Economics Report 69
Celery Production in Florida
A Historic Data
7 I 7n
>d and Resource Economics Department
cultural Experiment Stations
titute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
versity of Florida, Gainesville 32611
in Cooperation with
ida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service
istical Reporting Service
'ed States Department of Agriculture
G. Norman Rose
Estimates of Florida celery acreage, production and value,
released by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and covering the
crop years 1918 through 1972, are presented in this report. Pro-
duction data for crop years prior to 1918, documented in reports
of the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture, are
The number of celery growers peaked in 1929 with 553 growers
reporting a total acreage of 5,420, averaging 9.8 acres per
operator. In 1969 the number of operators had declined to 22,
but their aggregate acreage had increased to 10,696, or 486.2
acres per grower.
The historic beginnings and trends by major areas of pro-
duction are treated. Major advances in marketing are described.
Key words: Historic data; pioneer celery gro;.''er3; Florida
celery; celery--statistical data compilation.
Celery Production in Florida--A Historic Data
Series is the third in a series of historical reviews
for various Florida vegetables. The importance of
this report is in the history supporting its data.
The story unfolds as an infant century presented it-
self for the growth of an infant industry. The story
has long since folded for many living participants
who, though no longer involved, can look back with
pride and recall anew the tremendous part they and
their ancestors had in its development--a heritage
of which they can justly be proud.
Only the Chase family has the distinction of
having been involved in the Florida celery industry
from its start until the present writing. It is sad,
indeed even ironical, that this family, associated
so long with the celery industry in Florida, closed
its record of participation concurrent with the writing
of the manuscript for this report.
The writer of this series wishes to convey his gratitude to Dr.
Kenneth R. Tefertiller, former Chairman of the Food and Resource Eco-
nomics Department and now Vice-president for Agricultural Affairs at the
University of Florida, and Joe E. Mullin, former Statistician in Charge
of the Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, for their initial
guidance and planning for the historical data series. The story of
celery production in Florida is third in the series.
Gratitude is extended to their successors, Dr. Leo Polopolus, Chair-
man of the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of
Florida, and Robert A. McGregor, Statistician in Charge of the Florida
Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, for their continued support, as-
sistance and allocation of time for research, analysis and tabulation
of documented data. This support made it possible for the author to
arrange interviews with key pioneer growers and developers in the various
areas of production.
Appreciation is also gratefully extended to Dr. Donald L. Brooke,
Professor of Food and Resource Economics, for his assistance in the
preparation of this report as well as for his contributions in celery
research, excerpts of which are reproduced herein. To the many scien-
tists who have reported the results of their findings in research
directed to the production of a superior food item for the tables of
Americans everywhere, a note of special appreciation is merited. Thanks
are also due Warren 0. Johnson, former Meteorologist in Charge of the
Federal-State Agricultural Weather Service, and to Gordon E. Dunn, former
Head of the National Hurricane Center, for their notes on extremes of
weather affecting celery production in Florida; Elmo F. Scarborough for
furnishing shipment data; and George Talbott, Manager of the Florida
Celery Committee, for encouraging this writing and for his assistance in
editing and laying out the study.
Thanks are especially due Dr. Cecil N. Smith, Professor of Food and
Resource Economics and Chairman of the Departmental Publications
Committee, and Drs. Chris A. Andrew and James L. Pearson, Associate Pro-
fessors of Food and Resource Economics, for their constructive reviews of
an earlier draft of this manuscript.
The story in this report could not have been told without the as-
sistance given by key people in various areas of celery production. Much
of the information given is not documented; when feasible, more than one
person in each area was contacted for information about the history of
the industry. In many instances names of those giving assistance are
mentioned in the narrative, but a special note of thanks and deep appre-
ciation is in order.
In the Sanford-Oviedo-Zellwood area General J. C. Hutchison, Roby
Laing, Merwyn L. Cullum, Sydney Chase, Jr., E. W. Lins and R. R. Kelly,
Frank Talbott, C. R. Clonts, Mrs. R. W. Estes, Charles Lee, John Evans,
James D. Colbert and David Earle, F. F. Dutton, Jr., Mrs. Julius
Dingfelder, and Mrs. Harrison of the Sanford Public Library were very
In the west central area Mrs. Favata at the information desk in the
Hillsborough County Courthouse was most helpful, as were Frank Alonzo,
Anthony Pizzo, Anthony Valenti, James Massaro and others, including
personnel of the Tampa Public Library. In Bradenton and Sarasota as-
sistance was given by 0. C. McLain, Mr. and Mrs. Harold A. Hayworth,
Willis R. Hamiter, Ed Ayers, Thomas Bell, Paul Eskew, Jr., Mrs. Florence
"Toss" Hayes, B. G. Morgan and others.
In the Everglades area Mrs. H. H. Wedgworth, E. A. McCabe, C. T.
Niblack and others provided valuable assistance. Notes by J. C.
Townsend, Jr., and J. B. Owens of the Florida Crop and Livestock Report-
ing Service (FCLRS) were of great assistance.
In narrating the north Florida story, T. Mark Britt added greatly
to FCLRS notes on file regarding the Weirsdale muck celery, while Thomas
Bell, Paul Eskew, Jr. and S. T. Dell, son-in-law of William Shands, were
most helpful concerning the Oklawaha and Island Grove areas.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORD . . . .... . i.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . .... .. .......... ii
LISTS OF TABLES. . . . .. .. .... .. .. vi
LIST OF FIGURES. . . .. .. . . viii
INTRODUCTION . . .... . . .. 1
PURPOSE OF STUDY . . . . . 2
SOURCE OF DATA . . . .... . . .. 3
Statistical Records . . .... . . .. 3
Interesting Numbers to Consider . . . . 4
Reports of the Commissioner of Agriculture,FDA . 4
The U. S. Census of Agriculture. . . . 5
Summaries of Florida Celery Production by BAE and SRS (USDA) 7
Florida's Importance in U. S. Celery Production. . ... 11
HISTORIC BACKGROUND BY AREAS . . . .... .. .. 11
Where It Began. . . .... .. . . 11
The North Central Area. . . . ... .. 11
First in Florida Claimed by Sanford, the "Celery City" 11
Many Claims Documented . . .. .. .... 13
Some Early Growers in the Sanford Area . . ... .14
Celery Production Increased. . . . ... 15
Area Suitability . . .... .. . 16
Early Variety and Marketing Methodology. . . ... 16
Oviedo Growers Increase in Number and Acreage. . .. .18
Local Organizations Form for Three-Area Handling . .. .19
The Zellwood Muck Soils Area . . . ... 23
The Post World War II Years. . . . ... 24
The West Central Area . ......... .......... 25
A Forgotten Area Had a Claim to "First in Florida" . 25
Manatee County Celery Production . . ... 26
Sarasota County Production . . . .... 28
The North Florida Area. . . . ... .. 30
The Everglades Area . . . . ... .31
Unlocated Acreage. . . . . ... .32
Organic Farming. . . .. . . .. 32
Other Early Growers. . . . .. 33
Handlers and Growers in the Postwar Years. .. . .34
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
AN INDUSTRY IN TRANSITION . .....
Factors Influencing Change . .
Demand . . . . .
Financing . . . .
Soils and Temperatures . . .
Drainage and Irrigation . .
Plant Characteristics . . .
Culture and Varieties . . .
Harvesting, Packing and Precooling .
Containers . . . .
Labor . . . .
Marketing . . . .
Transportation . . . .
Costs of Production and Marketing .
Research . . . .
Publications by the University of Florida .
WHAT OF THE FUTURE? . . . .
APPENDIX . . . . . .
STATISTICAL REPORTING . . . .
USDA-Statistical Reporting Service .
In the Formative Years . .
An Effort toward Improvement . .
Cooperation Brings Improvement .
The Extremes of Weather and Production
Wind and Water . . .
Lack of Water . . ..
Freezes in Florida in the Early Years.
. . . 95
. . . 95
. . . 95
S . . 96
Risks . .. .99
. . . 100
. . . 101
. . . 101
Various Extremes of Weather and Their Adverse Effects. .
The 1920s . . . . . .
The 1930s . . . . . .
The 1940s . . . . . .
The 1950s. . . . . . .
The 1960s. . . . . . .. ..
The 1970s. . . . . . .
REFERENCES . . . . . .
. . 94
. . . .
LIST OF TABLES
1 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, 1901 through 1918 crop years as re-
ported by the Commissioner of Agriculture (FDA) . .. 5
2 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Farms
reporting and acreage harvested as reported by the U. S.
Bureau of the Census, 1909 through 1969 census years. 6
3 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, winter season 1918 through 1972 8
4 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, spring season 1928 through 1972 9
5 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, all seasons combined, crop years
1917-18 through 1971-72 . . . .. 10
6 U. S. celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, five-year averages, 1947-48 through
1971-72 periods . . . . . 12
7 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, five-year averages, 1947-48 through
1971-72 periods . . . . . 12
8 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Farms
reporting and acreage harvested by counties, areas and the
state as reported by the U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1909
through 1969 census years . . . ... 38
9 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: County
acreage 1901-1926 crop years as reported by the Commissioner
of Agriculture (FDA). . . . . .. 39
10 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Area
acreages for harvest during the 1927-28 through 1971-72
crop years. ... .. . . . 40
11 Florida celery: Acreage harvested by major producing
areas, five-year averages, 1928 through 1972 periods. 41
12 Florida celery: Usual material requirements per acre of
celery in the field by areas, 1969. . . . 56
13 Florida celery: Usual season of operations by areas in
1969. . . . . . ... 59
LIST OF TABLES (Continued)
14. Florida celery: Shipments in carlots by one large co-
operative for the period 1922-23 through 1930-31, showing
percentages f.o.b., top-iced and washed . .... 61
15 The Howard celery crate compared with the nailed crate. .. 68
16 Florida celery: Total labor requirements in hours per
acre by areas . . . . . 72
17 U. S. celery for fresh market: Prices received per hun-
dredweight, 1953-54 through 1971-72 . . .... 77
18 Florida celery for fresh market: Prices received per
hundredweight, 1953-54 through 1971-72. . .. 77
19 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Carlot
(rail) shipments by counties and billing stations for
the 1926-27 crop year . . ... ....... .79
20 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Carlot
(rail) shipments by counties and billing stations for the
1928-29 crop year . . . . ... ... 80
21 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Inter-
state shipments by months, 1947 through 1971-72 crop
years . . . . ... . .. 82
22 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Monthly
percentage distribution of interstate shipments, 1947-48
through 1971-72 crop years. . . . . 82
23 Florida celery: Costs and returns per acre and per crate
in the Everglades area by five-season averages, 1953-57,
1963-67 and 1968-72 . . . .... 84
24 Florida celery: Costs and returns per acre and per crate
in the Sanford-Oviedo-Zellwood area by five-season aver-
ages, 1953-57, 1963-67 and 1968-72. .. . . 85
25 Florida celery: Costs and returns per acre and per crate
in the Sarasota area by five-season averages, 1953-57,
1963-67 and three-season average 1968-70. . . 86
LIST OF FIGURES
1 Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Farms
reporting and acreage harvested as reported by the U. S.
Bureau of the Census, 1909 through 1969 census years 6
2 Florida celery production vs. U. S. production by five-
year averages, 1947-48 through 1971-72 periods . .. 12
3 Florida celery: North central area acreage vs. farms
reporting, census years 1929-69. . . ... 37
4 Florida celery: Everglades area acreage vs. farms
reporting, census years 1929-69. . . ... 37
5 Florida celery: Acreage harvested by areas in five-
year averages, 1928-72 periods . . .... .41
6 Florida celery: Importance of counties based on acres
harvested during the 1929-30 crop year . ... 42
7 Florida celery: Importance of counties based on acres
harvested during the 1949-50 crop year . ... 43
8 Florida celery: Importance of counties and areas based
on acres harvested during the 1969-70 crop year. ... 44
9 A field plan of tile irrigation and drainage . .. 51
10 Sample copy of the FCLRS celery inventory of weekly plant-
ings and harvesting; monthly planting report, Florida and
California, by areas . . . .... .97-98
CELERY PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA--A HISTORIC DATA SERIES
G. Norman Rose
Celery originated in the Mediterranean area. Wild celery grows in
wet places over Europe, the Mediterranean lands, Asia Minor, the Caucasus
and southeastward toward the Himalayas. Smallage, a plant now culti-
vated for flavoring, is apparently the "wild" celery known to the Medi-
terranean lands for thousands of years. Celery belongs to the same
family of plants as the carrot, parsley, fennel, carraway and anise.
The characteristic flavor and odor of members of this family are due to
the presence of volatile oils in the stems, leaves, and especiallyin the
Celery was mentioned in Homer's Odyssey about 850 B.C. as "selinon."
Celeri, a French name from which the English word is derived, was first
mentioned in a 9th century poem giving the medicinal uses and merits of
the plant. Dioscorides, a medical writer of the 1st century, recommended
eating celery for a sedative effect (the volatile oil obtained from ripe
celery seeds is used in medicine today as a sedative). The Greeks
awarded celery to winners of sports contest.
It was first cultivated in Italy and northern Europe for medicinal
purposes only. Use of celery as a food was first recorded in France in
1623, and for about a hundred years thereafter its food use was confined
to flavorings. Improvements were gradual through the 17th and 18th cen-
turies. It was discovered that much of the strong flavor could be elim-
inated by growing the plants in late summer and fall, then keeping them
G. NORMAN ROSE is an associate professor of food and resource
economics at the University of Floridak He is stationed with the
Florida office of the Statistical Reporting Service (SRS) of the U. S.
Department of Agriculture in Orlando where, since 1945, he has colla-
borated in vegetable crops estimating and reporting.
into the winter. Thus celery found its place as a salad plant.
It is not known when celery was first brought to America, but four
cultivated varieties were listed in 1806. Celery growing as an industry
in the U. S. dates from about 1880 when the "White Plume" and "Golden
Self Blanching" varieties were introduced. Credit for the early commer-
cial development of the industry is largely due a group of Holland-
American gardeners in the vicinity of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who grew and
marketed it as early as 1874 .
Florida's celery industry dates back to 1895 with the first plant-
ings at Sanford or, possibly, Tampa. This was the year of the massive,
disastrous freeze which was destructive to Florida citrus as well as
vegetable crops. A large portion of the citrus plantings around Sanford
was destroyed and growers sought other crops adapted to the area.
The industry grew and spread to other areas. Today practically all
the state's celery is grown on muckland soils in the Everglades, center-
ing at Belle Glade. Other producing areas include mucklands at Oviedo,
Zellwood and Sarasota. Spring crops of celery were grown at Island
Grove in Alachua County through the 1971-72 season.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to compile in one volume all of
the available statistics concerning the celery industry in Florida. The
information utilized was generated by the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA), the U. S. Bureau of the Census (USBC), the Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and other state
sources. Changes in importance by areas, seasons, types of culture,
marketing methods, financing and competition are shown.
Another purpose of the study is to record for posterity (1) the
names of individuals whose pioneering spirit and perseverance contribu-
ted to industry progress; (2) the methods they used and the changes they
made; (3) the rise and fall in importance of celery producing areas; and
(4) the economic factors that forced many growers to give up celery as
a farm enterprise.
SOURCES OF DATA
Data herein presented are documented estimates of celery acreage,
production and value. Newspaper articles on file in libraries, pub-
lished chronologies of counties and areas, and personal interviews with
individuals whose residence, family ties or business relationships go
back into the early history of the various celery areas were reliable
sources for information prior to 1901. Such contacts were made with
several octogenarians or older persons by telephone and in person; pages
of newspapers printed in the late nineteenth century and preserved on
micro-film were scanned, as well as early twentieth century newspapers,
many of them yellowed with age; books of history whose writers are now
history, too, were also reviewed. Leads were often very faint, but
never misleading. Surprisingly, each individual's statement could be
substantiated by that of others, or sufficient additional documentation
for verification was found.
Biennial reports of the Commissioner of Agriculture (FDA) from
responsible sources within each county provided data on county acreage,
production and value from 1900-01 through 1925-26. These documentation
support the verbal reports mentioned above, but at times the evidence of
the other sources of data outweigh these documentary reports. The U. S.
Bureau of the Census (USBC) is the primary source of documented numbers
of farm operators; acreages reported in conjunction with farm operators
are presented forcomparison with the main source of data. The main
source of data throughout the report after 1918 is the Bureau of Agri-
cultural Economics (BAE-USDA), changing in 1953 to Agricultural Marketing
Service. The statistical arm of this agency became the Statistical Report-
ing Service in 1961 (SRS-USDA). Reference was made to many notes on file.
County and area acreage data are presented from records of the
Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service (FCLRS) which is the official
name of the Florida office of the Statistical Reporting Service. Thus
in this report BAE, SRS and FCLRS refer to the same USDA office.
In 1918 BAE began to report official information on Florida celery.
Each crop year was reported as "early celery" only. In 1928 the crop
year was divided and "late celery" was split off from "early celery" to
generate what was later called winter and spring estimates. As the in-
dustry progressed it became apparent that there are really three har-
vesting and marketing seasons in Florida in comparison with four
nationally. All USDA-SRS estimates in this report are for the winter
and spring seasons, even though early harvest of late years starts as
early as November 1 with considerable celery being harvested in the.fall
Starting on January 1, 1973 all vegetable crops including celery,
estimated by USDA-SRS, were placed on a quarterly basis; i.e., October-
December (fall), January-March( winter) and April-June (spring) (see
Appendix, p. 96).
Florida celery is transplanted to the field from plants usually grown
on the producer's farm. For many years all celery transplanted through
December 31 was classified as "winter" celery; all set thereafter was
listed as spring season regardless of harvest dates. In 1968 a change
was made to count as winter season only that which was harvested prior
to April 1; celery harvested thereafter was credited to the spring crop
and acreages were adjusted when necessary.
All yield, production and unit price data are based on a hundred-
weight (cwt.) conversion. Winter and spring season data are combined
into an "all" or crop year concept which is not reported by USDA-SRS
(see Table 5, p. 10).
In the early years of statistical estimates for Florida vegetables,
planted acreages were not reported as official estimates, nor were
county and area plantings reported consistently. Hence planted acreages
prior to 1945-46 are not shown in tables of data in this report, but are
mentioned at times in narrative form.
Interesting Numbers to Consider
Reports of the Commissioner of Agriculture, FDA
Beginning with the 1901 season and continuing through the 1917-18
season, all available data from this source are given.1 Information for
each crop year from 1901 through 1906 is presented consecutively; for the
1908 through 1918 period, data for every other crop year are presented.
ICounty data are presented in the section on "An Industry in Transi-
Table 1 shows acreage, production and value with the unit in crates (these
were large and the contents were packed in the field in "the rough," or
with tops intact, unwashed and often not sized or graded for quality).
Table l.--Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage,
production and value, 1901 through 1918 crop years, as reported
by the Commissioner of Agriculture, FDA
Crop year Harvested Yieldb Productionb Price Value
Acres Crates Crates Dollars Dollars
1900-01 25 830 20,739 1.01 20,922
1901-02 91 291 26,451 3.32 87,910
1902-03 255 406 103,490 1.28 132,318
1903-04 276 492 135,895 1.29 175,640
1904-05 266 667 177,337 1.93 342,530
1905-06 335 768 257,418 1.82 469,777
1907-08 694 527 365,742 1.32 484,377
1909-10 366 895 327,426 .81 266,064
1911-12 932 451 420,394 1.15 482,579
1913-14 1,280 626 800,689 1.13 904,712
1915-16 1,498 813 1,217,433 1.06 1,292,061
1917-18 1,661 514 854,298 .94 801,161
aReports to the Commissioner of Agriculture were not all-inclusive
during this period. Data were shown annually from 1901-06 and and every
two years thereafter.
production and yield are in crates whereas all USDA-BAE-SRS data are
in cwt. Average weight per crate is not definitely known, but most early
celery was shipped in the "rough."
