'.


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CECIL N. SMITH, DONALD L. BROOKE and TZE I. CHIANG










JUNE 1962 ,


BULLETIN 647


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CONTENTS
Page

INTRODUCTION ............... ......... .................... 3

PROCEDURE ........... ....... ....... ... ............ .... .. ...... .. 3

INDUSTRY CHARACTERISTICS ---.......--...-.....---..--.. ..---- -------- 4

PLUMOSUS ACREAGE AND PRODUCTION .--.....-...--......--.. ---------------- 7

MARKET OUTLETS ...--... ------ --- ---------...........---------- 11

Characteristics of buyers --.................. ---- ---- --------------... 15

MARKET DISTRIBUTION .....-..-- ------..... .. -----.-....------... 18

Distribution areas ....--.....------ -- -------......------------. 18

Prices in markets of different sizes ....................--------..-- ------------ 18

Prices in markets at different distances .......-..--...--- ------------- ----- 21

Transportation ........-......---...-----------.--------------- 23

Type containers and packages ........--...........---------- --------------- 23

COMPETITION FROM OTHER GREENERY ....--..........--....----------------- 23

IMPROVING MARKETING PRACTICES .......-......... --------- ------------ 28

OTHER FERN CROPS ...........---~.- ---~... ---- ---- ------- 31

Leatherleaf .---------- -----...- ..--- ------- 31

Sprengeri -...--.. ..---.......... ------- -.---- ---- 32

SUMMARY ...-..........--...-----.---.---- --------------------- -------------. 32









MARKETING FLORIDA FERNS


By CECIL N. SMITH,' DONALD L. BROOKE 1 AND TZE I. CHIANG 2

INTRODUCTION

The production and marketing of ferns has been an integral
part of Florida's agriculture since the turn of the twentieth cen-
tury. The industry has progressed to the point where more than
400 growers received all or a substantial part of their income
from the sale of ferns in 1956. Total sales of the three major
Florida ferns in that year were estimated at $3,690,000.
Ferns produced by Florida growers include Asparagus plu-
mosus,5 Asparagus sprengeri, leatherleaf fern (Polystichum
adiantiforme) and several others of lesser importance. The ma-
jor fern crop grown in Florida, Asparagus plumosus, has declined
in the last few years. Many plantings of plumosus have been
plowed up and replaced by leatherleaf ferns. Other acreages of
plumosus have been abandoned.
The purpose of this report is to provide information on the
acreage, quantity sold, value of sales, marketing practices and
other economic aspects of the fern industry in Florida. Most
of the material in this bulletin relates to plumosus ferns. The
economic status of leatherleaf and sprengeri ferns is treated
briefly near the end of the report. This research was done as a
phase of an Agricultural Experiment Stations project on the
marketing practices of Florida flower producers.

PROCEDURE

A list of all fern growers in Florida was obtained from county
agricultural agents and fern growers during the summer of 1956.
Growers were then classified into three size groups: (1) small-
less than 10 acres; (2) medium-10 to 19.9 acres, and (3) large-
20 acres and over. A stratified sample of 60 growers was se-
lected for interviewing and 50 usable records were obtained. The
plumosus growers who were interviewed had approximately half
of the total acreage of this commodity.
1Associate Agricultural Economist.
2 Former Research Assistant. Now Assistant Economist, Engineering
Experiment Station, Georgia Institute of Technology.
SAsparagus plumosus nanus is not a true fern but belongs to the lily
family. Nevertheless, it is commonly referred to as a fern by the florist
trade. It will be generally referred to as plumosus fern in this report.
SAsparagus sprengeri, like Asparagus plumosus, is of the same genus as
eatable asparagus, but is classified as a fern by the florist industry.









MARKETING FLORIDA FERNS


By CECIL N. SMITH,' DONALD L. BROOKE 1 AND TZE I. CHIANG 2

INTRODUCTION

The production and marketing of ferns has been an integral
part of Florida's agriculture since the turn of the twentieth cen-
tury. The industry has progressed to the point where more than
400 growers received all or a substantial part of their income
from the sale of ferns in 1956. Total sales of the three major
Florida ferns in that year were estimated at $3,690,000.
Ferns produced by Florida growers include Asparagus plu-
mosus,5 Asparagus sprengeri, leatherleaf fern (Polystichum
adiantiforme) and several others of lesser importance. The ma-
jor fern crop grown in Florida, Asparagus plumosus, has declined
in the last few years. Many plantings of plumosus have been
plowed up and replaced by leatherleaf ferns. Other acreages of
plumosus have been abandoned.
The purpose of this report is to provide information on the
acreage, quantity sold, value of sales, marketing practices and
other economic aspects of the fern industry in Florida. Most
of the material in this bulletin relates to plumosus ferns. The
economic status of leatherleaf and sprengeri ferns is treated
briefly near the end of the report. This research was done as a
phase of an Agricultural Experiment Stations project on the
marketing practices of Florida flower producers.

PROCEDURE

A list of all fern growers in Florida was obtained from county
agricultural agents and fern growers during the summer of 1956.
Growers were then classified into three size groups: (1) small-
less than 10 acres; (2) medium-10 to 19.9 acres, and (3) large-
20 acres and over. A stratified sample of 60 growers was se-
lected for interviewing and 50 usable records were obtained. The
plumosus growers who were interviewed had approximately half
of the total acreage of this commodity.
1Associate Agricultural Economist.
2 Former Research Assistant. Now Assistant Economist, Engineering
Experiment Station, Georgia Institute of Technology.
SAsparagus plumosus nanus is not a true fern but belongs to the lily
family. Nevertheless, it is commonly referred to as a fern by the florist
trade. It will be generally referred to as plumosus fern in this report.
SAsparagus sprengeri, like Asparagus plumosus, is of the same genus as
eatable asparagus, but is classified as a fern by the florist industry.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Detailed data on prices, shipments, outlets and other market-
ing practices during the period from January 1955 to August
1956 were obtained from the sales invoices of a subsample of
seven growers. These operators were chosen on a judgment
basis.
Data from individual interviews with growers were supple-
mented by other information from transportation agencies and
firms associated with the fern industry. All known producers
of sprengeri and leatherleaf ferns were also interviewed.
Although a complete survey was not done, data were obtained
from a number of leaders in the industry during 1960 and 1961
to bring information on trends and other practices up to date.
Following the collection of the data, estimates of various
characteristics of the fern industry were made. In certain in-
stances, data were developed for individual counties but in all
cases information related to the state as a whole. County esti-
mates were not made when such a procedure would reveal in-
formation on the business practices of an individual grower or
in areas where only a small percentage of the growers were se-
lected for interviewing.

INDUSTRY CHARACTERISTICS
The production of Asparagus plumosus is largely concentrated
in the east-central section of the state with small acreages scat-
tered in counties on the northeastern and southeastern coasts
(Figure 1). Counties in which plumosus ferns are produced
have sites with combinations of soil types and weather condi-
tions which make them desirable for fern growing. Although
plumosus ferns grow well on a variety of soils, they thrive best
on sandy loams with good drainage. A topography sloping toward
the south or in a southeasterly direction, thereby providing good
air drainage for protection from the cold in winter, is desirable.
The northern section of Florida is susceptible to considerable
cold damage and is thus unsuitable for plumosus fern culture.
Ferns in Florida are produced in two types of ferneries-slat
houses and natural shade (cover picture and Figure 2). Slat
houses are sheds which provide shade for ferns and are almost
entirely constructed of cypress wood. Natural shade-type fern-
eries are located in wooded areas where indigenous or planted
evergreen trees provide shade. Although most such ferneries
are in lowland hammocks, many ferneries on high ground are
shaded by trees.