The U. S. Census of Agriculture
From celery's infancy in the Tampa area and as a cash crop for market
at Sanford, in what was then Orange County, to its present major impor-
tance, many successes and many failures have been made. From one or two
growers in 1897, the U. S. Census marked the rise of Florida celery to a
peak in 1929 with 553 farm operators reporting acreage. Herein are in-
teresting numbers to consider. Figure 1 illustrates the rise and fall of
numbers of farm operators growing celery in Florida and acreages harvested;
Table 2 lists the numbers of farm operators and the acreage harvested as
C _~_~~~~__ ___^~11_____1_~~ 1
1909 1919 1929 1939 1949 1959 1969
Figure 1,--Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Farms reporting and acreage harvested
as reported by the U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1900 through 1969 census years
Table 2.--Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Farms reporting and acreage harvested as re-
ported by the U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1909 through 1969 census years
SAcres per fari (avg.)
/ \ t
reported to the U. S. Census of Agriculture since 1909. In 1929 the 553
farm operators reported an average of 9.8 acres of celery per farm. In
this particular census year interesting facts are disclosed in that 28
growers were reported in west Florida with 29 acres of celery; 16 growers
with 48 acres were delineated in the Hastings area (Flagler, Putnam, and
St. Johns Counties). A field in the Hastings vicinity is still called
"the celery field."
Gradually the numbers of farm operators reporting celery decreased
with those continuing increasing their acreage. By 1959 only 54 farm
operators were left, but these grew a record crop of 13,419 acres .
This 1959 acreage figure is verified by the USDA-SRS estimate of 13,800
acres of celery planted and 13,300 acres harvested. That this definitely
brought about an over-production is attested to by the fact that economic
abandonment in that crop year also broke all records . By 1969
celery production was indeed in the hands of a few as only 22 farm opera-
tors were left, but average acreage per farm operator was 486 acres,
setting a record for average size .2
Summaries of Florida Celery Production by BAE and SRS (USDA)
State summaries for winter, spring and the all season total of celery
acreage, production and value in Florida from 1918 through 1972 are shown
in Tables 3, 4 and 5. Records worthy of note were established. The
13,500 acres harvested of 14,000 acres planted in the 1945-46 crop year
established a record in that respect. Overproduction frequently depresses
the market price such that it becomes necessary to leave celery unsold
though of marketable quality at a certain stage of its maturity; too, in-
sufficient labor may prevent the harvest at the proper quality stage. A
record 683,000 cwt. of such marketable celery was left for economic
reasons during the 1958-59 crop year. The 4,873,000 cwt. marketed in
1965-66 also set a record for Florida in quantity sold of the estimated
4,952,000 cwt. produced. The following crop year, 1966-67, was a record
season also, producing an estimated 5,229,000 cwt. That this was an
overproduction is readily seen in that only 4,621,000 cwt., or 88 percent
of the production, was marketed. Since overplanting and overproduction
are often a discredit to the success of an industry, the 1971-72 crop
2 Bracketed numbers refer to references on pages 111-114.
T7ale 3.--Floridl celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage. priluction and value, winter season 1914 through 1972
Acrei;er Yield Ir ti n A. r Value
'lulcntd Ilarvestd per acre Totl Not m:rketeI Markettl pr
ML- ul;, d-
aAverage prices January 1, 1959 and subsequent seasons are fo.b., or include the selling charges at the shipping point;
selling charges are excluded in prior seasons.
byields are based on production marketed in 1964l and subsequent seasons; yields were based on total production prior
Source: 147 1.
Cwt. .....------ ,--
Table 4 .-IFlorilda celery for fresh market and processing: Acrcage, production and value, spring season 1)928 through 1972
Acreage eld Production Average
aeYear lper acre price Value
Planted llrvotcd c Total Not marketed Marketedl
-------Acrels------- --Ct-- ------- 000 cwt ----------- --i Dollars- -1,00 dollars-
a ~ ----- -I------- I- -C -I- ---L
'Average prieoa January 1, 1959 andl sucbseqlCent seasons are f o. b.
point; selling charges are cxclldedo in prior seiasns,
or include the selling charges at the shipping
bYiclds are based on production marketed in 1904 and subsequent seasons; yields wore based on total production
prior to 1964.
Table 5 .--f'orida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage, production and value, all seasons combined, crop year
1,17-16 through 1971-72
Crop years ---p-e--e --- Y lAverage Value
Planted J.irve.ested Total Not nmarkettd Malrketed
------ -Acres------- -- .---- t -----. -OO ct,------- --- Dollars--- -1.000 dollars-
1917-18 NA 1,730 391 676 0 676 1.23 832
1918-19 1,660 448 744 0 744 4,92 3,664
1919-20 1,730 458 793 0 793 2.46 1,952
1920-21 2,260 500 1,131 0 1,131 2.23 2,523
1921-22 2,800 422 1,183 0 1,183 3.08 3,640
1922-23 3,200 456 1,458 0 1,458 1.77 2,579
1923-24 4,000 413 1,651 0 1,651 2.62 4,318
1924-25 4,500 402 1,808 0 1,808 2.46 4,450
1925-26 3,780 326 1,231 0 1,231 3.85 4,735
1920-27 4,400 391 1,719 0 1,719 2.23 3,834
1927-28 5,380 361 1,915 0 1,915 2.78 5,317
1928-29 6,050 342 2,069 0 2,069 1.69 3,504
1929-30 6,050 360 2,299 0 2,299 2.45 5,640
1930-31 5,600 367 2,055 0 2,055 2.54 5,221
1931-52 6,200 306 1,895 0 1,895 2.01 3,803
1932-33 6,100 .310 1,893 226 1,667 1.17 1,919
1933-34 5,500 369 2,027 0 2,027 1.47 2,989
1934-35 5,450 334 1,821 0 1,821 2.40 4,372
1935-36 5.900 317 1,873 0 1,873 2,40 4,504
1936-37 6,700 340 2,281. 0 2,281 2.00 4,553
1937-38 7,200 346 2,489 276 2,213 1.50 3,309
1938-39 6,700 326 2,186 0 2,186 2.48 5,420
1939-40 7,100 322 2,289 0 2,289 2.58 5,907
1940-41 8,700 294 2,555 0 2,555 3.19 8,149
1941-42 9,300 281 2,615 0 2,615 2.77 7.246
1912-43 8,800 8,800 286 2.520 0 2,520 6.84 17,241
19"13-44 9,900 9,900 301 2,991 240 2,741 5.30 14,530
19-11-45 11,650 11,100 298 3,308 61 3,247 5.80 18,820
1945-46 14,000 13,500 287 3,877 91 3,766 3.78 14.312
1946-47 12,000 11,400 245 2,798 0 2,788 6.22 17,332
1947-48 12,200 11,600 294 3,408 558 2,850 3.27 9,319
1948-49 9,r00 9,400 346 3,249 95 3,154 5.03 15,868
1949-50 9,800 9,700 401 3,889 137 3,752 3.33 12,491
1950-51 10,900 10,400 397 4,131 117 4,014 3,74 15,009
1951-52 10,550 10,400 418 4,352 68 4,284 3.52 15,070
1952-53 10,200 10,000 389 3,885 45 3,840 3.35 12,856
1953-54 10,900 10,600 414 4,389 317 4,072 2.89 11,787
1954-55 9,200 9,100 460 4,190 66 4,124 3.77 15,551
1935-56 10,400 10,100 396 4,004 29 3,975 2.93 11,632
1956-57 11,200 10,300 380 3,910 0 3,910 3.82 14,920
1957-58 12,100 11,400 285 3,252 0 3,252 5.31 17,255
1958-59 13,600 13,300 344 4,580 683 3,897 2,52a 9,804
1959-60 11,900 11,300 369 4,169 0 4,169 2.96 12,344
1960-61 10,400 10,200 429 4,377 136 4,241 3,00 12,742
1961-62 10,800 10,690 403 4,273 0 4,273 5.92 25,280
1962-63 11,300 11,100 406 4,503 224 4,279 3.65 15,630
1963-64 11,200 11,100 398b 4,602 183 4,419b 4.85 21,-131
1964-65 11,700 11,600 392 4,682 134 4,548 4.29 19,495
1985-66 12,400 12,200 399 4,952 79 4,873 4.86 23,667
1936-67 13,000 11,400 405 5,229 608 4,621 4.15 19,192
1967-68 12,400 11,100 392 4,1.3, 351 4,349 5.14 22,336
1968-69 12,800 11,800 385 4, :,j 128 4,541 5.50 24,086
1969-70 12,900 11,300 355 4,B12 0 4,012 6.22 24,952
1970-71 12,800 11,600 403 4,763 90 4,673 4.23 19,752
1971-72 12,600 11,6()0 397 4,001 0 4,601 8.24 37,904
aAverage prices Ja;nuary 1, 1939 ;andl suubsnsqunt seasons ire t.o. b., or include the selling charges at the shipping
point; selling chlrges ;re excluded in prior scea;i s.
bYields are b old on production marketellt In 1964 and suabsiluent seasons; yields wero bnaed on total production
prior to 1964.
year can be characterized for its record-breaking sales. Its 4,601,000
cwt. sold exceeded the last 10-year average by slightly over 2 percent,
yet set a record $8.24 average f.o.b. price per cwt., an all-time record
season average price .
Florida's Importance in U. S. Celery Production
Comparing Florida production with that of the U. S. total necessi-
tated adjusting the national data into a fall, winter and spring concept.
The calendar year basis for celery was not used since considerable tonnage
has been marketed prior to January 1 each season even though it was esti-
mated as winter celery. Tables 6 and 7 and Figure 2 illustrate the
comparison in 5-year periods.
HISTORIC BACKGROUND BY AREAS
Where It Began
Although it is not known when the first celery was brought to America,
records list four cultivated varieties in 1806. Celery growing as an in-
dustry in the United States dates from about 1880. It is credited largely
to a group of Holland-American gardeners in the vicinity of Kalamazoo,
Michigan, who grew and marketed celery as early as 1874. Their new com-
modity was sold to passengers on Michigan Central Railroad trains that
passed through Kalamazoo and to people along the route. A demand for the
delicately blanched salad vegetable developed rapidly .
The North Central Area
First in Florida Claimed by Sanford, the "Celery City"
Sanford, a thriving citrus community in Orange County (Seminole
County, where Sanford is located, was established April 25, 1913) prior to
the "big freeze" of 1894-95. The freeze was a major disaster as practically the
the whole citrus industry was lost. Bankrupt growers were leaving the area
in large numbers. Some just drove off and left the land; others sold for
25 to $1.00 per acre . The population of the community was said to
have dropped from 5,000 persons to 2,000 persons  (Sanford's popula-
tion declined from 3,500 persons to 1,800 persons in a few months ).
This abrupt termination of one industry really set the stage for another,
but it would take time and scarce capital to transfer people into an
TalAe 6.--U. S. celery for fresh market and procrsslng: Arreage, production and value, five year iveragets, 1047-48 through
A r ,'rYild roducion Averge Total
Average period Planted Ilarvasted d sold price value
Acres Acrels Owt. 1.000 wt,. itars llrar
(1) 1947-48 through 1951-52 38,858 38,074 352 13,171 3.79 50,151
(2) 1952-53 through 1956-57 36,091 35,100 431 14,805 3.64 53,851
(3) 1957-58 through 1961-62 35.376 34,538 432 14,686 3.79b 55,489
(4) 1962-63 through 1966-07 32,152 31,464 454C 14,215 4.37 62,112
(5) 1967-68 through 1971-72 34,550 32,850 473 15,551 5.44 84,409
aData are adjusted to include the late fall crop of the preceding year, but exclude fall of the calendar year, and Hawall for
comparisons with Florida.
Average prices January 1, 1959 and subsequent seasons are f.o.b., or include the selling charges at the shipping point;
selling charges are cxcluded in prior seasons.
cYields are based on production marketed in 1964 and subsequent seasons; yields were based on total production prior to
Table 7.--Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Acreage, production and value, five year averages, 1947-48 through
Average period Acreage Yield Production Average Total
Planted H irvested sold price value
Acres Acres Cw.. 1,000 wt.._ Dolars 1,000 dollars
(1) 1947-48 through 1951-52 10,610 10,300 371 3,611 3.78 13,551
(2) 1952-53 through 1956-57 10,380 10,020 .408 3,984 3.35 13,349
(3) 1957-58 through 1961-62 11,800 11,360 366 3,966 3.94a. 15,483
(4) 1962-63 through 1966-67 11,920 11,480 400 4,548 4.36 19,883
(5) 1967-69 through 1971-72 12,700 11,480 386 4,435 5.87 25,986
aAverage prices January 1, 1959 and subsequent seasons are f.o.b., or Include the selling charges at shipping point;
selling charges are excluded in prior seasons.
yields are based on production marketed in 1964 and subsequent seasons; yields were based on total production prior
(1) 1..I 1 __ __ __, I
.. .. i ___
(4) ... .
(5) | I........ _. ___ .S
1 5 3 4 5 6 7 T 9 10 11 12 13 14 1,
------------------------------One million c*t'.-- ------ -------------*---.----
Figure 2.--Florida celery production va U. S. production by five year areragcs, 1947-4I through 1971-72 periods
entirely new enterprise. The land in dead citrus trees was too high and
dry for vegetables and the lower land east and west of Sanford which is
the present vegetable area was an untilled and undrained wasteland. Drain-
age, except by open ditch, was unknown. The first experimental vegetable
growing at Sanford was made with celery in 1896, but the effort failed
due to improper seed. Three years later vegetable growing was no longer
an experiment; it had plainly turned into a money-maker .
Many Claims Documented
Two areas lay claim to the distinction of being first to grow com-
mercial celery in Florida; many claims are made as to who was the first
farmer to grow the new salad vegetable at Sanford. Some claims are doc-
umented, some are handed down through several generations; all appear to
be sincere. A report on file in the Tampa Public Library stated that
the first celery plants for use in the Sanford area were brought in about
1892 by P. R. Phillips, who imported them from Kalamazoo, Michigan. The
new vegetable took kindly to its new habitat and sufficient plantings
were made so that in 1899 the first carload of celery was sent out of
Florida . However, the first shipment was made in barrel containers
to Jacksonville by I. H. Terwilliger some time prior to 1897. In the
spring of 1897 B. F. Whitner shipped in express lots about three-fourths
of a carload to Arch Deacon and Co., of New York; in 1899 four cars were
shipped from Sanford, a considerable quantity coming from the experimental
three acres of J. N. Whitner .
Also on file in the Tampa Public Library is a newspaper clipping
with a picture of the "Celery Queen," Sarah Appleyard, the wife of Tom
Appleyard, editor of the local Sanford paper. She, her gardener Uncle
Ransom Williams and his wife Aunt Prissy planted their home garden with
seeds sent by her congressman each year. Since she had been told Sanford
soil and climate were not suited to celery production, she had not been
planting the packet of celery seed that was enclosed each year. In the
fall of 1896 she decided to try the celery seed. They carefully prepared
the seed row and tended the tiny plants, cultivating them to full maturity
while her neighbors watched over the fence. Joe Whitner was one of the
careful observers. Mrs. Appleyard brought her celery to maturity without
blanching it, as she had no knowledge of this phase of its culture. She
used the celery in cooking soups and stews and found it excellent, but
did not try it as a salad, since it was not bleached . The story,
"Sarah's Celery," closed with the statement that Mr. Whitner became known
as the "Celery King." Surely Sarah Appleyard should be known as the
"Celery Queen." It definitely ties in with the story below, but is in
conflict with the story relative to events in the west central area (see p.
25) and the 1892 date above which was used twice in the article .
Some Early Growers in the Sanford Area
That the first celery was grown in the Indian Mound locality of San-
ford by J. N. Whitner on an experimental basis is generally accepted as
authentic . "In the winter of 1896 and '97, J. E. Pace shipped the
first head lettuce from Sanford; he, Captain B. F. Whitner, the writer
(J. N. Whitner) and E. S. Harrold shipped the first celery. the flat
celery crate was adopted. spring '98, shipped four carloads under re-
frigeration by the advice and assistance of S. 0. Chase.3 In February
1899, another hard freeze; however, fine celery was made which brought
good prices" .
In the fall of 1897 Captain B. F. Whitner, a farmer-legislator, ob-
tained celery plants from Michigan and planted about three-quarters of an
acre on the margin of Lake Jessup. A freeze on January 3, 1898 blackened
the plants, but S. 0. Chase, who had experience with celery in his home
garden prior to 1896, advised Captain Whitner to rake off the damaged
stalks and refertilize, as the buds were alive. This he did, but as a
member of the State Legislature he had to be in Tallahassee for a 60-day
session, leaving his greatly delayed crop in the hands of Mr. Chase. He
returned from Tallahassee to learn to his great surprise that his new
crop had not only been brought to maturity, but that it had been success-
fully harvested and marketed for a return of over $1,300 .
Sydney 0. Chase arrived at Sanford in 1878. He worked first as an
accountant, but he and Joshua C. Chase organized Chase and Company in
1884. Hence they were active in produce before any celery was grown.
Chase's own farm grew celery shortly after the turn of the century. About
1899 S. 0. Chase visited his brother, J. C. Chase, in California to study
the method of the Earle Fruit Company withwhich Mr. Chase had connections;
the firm was a pioneer in the California celery industry. Mr. Chase
30ther sources report that the first four carlots were shipped in 1899.
returned to Sanford with many new ideas that helped establish successful
growing of this infant commodity. That season four cars of celery were
produced and the following season the growers increased production to 28
In 1898-99 Mr. Chase was in partnership with B. F. Whitner, his
father-in-law, on 40 acres at Pickett's Point on Lake Jessup. Knowing the
danger due to lack of drainage, they diked the entire field, making the
dike one foot higher than any surrounding water marks. Plants were still
in beds inside the dikes when Mr. Chase made his first trip to California.
Upon his return the entire 40 acres was a huge lake, the dike itself two
feet under water. The seedbeds with plants nearly ready to set were under
water nearly three weeks. Even so, the plant heart was alive and a crop
was transplanted and brought to the stage for bleaching. Cypress boards
were ordered. A heavy March rain, followed by a hot, dry wind ruined the
crop. The heavy soil ran together, dried and cracked, before it could be
cultivated. The cracking tore the roots off the plants and they fell
over--a total loss.
In five years from the time the first commercial celery crop was
grown, other farmers had become quite active. H. H. Chappell, A. B.
Cameron, R. J. King, A.McDonald, A. Robbins, A. F. Rosetter and C. F.
Williams were listed as early growers. Joseph Leinhart grew the first
Oviedo sandland celery in 1898, primarily for distribution along with
other vegetables to the east coast hotel trade. A man only needed 10
acres to make good. All these pioneers were poor men, but hard workers.
I. H. Terwilliger and J. N. Whitner had perfected the sub-irrigation and
drainage system from an idea advanced by a minister, T. W. Moore (see
Drainage and Irrigation, page 49). Some other celery growers in the 1909-
1910 era of expansion in the Sanford delta were George Fox, Martin
Greenberg, K. R. Murrell, C. R. Walker and M. D. Gatchel, besides those
Celery Production Increased
Production gradually increased after the turn of the century. In 1907
celery from 200 acres sold f.o.b. at $1.40 per crate. J. E. Pace, well
known grower and original "Celery King," shipped a solid carload of celery
during the second half of February 1910 to Tacoma, Washington, invading
the California marketing area. Mr. Pace had 72 acres of celery that
season. By the end of the 1909-10 season, production had increased to
400,616 crates4 which were shipped in 1,037 straight carloads averaging
351 crates per car; the balance was moved by express or in "mixers" with
other vegetables. The 1909-10 shipments were 48 percent more.than those
shipped in 1908-09 when 706 carlots were shipped plus express and celery
in mixed vegetable carlots for a total movement of 271,403 crates .
In 1909 the U. S. Census of Agriculture reported 274 growers in Florida
with 825 acres of celery (Table 1, p. 5). By this time several counties
were reporting acreage to the Commissioner of Agriculture, FDA. The
greatest acreage was in Orange County (Sanford) and in Manatee County.
The delta or east side area had fertile soil with a correct depth of
hard pan, good artesian water and a near-perfect system of sub-drainage-
irrigation which had been developed at nominal cost. Freeze and frost
hazards were lessened by warmth from adjacent Lake Jessup, Lake Monroe
and the St. Johns River. The area soon became a thriving vegetable sec-
tion, with the main crops planted to celery and Boston lettuce. Other
vegetables were added as a diversification program made progress. In the
1909-10 crop year 10 commodities were shipped plus 3,396 crates of un-
listed miscellaneous vegetables. But celery held the lead for many
Early Variety and Marketing Methodology
All early production was of the white celery type, mostly Paris Golden
Yellow Self Blanching variety, which required further bleaching with cypress
boards (see Culture, p.52). Farmer pack was the rule at first and some
sales were to buying agents on the ground. Shipments were dirty (unwashed)
4The source of these data is the Sanford Herald of February 25 and
November 25, 1910; tables of rail, mixed rail and express shipments for
the Sanford area gave the breakdown of various local commodities from
which the celery statistics were taken . These data should be com-
pared with a report from Orange County (Seminole became a county in
1913) to the Commissioner of Agriculture, FDA. This report includes
celery, listing 249 acres which produced 269,145 crates valued at
$232,255 . This indicated a yield of 1,081 crates per acre.
and rough with tops uncut, in nail crates 8"x20"x27" made from leftover
orange crate material (later changes were made; see Containers, p. 67).
Crates were stripped in the car. No ice was used except bunker ice which
was followed soon by adding chunk top-ice. Cars were filled with bunker
ice in Jacksonville before moving to Sanford to load (other types of pre-
cooling came later). Many shipments were rolled unsold, consigned to
northern markets for sale there.
The Florida Vegetable Growers Association was organized with George
R. Calhoun, President; W. D. Holden, Vice-President; and E. T. Woodruff,
Secretary, in 1910 or possibly earlier . Its goal in organizing was
to assist in bringing about mutual benefits to grower-members; the achieve-
ment of sales on a cash f.o.b. price basis at Sanford was the foremost
Frank Talbott came to Sanford in January 1913 and worked in the of-
fice of John Russell, a buyer at the f.o.b. level. Russell moved a large
volume of mixed vegetable cars. One Volusia county grower marketing
through such f.o.b. buyers was Dr. West, an osteopath at DeLand, who grew
possibly 20 acres of celery annually in the early 'teens. Mr. Talbott
left Sanford for California in 1929, but returned to Oviedo to start as
assistant salesman for Nelson and Co. in 1934.
The first green celery plants were "sports" which showed up in yellow
celery seed from France. Breeders were at work to strengthen and improve
strains. Crossing white with green strains, the relatives of the Meisch
Bros. in New Jersey developed a popular variety commonly called "The Meisch
Special" which would produce a crop later in the season than the Golden
variety could be produced. Seeds or plants were sent to the Meisch Bros.
at Sanford where the strain became popular.
The "west side" of Sanford developed later than the "east side" or
"delta" area. John Meisch, Henry Witte, Henry Nichols and Frank Dutton,
Sr. were west side growers who started prior to or during World War I;
John and Joe Meisch followed later. W. A. Brumley, a Mr. Chamberlain,
Al and Fred Dorner, Charles Dunn, Tom Hawkins and C. J. Meriwether were
either contemporary late 'teens or early '20s east side growers. F. F.
Dutton, Sr. had moved to Sanford from Pennsylvania in 1910, having changed
his career from running a business college there to engaging in the many
facets of the produce industry in Florida. His involvement included that
of a broker-shipper with operations from Coral Gables to Hastings. Mr.
Dutton obtained possession of two large tracts of land in the Sanford
area and cleared 100 acres on the west side and 100 acres on the east
side. He grew celery during the World War I years for his own account.
Oviedo Growers Increase in Number and Acreage
In 1912 Andrew Duda and other Slovak immigrants (Dinde, Jakubcin,
Mickler, Stanko and possibly others) began growing celery on sandland
near Oviedo. They had inadequate capital and used primitive equipment,
but were able to ship their first celery in 1913. The area's muck pockets
of organic soils nearby could not at that time be successfully farmed due
to a lack of knowledge concerning certain mineral deficiencies. Poor
soil, poor markets and insufficient working capital made it difficult for
growers to succeed. The Dudas had to give up after three years of effort.
They returned to Cleveland, Ohio, where the father worked in a factory.
He and the boys supplemented their income by local truck gardening for 10
years before accumulating sufficient capital to return to Florida in 1926
and re-enter farming. The family then returned permanently. Andrew Duda
and three sons, John, Andrew, Jr. and Ferdinand, and eight grandsons have
built and continue to operate an agricultural empire probably second to
none in Florida.
During the World War I period the Oviedo muck pockets began to be
cleared and farmed, thus extending the harvest season well into spring or
from mid-March until June, compared with the January through March winter
season on the sand. B. F. Wheeler grew his first celery in the 1916-17
season in the muck pockets in front of the present office in Oviedo. In
1923 Mr. Wheeler bought out Nelson and Company, packers of area citrus.
The Nelson brothers came to the Oviedo area from Sweden via Massachusetts,
and had as a partner Captain W. H. Browning. Probably none of these three
individuals grew celery.
Joe Leinhart, a German immigrant nephew of the Joe Leinhart who plant-
ed celery in 1898, began celery production in pre-World War I days. Charles
Lee was a pioneer in the early muck packet farming, starting with 3-1/2
acres at Lake Charm in 1920; one acre of this was as a partner with Joe
Leinhart. Their first celery was called "Pearly White Special" and was not
bleached. Lee later expanded his operations, part in nearby sand with poor
water and then into Black Hammock with R. J. "Bob" King, formerly of the
Sanford sand area, as a partner. Max Leinhart, another German immigrant,
started farming in the muck soils in the early or mid-'twenties. Fox and
McCall also were Black Hammock growers from 1922 through 1929.
Local Organizations Form for Three-Area Handling
As celery production increased, sales agencies, privately and cooper-
atively owned, soon took over the entire operation of harvest by crews,
washing, grading, packing and precooling, with sales by trained men.
Chase and Company, after the great loss of citrus in the "big freeze" of
1894-95, turned to vegetable handling. W. A. "Billy" Leffler, born and
reared in Sanford, joined the firm in 1908 and became a strong promoter of
vegetable growing, especially celery. He advanced to president of the
company before his many years of efficient service culminated in retire-
ment. Merwyn L. Cullum joined Chase and Co. in 1918 and worked up through
various departments into sales of vegetables, primarily celery. He ad-
vanced to manger of the sales department, a post held successfully until
his retirement in 1969. The Dunns and Behrens were Sanford growers while
Clonts, Moon and Lee were Oviedo muckland growers marketing through Chase
Sanford Truck Growers (STG), a cooperative that was organized in the
'teens, added Oviedo to its name in the '20s as the organization obtained
members from this new producing area. Thus STG became SOTG (Sanford-Oviedo
Truck Growers). J. C. Hutchison started with STG in February 1919 as a
bookkeeper, advanced to manager on June 1, 1920, and left the co-op in
1935. Roby Laing began working with the Fruit Growers Express in 1919, and
went with STG in 1923 under J. C. Hutchison. The major washhouse of SOTG
was on the west side of Sanford with a small one at Beardall on the east
side and another at Beck Hammock. Mr. Laing supervised construction of
their fourth washhouse on the fringe of Mecca Hammock which later on was
sold to Julius Dingfelder of Dingfelder and Saperstone, who grew celery
in Eureka Hammock. Some SOTG members in the late '20s and '30s were the
Ludwigs and Thurstons on the west side, Charlie J. Meriwether and the Wilke
farms on the east side and J. B. Jonet ahd the Murphy farm at Oviedo, to
name a few. After J. C. Hutchison and Mt. Laing left in 1935 to form
their own company, Walter Mewing became manager of the co-op to be followed
by Perry Whitehurst. Later Bill Vihlen succeeded Mr. Whitehurst upon his
retirement and continued as manager of the once outstanding cooperative
until it closed in 1953.
The Sanford Farmers Exchange (SFE) was also a cooperative. It built
the Beardall facility that provided a complete washhouse, with chain for
grading, packing and precooling. This co-op was said to have possibly
been too advanced for its time for it was quite active in the mid-
'twenties. The Beardall facility was sold to Chase and Company in 1931.
Frank F. Dutton, Sr., merged his equities with those of Crutchfield-
Woolfolk about 1919-20 to form the American Fruit Growers (AFG). This
firm became quite famous for its principal trade name, "Blue Goose."
Mr. Dutton was the first general manager, but AFG bought his interest in
the firm in the mid-'twenties. After Mr. Dutton's severance with AFG,
management and sales were in the hands of a succession of aggressive leaders
including W. M. Scott, a Mr. Markell, Allen W. Wilson, E. W. "Pete" Lins,
J. E. Wathen, Hal Hetzel, Fred Ford and others who expanded the "Blue
Goose" brand into national importance. R. R. Kelly started with the firm
as a laborer about 1924 under Charlie Flowers, advanced to general farm
manager of the two Sanford farms in 1945 and continued with AFG throughout
the remainder of its operation at Sanford. AFG's first washer-chain was
built at Farm #1 on the west side; custom precooling was done at the plant
which was located on the site of the present west side ice plant for icing
rail cars. AFG built its own modern precooler about 1946. The firm closed
out its farms at Sanford in 1957-58.
The Florida Vegetable Corporation headed by F. F. Dutton, Sr., was a
Sanford grower-controlled, non-profit, shipping organization that was ac-
tive in the '20s. This cooperative apparently followed Mr. Dutton's sever-
ance with AFG, for he had returned to growing celery on his own. He had
researched the idea of precooling such that the Florida Vegetable
Corporation operated a washhouse with precooling (see more on this subject,
p. 58 ).
Lee Ransbottom operated a washhouse and precooler at Beck Hammock
where he washed, graded and precooled his own celery as well as that of Victor
Green and Henry Schumaker. Mr. Ramsbottom bought celery from Mr. Pope and
several others. He also grew celery for short periods in the Everglades
at the Brown Farm and at Zellwood.
In Oviedo C. R. Clonts, who continues to grow celery in the area, but with
management by the second and third generations, started in the spring of
1927 in Black Hammock muck with plants grown on the sand. Chase and Com-
pany harvested and shipped for him until after World War II. R. W. Estes,
a relative of Mr. Clonts, saw the rich hammock soils of Oviedo, left his north
Georgia farm, having postponed his wedding to come.to.Oviedo to farm, and
cleared 3-1/2 acres for his first celery crop in 1928. Then he went home,
married and returned with his bride to stay and become an outstanding
farmer. John Courier manned the Estes sales desk for years and bought
the celery interest after Mr. Estes died.
George and Alec Morgan bought land before World War I, but did not
start farming until the early '30s. Ben Ward, Sr., with B. F. Wheeler,
cleared land and farmed celery in Mitchell Hammock south of Oviedo, start-
ing in the '30s. Mr. Ward also farmed in Black Hammock with J. W. Martin.
All these men were affiliated with B. F. Wheeler, packing through his
Nelson and Company outlet. Frank Talbott returned from California in 1934
to assist in sales and accounting, and advanced to head the sales depart-
ment of Nelson and Company until his retirement. After World War II
B. F. Wheeler, Jr., and his brothers-in-law, W. H. Martin and John Evans,
first farmed with Mr. Ward, who sold his interest to them in 1947. Later
the Morgan brothers retired, but Wheeler, Martin and Evans are active
celery growers today, being among the few farm operators to continue
through the '50s, '60s and into the '70s. They were successful then and
are successful now.
Also starting in the early '30s in the muck soils of Mitchell Hammock
were A. Duda and Sons, C. T. Niblack, Moon and Son, and Sam Long. Later
Mr. Long moved to the Weirsdale muck on the Oklawaha River in Marion
County and Mr. Niblack added Island Grove, Zellwood and the Everglades to
his farming operations.
Growers at Oviedo were affiliated with different handling agencies.
Those marketing through Chase and Company and SOTG had the 16-mile haul
to Sanford. Others utilized facilities in Black Hammock (Florida Pre-
cooler) or at the Lake Charm Fruit Company. Nelson and Company at Oviedo,
the Duda Cooperative at Slavia and later the R. W. Estes packinghouse and
precooler (the last one built) ran celery for their own growers or their
Standard Growers, a Sanford cooperative, was managed by Ben Cogburn
for several years and was followed by James Davidson, who handled sales
into the late '50s. Henry Schumacher was one of their excellent farmer
members who lived on his farm in Mecca Hammock; he grew celery into the
late '50s when he, like so many others, found it no longer profitable.
As indicated earlier, the J. C. Hutchison Company was formed in
1935. Besides General Hutchison, Roby Laing, Bob Cobb and Collier Brown
made up the company. The firm's washhouse and precooler was in Beck
Hammock; the company not only grew its own celery but handled production
for others, including sales. At the peak of its operations the J. C.
Hutchison Company represented several growers in the Everglades area and
handled a fall deal in up-state New York. Burke Steele was its field man.
After the company dissolved in the fall of 1959, Gen. Hutchison, Mr. Laing
and Mr. Steele joined Chase and Co. Hutchison and Laing retired after the
close of the 1974 season, having worked together closely since 1923 except
for a five-season period, starting in 1949, when Mr. Laing accepted the
post of sales manager for Palmer Farms Cooperative in Sarasota.
John Eick became affiliated with George F. Fish of New York City who
came to the Sanford area about 1930 because of his interest in celery and
other vegetables. Mr. Eick left the firm in 1933-34 to go with the Lake
Charm Fruit Company (LCFC)at Oviedo. It had built a facility at Lake
Charm which precooled celery from three conveyor chains operated by the
firm, one by Max Leinhart and one by Wheeler and Morgan. The LCFC handled
celery grown by Carl Dawl, James Malcolm and others. Lake Charm expanded
to include pioneering the Zellwood muck. In 1951 Mr. Eick quit packing
celery to represent soup companies as their buyer. Golden Heart celery
was preferred for making soup and was purchased as long as it was avail-
able. Celery is used extensively in processing, especially in the prep-
aration of canned soups and for certain Chinese-type foods.
Julius Dingfelder came to Sanford in 1930 from New York City's
Washington Street markets via Plant City. He was a nephew of C. I. and M.
Dingfelder, whose produce firm was established in 1894. Starting as a
broker for his uncle's firm, he advanced to handling crops grown by L. I.
Frazier as well as those by Bock Bros.) H. J. Lehman, Joe Corley, Meisch
Bros. and others in Sanford and G. E. Slack at Oviedo. The Dingfelder
firm began to grow celery and other vegetables at Sanford in 1933 and at
Zellwood about 1942-43. The firm name Was changed to Dingfelder and Saper-
stone during the 'forties.
The Zellwood Muck Soils Area
The Zellwood area, like Oviedo, is mostly identified in the farming
community by its organic soils. Prior to being drained, the area was a
marsh, once the bottom of a once-larger Lake Apopka. A few "patch" farmers
were growing vegetables in the marsh during the period 1910-17, but this
was terminated because of the great risk involved with no drainage facil-
ities. Richard Whitney, who later became president of the New York Stock
Exchange, headquartered at the Holly Arms Hotel and mined.muck, packaging
it for retail sale through chain stores. This firm, called the Florida
Peat Humus Corporation, also provided peat for lawns and golf courses.
Mr. Whitney was said to have owned a large portion of the Zellwood muck
lands as well as much of the flatwoods between Zellwood and Lake Jem. He
pioneered in developing a new source for fiber. After World War II he
became a planter of ramiee," a fiber plant that had a great potential in
the state, but he did not get it beyond the experimental stage.
C. O. Andrews, Jr. was responsible for the legislative act passed in
1941 which created the Zellwood Drainage District (ZDD). Gus Wenzloff
was the first engineer and supervisor of the district; he was followed by
Arch W. Hodges in 1946. After Mr. Hodges retired in 1971, T. C. Yon be-
came supervising engineer of the district. The whole district is said to
be about nine to 11 feet below the level of Lake Apopka whose waters were
held back by dikes.
Unit I of the ZDD opened in the 1942-43 season for vegetable planting.
Early celery growers were in business, both inside and outside the district,
almost immediately. The muck soils in the adjacent portion of Lake County
are outside the district, but are a part of the area. Lee Ransbottom of
Sanford is said to have been the first planter of celery in the area. His
crop was grown in Lake County during the 1941-42 season on a muck farm
along the Apopka-Beauclaire canal. Most of the production was abandoned
due to extensive bolting or producing seed stalks prematurely. He bought
plants that had been subjected to extensive cold while still in the plant-
bed stage. Mr. Ransbottom later sold this farm to C. T. Niblack, who
shifted his celery operation from Urdit I in the ZDD to the Lake County lo-
At first most growers were clearing and preparing land for carrots in
particular, but in 1941-42 Lake County was estimated to have had about 100
acres of celery, and Zellwood in Orange County reported 75 acres of celery
for spring harvest in 1944. By the 1944-45 season celery growing was be-
coming rather general throughout the area. The Lake Charm Fruit Company
and John Eick had cleared land for carrots but had now added celery. The
firm of Dingfelder and Saperstone was an early grower at Zellwood. Julius
Dingfelder, a charter member of the Drainage District, was later instru-
mental in bringing in aerial crop dusting. Austin Knight was farm opera-
tor for Dingfelder-Saperstone. Other 1945 growers in Unit I were Ward
Erck, W. G. Hull from Pahokee, T. W. Knight, Case Peet from Belle Glade,Mr.
Raoul from Sarasota, Simpson, Swope and Carroway, and Zellwood Farms Com-
pany (owned by Beechnut). The growers from the Everglades operated in
Zellwood for only a few seasons.
The Post World War II Years
A. Duda and Sons grew their first Lake County celery in the 1944-45
season.5 Much of the celery produced in the area was hauled from the field
to Sanford or Oviedo for packing and precooling. The first precooler in
the Zellwood area was built by the City Ice and Fuel Company and was oper-
ated by R. L. Cornell; later, possibly in late 1946, the second one was
built. One of these was moved from the Black Hammock at Oviedo and rebuilt
at Zellwood. Unit II was opened about 1945.
In a short period of time many changes in farm operators, commodities
grown, cultural practices, marketing and transportation occurred. Other
celery growers who came into the Zellwood area were 0. G.. Calhoun, a man
who had retired, but came to stay and farmed celery each spring until his
death in 1972; Harry Thurston, a successful Sanford grower who brought
SOTG into the Zellwood deal; Chase and Company and H. G. Behrens; and
Clonts and Associated Growers, started there in the late '40s. Meanwhile
most operators had become independent of custom precooling by operating
their own packinghouses and precoolers. Later only the precoolers were
used since the packing operation shifted back to the field with develop-
ment of the "mule-train" (see Harvesting, Packing and Precooling, p.58 ).