Marketing Florida Ferns


Slat houses were used almost entirely by growers during the
early years of the fern industry. During the 15 years from
1940 to 1955, fernery areas covered by natural shade increased
faster than those of the slat houses. Some growers have planted
trees in slat houses in order to transform lath shade into natural
shade. The price of cypress lumber has risen to the point where
growers feel that the return from fern sales is not sufficient to
justify the investment in new lath houses.


Legend
-^
1 99 Acres

100 999 Acres

S1000 Acres and over

Figure -Location of the Florida plumosus fern industry.
Figure 1.-Location of the Florida plumosus fern industry.


Production of plumosus ferns is carried on throughout the
year. Shipments are heaviest in the spring, with peaks occur-
ring at Easter and Memorial Day; they slacken off during the
summer (Figure 3). Many home-grown greens are then avail-
able and supplies of ferns and other commercially-grown greens
are usually in excess supply. Social events-the major occasions







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


for using flowers and greenery aside from weddings and funerals
-are not held with the same degree of frequency in the summer
as in other seasons of the year.
Although ferns are available for marketing, many Florida
producers ship only a portion of their potential supply during
the summer. Plumosus ferns may be left unharvested in the
fernery for several weeks with no appreciable damage. Ferns
which are not harvested for sale are usually mowed in order to
facilitate new growth. The estimates made in this report relate
to shipments (i.e., sales) rather than production.
Although most medium and large growers derive all or a
substantial portion of their income from the production and
marketing of ferns, many small growers produce ferns as a sup-
plementary source of income. Some small growers own citrus
groves or have jobs in nearby cities through which they earn
the major share of their income; the sale of ferns supplements


Figure 2.-A lath house fernery in Volusia County.







Marketing Florida Ferns


this income and utilizes family labor for which there may be no
other profitable employment. In recent years a number of re-
tired people have moved into the area and have begun produc-
tion of leatherleaf and other type ferns on a small scale.


Percent of
Monthly Avera
1301


Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Month
Figure 3.-Monthly pattern of plumosus fern shipments, 1949-56.

PLUMOSUS ACREAGE AND PRODUCTION
Information obtained from county agricultural agents, fern
growers and other sources indicated the acreage of plumosus
ferns in Florida during 1956 to be more than 2,000 acres. By
1961, the area in ferns had dropped to approximately 1,750 acres.
A breakdown of data by counties on the plumosus fern in-
dustry with respect to number of growers, acreage and total
production in 1956 is noted in Table 1. Volusia County accounted
for some 75 percent of the growers and for more than 60 per-
cent of the acreage and production of plumosus.
The average production per acre for plumosus grown in Flor-
ida was estimated at almost 185,000 sprays. Considerable vari-







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


ation was noted in the production per acre in various counties.
Many factors combine to bring about these relationships. Among
them are size and age of fernery, efficiency of management, type
of shade (lath or natural), time of harvest and others. Gen-
erally, ferneries under natural shade produce a smaller amount
of ferns from a comparable production area than those under
lath houses.
An estimate of production was made also by grower-size
groups. Because of the small number within certain size groups
in some of the counties, these data are not shown by grower-size
groups for each county. The breakdown by size groups for grow-
ers in all counties combined is given in Table 2. It is noted that
small growers accounted for 86 percent of the number of growers
and for more than 47 percent of the plumosus fern acreage; al-
most half of the ferns marketed in 1956 were produced by small
growers.

Figure 4.-Sprays of plumosus ferns are assembled into bunches in a pack-
inghouse. Damp sphagnum moss is placed around the cut stems.


L 'W'1








Marketing Florida Ferns


TABLE 1.-NUMBER OF GROWERS AND ESTIMATED ACREAGE AND PRODUCTION
OF PLUMOSUS FERNS IN FLORIDA, 1955-56.*

SProduction of Value
Propor-
County Growers Acreage Number of Sprays tion of
Total
Total Average Produc-
I per Acre tion
Number Number 1,000 Sprays 1,000 Sprays Percent
Volusia ....-..... 309 1,350** 243,003 180 63.5
Lake ............ 42 313 67,118 214 17.6
Seminole ..... 4 114 26,741 235 7.0
Putnam ......... 21 129 20,715 161 5.4

Marion .......... 5 84 9,187 109 2.4

Brevard ....... 3 28 6,242 223 1.6

Palm Beach 10 23 4,295 187 1.1
Other .......-.. 6 | 31 5,402 174 1.4
I I ___
Total .......... 400 2,072 382,704$ 185 100.0

Production data for the 12-month period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.
** Estimated acreage from sample survey and county agricultural agent.
t Hillsborough, Duval, Madison and St. Lucie.
t Total does not check due to rounding.


TABLE 2.-NUMBER OF GROWERS AND ESTIMATED ACREAGE AND PRODUCTION
OF PLUMOSUS FERNS BY GROWER SIZE GROUPS IN FLORIDA, 1955-56.*

Production of
Size Group Growers I Acres Value
Average
Total per
_______Acre
1,000 1,000
1Number Percent Number Percent Sprays Sprays
Small (Less than
10 acres) ........ 345 86.2 985 47.5 186,011 189
Medium (10 -
19.9 acres) ...... 31 7.8 368 17.8 78,839 214
Large (20 acres
and over) ........ 24 6.0 719 34.7 117,854 164

All Growers .. 400 100.0 2,072 100.0 382,704 185

Period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


From the standpoint of efficient production-viewed here as
the rate of production per acre-medium growers had higher
yields than those in the other two classifications. Large grow-
ers generally had a smaller output of ferns per acre than those
in the other two size groups. Several reasons are believed to
account for this relationship. A high proportion of the acreage
grown by large producers is produced under natural shade. Small
growers, on the other hand, have a smaller proportion of their
production under natural shade. Many such growers have other
employment and are unable to devote full time to their fern
business. It would also appear that medium growers, on the
average, are able to conduct their operations more efficiently
than many of the larger growers.
According to Platt,5 the area in plumosus fern culture rose
from 800 acres in 1930 to some 2,000 acres in 1952. Fern grow-
ers interviewed during 1956 reported a slight increase in acreage
from 1951 to 1956 (Table 3). Data were obtained from the
operators of 912 acres of the total estimated 2,072 acres of plu-
mosus ferns in Florida during 1956.

TABLE 3.-PLUMOSUS FERN ACREAGE TRENDS, 50 GROWERS, BY SIZE GROUPS,
INTERVIEWED IN VOLUSIA, LAKE, SEMINOLE AND PUTNAM
COUNTIES, 1952 To 1956.

Year
Size Groups
1952 1953 1954 1955 1956

Index (1952 = 100)

Small ................ 100 96 98 103 97
Medium .....-......... 100 100 103 104 115
Large .......-........ 100 100 102 106 109


Even with increases in acreage reported by medium and large
growers during the five-year period from 1952 to 1956, a general
decline in the area devoted to plumosus fern culture has occurred
during the past several years. Many ferneries suffered freeze
damage during the severe winter of 1957-58 and were abandoned
in whole or in part. Price levels have changed little, but increas-

SWilliam J. Platt, Asparagus Fern Culture. Florida Agricultural Ex-
tension Service Bulletin 153 (Gainesville: 1952), pp. 1, 8.







Marketing Florida Ferns


ing costs for materials, labor, transportation and other goods and
services have placed fern growers in a more unfavorable economic
situation.
Although no acreage or production figures have yet been re-
leased, preliminary reports from the 1959 Special Census of
Horticultural Specialty Products show that 138 Florida plumosus
fern growers reported sales of $2,096,375 in 1959.6 This com-
pares with $2,716,802 in sales recorded by 213 producers in the
1949 census enumeration. The Census shows a 23 percent decline
in plumosus fern sales from 1949 to 1959. The Census data
relate only to growers who had $2,000 or more in sales of flower
and nursery products in 1959 and who also completed a census
questionnaire and returned it by mail. The 1949 data pertain
to growers with sales of $1,000 or more.
In addition to many small growers with sales of less than
$2,000, it is likely that a number of others did not return ques-
tionnaires and were omitted from the census count. The data
in this bulletin indicate that nearly half of all sales in 1956 were
reported by growers in the small size group.
Estimates made by leading growers and county agricultural
extension agents indicate an approximate 15 percent reduction
in acreage and production from 1956 to 1961. It is estimated
that fewer than 325,000,000 sprays were harvested in 1961 from
the 1,750 acres in production. The value of plumosus fern sales
was estimated to be in the vicinity of $2,800,000. Sales outlets
and marketing channels in 1961 were but little changed from
those in 1956.
MARKET OUTLETS
Florida fern products are a major item of greenery used by
the retail florist industry. The plumosus fern grower in Florida
markets his product principally in three ways: (1) on consign-
ment to wholesalers; (2) f.o.b. to wholesalers; and (3) f.o.b. to
retailers. Besides these major market outlets, a small amount
is sold to other local growers. Although the volume sold through
the latter channel is insignificant when compared with the other
three outlets, some small growers market most of their ferns
in this way.
The extent of personal contact with the florist trade influences
to a substantial degree a grower's choice of market outlets.
Many growers make trips to the nation's important fern markets

U. S. Bureau of the Census. 1959 Special Census of Horticultural
Specialties (Preliminary) (Series HS59-1). Washington: 1961.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


to contact and make arrangements for selling ferns to florists.
Fern growers who do so are able to gather first-hand informa-
tion on the demand and supply situation in different areas and
can thereby sell to markets which offer promise of maximum
returns. Large growers contact more florists in this manner
than small growers; as will be noted later, the fact that aver-
age returns per 1,000 sprays of ferns sold by large growers were
higher than for medium and small growers may be partly due
to this situation. The choice of market outlets by large growers
differed considerably from that by small growers. Large grow-
ers shipped more ferns directly to retail florists than to whole-
sale consignment florists.
Large growers, on the average, sold to more than 100 buyers.
This compared with only 15 receivers supplied by medium and
nine supplied by small growers (Table 4). It is likely that
nearly all buyers received ferns from more than one shipper.

TABLE 4.-AVERAGE NUMBER OF BUYERS TO WHOM 50 PLUMOSUS FERN
GROWERS INTERVIEWED IN VOLUSIA, LAKE, SEMINOLE AND PUTNAM
COUNTIES SOLD FERNS, 1955-56.*
Consign-
ment to F.O.B. F.O.B. Total
Size Group Wholesale Wholesale Retail Buyers
Florists Florists Florists
Number Number Number Number
Small Grower ......... 2 3 4 9
Medium Grower ...... 4 8 3 15
Large Grower .......... 8 20 78 106

Period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.

Size of shipment is also an important factor in the choice of
market outlets. Although sales to retail florists are usually at
prices higher than those to wholesale florists, the size of ship-
ments made to each differs considerably. Wholesalers are gen-
erally able to handle a much larger volume of plumosus ferns, than
retailers. Thus the ability of wholesalers to take larger ship-
ments may be an important consideration to growers in allocat-
ing their supplies to alternative outlets.
Discontent with the consignment method of selling is quite
prevalent among plumosus fern growers. A large number of
the growers interviewed indicated that they preferred not to
market their product by the consignment method. Dissatis-














TABLE 5.-ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF PLUMOSUS FERNS SOLD BY FLORIDA GROWERS TO VARIOUS SALES OUTLETS, 1955-56.*


Consignment to
Wholesale
Florists
1,000
Sprays Percent

65,457 35

29,084 37

23,960 21


118,501 31


F.O.B.
Wholesale
Florists


1,000
Sprays

64,732

41,044

51,950


157,726


Percent

35

52

44


Outlets

F.O.B.
Retail
Florists


1,000
Sprays

45,982

8,530

41,520


96,032


Percent

25

11

35


Other
Growers


1,000
Sprays

9,840

181

424


10,445


Total


Percent

5
**

**


3


1,000
Sprays Percent

186,011 100

78,839 100

117,854 100


382,704 100


*Period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.
** Less than 0.5 percent.


Size
Group





Small ..........

Medium ......

Large ..........


All Growers








Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


faction arose from the risk of having ferns left unsold, instability
of prices and delayed settlement reports which were often in-
volved in the consignment method of selling. However, this
method is still an important outlet because of the difficulty of
finding f.o.b. market outlets for all ferns and the lack of knowl-
edge by growers relative to alternative markets. Thus they
rely on the consignment agent to sell their product.
Of all plumosus fern sales made by the industry, nearly a
third were sold on consignment to wholesale commission florists
(Table 5). More than 40 percent of all plumosus ferns sold were
marketed to wholesale florists on an f.o.b. basis. Retail florists
purchased one-fourth of the total on a direct-shipment basis.
Nearly 3 percent of all ferns produced in Florida were sold initi-
ally to other growers in local fern-producing areas.
Returns to growers were highest, with an average price of
$10.27 per 1,000 sprays, for ferns sold f.o.b. to retail florists
(Table 6). Consignment prices, after paying shipping and com-
mission charges, for ferns shipped by small and medium growers
exceeded the average f.o.b. wholesale prices received by these
growers. On the other hand, consignment prices for ferns ship-
ped by large growers were below the average f.o.b. wholesale
prices. Small and medium growers relied on wholesale consign-
ment outlets to a greater extent than large growers. It may
well be that small and medium growers ship better quality ferns
and make shipments more regularly to wholesale consignment
outlets than large growers. Also, there is a possibility that

TABLE 6.-AVERAGE PRICES RECEIVED BY FLORIDA GROWERS FOR PLUMOSUS
FERNS SOLD THROUGH VARIOUS OUTLETS, 1955-56.*

Outlets
Consign- I
Size Group ment to F.O.B. F.O.B. Other
Wholesale Wholesale Retail Growers j Average
IFlorists Florists Florists[
Dollars per 1,000 Sprays

Small .............. 9.18 8.68 9.57 5.22 8.89
Medium ........ 9.51 9.17 9.81 5.00 9.36
Large ............ 8.02 8.96 11.18 7.00 9.54

All Growers .. 9.04 8.90 10.27 5.29 9.19


* Period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.







Marketing Florida Ferns


some large growers may have shipped intermittently rather than
regularly to the wholesale consignment market. Prices received
for ferns sold to other growers were lower than those sold to
distant outlets. Often packing, hauling, handling and other
services were not performed, thus reducing the cost of marketing
in connection with such sales.
Of the $9.19 average price received by fern growers in 1956,
a total of $3.50 was utilized to pay local marketing charges
(Table 7). The remaining $5.69 per 1,000 sprays was the amount
growers had to cover labor, material, land and investment costs
of producing ferns. Any balance after paying these charges
accrued to producers as profit.

TABLE 7.-ESTIMATED AVERAGE LOCAL COSTS AND GROWER'S RECEIPTS FROM
MARKETING PLUMOSUS FERNS, 1955-56.

Item Dollars per 1,000 Sprays

Receipts to Growers from Marketing ............... $9.19
Less Local Marketing Costs*:
Cutting (Labor) .................... .............. .. $2.15
Grading and Packing (Labor) -.......... -...... .48
Crates --... ..- .- .I.- .............................. | .68

Total ......- .............--..-- --- -... ----------- 3.50
Net Equivalent Receipts for Ferns in Fernery .. $5.69

Data on the costs of hauling from the fernery to the packing shed and from the
packing shed to the shipping point were not obtained and, although an important item in
local marketing costs, are not included here.