5Celery was produced at Lake Hart in south central Orange County
starting in 1940-41 and continuing into the.'5.0s by A. Duda and'Sons. The
.crop was for winter harvest and was packed and precooled at the Duda's
As this report is written (1974) only (1) A. Duda and Sons and
(2) Clonts and Associated Growers are active in the production of celery
at Zellwood; operating at Oviedo are (1) Clonts and Associated Growers and
(2) Wheeler, Martin and Evans while W. W. Tyre is the lone celery pro-
ducer on the Sanford sandland. Some growers diverted their resources to
other crops, but many went out of business. The question remains as to
whether land diversion to sugar cane and other uses in the Everglades will
ever be so great as to reactivate the industry here and in other areas of
Florida. Only time will tell.
The West Central Area
A Forgotten Area Had a Claim to "First in Florida"
A rather startling disclosure was made in 1940 by R. H. Howard, former
economist with the Florida Agricultural Extension Service:
The first commercial planting (of celery) was made in Hills-
borough County on some heavy bottomland near Tampa and in the
vicinity of Ybor City. The first crop was small but attracted
much attention as a money crop. This pioneer celery grower plant-
ed several acres the following year (1896) which proved to be a
profitable commercial crop. Farmers in Manatee and Seminole
Counties quickly became interested in this crop and in a few
years were noted as the principal producing areas in the state .
Considerable research within the area turned up a few "old-timers"
and local historians who concurred with the statement, but no documentation
other than the above could be found to substantiate the 1895 start.
The area apparently was developed by the Clarkson Bros., "Los Ingle-
sitos" to the local Italian and Spanish speaking settlers. Dr. J. W.
Douglas is said to have backed several small farmers in the late 19th cen-
tury and he may well have been managing small farms in 1895. Robert
Bigica in 1900 moved with his parents to the house where he still resides
in the vicinity of 20th Street near Adamo Drive. Celery was being grown
around his home at that time but his iJrmory fails to recall the name of a
grower. "Maraguni" Zambito and his patents also arrived in the area in
1900. Soon he was working in his father's celery fields. A Mr. Periconi
grew celery along the bay south of Highway 60. "Tony" Valenti moved to
the area as a child and remembers celery in the area. At the age of 10
in 1917 he worked in the local celery fields. He is still in the produce
business in Tampa, A Dr. Wilbanks was said to have had a celery field
three blocks square. Packing was in the rough and shipping was mainly
from the 6th Avenue and 23rd Street siding. The cypress boards used in
blanching made celery fields rather easily remembered. Planting continued
through the 'teens but decreased to probably nil in the late '20s. The
Marketing Bureau in its 1926-27 season summary reported only a carload of
celery billed at Ybor City in March of that season .
The Tampa Chamber of Commerce in its 1921-25 bulletin pictured a 36
acre celery field in Hillsborough County. The high was reached in 1918
when 121 acres were reported. However, annual plantings in the county
were generally less than 100 acres . Celery was reported to be second
only to strawberries in 1916. Gary, about one mile from Ybor City, was the
leading celery producing section; some acreage was grown around Mango Lake,
in the drained prairie at Wimauma and near Plant City. The principal vari-
ety was Golden Self-Blanching . The Marketing Bureau reported seven
carloads at Wimauma in 1927, but none was reported for the county in
Manatee County Celery Production
Manatee County had an early record second to that of Sanford. In
1900 the Manatee celery crop alone was estimated to have been worth
$100,000 . However, in 1902 only 28 acres were reported to the Com-
missioner of Agriculture (FDA). Sam Andress cleared 40 acres of land
around his Anna Maria Island home about 1904-05 to grow celery and toma-
toes. He fertilized with stable manure transported to the island by sail-
boat . In 1908 the acreage in Manatee County had increased to slightly
more than 200; by 1918 plantings had reached 669 acres. According to the
Florida Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, the peak in acreage in Mana-
tee County was attained in the late '20s. Some of this celery was grown
in the Palmetto-Terra Ceia area north of the river. B. M. Courtney,
Edward and J. N. McLean, and R. L. Nash were growers in the Palmetto area.
The Councils were active on Terra Ceia before they moved to Ruskin. H.
Edward Andrews grew celery at Palm View and the Buffalo Vegetable Company
grew celery at Ellenton (about 1915). Most of these were growers when
cypress boards were used in blanching but no doubt continued into the
transition to the use of treated blanching paper. In 1912 tomatoes and
celery were the leading vegetables grown bn Terra Ceia Island.
Most of the celery crop was grown, however, south of the Manatee and
west of the Braden Rivers. Pioneer farmers were scattered over a rather
wide area. In 1907, Carl C. Hutches and Jack Curry formed a partnership
and grew the largest acreage of any grower in the area; even so the crop
was small. Their farm later became the original University of Florida
Gulf Coast Experiment Station farm, located near Bradenton. The Hutches
and Curry celery was field graded and packed in the "rough" with tops,
but outer stems were stripped off and roots were trimmed.' The stalks were
graded for size and crates, constructed at the farm, were marked 2s, 3s,
etc. to 8s and XXs. Later mops were used to wash exposed celery showing
through the crate slats. A two-mule team was used to pull wagonloads of
celery to the station at Manatee. The Hutches left the Curry Farm about
1918 and settled just east of Tallevast after one intervening move. Mr.
Hutches, his sons Glenn and Vernon, and his son-in-law Harold A. Hayworth
formed a partnership to grow and market their produce under the name of
the Matoaka Celery Company. The railroad station where their produce was
loaded was named Matoaka. Their farm and that of their neighbors--The
Wagner Farm (Wagner Produce Co., Chicago), Wayne Griffin and others were
all in Manatee County as well as their Matoaka Station on the Tampa-
Southern Railroad, later known as the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL RR). The
Hutches farm and most of their celery-growing neighbors were growing celery
until the late '30s, with many continuing into the late '40s. Manatee
County farmers used gravity drainage as well as tile. Celery was at first
packed at the farms, but later was hauled from farms to the washhouses and
precoolers located at railroad sidings. In 1924-25 field packing was still
the mode; 673 carloads were shipped. These were loaded at 24 different
railroad sidings. In 1926-27 growers shipped 1,053 carloads from eight
shipping points [25 and 17].
Alderman and Bennett grew celery in Rattlesnake Slough east of the
Pearce Drain in south Manatee County. Other growers, E. M. Griffin, L. R.
Griffin, Morris Lavine, A. J. Pedley, W. M. Burnett, C. W. Chapman, E. B.
Rood, C. F. Parvin, F. Emory Sharp (started in 1915, but formed partner-
ship as Sharp and Parvin in 1939), Lee Vanderipe, W. A. Wisensale, Mark
Wyatt and possibly others were active in the Oneco-Tallavast area. Many of
these growers were members of the Manatee County Growers Association (MCGA,
1918-1960) (see "Marketing," p. 71). This cooperative association built
a washhouse and precooler at Vanderipe siding from which much of the area's
celery was shipped. Most of the celery grown in the west central area
during the '30s was produced in the vicinity of Oneco, Matoaka, Tallavast
and Vanderipe. Much of it was grown in the area known as the .Pearce Drain
(see "An Industry in Transition," p. 36 ).
In the late '30s Sharp and Parvin began to grow a large acreage at
Parrish on their new Parrish Muckland Celery Farms. MCGA built a washing
plant at Parrish in 1940 to handle about 100 acres grown in the muck. By
the late 'forties celery production had practically ceased in Manatee
Sarasota County Celery Production
Sarasota County was established May 14, 1921 out of the south portion
of Manatee County. The new county grew little if any celery at that time.
The Sarasota-Fruitville Drainage District was formed in 1923, but celery
was not planted until January 1927. There are about 2,000 acres of organic
muck soils in the district, but celery plantings peaked on 1,475 acres.
Culture was and continues to be similar to that of other muckland areas.
The Palmer Farms Growers Cooperative Association (PFGCA) was organized
in 1928 and began to market its members' crops in the 1928-29 season.
These were farmers to whom the Palmers had sold land and they made up, at
one time, the largest cooperative in Florida . The main start was in
the fall of 1927 with plantings for harvest mostly after January 1, 1928.
The PFGCA persuaded Thomas J. Bell, the builder of the first stalk celery
washhouse in the state, to move from his Lake Monroe farm in Seminole Coun-
ty, and build its large packing facility at Belspur on the edge of the
Sarasota County muck pocket.
The early grower-members of PFGCA were the Bell Brothers, R. L.
Garrison (who also came from Sanford about 1927), W. E. Burquest, who later
formed a partnershiip with another early grower-member of the co-op, W. E.
Stockbridge, and started their own packing and precooling plant. A list of
31 growers in the area in 1930 in the files of FCLRS reported having planted
an aggregate of 348 acres of celery by NoVember 8, plus 243 acres planted
to 14 other commodities of which beans and peppers accounted for 107 acres;
thus the remainder was rather experimental Other than the earlier growers
named above were listed A. D. Albrittoh, J. E. Boyd, J. J. Schuur (largest
planting), A. Ammon, R. K. Caruth, A. Neutzenholzer, C. Cobb, Ritz, Inc.,
L. T. Thompson, The Palmer Corp. and Charles Williams, plus 13 growers of
6 acres or less. Only one of the 31 growers listed grew no celery.
Later Sam Fleischer, who had been a buyer in the area for many years
dating into the 'teens, became associated with R. L. Garrison.. R. D.
Treadway joined the growers in the Sarasota muck soil area, moving in
from adjacent Manatee County. Loring Raoul and Howard Haney, both suc-
cessful growers in the Sarasota area, became active in the Everglades
mucklands as well. When the Zellwood Drainage District opened for farm-
ing Raoul became involved in celery growing there for a short time. Mr.
Raoul grew, packed and precooled his own celery. He was very industry-
minded, endeavoring to take a lead in activities that had the betterment
of growers as their objective. In so doing he became the chairman of the
Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, serving during 1944-45. W. C.
Silva owned and operated the Muckland Celery Company and was an active
grower-shipper; he invented a celery harvester that was rather controver-
sial (see Harvesting, Packing and Precooling, p. 65).
Ferlic Ferlise and a Mr. Cooler bought the Bell Brothers farm which
they operated as the F-and-Cee Farm, growing and marketing their own
celery. Later the name was changed to Fancee Farms under the management
of Pat Ferlise. The "Big Six" of PFGCA left the organization around 1946-
47 and formed a new one--The Sarasota Growers and Shippers Cooperative As-
sociation. The original members were R. L. Garrison, R. D. Treadway,
L. T. Thompson, Bate Braley, Fred Crosby and Robert Johns. Members of
this new cooperative arranged to have Paul Eskew, Sr., long time field
supervisor for Palmer Farms, to head management and sales until his death,
after which Paul Eskew, Jr., took over these responsibilities. This, the
last cooperative to function in the area, terminated its operation in
1972 due to economic factors plaguing the industry.
After the new cooperative began to function Palmer Farms again looked
to the Sanford area for leadership and brought Roby Laing down as manager
in November 1949; five seasons later he was succeeded by B. G. Morgan.
Morgan continued to manage the once-leading cooperative in Florida until
its close after the 1958-59 season; then-it went into liquidation. Active
growers remaining with the PFGCA during all or part of this period were
Harry Blasingame, Fred Brown, Henry Cosgrove, a Mr. Cobb, Edwards and
Pollard, Owen and Irwin Eicker, Dwain Holt, Frank Jordan, Warren Krahl,
Clayton Martin, Thomas E. Petty, Glenn Smith and Elmer Walz.
B. G. "Dink" Morgan, former manager of the PFGCA, joined Fancee
Farms to head its sales organization, a post he held until his retire-
ment in 1972. Under the leadership of the owner and farm operator, Pat
Ferlise, Fancee Farms has expanded their operations in the area. Cur-
rently this is the only farm operator growing celery in the Sarasota and
the west central area, a tremendous drop from a period of many growers in
Sarasota and,before that, in Hillsborough and Manatee Counties.
The North Florida Area
Three muck pockets, located north of the major producing areas of
north central Florida, have grown celery successfully. The one at Starkes
Ferry near Weirsdale in Marion County has produced celery for many years.
Ten experimental acres were grown in 1930. M. C. Britt of Winter Garden
grew spring celery in the Weirsdale muck, starting preparation in the fall
of 1932 for spring 1933 harvest. He continued until the early '40s and
was followed by his son, T. Mark Britt, who farmed celery there for three
seasons. Ward Erck tried celery one season, but was not too successful.
Dunn and Hutchison also grew celery in the Weirsdale muck in the early
'40s. Fleischer Bros., affiliated with AFG, took over the Britt farm and
was growing celery about 1946. Later Sam Long from Oviedo bought the
Britt farm and grew celery for several years. Edgar Wolfram, his farm
superintendent, stayed on and operated the farm for others after Mr. Long
sold it. Mostly sweet corn and leaf crops were planted after Mr. Long left.
Fancee Farms of Sarasota grew celery for a few years on the Oklawaha
River muck pocket just north of Moss Bluff dam. Island Grove Growers and
Shippers later bought the farm and operated it as the Oklawaha Farms Com-
pany with Robert Johns of Sarasota superintending the growing and harvest-
ing of spring celery in 1952-54. The farm was sold to the Norris Cattle
Company, but the Oklawaha Farms Company continued to grow celery, moving
its allotment to Sarasota.
In 1940 the Shands Brothers, owners of a large organic mucksoil area
northeast of Orange Lake in Alachua County, persuaded T. J. Bell of Sara-
sota to join them in growing spring ctop celery and preparing it for
market. They had grown and marketed celery for three or four years prev-
iously, but not to their satisfaction, especially in marketing. Under
Mr. Bell's management the SAL railroad made available housing on the rail-
road siding at Island Grove, the nearest shipping point to the Shands
Brothers muck farm. Thomas J. Bell furnished and supervised installation
of the equipment for washing, grading, packing and precooling celery. He
retired after five years of successfully growing and marketing celery at
Tom Bell was followed by C. T. Niblack and Sam Chastain, who leased
the farm and grew celery for two seasons. Bill Shands, Chris Johns and
Delmar Pons farmed celery the next year. Following this the Shands
Brothers again looked to Sarasota for experienced men who would be finish-
ed with their own planting program in time to plant at Island Grove and,
in like manner, would have completed their harvest before the crop would
reach maturity at the north Florida location. A partnership was formed
with a coalition of Sarasota celery men to grow and market celery with the
Shands Brothers. The new partnership, operating as Island Grove Growers
and Shippers, was, in most years, composed of R. L. Garrison, Jr., Sam
Fleischer, Bate Braley and L. T. Thompson. Paul Eskew, Jr. succeeded his
father as sales manager in 1952. This organization grew celery at the
Island Grove location from about 1949 to 1970. In 1971 and 1972 spring
celery was grown there by Paul Eskew, Jr. and Associates.
In the late 'forties Miller and Johns developed a small acreage on
the south or Citra side of the Orange Lake muck pocket, but did not have
the success that they had in the Sarasota area. They were followed later
for a season or two by Burquist and Stockbridge, also from Sarasota.
Celery farming at this northernmost post of Florida operations ceased
in 1972 after 32 years or more of continuous production. Lack of water
control following excessive rainfall in the area in conjunction with an
early June hurricane apparently had much to do with the decision to cease
operations. Since the 1972 season no Florida commercial celery has been
grown north of Lake County's Zellwood area mucklands.
The Everglades Area
The black organic mucklands located south-southeast of Lake Okeechobee
form the largest area in the state devoted to intensive farming of celery
and other vegetables.
Celery production in Palm Beach County was reported to the Commis-
sioner of Agriculture (FDA) as early as 1910. The single acre recorded
that year must have been an experimental block grown on sandland soils;
in 1912 the same source reported 50 acres, but it must not have been too
successful as planting reports immediately dropped back to levels of one
to five acres until 1924, when 10 acres were reported . The first
commercial acreage of record planted on'the Everglades organic soils was
in 1926 , but by 1930 plantings had increased to 100 acres.
The Broin Peanut Farm, under the management of.W. C. "Pop" Lord,
started in 1924 and by 1928-29 had 3,000 acres of land under cultivation
with 1,300 acres planted to potatoes and vegetables. It was shipping
cabbage, carrots, celery, lettuce and potatoes in March 1929 . Its
produce was packed at the farm and transported to the freight station by
barge on the Hillsborough Canal. The entire acreage of celery shown by
USDA-BAE as being grown in the Everglades mucklands in 1929 may well have
been grown on the Brown Peanut Farm.
E. M. Van Landingham and Neil de Phamphilis grew celery for local
markets about this time. H. H. Wedgworth, a specialist with the Univer-
sity of Florida's Everglades Experiment Station, conducted experiments
on six acres at Shawano (the name given Brown's farm), and found that the
application of a limited amount of fertilizers, excluding nitrogen, pro-
duced an average of 759 crates per acre. Since nitrogen was the most
expensive element in celery fertilizers used on sandy soils, this was a
great savings over the costs of fertilizers used in other parts of the
state. Other cultural costs were also cheaper--as much as 75 percent for
some items--which would make production costs in the Everglades much less
than most other areas (see Drainage and Irrigation, p. 49) .
In 1932 Mr. Wedgworth, having decided to leave the Experiment Station
to enter farming, planted his first seed-beds for his own farm operation.
On December 4, a 10-inch-rainedrowned his plants, but the plants came back
and he managed to set 80 acres for winter and early spring (1933) harvest.
The next year he planted only 20 acres, but after that annual increases
were made for several years. Golden celery was the variety grown and
blanching was necessary. Of the first crop harvested, one carload was
packed in the rough at the field, but the balance was washed and packed
by setting up a conveyor-chain on crossties to spread the celery for
grading and packing. The next season a chain was built on a platform,
still at the farm, followed by a washhouse, but, in 1935, Mr. Wedgworth
built his own precooler. Sam Fleming was an early grower whose production
was handled by Wedgworth. Mrs. Ruth Wedgworth took over the administration
of this firm upon the death of her husband in 1938. Much credit is due
Mr. Wedgworth for his great leadership in establishing a new industry in
the vast Everglades organic soils that grew to be such an important part
of the area economy.
Other Early Growers
Others soon followed the lead of these pioneers of celery production
in the Everglades: L. L. Stuckey, Thurman W. Knight, Louis Weiman and
Joe Freidheim are said to be among these very early growers. Lee
Ransbottom from the Sanford area came to the Brown Farm and grew celery
for a short period. Later this land was sold to become a part of Wedg-
The J. C. Hutchison Company had reached south to handle a small acre-
age of celery grown east of Avon Park by the noted fiction writer, Rex
Beach, who grew spring celery there during the 1930-36 period. By 1939
the Hutchison firm moved farther south to handle the sales of celery grown
by Arthur Wells. Soon sales of celery grown by Fritz Stein and Kruse
Brothers were also handled.
E. A. McCabe came to the area in 1936 and bought celery from Pioneer
Growers during the late '30s and later became manager of this large coop-
erative. John Tabit started in the late '30s and continued into the mid-
'40s. C. T. Niblack came to Okeelanta in 1939 to supplement his Oviedo
spring crop with earlier production. His Okeelanta celery here was handled
by the American Fruit Growers (AFG).
By 1938-39 the area acreage had increased to an estimated 600 acres
harvested . The 1939 U. S. Census of Agriculture reported 10 farm
operators with 941 acres of celery. Presumably this included a part of
the 1939-40 celery crop as the acreage was close to that of the FCLRS es-
'timate of 1,060 acres for harvest that season.