Receipts to growers from sales to each of the principal mar-
ket outlets of the Florida plumosus fern industry were estimated
by multiplying the average returns per 1,000 sprays and the
estimated quantity sold to each market outlet. The total receipts
of the industry were estimated to be approximately $3,500,000
in 1956. Estimated volume marketed through various outlets,
average returns per 1,000 sprays and receipts to growers from
the sale of plumosus ferns in 1956 are noted in Table 8. The
total receipts figure had dropped to some $2,800,000 in 1961.
Characteristics of Buyers.-Wholesale consignment florists,
located in large cities throughout the nation, sell flowers and
other florists' products for growers. Some of these firms special-
ize in handling greenery and supplies other than flowers. When








Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


selling on consignment, such firms do not take title to products
handled. A commission based on a percentage of the sales value
is charged by the wholesale consignment florists. After selling
the product, the firm deducts its commission, any transportation
charges it pays and, in some instances, a small advertising or
promotion charge from the sale price.7 The remainder is then
remitted to the shipper.

TABLE 8.-ESTIMATED RECEIPTS FROM SALES OF PLUMOSUS FERNS MADE
THROUGH VARIOUS MARKET OUTLETS, 1955-56.*


Volume
Market Outlets Marketed

1,000 Sprays

Consignment to
Wholesale Florists ...... 119,136
F.O.B. Wholesale
Florists ................--.....----- 157,368
F.O.B. Retail Florists ..... 95,561
Other Growers ................ 10,639

Total or Average ...... 382,704


Average
Return
per 1,000 Receipts
Sprays

Dollars Dollars Percent

9.04 1,076,988 30

8.90 1,400,575 40
10.27 981,414 28
5.29 56,281 2

9.18 3,515,258 100


Period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.

Settlements with growers are usually made by wholesale
commission florists at weekly, semimonthly or monthly intervals.
Commissions charged by wholesale commission florists vary from
15 to 25 percent, depending upon services rendered, the trade
practices in individual markets and whether or not the consign-
ing grower is a new, old or consistent supplier. According to
the investigation of fern sales made through consignment whole-
sale florists in 1955-56, 55 percent of the volume was sold for
a 25 percent commission, 44 percent sold for a 20 percent com-
mission and only 1 percent was marketed at a 15 percent com-
mission.
Growers indicated that the volume shipped and the level of
prices received for fern shipped on consignment were compara-

'Such payments are usually made to an "allied" florists' group which
uses them for conducting advertising and promotion campaigns. The
"allied" assessment seldom exceeds 2 percent.







Marketing Florida Ferns


tively unstable. In addition, growers bear marketing risks such
as damage in transportation or storage and the possibility that
the product may be unsold during a period of surplus supplies.
Dumping of unsold ferns by wholesale commission receivers is
usually higher in summer than in winter. Even in winter, the
dumpage rate is likely to be high if commission firms receive
excessive quantities. Some growers claim that consignment mar-
keting to wholesale commission florists tends to result in lower
fern prices throughout the industry. A number of growers ship
ferns to wholesale commission florists without prior contact or ar-
rangements. This practice, however, is not characteristic of
the majority of the growers in the industry. "Wildcatting" is
the name by which this procedure is commonly called. The evi-
dence at hand points to a need for the fern industry to reassess
its marketing policies.
F.o.b. sales to wholesalers have become an increasingly im-
portant type outlet for fern growers. A wholesale florist buying
on an f.o.b. basis and a wholesale commission florist may, in
actuality, be one and the same firm. It may receive ferns on
consignment as well as make outright purchases from growers.
The major function of the wholesaler in the distribution system
for florists' products is to provide a central location to supply
retail florists with selections of needed stocks.
When the wholesale florist purchases ferns from growers on
an f.o.b. basis, the former has to bear transportation charges,
advertising costs and the risk involved in transit and storage.
The average prices received per 1,000 sprays through sales
made f.o.b. to wholesale florists were slightly less than the aver-
age prices received from consignment sales to wholesale florists
in 1956. Nevertheless, the price for ferns-and the demand for
them-in sales made directly to wholesale florists varied less
than for those made on consignment to wholesale commission
florists.
Fern sales made directly to retailers are usually in small
quantities, but the demand for them tends to remain rather
stable. It is common for many fern growers to make regular
shipments of one or two cases per week to retail florists through-
out the year. The price received is relatively constant and not
subject to seasonal fluctuations. Retail florists inform growers
by letter or by telegraph of changes in their demand for ferns.
The receiver pays transportation charges upon arrival and nor-
mally makes settlement within two weeks.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Retail florists are located in cities and towns throughout the
nation. They buy stocks from wholesale florists or directly from
growers. Since plumosus ferns are used in combination with
flowers in making wreaths, corsages and bouquets, retail florists
constitute the final stage in the marketing process.8
Sales of ferns to other growers are of two types. One involves
regular sales to other growers when the producer makes no
shipments to distant markets. The other is occasional selling
to other growers; such sales are usually not a major part of
the output of such growers. In one type of transaction a few
small operators in Volusia County do business entirely with
local fern growers. Thus they do not perform packing, hauling,
handling and other services. The average price per 1,000 sprays
is normally around $5 to $7 if the seller cuts and delivers to
the buyer. Payment is generally made shortly after delivery of
the ferns.
Only a few fern shippers depend on outright purchases from
other growers for their total supplies. Most fern growers pur-
chase ferns from other growers only if their own ferneries are
producing small outputs.

MARKET DISTRIBUTION
Distribution Areas.-Florida plumosus ferns are marketed
throughout the United States and parts of Canada. The major
market areas for plumosus ferns, like those for most Florida
agricultural products, lie east of the Mississippi River. Accord-
ing to an analysis of fern market distribution data collected from
the Railway Express Agency station at Pierson-a leading fern
shipping point-during August 1956, nearly half of all ferns
shipped went to buyers in the Southeast (Figure 5). The North-
east and Midwest were the other leading areas which received
ferns. Small quantities of ferns were shipped to the Southwest,
the Far West and Canada.
Prices in Markets of Different Sizes.-A question frequently
discussed by growers during field interviews was whether mar-
kets in small cities returned higher prices to growers than those
in large cities. Many growers did not give any opinions on this
topic. However, of 15 who expressed themselves, 13 favored
small cities and two preferred large cities.

8 Although the purchaser of wreaths, corsages, bouquets, etc., is the final
consumer of plumosus ferns, he does not buy the ferns as such, but as
parts of flower arrangements.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Retail florists are located in cities and towns throughout the
nation. They buy stocks from wholesale florists or directly from
growers. Since plumosus ferns are used in combination with
flowers in making wreaths, corsages and bouquets, retail florists
constitute the final stage in the marketing process.8
Sales of ferns to other growers are of two types. One involves
regular sales to other growers when the producer makes no
shipments to distant markets. The other is occasional selling
to other growers; such sales are usually not a major part of
the output of such growers. In one type of transaction a few
small operators in Volusia County do business entirely with
local fern growers. Thus they do not perform packing, hauling,
handling and other services. The average price per 1,000 sprays
is normally around $5 to $7 if the seller cuts and delivers to
the buyer. Payment is generally made shortly after delivery of
the ferns.
Only a few fern shippers depend on outright purchases from
other growers for their total supplies. Most fern growers pur-
chase ferns from other growers only if their own ferneries are
producing small outputs.

MARKET DISTRIBUTION
Distribution Areas.-Florida plumosus ferns are marketed
throughout the United States and parts of Canada. The major
market areas for plumosus ferns, like those for most Florida
agricultural products, lie east of the Mississippi River. Accord-
ing to an analysis of fern market distribution data collected from
the Railway Express Agency station at Pierson-a leading fern
shipping point-during August 1956, nearly half of all ferns
shipped went to buyers in the Southeast (Figure 5). The North-
east and Midwest were the other leading areas which received
ferns. Small quantities of ferns were shipped to the Southwest,
the Far West and Canada.
Prices in Markets of Different Sizes.-A question frequently
discussed by growers during field interviews was whether mar-
kets in small cities returned higher prices to growers than those
in large cities. Many growers did not give any opinions on this
topic. However, of 15 who expressed themselves, 13 favored
small cities and two preferred large cities.

8 Although the purchaser of wreaths, corsages, bouquets, etc., is the final
consumer of plumosus ferns, he does not buy the ferns as such, but as
parts of flower arrangements.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Retail florists are located in cities and towns throughout the
nation. They buy stocks from wholesale florists or directly from
growers. Since plumosus ferns are used in combination with
flowers in making wreaths, corsages and bouquets, retail florists
constitute the final stage in the marketing process.8
Sales of ferns to other growers are of two types. One involves
regular sales to other growers when the producer makes no
shipments to distant markets. The other is occasional selling
to other growers; such sales are usually not a major part of
the output of such growers. In one type of transaction a few
small operators in Volusia County do business entirely with
local fern growers. Thus they do not perform packing, hauling,
handling and other services. The average price per 1,000 sprays
is normally around $5 to $7 if the seller cuts and delivers to
the buyer. Payment is generally made shortly after delivery of
the ferns.
Only a few fern shippers depend on outright purchases from
other growers for their total supplies. Most fern growers pur-
chase ferns from other growers only if their own ferneries are
producing small outputs.

MARKET DISTRIBUTION
Distribution Areas.-Florida plumosus ferns are marketed
throughout the United States and parts of Canada. The major
market areas for plumosus ferns, like those for most Florida
agricultural products, lie east of the Mississippi River. Accord-
ing to an analysis of fern market distribution data collected from
the Railway Express Agency station at Pierson-a leading fern
shipping point-during August 1956, nearly half of all ferns
shipped went to buyers in the Southeast (Figure 5). The North-
east and Midwest were the other leading areas which received
ferns. Small quantities of ferns were shipped to the Southwest,
the Far West and Canada.
Prices in Markets of Different Sizes.-A question frequently
discussed by growers during field interviews was whether mar-
kets in small cities returned higher prices to growers than those
in large cities. Many growers did not give any opinions on this
topic. However, of 15 who expressed themselves, 13 favored
small cities and two preferred large cities.

8 Although the purchaser of wreaths, corsages, bouquets, etc., is the final
consumer of plumosus ferns, he does not buy the ferns as such, but as
parts of flower arrangements.






CANADA


Figure 5.-Distribution areas for plumosus ferns, August 1956.


0 3







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


An analysis of sales returns by seven fern growers to whole-
sale consignment florists in markets of various sizes was made
to develop information on this phase of marketing. These data
related to the period 1955-56. Over 30 cities, divided into five
groups according to population, were included in the analysis.
An analysis of these data showed buyers in small cities paid
higher prices than those in larger cities (Table 9). Fern pro-
ducers and other growers of florists' products often view large
metropolitan cities like New York and Chicago as markets which
will always absorb their products. The average gross price per
1,000 sprays was $14.20 for cities over 1,000,000 population and
gradually increased to $17.40 with cities in the population range
of 100,000 to 249,999. The gross price per 1,000 sprays in cities
with populations under 100,000 was lower than that in cities with
slightly higher populations. In general, this analysis indicates
that average gross prices (and, consequently, average net prices)

TABLE 9.-VOLUME OF SALES AND PRICES RECEIVED FOR PLUMOSUS FERNS
SHIPPED TO WHOLESALE CONSIGNMENT FLORISTS IN VARIOUS
CITIES CLASSIFIED BY SIZE OF POPULATION, 1955-56.*


City
Population Volume
Group Reported


1,000
Sprays Percent
1,000,000
and over ...... 2,152 24.3

500,000-
999,999 ....... 2,037 23.0
250,000 -
499,999 ........ 2,312 26.2

100,000 -
249,999 ... 2,107 23.8

Under
100,000 ... .. 241 2.7


Total or
Average ...... 8,849 100.0


Total Returns
to
Growers**



Dollars I Percent


16,378

16,618

20,724

19,469

2,268



75,457


21.7

22.0

27.5

25.8

3.0



100.0


Average
Gross
Price
per
1,000
Sprayst

Dollars

14.20

15.00

17.00

17.40


17.00 9.40


16.00


Average
Price per
1,000
Sprays
Received
by Grow-
ers.**

Dollars

7.60

8.20

9.00

9.20


Data from wholesale consignment reports of 7 growers.
** The gross returns (prices) received by wholesale commission florists less commission,
transportation and other marketing charges incurred after the product leaves the shipping
point.
t The prices received by wholesale commission florists for the ferns.







Marketing Florida Ferns


received tend to increase as the size of the market (in terms of
its population) decreases. A more optimum allocation of ferns
to various markets would likely mean a slight increase in ship-
ments to cities with smaller populations and a decrease to those
with larger populations. However, because of insufficient data
on the nature of the demand in the various sizes of markets, it
was not possible to determine whether this procedure would re-
sult in higher total returns to the industry than those which
result from the marketing methods now used.
Prices in Markets at Different Distances.-Another method
utilized to evaluate the pricing efficiency of various markets was
to compare the distances to market and respective prices and
returns to growers. It would be expected that prices received
would be higher as distances to market increased because of
greater transportation costs. This is generally true, but not
consistently so, for plumosus ferns. Volume sold in various
markets, total return to growers, gross prices and average prices
received by growers are noted in Table 10.

TABLE 10.-VOLUME OF SALES AND PRICES RECEIVED FOR PLUMOSUS FERNS
SHIPPED TO WHOLESALE CONSIGNMENT FLORISTS IN VARIOUS CITIES
CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO DISTANCE FROM SHIPPING
POINTS, 1955-56.*
Average
Average Price per;
Cities Gross 1,000
Grouped by Volume Total Returns Price Sprays
Distance Reported to Growers** per Received
1,000 by Grow-
ISprayst ers**
1,000
Miles Sprays Percent Dollars Percent Dollars Dollars
1,251 and over 513 5.0 4,783 5.0 15.53 9.27
1,001- 1,250 .... 2,710 27.0 25,372 26.0 15.35 9.40
751 -1,000 ...... 4,776 48.0 49,732 51.0 16.53 10.45
501 750 ......... 628 6.0 5,635 6.0 14.70 8.95
500 and under 1,357 14.0 I 12,128 12.0 12.59 9.06

Total or
Average ...... 9,984 100.0 97,650 100.0 15.51 9.79

Data from wholesale consignment reports of 7 growers.
** The gross returns (prices) received by wholesale commission florists less commission,
transportation and other marketing charges incurred after the product leaves the shipping
point.
t The prices received by wholesale commission florists for the ferns.






Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


TABLE 11.-PERCENTAGE OF PLUMOSUS FERNS SHIPPED EACH DAY OF THE
WEEK, PIERSON RAILWAY EXPRESS STATION, 1956.


Day of Week

Monday ......-..............-......... ....
Tuesday .......................
Wednesday ........ ............... ..
Thursday ...... ....... -- ------. -
Friday ..--.....-.... ----...... ...........
Saturday .........................-... -. -.. -- -

Total -... ....-. ...-- .- .... .


Percentage of Total

24.2
18.2
16.1
11.5
15.5
14.5

100.0


f


Figure 6.-Blocks of ice are wrapped in paper and placed with the ferns
in the shipping containers. The coolness and moisture lengthen the stor-
age life of the ferns.