Sam Chastain started growing celery in the early '40s. Vandegrift-
Williams (.V-W) also began about this time, as did McCabe-Keesee in 1941
and Chamblee Farms in 1942 or 1943. A. J. Sullivan started growing for
Krumseig and Schlecter in 1943, but later grew celery on his own farm
operation. Loring Raoul and Howard Haney were early growers on Wedgworth
land who later bought adjacent acreage to supplement the celery grown in
their Sarasota operation. W. G. Hull also got underway in the early '40s.
Chase and Company farmed in the Everglades for two or three seasons prior
to World War II, then quit to return later and re-enter farming there.
C. T. Niblack moved to Sand Cut where he, Sam Chastain and others
formed the Everglades Grower Cooperative (EGC); Frank Friend and Son was
also an early member.
Handlers and Growers in the Postwar Years
In 1944 and 1945 AFG, EGC, Hull Packing Co., Haney, Inc., Hufty
Farms, Wedgworth, the Raoul Co., J. C. Hutchison, Keesee and W. C. "Pop"
Lord were listed as handlers. Some of these were also growers with their
own packing and precooling facilities while others leased facilities. The
City Ice and Fuel Co. at Sanford had moved a precooler to the area in the
'30s. Growers marketing through the above firms and not previously named
were J. B. Bolton, E. H. Borchardt, Fontaine and Creech, Johnson and Pope,
and also Case Peet.
In 1943 and again in 1945 A. Duda and Sons had bought land extensively
and in 1946-47 the firm started its first Everglades celery on a commercial
basis. Since then the Duda organization has become the largest single
celery operator in Florida.
The Everglades area was now rapidly crowding the north central area
(Sanford-Oviedo and Zellwood) for first place in acreage (Table 10, p. 40).
In 1944 the U. S. Census reported 31 farm operators and 4,316 acres; by
1949 the number of operators had dropped to 15 and the acreage was down
to 3,043 (Table 8, p. 38). Since it was the policy of the U. S. Census
to count an operator and his acreage as being in the county of his head-
quarters, A. Duda and Sons and others living outside Palm Beach County
were most likely counted in Seminole or Sarasota Counties.
In the late '40s more growers were being added in the Everglades as
others, now old-timers, Were dropping out. Ingramn, Evans and Rogers, and
Ted Jones had gotten into production. The outstanding fact is that very
few ever started on as small a scale as was the case in other areas of
the state. After Mr. Evans' death Rogers and Thomas formed a partnership
and today are the South Bay Growers.
The pioneers of the Everglades mucklands had to learn certain facts
about the soils in the area and their adaptation to celery production.
Many growers migrated to the vast area of organic soils, possibly because
the crop could be grown more economically and because they already had the
"know-how" of growing celery. They did not go through as much trial and
error activities as the farmers in the Sanford-Oviedo and the Hillsborough-
Manatee areas. Men experienced in marketing celery were quick to form
sales groups or else experienced organizations were brought in to handle
much of the crop.
The census of 1954 reported only 10 farm operators producing celery
in Palm Beach County. As noted earlier, those having headquarters in an-
other county would have been counted in the other counties. By 1959 the
census count had dropped to eight operators. Actually there were four
or five more. In 1969 the number of farm operators reported by the census
had increased to 12 but, for the reasons stated above, would total 14 or
15 (Table 8, p. 38).
During the early '50s Chase and Company resumed farming in the Ever-
glades; by the mid-'50s D. B. Watkins took over the management; this be-
came the Glades Farm about 1962. The Chase firm grew celery in Florida
for about 70 years and was in the produce business since 1884, but closed
out its produce operations at the end of the spring season in 1974.
This continuous operation set a record that will not be broken soon, if
Sam N. Knight left A. Duda and Sons to become an independent grower,
but discontinued celery production at the close of the spring '74 season.
Sam Senter Farms, Inc. also operated on a large scale as an independent
operation from 1958 well into 1969; celery was an important part of its
production and marketing program. Gressinger and Sons, Double D,.Hatton
Brothers, the Weeks Corporation and Southern Agro all started celery in
the Everglades area in the mid- or late '60s. These producers are still
The Everglades area, due to numerous problems and hardships faced by
growers, took about 10 to 15 years to get "big" in celery. The hardships
encountered by "Pop" Lord, H. H. Wedgworth and a few others, as they
struggled against almost insurmountable odds to make a success of a new
industry, did not prevent its success and celery production in the Ever-
glades increased to exceed greatly their expectations. Truly this area
has affected the ability of small growers in other areas to compete effec-
tively and remain active as celery growers. It has been a survival of the
fittest. The economic advances and advantages brought about by multiple
row transplanters, cultivators and sprayers, and portable overhead irri-
gation to supplement the mole drain made large-scale production the most
economical type of farm operation. The shift in the cycle that brought
packing back to the field was part of a production and marketing revolu-
tion that put celery on the market with such a narrow margin of profit for
the growers that small operators were hard-pressed to stay in business.
AN INDUSTRY IN TRANSITION
Much has been and will continue to be said about areas that are no
longer in celery production, for this economic study is one not only of
a historic nature, but also one of progress. As such it should be of in-
terest to preserve not only names of pioneers in celery production, a com-
modity very important in the national economy, but to relate briefly the
old methods and give the reader a chance to compare methods of the past
with those of the present.
Climate has been said to be Florida's greatest asset. Its great
vegetable industry grew in response to the demand for fresh vegetables at
a time of the year when their production in most of the nation is impossi-
ble except for those grown in greenhouses. Since commercial production of
celery started in Florida in the late nineteenth century, progress has
paralleled that of most other phases of the nation's agriculture; in turn
progress in agriculture has kept abreast of or ahead of that in most other
industries. Certainly the need for supplies of celery, a succulent salad
vegetable, which is also easily adapted to the status of a "different"
cooked vegetable, can be and is most generally met. If new technology
had not been developed by America's farmers, a citizenry plagued with mal-
nutrition would have long since been inevitable with the national increase
Factors Influencing Change
References have been made to the U. S. Census of Agriculture and the
peak in numbers of farm operators growing celery. In an inverse ratio
to the number of growers the acreage in celery increased through the years
and reached a peak in recent years (Figure 1 and Table 2, p. 6). The de-
cline in number of farm operators and the later decrease in acreage in
the north central area vis-a-vis the slow rise in numbers of farm opera-
tors and the fantastic increase in acreage in the Everglades are illus-
trated forcefully in Figures 3 and 4 -and Table 8., It should be remem-
bered that the data referred to are from the Census of Agriculture (USBC)
in which the acreage of a farm operator is counted as being in the county
where the farm headquarters are located. This policy underestimates the
acreage in the Everglades and overestimates the present acreage in the
north central area and, at one time, the previous acreage in the west cen-
tral area. In more recent years county and area acreages reported by the
FCLRS are considered more accurate than census data.
9,000 300 r
'29 '39 '49 '59 '69
Figure 3.--Florida celery: North Central area acreage vs.
fnarnm repor) ing, n'1ia y)'Ena, Il12i)-iip
'29 '39 '49 '59 '69
t 'gIWe 4,--Florida celery: EverIglades area icrongo vs, faRI B
Surce rli: e I cnus ye4's, 1 ]20-9
,--' \- -'
I I !I
I w I
I \ ,
r ^ y ^< Pnns |
Table 8 .--Florida celery for fresh market and processing? Farms reporting and acreage harvested by counties, areas and the
state as reported by the U. So Bureau of the Census, 1909 through 1969 census years
Areas and 0ountiea I --
1r90 1919 1929 1939 1944 1949 1954 1959 1964 169
Alachua & Marion Cos.
Farms reporting 1 -- 6 3 1 3 a a
Acres 2 12 -- 201 131 165 440 a a
Lake and Orange Cos.
Farms reporting 18 2 16 3 2 3 1 3
Acres 47 3 562 657 140 162 180 903
Farms reporting 280 191 142 80 38 19 12 4
Acresa 887 3,739 4,488 3,949 4.717 2,651 4,063 4,247 846
Farms reporting 13 7 12 5 --
Acres 24 10 22 22 1 --
Farms reporting 106 17 18 6 --
Acres 298 760 290 182 7 --
Farms reporting 47 36 38 25 20 11 5 3
Acres b 633 1,167 1,204 997 665 790 674 410
Palm Beach Co.
Farms reportinga 5 10 31 15 10 8 10 12
Acres 35 941 4,316 3,043 3,952 7,950 7,265 8,538
Farms reporting 76c 15d 70e 21 6 10 4
Acres 14 187e 19d 38e 21 31 14 5 --
Farms reporting 3 274 351 553 281 320 165 77 54 32 22
Acresa 825 1,225 5,420 6,930 10,474 9,589 7,604 13,419 12,361 10,696
aAcreage is generally credited to the county in which the farm reporting is headquartered.
SSarasota County was a part of Manatee County until May 14, 1921.
CWest Florida listed 28 farms reporting 29 acres; Hastings (Flagler, Patnam and St. Johns Counties) listed 16 farms
reporting 48 acres; Brevard listed 8 farms reporting 47 acres; Highlands listed 4 farms reporting 32 acres.
dDade County listed 6 farms reporting 13 acres.
Dade County listed 8 farms reporting 10 acres, and West Florida listed 19 farms reporting 8 acres.
Biennial reports of the Commissioner of Agriculture (FDA) are the
only source of early county acreage data documented chronologically. Tabl,
9 lists these acreages for each season from 1901 through 1906, but only
every other year from 1908 through 1926 (1922 data were not available).
Even though BAE was estimating acreage during the crop years 1918 through
1926 these FDA county acreage data are the only documentation available
for those years.
The most reliable information on county and area acreage increases
and decreases are those shown in Table 10, presented from records of the
FCLRS. Many counties which had only small growers are no longer producing
celery because the operators were forced out by various factors which
brought about these changes. The data compiled in Table 11 for nine 5-yea2
periods of area averages of acreages harvested are graphically presented
in Figure 5.
Table 9 .--Florida celery for fresh market and processing: County acreage 1901-1926 crop years as reported by the Commis-
sioner of Agriculture (FDA)
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1908 1910 1912 1914 1916 1918 1920 1924 1926
Alachua 1 2
Brevard 1 1 5 3 1 3 1 1 3 6 3 5
Broward 9 2 1
Clay 2 1
Dade 14 1 5 1 2 1
DeSoto 1 1 1 1 16
Duval 5 2 2 1 2 3 1
Franklin 1 4
Hillsborough 7 45 22 48 37 74 73 117 114 121 45 36 14
Lake 1 8 5 1 8 2 1 25
Manatee 28 13 59 12 83 209 NRc 208 430 450 669 208 327 418
Marion 8 2
Orange 18 53 154 154 165 209 373 249 571 2 1 5 49 53
Osceola 1 7 1 1 1 5 2 1 2
Palm Beach 1 50 1 2 2 5 10
Pinellas 1 1 1
Polk 3 19 9 7 2 10 19 22 25 2
Putnam 12 7 9 7 1 1 1 14
St. Johns 1 1 5 2 1 1 1 30
St. Lucie 1 1
Santa Rosa 2
Sarasota 12 10
Seminole 676 865 802 NRH NRC 4,322
Sumter 3 9 9
Volusia 10 14 16 5 15 45 27 19 19 18 2 20 39 38
Total acreage 25 91 255 276 266 335 694 366 932 1,280 1,498 1,661 312c 513c4,928
aCounty acreage reports were made to the Commissioner of Agriculture (FDA) from 1901 through 1906 annually, and
biennially thereafter; e.g., 1908 was listed as 1907-08; 1910 as 1909-1910, etc., presumably crop years; 1922, NA.
bAll counties reporting one or more acres are listed to show the wide distribution of production prior to wash houses
CNR = no report; however,SRS estimated 1730acres total for harvest in 1920 which would indicate 1.418 in Seminole
County; in 1922 no county data are available; and in 1924 SRS estimated 4, 000 acres for harvest which would indicate Seminole
County to have had 3,512 acres.
Source: [19, 47J.
Maps of Florida (Figures 6, 7 and 8) illustrate the rise and fall of
counties producing celery. In these three sources of acreage data coun-
ties and areas or an area within a county are shown to rise appreciably
or fall drastically. The factors bringing about the decline of one area
Sand the increase of another vary with the area, county or area within the
county. Celery requires an ample supply of water readily available at all
Table 0 .--Florida celery for fre:hi market and processlri,: Area5 acrnages for harvret during the 1 027-28 through 1971-72
C rop years
North Nth central West central Everglades Other counties State totol
-------------------- ------------ Acres- ----. -------------------- --.-
Areas are composed of the following counties (maijol producing counties are followed by an asotrisu (*): North--
Alachua and Marion; north central--Brevaird, Lake*, ('i ,,-. ,' Seminole* and Volusia; west ccntral--lillsloriough, Manatee*
and Sarsota*; Everglaldes--Martin and 1Pan li each (west); other counties--lDde;, Hlighlands, PuI'utna and St. Johns,
Econolmcl ablandonmilent excluded from acreage 19636i4 and sulbsequelnt crop years,
(000) North FIloria North central West central iverlIladea
a aroa a rea it rc e
-: T i i ] I
I 4 J I I 4 ,
-------------- ---------- Period grouping from table below----- ------ ------ -------
Figure 5.--Ilorida celery: Acreage harvested by areas in five year averages, 1928-72 periods
Table 11.--Florida celery for fresh market and processing; Ac,'eage harvested by major producing areas, five
year averages, 1927-28 through 1971-72 periods
Period North Florida area North central lrca West central area :verglades area
---- -------------------- Acres--------------------------
(1) 1927-28 through 1931-32 2 3,922 1,781 60
(2) 1932-33 through 1936-37 135 3,744 1,880 133
(3) 1937-38 through 194I1-42 274 4,512 1,715 1,272
(4) 1)42-43 through 1946-47 338 5,206 1,467 3,015
(5) 19)17-48 through 1951-52 495 4,9f 1,025 3,777
(6) 1932-53 through 195r6-57 531 3,7 2 773 4,950
(7) 1957-58 through 191(I-62 340 2,4911 415 8,114
(S) 1962-13 through 196i6-67 272 2,046 373 8,789
(9) 19U7-lis th roiught 1 71-72 104- 1, 6i'17 58 9 i,292
Acres harvested '
Uij. 50 o100
850 900 1
Figure 6.--Florida celery: Importance of counties
based on acres harvested during the
1929-30 crop year
FI i,.'o commercial
S 100 199
Ei 300 399
900 999 \
[ 3,000 3,500
Figure 7.--Florida celery: Importance of counties
based on acres harvested during the 1949-
50 crop year
S 700 799a
] 9,000 9,299 A
Figure 8.--Florida celery: Importance of counties
and areas based on acres harvested dur-
ing the 1969-70 crop year
aArea shown rather than county to avoid disclosure.
/ ~r' ~.
times for irrigation and fields prepared for rapid drainage in case of
flooding. Early producers of necessity grew their celery on sandland
soils, often in rich hammock land. They did not know what chemicals were
needed to make organic soils productive. When these facts were ascer-
tained, shifts from sandy soils to organic or muckland soils were rather
The celery industry was confined to relatively small farms until
modern machinery was invented and adapted. The need for improvements
in marketing superseded improvements in production.
Like so many of Florida's vegetables, the demand stems from the desire
by the nation's consumers for fresh salad items throughout the year.
Celery, being a multipurpose vegetable, is even more in demand for its
versatility--as a raw vegetable served alone; with a cream cheese or
diced into a tossed salad along with leafy or other green raw vegetables;
cooked in soups, stews and Chinese dishes; and as a cooked main dish.
Demand for celery has often increased when there has been a shortage
of other raw vegetable items due to a freeze or some force of nature that
permitted celery to remain plentiful. Florida production of this high-
yielding crop dates from within 20 years of its beginning as a commercial
vegetable in the U. S. Per capital consumption of fresh celery in the
U. S. has ranged from a low of 6.6 lbs. to a high of 9.1 lbs. (1929-1971).
The average during this 42-year period is 7.8 Ibs. which ranks fifth in
per capital consumption among the fresh vegetables of the nation. Con-
sumption continued high during the late '40s and all through the '50s
but dropped off during the '60s .
Since celery production, especially in the Sanford area, started as
a result of a disaster in the citrus industry, the statement of J. N.
Whitner that all left in the community were poor, but hard workers would
surely hold true. The severe freeze Of 1894-95 set the stage for a new
industry as it would have taken time to replace the groves that were des-
troyed. No doubt, had funds been available, many would have questioned
the wisdom of such an outlay of capital. In vegetables a man then needed
only 10 acres to make good. Those who did not panic and sell their land
for 254 to $1.00 per acre or just abandon it outright and leave profited
by their perseverance..
There is no evidence of government loans, organized assistance pro-
grams, nor long-term, low interest, special financing in the closing years
of the 19th century. It was truly a survival of the fittest.
Some of the financing was initial and probably rather small in amount.
This promotional story appeared on page 48 of a special edition of the
Sanford Herald on November 25, 1910:
Cost of ten acre farm $1,500
Clearing, plowing and harrowing 1,000
Fencing @ 60 cents per rod 96
Irrigation system installed (2 wells) 1,000
First or fall crop:
Cauliflower seed and fertilizer @ $100
per acre 1,000
Labor (care of crop) (@ $30"per acre) 300
Harvesting (including crates) 1,250
Total costs, including land 6,146
Average yield at 400 crates per acre
selling for $1.25 per crate 5,000
Note: Boston lettuce was more frequently grown in
the early fall and would have substituted well here.
Second crop of the season or winter crop:
Preparation of land (@ $15 per acre) 150
Celery seed and fertilizer (@125 per
Labor (@ $50 per acre) 500
Harvesting (including crates at
$200 per acre) 2,000
Total cost output for celery crop 3,900
Average yield 800 crates per acre
(@ $1.25) 10,000
Net profit on above transaction 4,954
Besides, the farm was paid for, including the fencing, artesian
well and underground irrigation; there remained now only a
maintenance cost .
Most growers followed celery with peppers as a third crop for late
spring and then put the land in a cover crop which was used for hay.
Nothing was clearly stated as to how a farmer could get operating capi-
tal, but there were banks lending for interest and also produce men who
may have done financing for an interest in the crop. A Mr. Aldridge fur-
nished money and land for sharecropping celery.
Cooperatives were formed later arid these, along with established hand-
lers in the area, had financing as a part of their organizational program.
Allied industries made possible potential assistance in many forms
to meet production costs. The extension of credit for fertilizers, pesti-
cides and even fuel was an important form of such assistance; payrolls
and containers advanced by the packer-shipper were a part of the average
packinghouse practice after such came into use. If the packer also han-
dled sales, such costs were deducted before settling with the grower;
otherwise an arrangement was made with the sales agent for this deduction.
After World War I the condition of the grower, economically speaking, was
generally good; for the most part each financed his own operation.
Research did not indicate the great numbers of sharecroppers in
celery who were involved in growing tomatoes. Nevertheless, sharecrop-
ping was an important form of financing.