Marketing Florida Ferns


Transportation.-Information from the 50 fern growers inter-
viewed in 1956 indicated that nearly 97 percent of their ship-
ments were made by railway express, 2 percent by air express
and 1 percent by truck, bus and parcel post. Truck shipments
have increased since that time.
Ice is wrapped in paper and enclosed inside boxes of ferns
when they are packed in order to maintain quality during transit
to market. No other refrigeration is provided for railway ex-
press shipments. The boxes are delivered by growers to railway
express agency platforms in the fern-producing area. Boxes
are normally off-loaded in Jacksonville where they are reclassified
and placed on cars with various destinations throughout the
nation.
Most growers shipped ferns five or six days each week.
Small ferneries tended to have a more irregular pattern of ship-
ments than larger ones. The average grower shipped ferns
five days a week and had weekly shipments of 62 crates in 1956.
Small growers, on the average, shipped 18 crates a week. This
compared with 62 crates shipped by medium growers and 107
shipped by growers in the large classification. Monday was the
heaviest shipping day for most growers. The data contained
in Table 11 show the relative quantity of ferns shipped each day
of the week from a leading producing area in 1956.
Type Containers and Packages.-Plumosus ferns are usually
packed in crates of wood veneer.9 The crates are rectangular
in shape with various sizes for shipping different volumes of
ferns. A tabulation of shipments from a leading fern shipping
area during August 1956 is noted in Table 12. More than 80
percent of all ferns shipped were contained in the 1,000 and 2,000
crate sizes.

COMPETITION FROM OTHER GREENERY
Plumosus ferns compete with a host of other items of green-
ery, many of which are freely substituted for one another. In
very few instances, however, does the final purchaser-the con-
sumer-make the decision whether to use plumosus ferns or an-
other type of greenery in floral decorations and arrangements.
These choices are normally made by retail florists. Qualities and
costs of competing greenery are usually considered by florists
in selecting greenery.

An increasing quantity is now being shipped in cardboard cartons.







Marketing Florida Ferns


Transportation.-Information from the 50 fern growers inter-
viewed in 1956 indicated that nearly 97 percent of their ship-
ments were made by railway express, 2 percent by air express
and 1 percent by truck, bus and parcel post. Truck shipments
have increased since that time.
Ice is wrapped in paper and enclosed inside boxes of ferns
when they are packed in order to maintain quality during transit
to market. No other refrigeration is provided for railway ex-
press shipments. The boxes are delivered by growers to railway
express agency platforms in the fern-producing area. Boxes
are normally off-loaded in Jacksonville where they are reclassified
and placed on cars with various destinations throughout the
nation.
Most growers shipped ferns five or six days each week.
Small ferneries tended to have a more irregular pattern of ship-
ments than larger ones. The average grower shipped ferns
five days a week and had weekly shipments of 62 crates in 1956.
Small growers, on the average, shipped 18 crates a week. This
compared with 62 crates shipped by medium growers and 107
shipped by growers in the large classification. Monday was the
heaviest shipping day for most growers. The data contained
in Table 11 show the relative quantity of ferns shipped each day
of the week from a leading producing area in 1956.
Type Containers and Packages.-Plumosus ferns are usually
packed in crates of wood veneer.9 The crates are rectangular
in shape with various sizes for shipping different volumes of
ferns. A tabulation of shipments from a leading fern shipping
area during August 1956 is noted in Table 12. More than 80
percent of all ferns shipped were contained in the 1,000 and 2,000
crate sizes.

COMPETITION FROM OTHER GREENERY
Plumosus ferns compete with a host of other items of green-
ery, many of which are freely substituted for one another. In
very few instances, however, does the final purchaser-the con-
sumer-make the decision whether to use plumosus ferns or an-
other type of greenery in floral decorations and arrangements.
These choices are normally made by retail florists. Qualities and
costs of competing greenery are usually considered by florists
in selecting greenery.

An increasing quantity is now being shipped in cardboard cartons.







Marketing Florida Ferns


Transportation.-Information from the 50 fern growers inter-
viewed in 1956 indicated that nearly 97 percent of their ship-
ments were made by railway express, 2 percent by air express
and 1 percent by truck, bus and parcel post. Truck shipments
have increased since that time.
Ice is wrapped in paper and enclosed inside boxes of ferns
when they are packed in order to maintain quality during transit
to market. No other refrigeration is provided for railway ex-
press shipments. The boxes are delivered by growers to railway
express agency platforms in the fern-producing area. Boxes
are normally off-loaded in Jacksonville where they are reclassified
and placed on cars with various destinations throughout the
nation.
Most growers shipped ferns five or six days each week.
Small ferneries tended to have a more irregular pattern of ship-
ments than larger ones. The average grower shipped ferns
five days a week and had weekly shipments of 62 crates in 1956.
Small growers, on the average, shipped 18 crates a week. This
compared with 62 crates shipped by medium growers and 107
shipped by growers in the large classification. Monday was the
heaviest shipping day for most growers. The data contained
in Table 11 show the relative quantity of ferns shipped each day
of the week from a leading producing area in 1956.
Type Containers and Packages.-Plumosus ferns are usually
packed in crates of wood veneer.9 The crates are rectangular
in shape with various sizes for shipping different volumes of
ferns. A tabulation of shipments from a leading fern shipping
area during August 1956 is noted in Table 12. More than 80
percent of all ferns shipped were contained in the 1,000 and 2,000
crate sizes.

COMPETITION FROM OTHER GREENERY
Plumosus ferns compete with a host of other items of green-
ery, many of which are freely substituted for one another. In
very few instances, however, does the final purchaser-the con-
sumer-make the decision whether to use plumosus ferns or an-
other type of greenery in floral decorations and arrangements.
These choices are normally made by retail florists. Qualities and
costs of competing greenery are usually considered by florists
in selecting greenery.

An increasing quantity is now being shipped in cardboard cartons.







24 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


TABLE 12.-SUMMARY OF FERN SHIPMENTS FROM PIERSON RAILWAY EX-
PRESS STATION, AUGUST, 1956, BY SIZE OF CRATES.

Crate Size Percentage of Percentage of
(No. of Sprays) Crates Sprays


500 13.5 5.6

750 2.1 1.3

1,000 52.0 43.2

1,250 1.2 1.2
1,500 7.3 9.1

2,000 23.8 39.4

3,000 0.1 0.2


Total 100.0 100.0






























Figure 7.-Crates of ferns are loaded into express cars
Figure 7.-Crates of ferns are loaded into express cars.







Marketing Florida Ferns


Not only are many types of greenery produced in Florida and
elsewhere in the Southeast, but much greenery originates in the
Pacific Northwest, Mexico and Hawaii. Local cut greens or cut
foliage are often used by retail florists in making floral decora-
tions.
No definitive data exist on the total amount and kinds of
greenery utilized by the florist industry. Nevertheless, the de-
cline in demand for plumosus ferns-formerly the major green-
ery item utilized by the florist trade-and the increasing quan-
tities marketed of other items of greenery indicate that plumosus
has a relatively unfavorable market position at present.
Perhaps the major competition for plumosus ferns is the
group of greens imported from the Pacific Northwest. Maiden-
hair fern, huckleberry and salal are harvested by individuals
from the mountainous, forested areas of this region and sold to
one of a limited number of firms which consolidate and process
the material for distribution to the florist trade. Assembly,
grading, storage, packing and marketing are functions performed
by the greenery buyers and distributors.
Firms handling Pacific Northwest greenery have carried on
an extensive promotion campaign to acquaint retail florists with
and to keep them sold on their product. Designers sponsored at
various florists' design schools use Northwest greenery in their
floral arrangements and stress its advantages as compared with
other types of greenery. It has been reported that some 10
years of promotional effort were required to get these materials
from the Northwest generally accepted by the florist industry.10
Two palm foliages imported from Mexico under the trade
names "jade" and "emerald" are becoming increasingly popular
for decorative purposes. The'e foliage are competitive not only
with plumosus ferns but also with Pacific Coast greenery.
Several greens from the Southeastern region appear to be
competitive with plumosus ferns. English laurel from North
Carolina is popular because of its longevity. Smilax, a small leaf,
green or bronze in color and with a long stem, is obtained chiefly
in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. These greens
are used quite extensively in wreaths and funeral pieces and for
other decorative purposes. Oak leaves constitute another item
of substantial importance as florists' greenery. A major source
of supply for this product is Indiana.