Although the Florida land boom of 1924-25 disrupted celery production
it was not as extensive as was that experienced by growers of some other
commodities. The Manatee-Hillsborough area felt its impact in the general
disruption. The "Great Depression," following the stock market crash of
1929,made the '30s a period in which production credit for celery was very
difficult to obtain. By 1933 the economic situation had become so acute
that the Federal Government set up Production Credit Associations (PCAs)
on a national basis to provide short-term and intermediate credit to
farmers. Florida PCAs discount their notes made by farmers with the Federal
Intermediate Credit Bank (FICB) of Columbia, South Carolina. On December
31, 1969 the nine Florida PCAs and those of Georgia and the Carolinas be-
came sole owners of the FICB and the Columbia Bank for Cooperatives. The
FICB provides leadership, supervision and loan funds for the 62 credit
Commercial banks in later years have played a more vital role in
grower assistance than meets the eye. Financial assistance is frequently
made to suppliers of seed, fertilizer, pesticides and even equipment, who
in turn pass along the credit to actual growers. Heavier equipment, in-
cluding tractors and trucks, financed through local bankers, is another
example. Trucking firms transporting celery to northern and western re-
ceivers could not serve well without adequate financing; most often such
lending is done through local commercial banks.
Soils and Temperatures
Celery was grown for many years on sandland soils. In the Sanford
area these soils are dominantly Leon fine sand with an organic pan sub-
surface of 14 to 36 inches. This fertile soil was blessed with artesian
wells suitable for subirrigation. The Sanford soils that formed the
"Delta" lie east of the town and are protected from severe cold to a
great extent by the waters of Lake Monroe on the north, the St. Johns
River on the east and Lake Jessup on the south. Much of the area was
made up of fertile hammock land. Beck, Mecca and Eureka hammocks are in
the delta area. The west side of Sanford was developed later .than the
east side; soil types are mainly the same, but cold protection is-much
less as the area is bound only on the north by the St. Johns River and to
a lesser extent by Lake Monroe. Temperatures generally are lower on the
west side than on the Delta or east side. Celery grown in both areas has
been harvested primarily during the winter period or from about January
1 to March 31; frequently harvest went into early April..
The earliest celery at Oviedo was also grown on soils that are pre-
dominantly Leon find sand. Farms at Iowa City and some at Slavia were
of this soil type. During World War I the organic soils began to be open-
ed up. The first such soils to be cultivated were in Oviedo proper. More
gradually Black Hammock, which receives protection from cold by the waters
of Lake Jessup, was opened up. Later, Mitchell Hammock on the south side
of Oviedo at Slavia was cleared for celery. These organic soils are made
up of Pamlico muck one to five feet in depth with an acid sandy clay sub-
structure. Artesian water and subirrigation is used .
The soils of the Zellwood area are mainly Everglades muck and mucky
peat,varying in depth from four to 19 feet, underlain with calcareous
materials ranging from sand to clay in texture. The area is mainly on the
north side of Lake Apopka and does not get the benefit for best cold pro-
tection of prevailing wind over water. The Weirsdale, and possibly the
Oklawaha, muck pockets are basically Everglades peat. These pockets are
located adjacent to the Oklawaha River which has insufficient water to
provide the protection desired; celery grown here was harvested even later
in the spring than that at Oviedo , Island Grove celery was grown on
the peat soils located east of the southern end of Orange Lake in what was
once a part of that lake. Soils there, with about an eight inch surface
layer overlying dark-brown fibrous peat about 40 to 50 inches deep which
rests on a brownish-gray sandy clay, are classified as peat .
In the west central area the celery grown at Ybor City was skid to
have been on heavy bottom land, most probably in a small hammock leading
to the bay. Some muck areas in the vicinity of Tampa grade into Ports-
mouth fine sand. This could well have been the soil type there. Other
sections of Hillsborough County grew celery either on peaty muck or fertile
hammock sand. Apparently celery was grown on peaty muck, prairie phase,
in the vicinity of Mango Lake. The land had been drained and fitted with
means of subirrigation. Sand had to be brought in and mixed with peaty
muck to avoid the use of muck shoes on work stock. The lake, though
small, would have given some protection against cold. Celery seems to
have been of first importance in vegetable production. The drained prai-
rie of the Wimauma section had only lake water protection from cold but
seven cars of celery were shipped from this point in 1927. Celery was
also grown there and at Plant City in the World War I years .
In Manatee County celery was grown mainly on fertile hammock and saw-
grass land of mixed muck and sand--mostly good black soil, from around the
turn of the century continuing into the '40s. The Pearce Drain area east of
Matoaka was developed for farming celery. The soil was Delray loamy fine
sand. A similar muck area near Parrish was later developed for celery .
Sarasota County organic soils developed for vegetables, primarily cel-
ery, is composed of Terra Ceia muck one to three feet deep. However, due
to oxidation and subsidence the depth is now less. The Sarasota muck is
surrounded by Delray fine sand .
In the Everglades area the Okeechobee and Everglades mucks and peats
of the "custard apple" and "saw grass" types used for celery production
were initially in depths of three to 10 feet. This area as well as the
Sarasota muck is underlain by calcareous materials which range from sand
to clay in texture .
Drainage and Irrigation
Celery culture requires a sustained moisture, neither dry nor exces-
sive. Thus drainage and irrigation are necessary requisites for successful
In developing the "Delta" at Sanford these facts were quickly apparent
and quickly overcome. Drainage of this east side "waste" land was a must
before it could be farmed. At the intersection of three streets in San-
ford there. were two gushing fountains--flowing artesian wells--which had
surplus water that was a nuisance. Dr. T. W. Moore, a local minister,
asked the town council's permission to bury inverted cypress troughs about
two feet underground. These troughs were made of boards one inch thick
and six inches wide which were laid with the joints and sides covered by
shavings and then soil. Drainage, a necessity, was provided by these
troughs. Moisture spread for several feet on either side.
J. N. Whitner's 92 acre farm was in close proximity to several old
Indian mounds near the St. Johns River east of Sanford. It was called the
"Shellback Farm" and was low and wet. In the fall of 1895 Whitner and his
foreman, "Bob" King, completed an experimental sub-drainage project based
on Mr. Moore's inverted trough idea. After completing their work, they
went fishing to control their excitement. Returning after dark, they ex-
amined their work by aid of a lighted match. The moisture had risen as
they hoped it would. Mr. Whitner turned to Mr. King and said, "Bob,
Sanford is made!" Then they did what all deeply religious men would do
under similar circumstances .
I. H. Terwilliger is said to have perfected the present system of
drainage and irrigation. Subirrigation was put into use about the turn of
the century. The inverted troughs soon gave way to cement pipe which did
not prove satisfactory. The cement pipes, where tried, were rather quickly
replaced (about 1908) by three-inch terra cotta tiles, each about 12 inches
long, which are still in use. An artesian (flowing) well, usually about
100 feet deep, was necessary at the highest corner of the field, with a
watertight main line extending the length of the field, again on the high-
est side, with control pockets at regular intervals, and dropping about
three inches per 100 yards. Lateral lines were laid 12 to 18 inches under
the ground, crossing the field at 20-foot intervals, to an open ditch on
the lower opposite side. Each lateral had a cut-off pocket for control--
opened for drainage and closed for irrigating. Water escaped at each joint
and rose by natural seepage to the surface as well as spreading across to
meet the moisture from the next row 20 feet away, i.e., water spread 10
feet on each side of the line. A field plan for tile drainage and irriga-
tion is illustrated in Figure 9.
Main pipe ASrtesian well,
line ...----- --I t 100 to about
SI 160 ft. deep,
I I at high corner
a I a of field
I a a a I.
S a Terr4 cottI tile field a
Figure 9.--A field plan for tile irrigation and
Pockets or control boxes were usually 22 inches high and 12 inches
wide, and made of concrete. These standpipes were inserted to a depth
slightly below the lines with a cut-off valve in each at the exit end of
the lateral for water control. To irrigate, the flowing well was opened
a I a I B a
into the mainline and water flowed out through the terra pipe under
a a i a
the field, while 9.--A field the pocketslan for standpipes near the open ditch
would be closed; for drainage the procedure was reversed . This system
Pocksolved the moisture control boxes were usually 22 inches high and 12 inchesford,
partwide, and made of concrete. These sandpipes were inserted to a depthunty.
slightly below the lines with a cut-off valve in each at the exit end of
the lateral for water control. To irrigate, the flowincipalg well was openedery-
producing area in that county during and through the 20s. Dr.terra cotta pipe under
bought 800 acres of saw grass basin east of Tallevast. About 1900 develop-
the field, while valves in the pockets or standpipes near the canal was not ditch
dug until about 1920 when draglines could be used. Dr. Pearce subdivided
the land and sold 15-acre farms. Carl Hutches was instrumental in com-
pleting the closed; for drainage, seeinage the procedure was reversed 34]. This system
solved the moisture control problem in the sand with irrigation from flowing
wells; drainage was mainly by gravity flow into the canal and the Braden
parts of Oviedo and in near level sand fields in Manatively level. This is
especially tru Pearce Drain area of Manatee County was the principal celery in this
producing ntemporarea in that county during and after the '20s. Dr. Fran muck soilsPearce
bought 800 acres of saw grass basin east of Tal1evast. About 1900 develop-
ment was slow as drainage was begun by hand labor; the main canal was not
dug until about 1920 when draglines could be used. Dr. Pearce subdivided
the land and sold 15-acre farms. Carl Hutches was instrumental in com-
pleting the drainage, seeing that it was kept active, clean and workableoding
after completion. Tile was used in the sand with irrigation from flowing
wells; drainage was mainly by gravity flow into the canal and the Braden
All areas of the state growing celery are relatively level. This is
especially true of the muck farms producing most Florida celery in this
contemporary period. Moisture control is no less important in muck soils
than on sand, but necessary ditches afld water furrows tend to cut up
fields. Water furrows connecting with perimeter ditches reduce flooding
after heavy rains. On most farms excess water can be drawn off quickly
with the aid of pumps. During dry weather the pumps are reversed, the
perimeter ditch is filled and the water spreads over the field via the
water furrows. Mole drains are opened underneath the field's surface,
running from one ditch almost to the other at about 10-foot intervals.
Thus subirrigation is provided muck land farms. The water level in canals
and ditches can be maintained with pumps to the desired level for needed
moisture. Preparation of mole drains requires special equipment in which
a bullet-shaped instrument is forced through the soil at the desired depth
by pressing the soil outward to form a water tunnel. Some mole drains
last three seasons or more [3 Mole drain preparation and maintenance
is much cheaper than preparation of tile drainage.
Celery (apium graveolens L. var. dulce Pers.) belongs to the family
Umbelliferae. Domestic celery is a biennial, growing to about 30 inches
tall the first year and reicl.it,: a marketable stage about six months from
seeding. Plants produce a. flower stalk after over-wintering the second
year. The petioles (ribs) are usually long, thick, succulent, crisp and
aromatic. Although certain recipes.may call for the tender stems and
leaves to be included when cooking, the rib constitutes the edible part
of the plant.
Celery has a strong aroma; those accustomed to it can tell when they
are near a field of mature plants, especially at harvest time. Late
spring, celery may be slightly bitter, but this characteristic varies with
varieties and seasons. Sugars, salts and other ingredients are also im-
portant in taste quality. The cluster of ribs that make up a "stalk" or
marketable plant is harvested by cutting the root just below the ground
surface and trinminili the outer petioles that may show a poor quality or
appearance . Since May 1934 tops have been cut before crating .
Culture and Varieties
In the formative years of celery production mule and man were the
energy forces. It has been said a mule never ate the tops nor stepped on
the plant, whereas the horse was guilty of doing both. The plow and hoe
were quite prominent and the five or 10 acre farmer did not have a large
sum tied up in equipment. A large fafm operation seldom exceeded 50 acres.
The outlay for equipment was small; labor was cheap and generally became
proficient in transplanting, tilling and spraying by hand.
During World War I the Moline Company came out with a tractor which
gained popularity with vegetable growers, but the mule was hard to dis-
place. In 1928 Hoyle Pounds of Winter Garden put the first rubber tires
on tractors by fitting solid rubber casings over the wheels. In the '30s
Ford Ferguson came out with a hydraulic lift that was a very great improve-
ment for mechanized power on the farm. Large-scale farming was becoming
After World War II celery farm operators took advantage of the rapid
progress in the design and manufacture of farm equipment. Multiple row
planters, cultivators and spray equipment helped make the large celery
operator very stiff competition for the small operator who did not have
such equipment. A modern farm outlay for equipment alone was beyond the
reach of small producers; in fact, not even feasible. Many farmers with
small acreages quit celery.
Varietal changes were slow in coming, but were sharply distinctive.
There are two types of celery--yellow or Golden and green or Pascal. The
Florida industry was based on the Golden varieties from the beginning,con-
tinuing well into the late '30s. Pascal or green celery became increas-
ingly popular, first in California, and later in Florida and the eastern
U. S. For several years Paris Golden Yellow Self Blanching (Tall French,
Fern Leaf) was about the only celery grown. Even this variety required
more than its name implied for further bleaching was necessary for tender-
ness and perfection. This selection was from the original true French
strain--very early; plants tall, stalks medium thick, blanching very read-
ily to a creamy white; long, medium broad, medium thick and of fair to good
quality; it generally took 105 to 110 days from transplanting to reach
maturity. Cornell No. 19 was developed by Cornell University from a cross
between Golden Self Blanching and Utah, combining the good qualities of
the Pascal type with early, easy blanching characteristics and color of the
former. Cornell No. 19 had long, full hearts and thick, rounded, smooth
stems; it took about 100 days to reach maturity. Cornell No. 6 produced
shorter plants, stockier and more open formation; stems were thicker and
less ribbed; with good heart formation, this variety also required 100
The pioneer grower of Golden celery would place cypress boards along
each side of the row, usually 10 to 21 days prior to harvest. The boards
were held in place by stakes. When the stalks were properly bleached the
boards were laid in between the rows and the cut celery was placed on
them. Board and celery were then taken to the packing point, preferably
a nearby shade tree. Cypress boards were in use as late as 1919-20. The
discarded cypress boards are still serving a good purpose for they went
into the construction of many area frame houses . Shortly before
World War I, heavy black paper, waterproofed and strengthened by incor-
porating small wire-like fiber strands, replaced most of the boards.
Placing two of the 300-feet rolls on spindles, a man would pull paper to
each side of the row and make it secure; a second man would put wire
wickets over the closely fitted paper to hold it in place.
T. L. Hawkins, a Sanford sandland farmer, made headlines May 19, 1926
with second-crop celery which yielded 600 crates per acre. He had covered
his land with muck in the fall of 1925, planted and harvested an early win-
ter crop and followed on the same land with a second planting of celery;
thus he proved two crops per season were possible .
Two other varieties, one of which was the Meisch Special, developed
by the Meisch family in New Jersey and introduced at Sanford by the Meisch
Bros., would produce later than Golden Heart. This variety became popular
at Sanford. The other variety, known as the Pearly White Special, was
grown by Charles Lee and others at Oviedo in the '20s. This latter var-
iety required no boards or paper for additional bleaching.
The first green celery was a "sport" showing up in Paris Golden Yel-
low Self Blanching seed from France. Green Pascal celery acceptance was
gradual. It took the Oviedo organic soils to get it going on a large
scale in Florida. This summer type Pascal, first grown in the late '30s,
virtually eliminated the Golden Supreme, which was planted as late as
1961 . At first some growers blanched pascal celery. Neither summer
Pascal (110-120 days) nor Utah 52-70 would produce even good quality small
sized celery on the sand but both thrived on the muck where they produced
stalks of large sizes. A Utah type Pascal, Florida 2-13 developed by
Henry Schneck, proved satisfactory for the Sanford area. A popular var-
iety, its ribs are dark green.
The tall Utah 52-70 was grown qiite extensively in Florida but has
been almost entirely replaced in late years. Its ribs are medium to dark
green and average about nine inches to the first node. Plants grow 28
to 30 inches tall under favorable conditions. Florida 683 produces com-
pact, dark green plants with more ribs than Florida 2-13 averages. Flor-
ida 683 is a vigorous variety, resistant to node crack, best suited for
winter harvest. Florida 2-14 is somewhat resistant to premature bolting,
but is quite susceptible to leaf blights. Florimart is the reverse of
Florida 2-14--resistant to leaf blights but susceptible to node cracking.
Earlibelle is resistant to early blight while June-Belle is resistant to
late blight as well as early blight; all are Pascal or green varieties
. Only green varieties are currently being grown in Florida.
Detailed requirements for labor and materials utilized in celery pro-
duction are narrated in Agricultural Economics Mimeo Report EC70-2, en-
titled Labor and Material Requirements, Costs and Returns for Celery by
Areas in Florida,by D. L. Brooke.
In the early years of celery production at Sanford several low-yield-
ing crops, presumably due to insufficient nutrients, were harvested.
S. O. Chase recommended fertilizing with one ton of castor pumace, two
tons of mixed complete fertilizer analyzing about 5-5-5 and 200 to 500
lbs. of nitrate of soda per acre. Later tests showed a fertilizer with a
6-2-8 analysis, applied at the rate of three and one-half tons per acre,
gave the best results in the Sanford sandland soils .
One of the early selling points for celery production on organic
soils was the limited need for applied nitrogen . In 1946-47 fertil-
izer costs per acre were lowest in the Everglades, being only about 37
percent of those reported at Sanford. Oddly enough, not all muckland
areas reported this tremendous differential. Costs in the Everglades
were 52 percent of those at Zellwood, next lowest .
In 1960 Sanford and Oviedo growers were using 4,800 to 5,500 lbs. of
4-6-5 to 5-6-10 fertilizer per acre, While those in the Everglades applied
a ton or more of an 0-8-24 to 3-8-24 fertilizer per acre plus as much as
800 to 1,000 Ibs. of an 0-8-24 to 10-0-29 mixture as a side dressing.
Other areas used some nitrogen--always more than was used in the Ever-
glades. Fertilizer costs were about $110 in the Everglades and at Zell-
wood, but those at Sanford-Oviedo were about $170 per acre during the 1953-
57 period .
The Utah type celery being grown at the time of the 1969 study and
also at the present time gives a greater response to supplemental nitro-
gen on the organic soils than the Summer Pascal previously grown. Table
12 shows the usual material requirements per acre of celery in the field
by areas in 1969. Current users of the research findings are urged to
review the University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations Bulletin
757, Celery Production on Organic Soils of South Florida.
Table 12.--Florida celery: Usual material requirements per acre of
celery in the field by areas, 1969
Item Description Amount
Plants From seedbed 32,800
Herbicide CDEC, CDAA 2.4 gal.
Fertilizer 0-8-24; 0-16-24; 0-20-16; 4-8-24; 5-16-24 2,000 lb.
Supplement 15-0-15; 15-0-14 350 lb.
Spray Inorganic coppers; organic fungicides;
organic phosphate fungicides 2,400 gal.
Containers Wirebound crates or paperboard cartons,
60 lb. capacity 700
Plants From seedbed 35,000
Soil amendments Dolomite (sand land only) 1,500 lb.
Herbicide CDEC, CDAA 1.6 gal.
Fertilizer 2-8-16; 5-5-8; 5-5-15; 10-3-10 3,000 lb.
Spray Inorganic coppers; organic fungicides;
organic phosphate insecticides 1,400 gal.
Containers Wirebound crates or paper cartons,
60 lb. capacity 700
aIncludes west central, north central and north Florida areas.
Nutritional requirements of organic soils today for seedbeds and for
the field are best conveyed in a bultltin by Dr. Victor Guzman and associate
scientists . The pH values'of soild on which celery is now being grown
in Florida range from pH 5.3 to 7.5, the different readings and soil stages
,from virgin to previously cropped are discussed rather fully in the bulle-
Celery is cultivated several times during the growing period. Methods
have steadily changed from mule-drawn single row implements and crews of
hand laborers to the present-day multiple-row equipment. Weeds and grass
are mostly chemically controlled. Insects and disease controls have made
similar advances. Up-to-date information is given in the Commercial Vege-
table Insect, Disease and Nematode Control Guide, Florida Cooperative Exten-
sion Service Circular.193H.
Diseases and adverse effects from various deficiencies have been with
the celery grower throughout the years. A pertinent example relates to the
time when Sydney 0. Chase, in partnership with his father-in-law, Captain
B. F. Whitner, was growing 10 acres of celery in 1905. Briefly, they sold
the crop, all very fine quality celery, on Friday, but the buyer asked
that cutting be postponed until Monday. Rather late on Monday Mr. Chase
went out to check on progress of harvest. There Captain Whitner was,
wading knee-deep in celery. During the interval between Friday and Mon-
day "blackheart" .had completely taken the field. The scrupulous old
captain had taken a long knife and slashed stalks through the middle. When
asked why he had done this, he replied, "No one would take the stuff and
I am not going to ask them to accept it." From the 10 acres only 65 crates
of good celery were harvested .
Various diseases and irregularities affecting celery, their symptoms,
seasonal occurrence, susceptible varieties, causes, prevention and/or con-
trols are treated in detail in Experiment Stations Bulletin 757.
The disease recognized early as leaf tyer (or leaf tier) and its early
treatment with arsenate of lead caused an early intervention by the admin-
istration of the Federal government's Pure Food Act. Today's celery that
has a pesticide residue greater than the tolerance established under the
Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act cannot be shipped across state lines
or sold within Florida.
Pesticide application equipment Started with a simple porous "sack"
with the pesticide applied by the hand laborer shaking the bag over the
plant. Progress was made with portable dust applicators for one or two
rows. The operator, walking between the rows, operated a hand propelled
blower-applicator. Wet sprays called for mobile tanks and extended multi-
ple-row arms; some of these were farm shop products, yet were effective.
Equipment today is very efficient; it consists primarily of 500 to 1,000
gallon capacity sprayers, self-propelled, with only one operator necessary.
Aerially applied pesticides have increased since 1970; application is
faster, wet fields can be sprayed or dusted and more precise timing and
reduced mechanical spread of pests is permitted. Under heavy disease or
insect infestation, present or probable aerial control is generally less
effective than ground applied control. High quality pesticide formula-
tions with the specific pesticide applied at the correct rate and pressure
recommended usually provide the control or the preventative measure de-
sired. Effective control measures are recommended by Dr. Guzman et al.
for nematodes, insects, mites, diseases, deficiencies and/or excesses, as
well as weeds and grasses .
In the 1969 study of labor and material requirements the usual season
of operations was updated. The north central area was divided into fall,
winter and spring seasons for this area alone has breaks in celery opera-
tions. Table 13 lists the usual time of operations, but it is most
likely some changes have been made in some areas since the time this re-
port on which the table is based was prepared. Parts of the data in this
table could well be considered obsolete since no celery has been planted
in north Florida since 1972; the 1973-74 season was the last for all but
one grower at Sanford. However, there is always the possibility that
celery production in these areas may be re-activated.
Harvesting, Packing and Precooling
Celery matures from field set plants in 76 to 102 days, depending on
variety, day length, temperature, moisture, fertilization and other fac-
tors. Plants set during November and December require 102 and 101 days,
respectively, to reach maturity while those set during March and April re-
quire 78 and 76 days, on the average, to reach maturity6. Upon reaching
maturity celery can be held in the field for a few days without undue
deterioration, given proper weather conditions; humid weather, for example,
is not conducive to holding it successfully for any length of time.
As stated earlier, pioneer growers cut and packed in the field in the
"rough." This dirty, rough pack with tops intact and with considerable
6Five-year average, 1967-68 through 1971-72 .
Table 13,--Florida celery: Usual season of operations by areas in 1969
Planting or setting
Insect and disease
Hoeing, weeding, etc.
North central area
Fall Winter Spring
--------------Period of operations----------------
Apr. 1-Aug. 25 June 1-Nov. 25 Sept. 1-Apr. 20
July 1-Aug. 15
July 25-Aug. 25
Aug. 10-Nov. 1
July 25-Nov. 10
July 1-Nov. 10
Oct. 25-Nov. 20
Sept. 1-Nov. 15
Oct. 15-Dec. 30
Sept. 1-Mar. 25
Dec. 20-Mar. 30
Nov. 1-Jan. 10
Dec. 15-Apr. 20
Dec. 20-May 30
Operation Everglades Sarasota North Florida
---------------Period of operations----------------
Seedbed Year-round July 1-Feb. 10 Dec. 15-Apr. 25
Ditching and draining July 10-Mar. 20 Aug. 1-Oct. 10 Nov. 1-June 25
Preparing land June 1-Mar. 20 Aug. 1-Feb. 1 Nov. 1-Apr. 1
Planting or setting Aug. 5-Mar. 25 Oct. 1-Feb. 10 Mar. 15-Apr. 25
fertilizing Aug. 5-May 30 Oct. 7-May 1 Mar. 20-June 20
Insect and disease
control Aug. 10-June 25 Oct. 7-Apr. 25 Mar. 20-June 25
Hoeing, weeding, etc. Sept. 1-June 1 Oct. 30-Apr. 15 Apr. 25-June 25
Irrigating Aug. 5-June 25 Aug.' 1-May 10 Mar. 15-June 30
Harvesting Nov. 10-June 25 Jan. 1-May 10 May 1-July 1
root, some trimmed to a point, was either not washed at all or was brush or
mop washed through slats in the crate, the exposed stalks alone getting the
benefit of the make-shift washing. Few organized crews were expert at cut-
ting, sorting, stripping, packing and nailing. No machinery was used except
one simple tool (knife) by the cutter. The stalks were cut from the tap
roots, then stripped of a few outer branches. This was followed by a hap-
hazard procedure of sorting stalks into various sizes, and then packing
them into crates. No grading for quality was considered. It was not un-
common to find worm scarred, defective stalks interpacked with quality
celery. After packing was complete, crates were hauled to nearby railway
sidings where they were loaded into refrigerator cars. The bunkers of
these cars were usually iced to full capacity except during the coldest
periods, usually January and February, when many shipments were made
without refrigeration. However, celery showing any decay or signs of
deterioration at shipping points needed more than bunker icing alone. Ex-
periments with top-icing were made and it was found to be worth the addi-
tional cost. After the crates were loaded into cars, the entire loads
were top-iced with from 1,000 to 3,000 pounds of ice cut into chunks from
five to 30 pounds each. The total amount of ice used depended on the tem-
perature and length of time the shipment would be in transit. Despite
the vast amount of physical labor required, celery harvesting and packing
was a simple, primarily field job, up to about 1923-24 .
Even prior to World War I a few large houses were equipped for pres-
sure spray washing of the entire crate as it moved through strong sprays
of water on an endless chain; the result was an improved but inadequate
job. As late as 1923 numerous shipments were arriving at destination,
containing ungraded stalks, slack packs and irregular sizing. Some were
shipped on consignment, while others were sold f.o.b., the latter method
generally being preferred.
Thomas J. Bell started growing celery under the name of Bell Brothers
in 1918 at Lake Monroe. Soon the firm had put in a crate-washer for wash-
ing the field-packed crate. Bell saw quickly its inadequacy and by 1921
had converted to individual stalk washing by installing a moving chain
which carried stalks through a tunnel where pressure jets sprayed water at
angles from overhead and underneath. The resulting clean celery was then
graded, sized and packed into clean crates. Bell's machine was the first
individual stalk mechanical-washer ever built. Its chain was the same
used by a potato harvester and was used until a more suitable one could be
made. Bell Bros.also started use of the re-usable field crate or box to
bring celery to the washhouse.
A number of dealers (e.g.,it is known there were two specific opera-
tors in New York City) in terminal markets preferred celery not washed.
They made a business of receiving celery all year from all producing states
and then washing, trimming, sizing and making bunches of a dozen stalks
each for the retailer. Bell Brothers finally found a commission merchant
who dared try celery washed and trimmed at the point of origin.
Some northern operators came to Florida, put up small individual wash
tanks and shipped a considerable volume of this celery by express to the
hotel and restaurant trade. Captain George A. Sweet was one of the ear-
liest, coming from Ft. Wayne where he had grown and distributed celery .
The recurring infestations of celery leaf tier (or tyer), mentioned
earlier, developed to the point of becoming a serious threat to the indus-
try. Arsenate of lead was at first the only control. Shipments of
inadequately washed celery were being rejected upon inspection by the
Pure Food Act enforcement authorities. The Bell washer was the only
machine available to do an adequate job; soon the Bell firm was doing
custom individual-stalk washing, grading, packing and cooling with ice.
At the height of the leaf tier infestation his washhouse was in operation
24 hours per day.
In order to wash crated celery, the packed crates were run on an end-
less chain through strong sprays of water. Exposed stalks and the crate
were washed clean, while inner stalks were still caked with dirt and
spray residue. Growers realized the improved appearance of crate-washed
celery was an asset. However, they were reluctant to pay the extra cost
involved in hauling to a crate washer for better outside appearance, and
to wash individual stalks was unthinkable if there was no arsenate residue.
Thus the change was very gradual. How very gradual is pointed out in a
report by one large Sanford cooperative as shown in Table 14.
Table 14.--Florida celery: Shipments in carlots by one large cooperative
for the period 1922-23 through 1930-31, showing percentages
f.o.b., top-iced and washed
Crop year of carlots Shipped f.o.b.a Top-iced Washed
Cars Percent Percent Percent
1922-23 612 62 0 0
1923-24 826 82 0 0
1924-25 1,012 84 11 11
1925-26 885 75 4 6
1926-27 1,143 76 10 24
1927-28 1,099 85 54 24
1928-29 1,142 60 79 33
1929-30 1,605 78 80 46
1930-31 1,891 73 77 40
The Sanford Farmers Exchange reported to the Packing House News in
April 1923 on methods this cooperative used in handling mature celery.
It has been said the advanced methods used may have been the primary
reason for this cooperative closing down and selling its Beardall Avenue
plant to Chase and Company. A summary of the Exchange report was repro-
duced by A. Wilson Roe , and is again quoted here:
After the celery is cut with a two-wheeled knife propelled
by one man, women "strippers' come along and strip off the out-
side leaves of the celery and stack it in piles, ready for the
two or three men helpers who lay the celery evenly in wooden
forms containing a web strap which is buckled tightly around
the celery in the forms. The strapped bundles are then removed
from the forms and stacked four or five deep on flat-bottomed
trucks or wagons, these conveying the celery to the packing-
On arrival at the packing and precooling plant the celery
is dumped immediately into wooden tubs, ten feet long by three
feet wide, and three feet deep, the strap being removed as
this is done.
Women washers then wash the celery in these tubs and
sort it out onto tables in sizes ranging from three dozen to
eight dozen to the crate. Other women then remove the few
remaining unfit leaves from the celery and lay it convenient
to the buncher's hands. The bunchers pick up the celery,
one stalk at a time, and place it in forms that hold one
dozen stalks. These forms have a wooden clamp worked with
a foot-lever which presses down tightly on the celery, while
strong cotton tape, generally in gay colors, is tied tightly
around it both at the root-end and about midway up the stalks,
making a solid block of celery that is very compact and hand-
some in appearance.
The large dozen bunches are placed side by side in a
standard celery crate that will just contain them, and the
crates are carried on a chain conveyor to the water pre-cool-
er and, coming out of this, they are loaded direct into
well-iced cars and started on their journey to the markets.
Celery goes in the car at a temperature of 36 to 38 degrees.
Therefore, all latent heat has been removed before shipping
and rendering unnecessary any re-icing enroute.
The celery is graded in the field before it is cut, and
like grades are sent to the different portions of the packing-
house that are set aside for thetn. Solid cars of each grade
are packed .
The celery push-knife was commonly used in the Sanford-Oviedo area
and later, in the Sarasota area. It was a two-wheeled device with knife
attached to a frame braced with two semi-loops fastened on each side of
the frame and raised to go over the celery. This gave support. The knife
was very sharp on both its back and front edges and was pushed forward or
pulled backward to cut celery just underneath the ground level. Usually
two push-knife cutters worked ahead of 20 to 30 strippers who worked
across rows in a space, usually 15 feet wide, called a "down." The strip-
pers carried small knives to trim the roots after defective ribs were
removed by hand from each stalk. From three to eight cuts were made in
the butt-trimming operation; this additional effort was considered worth
the expense. It left the butt-end clean and pointed somewhat like a pen-
cil. This pointed-end trim was later discouraged and finally abandoned .
F. F. Dutton, Sr., as stated earlier, researched the idea of pre-
cooling by placing wilted celery in ice-water overnight in the family
bathtub so that it would retain or regain crispness. Working with the
York Ice Machinery Company, Dutton built on the Brumley rail siding the
first mechanical.precooler in the U. S. about 1924-25. The washhouse in
conjunction with the precooler is thought to have had the mechanism to
convey stalks through a tunnel with jet-pressured water washing individual
stalks similar to the one in the Bell Brothers operation at Lake Monroe.
This washhouse-mechanical precooler burned June 20, 1928 in what was said
to have been a $200,000 fire . Dutton, with his engineer, R. L.
Cornell, built a new precooler on the railroad at Sites Avenue and another
in Black Hammock at Oviedo. These precoolers had sheds with a water sup-
ply for individual stalk washing and moving chains for grading and packing.
Some chains or washing and packing units were leased to growers but pre-
cooling was usually on a per crate basis. Dutton handled his own celery
as well as for others; he quit farming celery in 1933-34. The City Ice
and Fuel Company gained possession of the two precoolers and.operated them
under the name of Florida Precooler. (Later the Black Hammock facility was
razed and moved to Zellwood. The company later also built a second one in
Zellwood. The Sites Avenue plant was dismantled and moved to Belle Glade.)
During the 1926-27 shipping season crate-washing and top-icing were
generally adopted. Some, like Bell ahd Dutton were more advanced with
their individual stalk washers. Palmer Farms persuaded Thomas J. Bell to
move to the Sarasota muckland area and supervise the building of its large
packinghouse, complete with washers ahd ice plant at Bell Spur for the
new cooperative. The washer was made specifically for individual stalk
washing and chain grading. Palmer Farms'first celery was cooled with ice,
but this method was not satisfactory and a hydro (mechanical) precooler
was later installed.
Although top-icing was a great improvement in reducing losses incur-
red by intransit decays and breakdown, those troubles continued to inflict
great losses. After many experiments with other means of refrigeration,
precooling was deemed to be the most satisfactory. The washed and graded
packed crate was placed in its individual bucket, completely immersed in
ice-cold water where it remained until the inside stalks were thoroughly
chilled, or until they had reached a temperature of about 35 degrees
Chase and Company developed the "flume" ice-water bath. It consisted
of a long tank of cold water with sprays of ice-water from overhead jetted
down on the packed crates of celery moving on a chain through the tank.
The process resulted in lowering appreciably the field temperature of the
In May 1934 the first topped celery was shipped experimentally. The
trade reaction was very favorable; buyers were impressed most by the fresh
appearance, little if any stalk damage and the construction of the con-
tainer which permitted easy inspection of the contents . Celery cut
to an over-all length of 16 inches not only had a much more pleasing ap-
pearance but the loss of water by evaporation was effectively reduced,
with approximately 25 percent of the total weight of the celery removed.
Thus, between 1924 and the late '30s, many improvements were made in
the handling of celery. Trimming butts and defective outer ribs and cut-
ting off tops as a part of the field operation were adopted. Individual
washing, chain-grading, sizing, packing and precooling were done at the
packing facility. There is no doubt but what the stalk-washer enhanced
the appearance of celery more than any other innovation. The change was
slow and difficult to accept. It was costly compared with "packing-in-
the-rough." It had a tendency to reduce net yields, for more stripping
and trimming often occurred. The shift to cutting tops off in the field
was a significant change which was eaty to accept for it was a more
economical measure and one in which the process was readily seen [15, 22].
Dr. Max E. Brunk studied handling methods of three organizations in
each of their major producing areas during the 1943-44 season. He timed
the various operations performed by workers with a stop-watch for ac-
curacy. The results of his study are revealed in detail in Agricultural
Experiment Stations Bulletin 404 and should serve as a history of the
methodology of that era. Only brief statements will be presented here.
In 1943-44 the hand-knife was found to be the fastest method of cutting,
trimming roots and stripping, but was recommended only for small crews as
close supervision was necessary to avoid materially damaging the celery.
The push-knife method of harvesting with strippers working across the
rows proved to be best when large crews were employed. "Pencil pointing"
of roots was discouraged. Stripping in the washhouse was preferable to
stripping in the field. Neat, solid field packs were over-emphasized.
Except for long hauls, field packs of three to five stalks at a time were
recommended; top cutting (preferably with a saw) was suggested after field
crates were filled; and a long hook to line up boxes was recommended. A
flexible strap fitted over packed celery held stalks in place for long
During 1944 interest in mechanical harvesting increased. To be most
effective, a harvester should largely eliminate root trimming, and should
top stalks and load boxes automatically . Several growers undertook
construction of cutting machines. W. C. Silva of the Muckland Celery Com-
pany at Sarasota invented one such machine, but it was primarily used in
another state. Most machines in use in the mid-'forties were tractor
drawn and cut from two to six rows at a time. The greatest difficulty was
in getting the root cut at the proper length to avoid shattering ribs as
well as to minimize trimming . The needs from the standpoint of ef-
ficiency, as pointed out in the Brunk survey, were (in order of impor-
tance): (1) mechanical loading; (2) mechanical stripping; (3) mechanical
top cutting; and (4) mechanical root cutting.
These four needs have been met ih the development of the modern self-
propelled packinghouses (mule trains) in use today. The first "mule
train" was the brain child of John Duda and a local farm machinery engineer.
Stalks are cut off below the surface tf the soil by hand with a knife.
Hand-cutters walk ahead of conveyors extended on each side at the front of
the mule train. A similar conveyor arm extends forward over the two
middle rows. The cutting crew has not been eliminated but the operation
was simplified. As each stalk is cut, it is stripped of small, outer
leaves and defective or damaged petioles and then is placed on the con-
veyor positioned to pass by a power saw that tops the celery at the
desired length. The stalks move from the conveyor and are lifted through
jet sprays of water fed from overhead storage; the water is then filtered
and recycled. Stalks emerge clean and move, spread out on an endless
belt by a line of grader-packers who remove any remaining unsatisfactory
ribs before packing the stalks in alternating layers by size (1-1/2, 2,
3, 4, etc. doz. per crate). Shipping crates are put together from "knock-
ed-down" bundles by workers on top of the mule train. Celery crates come
off the end of the chain, pass the automatic closer and are diverted on a
roller-type conveyor to a field truck attached, back-to-back, to the mule
train. When loaded with packed crates the truck takes them to the pre-
cooler. Once precooled, the celery is then ready for the marketing
specialist to arrange transportation to the wholesale buyer or else it
may stay, at the discretion of the sales department, in cold storage for
a short while awaiting a better market price.
More efficient still are the self-propelled 10- or 12-row mechanical
harvesters which move just ahead of a mule train. These cut the stalks
and elevate them to a conveyor belt for stripping, thus eliminating the
stoop labor of hand cutting. After the stalks are topped to a uniform
length (now about 14-1/2 inches) with a circular saw, they are conveyed
to the mule train for grading and packing as described above.