10 Charles H. Potter, "A Green Harvest," Florists' Review 119 (3078):
17-18, 70-71 (November 22, 1956).







26 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Figure 8.-Items of greenery utilized by the florists' trade. (Photos courtesy
Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station.)














Wt~
wit ~ ~~~~ ,'? S-.^Mt^:
*i^%/fl^ .a



. S t' f''1


w;







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


Several Hawaiian ferns, lycopodium and polypodium, are keen
competitors with mainland ferns. Lycopodium has a wide mar-
ket because it is known throughout the United States. The poly-
podium fern is favorably received in the florist market because
of its unusual form and longevity.
Florida is also a source of several other greens which have
been received with considerable favor by florists. Many plu-
mosus fern growers now produce one or more of these items of
greenery. Other types of greenery produced by Florida growers
are podocarpus, ligustrum, eucalyptus, holly fern, pittosporum
and cocculus. Cuttings of many of these are made and shipped
to greenery receivers. No data are available on acreages or
quantities shipped.
A later section of this report relates to sprengeri and leather-
leaf ferns. Production of the latter is increasing rapidly.

IMPROVING MARKETING PRACTICES
Market characteristics for most products and services change
with time. Such is the situation with respect to the plumosus
fern industry. Once the main item of greenery available to
florists, plumosus is being replaced by a growing number of new
products. The major marketing problem of the industry is
concerned with maintaining sales for plumosus ferns in competi-
tion with other greenery.
Other marketing problems include incomplete marketing in-
formation, seasonal gluts and lack of grade standardization. As
noted previously, a number of growers have complained of un-
ethical business practices on the part of some wholesale commis-
sion receivers, alleging failure to report properly and promptly
and the dumping of ferns without proper reason. On the other
hand, it is reported that many growers often make shipments
to wholesale commission receivers with no prior agreement on
the part of the agent to handle the ferns. This practice is looked
upon with disfavor by the wholesale florist industry and by most
fern growers.
Another marketing problem is concerned with the physio-
logical characteristics of the ferns. Many florists, and others
who handle plumosus ferns in the later stages of the marketing
process, complain of the tendency of the fern foliage to shatter
and leave residues in places where the product has been handled.
A leading wholesale firm reports that proper handling lengthens
the life of plumosus ferns in transit and storage. Observations







Marketing Florida Ferns 29

indicate that harvesting after ferns are too mature may be as
deterimental to product quality as too much heat in transit or
storage.
Information on market demand and supply is very sparse.
No market news reports similar to those on fruits and vegetables
are available to growers and shippers. The single terminal mar-
ket news report on cut flowers-that in New York City-provides
no data on prices and receipts of plumosus ferns or other green-
ery. Thus, producers have little information on which to act
when they have a surplus of ferns and must decide on the firm
and market to which to ship-or whether to leave the ferns un-
harvested.
The experience of handlers of most other products indicates
that, in the long run, the fern industry would likely stand to gain
a great deal by following through on a program of grade stand-
ardization. Certainly the use of grade standards would be es-
sential for the development of a market information program.
Producers of apples in the East, for example, have found it
necessary to raise standards in order to meet competition from
the apple industry in the Pacific Northwest. A similar situation
exists with respect to plumosus ferns. Competing products al-
leged to have higher standards of quality are being marketed
successfully to buyers of plumosus ferns. It appears that plu-
mosus ferns will remain in a disadvantageous position until such
time as the industry takes action to improve its marketing prac-
tices. The development, acceptance and use of uniform standards
of quality are an important means for accomplishing this end.
Several leading greenery wholesalers located in large terminal
markets have stressed the need for improved quality ferns if
the product is to be marketed successfully. They stressed that
quality improvement and grade standardization are essential
steps which must be taken by the plumosus fern industry if its
economic status is to be improved.
Because of the characteristics of the demand for ferns, a pro-
gram of product standardization would need to be accompanied
by an industry promotion program. In our rapidly changing
economy, as new products and marketing practices have evolved,
producers and marketing agencies of products already before the
consuming public have had to make adjustments to maintain
their former relative market position. It has been previously
noted that the florist industry uses other greenery products
more and more in lieu of plumosus ferns. The agencies which
market these other products have kept their greenery before




































































PLUMOSUS SPRAY AT LOWER
RIGHT IS "FAIRLY WELL SHAPED"
OTHER THREE SPRAYS ARE "WELL
SHAPED"


Figure 9.-Some fern characteristics. Grade standards for Asparagus
plumosus were established by the U. S. Department of Agriculture in 1930.
Their use offers a means for growers to raise the quality of their packs
and to reap the benefit of improved marketing. (Photos courtesy U. S.
Department of Agriculture.)







Marketing Florida Ferns 31

the florist industry through advertising in trade magazines and
participation in floral design schools; the efforts of the plumosus
fern industry to promote its products have been almost nil in
comparison.
The possible avenues for improving the economic status of the
fern industry are many. Voluntary participation in a concerted
drive to improve product quality and to promote the use of ferns
offers one possibility. Past experience with the Plumosus Insti-
tute and other industry endeavors would indicate that the chances
for such a program to succeed are somewhat limited. Neverthe-
less, a small number of fern growers have recently formed an
organization known as the Florida Plumosus and Leatherleaf
Growers. Members of the organization pay 5 cents apiece for
stickers which they place on each box of ferns shipped. The
funds accruing to the organization have been used at several
meetings of retail florists to promote the use of ferns. Growers
participating in the plan feel that the returns from the program
more than offset the costs.
Other industries faced with marketing problems similar to
those of the fern industry have initiated cooperative endeavors
of various types; nearly all of these have had the objective of
improving the industry's market position. Some industries have
utilized market information clearinghouses where data on sup-
plies and prices have been analyzed and made available to grow-
ers. Others have established state commissions to generate
funds for product promotion; still others, perhaps in combination
with other functions, regulate product quality in order to im-
prove market conditions. Experience in other industries would
indicate that the use of a combination of these market-control
measures could possibly enable the plumosus fern industry to
slow its current downward trend.

OTHER FERN CROPS
Leatherleaf.-Following the 1956 survey, it was estimated
that leatherleaf ferns were grown by some 25 producers on ap-
proximately 42 acres of land. Growers reported a total produc-
tion of about 7,350,000 sprays. Income to growers from leather-
leaf fern marketing was approximately $150,000 in 1956.
Plantings of leatherleaf ferns increased rapidly from 1956 to
1961. It is estimated that there are now more than 150 acres
devoted to the culture of leatherleaf ferns. Growers noted that
yields and prices had not changed materially since 1956.







Marketing Florida Ferns 31

the florist industry through advertising in trade magazines and
participation in floral design schools; the efforts of the plumosus
fern industry to promote its products have been almost nil in
comparison.
The possible avenues for improving the economic status of the
fern industry are many. Voluntary participation in a concerted
drive to improve product quality and to promote the use of ferns
offers one possibility. Past experience with the Plumosus Insti-
tute and other industry endeavors would indicate that the chances
for such a program to succeed are somewhat limited. Neverthe-
less, a small number of fern growers have recently formed an
organization known as the Florida Plumosus and Leatherleaf
Growers. Members of the organization pay 5 cents apiece for
stickers which they place on each box of ferns shipped. The
funds accruing to the organization have been used at several
meetings of retail florists to promote the use of ferns. Growers
participating in the plan feel that the returns from the program
more than offset the costs.
Other industries faced with marketing problems similar to
those of the fern industry have initiated cooperative endeavors
of various types; nearly all of these have had the objective of
improving the industry's market position. Some industries have
utilized market information clearinghouses where data on sup-
plies and prices have been analyzed and made available to grow-
ers. Others have established state commissions to generate
funds for product promotion; still others, perhaps in combination
with other functions, regulate product quality in order to im-
prove market conditions. Experience in other industries would
indicate that the use of a combination of these market-control
measures could possibly enable the plumosus fern industry to
slow its current downward trend.

OTHER FERN CROPS
Leatherleaf.-Following the 1956 survey, it was estimated
that leatherleaf ferns were grown by some 25 producers on ap-
proximately 42 acres of land. Growers reported a total produc-
tion of about 7,350,000 sprays. Income to growers from leather-
leaf fern marketing was approximately $150,000 in 1956.
Plantings of leatherleaf ferns increased rapidly from 1956 to
1961. It is estimated that there are now more than 150 acres
devoted to the culture of leatherleaf ferns. Growers noted that
yields and prices had not changed materially since 1956.







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


On the basis of an analysis of yield and price data, it is esti-
mated that some 25,000,000 sprays were marketed in 1960, and
that growers had cash receipts of over $500,000 from their sale.
Growers reported few consignment sales of leatherleaf ferns;
sales were generally made on an f.o.b. basis to wholesale and
retail florists.
Sprengeri.-Eight growers reported some 20 acres planted to
sprengeri ferns in 1956. Production that year was in excess of
2,000,000 sprays. Income to growers from marketing was esti-
mated to exceed $25,000.
Little change has taken place in the production and market-
ing of sprengeri ferns between 1956 and 1961.

SUMMARY
Ferns have been an important segment of Florida agriculture
since the turn of the twentieth century. In 1956, more than
2,000 acres were devoted to the culture of Asparagus plumosus,
the leading florists' greenery crop produced in Florida. Income
to growers from marketing of plumosus ferns in that year ap-
proximated $3,500,000. As a result of adverse market conditions
and unusual weather, it is estimated that the acreage had de-
creased to 1,750 acres and receipts from marketing to approxi-
mately $2,800,000 in 1961.
A fern crop which has sustained a substantial rise in pro-
duction over the past five years is leatherleaf fern. Production
has increased from 42 to 150 acres; income from sales has risen
from $150,000 to over $500,000.
The 20 acres of sprengeri ferns grown in 1956 had not
changed materially by 1961. Income from their sale was about
$25,000 annually.

Figure 10.-Leatherleaf ferns growing in a lath house.








^'^ft^^-'^- .-^^^S
ym as* H







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


On the basis of an analysis of yield and price data, it is esti-
mated that some 25,000,000 sprays were marketed in 1960, and
that growers had cash receipts of over $500,000 from their sale.
Growers reported few consignment sales of leatherleaf ferns;
sales were generally made on an f.o.b. basis to wholesale and
retail florists.
Sprengeri.-Eight growers reported some 20 acres planted to
sprengeri ferns in 1956. Production that year was in excess of
2,000,000 sprays. Income to growers from marketing was esti-
mated to exceed $25,000.
Little change has taken place in the production and market-
ing of sprengeri ferns between 1956 and 1961.

SUMMARY
Ferns have been an important segment of Florida agriculture
since the turn of the twentieth century. In 1956, more than
2,000 acres were devoted to the culture of Asparagus plumosus,
the leading florists' greenery crop produced in Florida. Income
to growers from marketing of plumosus ferns in that year ap-
proximated $3,500,000. As a result of adverse market conditions
and unusual weather, it is estimated that the acreage had de-
creased to 1,750 acres and receipts from marketing to approxi-
mately $2,800,000 in 1961.
A fern crop which has sustained a substantial rise in pro-
duction over the past five years is leatherleaf fern. Production
has increased from 42 to 150 acres; income from sales has risen
from $150,000 to over $500,000.
The 20 acres of sprengeri ferns grown in 1956 had not
changed materially by 1961. Income from their sale was about
$25,000 annually.

Figure 10.-Leatherleaf ferns growing in a lath house.








^'^ft^^-'^- .-^^^S
ym as* H







Marketing Florida Ferns


Plumosus ferns are produced and marketed throughout the
year. These greens are produced both under lath houses and
in hammocks. Many growers are transforming lath ferneries
into hammocks by planting live oak trees in their lath houses.
As the trees grow and provide shade, the lath houses will be
torn down. The price of cypress lumber has risen to the point
where the return from fern sales is not sufficient to justify the
investment in new lath houses.
More than 40 percent of all plumosus sales were made directly
to wholesale florists on an f.o.b. shipping-point basis. Wholesale
commission florists, acting as consignment receivers, purchased
30 percent of all ferns sold. The products were shipped to them
on a consignment basis. One-fourth of the plumosus fern sales
were made directly to retail florists on an f.o.b. basis. Local
buyers (other growers) purchased 3 percent of the total volume
marketed by growers. Highest average prices were received for
sales made directly to retail florists.
Plumosus ferns are marketed throughout the United States
and parts of Canada. The major market area, however, lies
east of the Mississippi River. An analysis of sales data for ferns
sold on consignment indicated that returns to growers were
higher for ferns sold in markets with small populations as com-
pared with those sold in large metropolitan markets. It appears
that large markets receive a higher than pro rata share of ferns
when supplies are glutted.
In 1956, nearly 97 percent of all fern shipments were made
by railway express. The remaining 3 percent were transported
to buyers by air, truck, bus and parcel post. More ferns were
shipped in crates holding 1,000 sprays than in other size classi-
fications. The 2,000-spray crate was second in importance.
A host of competing greenery items are striving for the favor
of the retail florist-the one who usually makes the decision on
the type greenery to use. Maidenhair fern, salal and huckle-
berry from the Pacific Northwest are items in favor with the
florist trade. Greenery from Mexico and Hawaii are substantial
competitors with plumosus and other Florida ferns. Other items
of greenery from Florida and other Southeastern states are also
moving to market in increasing volume. Podocarpus, ligustrum,
laurel, smilax, eucalyptus, pittosporum and cocculus cuttings are
made and marketed to florists.
Competition from other greens, a decline in demand and the
failure of the industry to work together toward the solution of







Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


its common problems have placed plumosus fern growers in an
unfavorable economic situation. A number of steps can be taken
by the industry to better its position. These would require co-
operative action by most growers in the industry. The improve-
ment of product quality, the prevention of indiscriminate ship-
ping to wholesale receivers by some growers and the promotion
of their product with the retail florist industry are among the
procedures which may enable the plumosus fern industry to ar-
rest its current downward trend.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This report is adapted from a doctoral dissertation by Tze I.
Chiang, Marketing Florida Asparagus Plumosus Ferns, accepted
by the Graduate Faculty of the University of Florida in June
1958. Provisional findings of the study were released in Agri-
cultural Economics Mimeo Report 58-3, A Preliminary Report
on Marketing Florida Ferns, by Cecil N. Smith, Donald L. Brooke,
Tze I. Chiang and Daniel D. Badger. Supplies of the Mimeo
Report are exhausted.
Appreciation is expressed to Daniel D. Badger, former field
assistant, for his work in collecting data from fern growers and
to Dr. William G. O'Regan, formerly associate professor of agri-
cultural economics, for his assistance in statistical sample de-
sign. Thanks are also extended to fern growers and other in-
terested persons who furnished data and otherwise contributed
to the completion of this inquiry.
The research on which this report is based was supported in
part by Hatch Act (Title II) funds.




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