Another harvest method used today consists of one and two-row har-
vesters which cut the stalks from the roots, cut off the tops and elevate
the stalks to trucks or trailers that travel beside the harvester at the
same speed. The bulk loads of machine-harvested celery are transported
to a stationary mule train or to the packinghouse. Output is increased
by a stripping unit where workers prepare stalks for packing. Both the
stripping and packing units are mounted on wheels for easy moving to
different harvest locations. Stripping of outer petioles and leaves re-
sult in the removal of from 35 to 45 percent of the total stalk weight.
These strippings fall on the ground from the slow-moving mule train;
in the case of the stationary mule train they are hauled a short distance
away, but it is quite a problem to mdve them from the packinghouse
operation. Grading, sizing or packing are hand operations in the field,
but celery hauled from the cutting machine to the packinghouse now has a
new advantage in that sizing is by automatic weight sizing scales on
overhead conveyors .
Thus needs 1, 3 and 4 recommended by Dr. Brunk were met; stripping
(2) is still a function of the worker.
Before the turn of the century I. H. Terwilliger shipped his first
celery in barrels. The first celery crate was made from material origi-
nally acquired for orange crates beforethe disastrous 1894-95 freeze.
This crate was 8" x 20" x 27". The flat celery crate was adopted in
A movement to standardize all packages came to culmination with the
cooperation of the war-time government of 1917. The new crate was a com-
promise with that in use in the Hillsborough-Manatee area, which was
12" x 20" x 27". The new crate was 10" x 20' x 24"; the estimated weight
was 72 lbs., but it often reached 100 pounds .
In the late '20s three crates are mentioned in notes of the BAE (later
SRS). The official crate used in crop estimates was the New York crate,
which was called the "2/3" crate. One California crate equalled two
Florida crates. One New York crate equalled two-thirds of a California
crate. This made the Florida crate the equivalent of 75 percent of the
New York crate.
In May 1934 a revolutionary step was taken. The logic of cutting the
tops off celery before shipping was the subject of an article by the Flor-
ida Grower magazine, several months before the process was actually tried.
Three grower-shippers in the Sarasota area--Mr. Bryden, Loring Raoul and
Howard Haney--made purposeful observations by cutting tops off several
stalks and putting them in their cars along with several stalks with tops
intact. Each observed that, by day's end, the topped celery was still
rather crisp while the stalks that had not been topped were severely
Mr. Haney developed a new crate Which soon became known as the Howard
crate. It was designed to hold celery stalks cut to 16-inch lengths. The
crate was made of veneer with a wire-bound, side-opening rockfastener7
which would permit easy inspection. Alternate layers were reversed so
that the butt of one layer rested on the tops of the layer below. Com-
parison of various measurements with the regular nailed crate is shown
in Table 15 below.
Table 15.--Howard celery crate compared with the nailed celery crate
Regular Howard wire-
nailed crate bound crate
Dimensions . .. In. 10 x 22 x 20 10 x 22 x 16
Cubic inches . .. No. 4400 3520
Bushels. . .No. 2.04 1.63
Weight tare . .Lbs. 9.7 5.75
Gross wt., approx, .Lbs. 90. 65.
Net wt., approx ... ..Lbs. 80. 60.
Crates per carload .. .. Lbs. 352. 512.
Test shipments were made May 11, 1934 and were generally well receiv-
ed. Three cars loaded with Howard crates of celery were shipped to
Chicago in late May 1934, but.buyers were initially apathetic to hostile.
Washer operators recognized the virtue of the pack; retailers were enthu-
siastic, for the celery arrived at its destination as fresh and unharmed
as when it was loaded at the shipping point. Celery packed in the Howard
crate required no further washing and sustained no loss by bruising.
The new Howard crate had economies too pronounced to disregard. At
the point of origin, these included reduced icing per crate with a larger
number of crates per load; reduction in freight cost per crate; reduction
in loss and damage claims; step-ups in grade by elimination of diseased
and blemished leaves plus other small economies. All of these savings
were estimated at 45 per crate. At the destination economies were even
greater. The service of the washer Was eliminated ($1.30); crushing and
7 The rockfastener is the hand operated mechanical devise used to pull
the wire loops on the side wall of the Crate through the wire loop on the
lid portion and fasten.it downsecuraiy,
bruising were reduced (894); and spoilage was reduced (27), for a total
cost reduction estimated at $2.46, Of course, the washing charges were
diverted to the point of origin apd pot all the savings were realized by
the consumer. Approximately 25 percent of the total weight of the celery
is removed when the tops are cut to 16 inches .
The Howard wire-bound veener crate is still used but the size has been
reduced. The amount cut in the topping operation has increased such that
the new crate dimensions have been reduced to 11 x 14-1/2 x 19-3/4 inches.
Fiberboard cartons, 11 x 14-1/2 x 20 inches in size with a capacity simi-
lar to that of a Howard crate, are also used for all stalk sizes (1-1/2
to 8 dozen stalks per carton). Paper or plastic film liners in wire-bound
crates aid in protecting the contents from mechanical injury. The shipping
weight per crate is estimated at 60 pounds; packed crate weights range
from 55 to 75 pounds. Closure of the Howard crate is by semi-automatic,
hydraulic machine. Machines are also used for automatically closing and
glue-sealing fiberboard cartons .
Celery hearts, until more recent years, were often discarded but,
when packed, shipped and marketed, provided the consumer with a gourmet
delicacy. Broken ribs and stripped down stalks were often cut into cres-
cents or bite-size pieces for chow-mein and other cooked or prepared foods.
Some are canned at the source of production.
In recent years small stalks, usually four dozen, six dozen or
smaller sizes, are stripped of suckers, leaves and damaged petioles for
consumer packing in cellophane or polyethylene bags. Stalks are thoroughly
washed, cut to uniform lengths of 8 to 10 inches and are usually packaged
with two or three "hearts" per bag. Fiberboard cartons and wire-bound
crates are packed with 12 to 24 packages per crate. This crate is usually
considered a "half-crate." Celery hearts are usually vacuum cooled to
about 45F during 30 minutes in a vacuum tube. Celery loses approximately
2 percent of its moisture during this precooling .
Since the desired temperature for shipping celery is 320F., most
celery is precooled prior to shipping. Refrigerated trucks and rail car
loads should have adequate top ice to continue reduction of stalk temper-
atures during transit. Melting ice keeps stalks and leaves more turgid
. This precooling practice has been emphasized throughout the celery
story. Only certain processors, primarily certain makers of canned soups,
request standard refrigeration without benefit of precooling.
The cycle of seedbed operations and other aspects of growing and
harvesting make celery production a year-round operation. The trans-
planting, growing and harvesting operations require much hand labor at
In its infancy all phases of the work were performed in the field.
This was when labor costs were much less than current wage scales. During
the 'teens World War I took its toll of farm labor through increased per-
sonnel in the armed forces and in war-related industry. During the '20s
the minimal transition to the washhouse necessitated an extra crew.
The Florida land boom of 1924-25 disrupted agriculture in general, but
the "Great Depression" of the 'thirties caused tremendous unemployment and
farm labor became abundant and cheap. By the late '30s recovery was in
the making and then the World War II demand for labor pulled workers into
the war effort so rapidly that the scarcity in part had to be met by off-
shore migrants brought in at government expense. Grower needs for labor
were certified by the Agricultural Extension Service of the University of
Florida; the need was met from any available source. Housing of off-shore
migrants was primarily the obligation of the War Food Administration. Such
"camps" were set up in the Everglades, at Sanford and at Sarasota. Some
migrants were assigned for celery work. The agreement with the British
Government permitted Bahamian and other West Indies laborers to be brought
to Florida where they worked through the harvest season (some were active
in culture as well) after which they were transported to vegetable areas
northward. Some prisoners of war were used in agriculture, but none were
used in celery fields. The West Indies worker program was transferred to
the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) for supervision after
termination of the Federal program, but few workers continued long in celery
During the 1944-45 season, the production, harvesting and packing of
Florida celery required more than 8,500,000 man-hours of which nearly one-
half was used in harvesting and packing. At that time as many as 10 to
15 individuals handled each stalk of celery from the time it was cut until
it was packed. There was a wide range in efficiency. Nine organizations
.were checked with a stop-watch in the work performance necessary to cut,
wash, grade and pack 10,000 stalks. The range was from 69 hours to 102
hours. Labor requirements were extensively studied and minutely detailed
by Dr. Max E. Brunk [7, 8].
Dr. Brooke found changes had been made or were in the making as he
conducted a labor requirement study during the three-year period 1959
to 1961. During the 1950s a shift had been made from the earlier 50
percent labor need for producing the crop and 50 percent for harvesting
and packing to 32 percent for producing the crop and 68 percent for har-
vesting and packing.
In a 1969 study of labor and materials requirements Dr. Brooke deter-
mined that the total time for celery, including hours spent raising plants,
was 101 man hours in the Everglades and 138 man hours in other areas of
Florida. The principal difference between them was in the number of hours
spent in hand weeding and in water control . Table 16 shows the labor
requirements in hours per acre in the Everglades and in other areas of
Florida as determined in the 1969 study.
The first effort toward improved marketing came about 1910, when San-
ford farmers organized the Florida Vegetable Growers Association (FVGA)
with the objective of receiving higher returns and other mutual benefits.
The primary objective of the group was to establish cash f.o.b. prices at
the local level. George R. Calhoun was president of FVGA in 1910.
Cooperatives were formed by groups of growers who endeavored to com-
bine collective effort and power through their membership. C. M. Berry,
Seminole County Agricultural Extension agent, was instrumental in setting
up the Sanford Farmers Exchange. It may have failed by setting a policy
of preparing celery for retail outlet by washing and cooling it at point
of origin, a move too far advanced for its time. The Sanford-Oviedo Truck
Growers cooperative was very active, Serving well the growers in north
central Florida from the late 'teens Until the early '50s.
The A. Duda and Sons Cooperative Association embraced small farmers in
the Slavia area of Seminole County. The Standard Growers Association served
well a group at Sanford for several years.
In September 1918 F. Emory Sharpe Carl C. Hutches and others organized
the Manatee County Growers Association (MCGA). Their objectives were the
advantages to be gained in the collective effort and power of their members
Table 16.--Florida celery: Total labor requirements in hours per acre
Everglades area Other areasa
Operation Times Man Tractor Times Man Tractor
over hours hours over hours hours
Seedbedb 26.2 3.3 25.9 3.1
Ditching and draining 3 0.4 0.4 4 0.9 0.9
Preparing land 9 2.3 2.3 8 2.7 2.7
Planting or setting 1 47.2 2.2 1 44.0 2.0
Cultivating and fertilizing 6 2.1 1.6 9 4.2 3.8
Insect and disease control 24 '3.7 3.7 14 5.2 5.2
Hand weeding 1 3.2 2 25.0 -
Irrigating 3.7 1.7 11.2 1.3
Supervision 6.3 9.3 -
Miscellaneous 6.3 1.2 9.3 1.6
Total pre-harvest labor 101.4 16.4 137.7 20.6
Cutting and packing 1 163.3 8.3 1 156.0 6.0
Hauling to precooler 1 7.5 1 7.0 -
Total harvest labor 170.8 8.3 163.0 6.0
Other labor 3 .5 .5 5 1.4 1.4
Total all operations 272.7 25.2 302.1 28.0
Estimated yield (Howard crates) 700 700
aIncludes west central, north central and north Florida.
bper acre of field set plants (see detailed breakdown in ).
for better marketing and packing facilities; for better production know-
ledge; for obtaining needed financing; for greater purchasing power--farm
supplies, fertilizers and seeds; for recognition as a force in agriculture
--as to brand uniformity and the many other reasons favoring cooperative
effort. This effort was primarily directed toward bettering the economic
position of the Manatee County celery grower. Willis R. Hamiter served
the Association for many years, advancing from cashier and office manager
to secretary-treasurer and then to general manager. H. T. Bennett assisted
greatly in its organization, and served as secretary-treasurer from its
beginning until 1937. During the first 20 yeats of its 42 years as an active
cooperative, celery shipments were more than double those of any other
commodity, or an aggregate of 10,350 carlots compared with 3,704 carlots
of tomatoes, MCGA's second vegetable in importance. The peak year for
celery among their records was in 1927-28 when 930 carlots were shipped.
Ten years later MCGA engaged the services of AFG to handle its sales.
The Palmer Farms Growers Cooperative Association (PFGCA) was orgcn-
ized in 1928 shortly after MCGA's peak in celery and grew to be the
outstanding cooperative in the state. It, too, finally terminated its
operation. Starting around 1946-47 the "Big Six" of the PFGCA's grower
members pulled out and formed the Sarasota Growers and Shippers Coopera-
tive Association. Later still some of these same growers arranged to
farm in north Florida and organized the Island Grove Growers and Shippers
Cooperative Association. These organizations continued active into the
early '70s (see page 29).
As the Everglades area grew to be an important factor in the Florida
celery industry, growers there began to see the wisdom of farmer coopera-
tives. The Everglades Growers Cooperative (EGC) was mentioned earlier;
others organized and still in operation are Lake Shore Growers Cooperative
(LSGC), Pioneer Growers Cooperative and the South Bay Growers. These have
been outstanding for the most part but have not devoted all their atten-
tion to celery. The Everglades area firms have operated basically as
independent marketing organizations.
Growers of celery have long endeavored to work in a spirit of cooper-
ation. In the height of the "Great Depression" an attempt was made to
take cooperative action. Due to a preponderance of small sizes associated
with unseasonably warm weather during December 1931 and much of January
1932, decisive action was taken. Sanford shippers and growers voted to
load no 10-dozen size celery for about six weeks during January and the
first half of February. Later that same season 500 acres were estimated
to have been plowed up due to an uncontrolled leaf tier infestation and
On January 27, 1933 a decision Was reached by 150 Sanford farmers to
plow under every third row of mature celery in.an attempt to boost sagging
prices. This endeavor to stabilize a vtry weak market continued until a
firm market was established. Grower% il the Bradenton and Sarasota areas
had made similar moves [34, 35].
Gus Schmah, a Lake Monroe celery grower, proposed in 1933 that each
grower limit his celery to 100 acres and each organization be limited to
500 acres; he was turned down. In 1934 Chase and Company opposed, but
was defeated by a vote of 75 percent of the celery growers who agreed to
.abide by the terms of a federal marketing agreement that sought better
prices for all celery . This reference is to the Agricultural Adjust-
ment Administration (AAA) Act of 1933. It authorized, under marketing
agreement no. 42, license no. 51, the Florida Celery Industry Control
Committee to be activated during the 1935 season with offices in Sanford
and Sarasota. Loring Raoul was Chairman; Ralpph B. Chapi man, Vice-chairman;
W. M. Scott, Treasurer; and Charles H. Pickett, Secretary. One of the
obligations of the committee was to ascertain the acreage to be cut each
week in each area; e.g., March 18-25 was designated by the Control Com-
mittee as a prorate period in which 70 percent of the approved estimates
could be shipped. Twenty percent of the uncut production was said to have
been eligible for re-application for allotment during the next prorate
period. Areas participating were Manatee, Sarasota and Seminole counties.
The Everglades had insufficient celery to be significant. The following
is an assumed example:
A shipper has ten growers. His approved estimate is 20,000
crates. He may ship 14,000 crates this week. The secretary
has entered his application for allotment of 4,000 crates sub-
ject to next week's allotment.
The AAA Act of 1933 was brought to a test case in Federal Court and
was declared unconstitutional. This action voided the work of the Florida
Celery Industry Control Committee.
After the Act was rewritten the Control Committee was revived for
action during the 1937-38 season with J. C. Hutchison as chairman. That
season the Everglades area was included as was Weirsdale, making the mar-
ket program effective statewide. The total acres checked for estimates
were 7,147 acres planted. Estimates Of acres for harvest each with fore-
casts of crates available were submitted by areas. These data were used
in ascertaining prorates when it was deeited necessary to activate the con-
trol for orderly marketing.8
8It is not the purpose of the writer to voice an opinion as to the
merit or demerit of these marketing orders.
Growers voted to discontinue the work of the Celery Control Committee
during the 1938-39 and subsequent seasons. Thus another attempt by growers
to"regulate themselves in an orderly flow-to-market program by controlling
supplies by "order" was tabled; but the idea was not dead .
The "Great Depression" faded and World War II brought an era of pros-
perity. Growers succeeded in keeping celery from being under the OPA price
controls by guaranteeing adequate supplies to the Army Quartermaster Corps
at a price suitable to both. Since celery was not a staple but more of a
gourmet item it was allowed to seek its own market level.
In the 1945-46 season, growers placed celery stalk size restrictions
on shipments starting January 21 with four to eight dozen size Golden,
three dozen and larger Pascal, but no hearts, permitted during the holiday.
This was followed by a grower-shipper voted holiday for the period January
24-27 wherein no celery would be harvested. The growers again sought the
protection of orderly marketing, but the ensuing referendum failed to favor
the marketing order.
Again in 1955 an effort was made to have controlled marketing, but it
was voted down. Grower numbers were decreasing steadily. About five years
later growers revived the effort to organize and this time the referendum
carried in favor of regulated marketing. Allotments were based on past
performance with a minimal allocation possible for new growers. Allotments
could be sold or leased according to the wishes of the owner.
In 1959 the Census of Agriculture reported only 54 farm operators
(see Table 2, p. 6) . All soon became bonafide members of three organ-
izations, each differing in authority, operation and scope. The Florida
Celery Exchange was organized on January 17, 1961 and became operational
in April of that year. Its function is that of a master sales cooperative,
but it is also engaged in marketing research and promotion. Membership is
voluntary and all growers contract with the Exchange, giving it complete,
marketing control of their celery. The Exchange maintains contracts with
experienced shippers who market the celery. Shipping organizations and
authorized sales agencies operate undot the direct control and supervision
of the Exchange.
The Florida Celery Advisory Committee was established by the State
Celery Marketing Order under authority of the Florida Celery and Sweet
Corn Marketing Law, Chapter 573 of the Florida Statutes, enacted in 1959.
This order is administered by the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.
The order was issued August 22, 1961 and became operational later that
year. It contains provisions to issue grade, size and container regula-
tions, advertise and promote, conduct research programs, and to regulate
supply by implementation of flow-to-iarket regulations, all of which are
mandatory upon all growers and handlers of Florida celery.
The Florida Celery Committee now administers the Federal Marketing
Order which was issued November 15, 1965. This order was amended on De-
cember 2, 1968 to include all of the provisions currently in the State
Marketing Order. The headquarters for these three organizations is in
Orlando and George Talbott is general manager. All are in operation as
this report is written.
To make the marketing order effective, the volume marketed is con-
trolled. Annual marketing allotments are issued by the Committee, based
upon a combination of an established base quantity and the amount of celery
that should be marketed during the current season. The total number of
crates cut during a given day or week do not necessarily move into inter-
state commerce but may be placed in storage to await a more favorable mar-
ket or period of lighter cutting. Since yields are flexible it sometimes
becomes necessary to pass celery that is of marketable quality because of
supplies in excess of demand or because of a lack of labor. Such is cai-
led economic abandonment . A record abandonment was estimated in 1958-
59 and in 1966-67 when in excess of one million crates, or nearly 15 and
11 percent, respectively, were not marketed .
The efforts of the Committee to improve the marketing of Florida
celery are not confined to U. S. consumers but reach export markets in
Canada and, with some success, the United Kingdom and Europe. Prices re-
ceived by Florida growers and shippers are compared with prices received
nationwide in Tables 17 and 18.
From the planting of the first commercial acreage of celery there have
been railroads available for transportation. Getting celery to the siding
to load into refrigerated cars was a problem requiring wagons and mules: in
the formative years of the industry. Getting celery to an express accept-
ance point may have been even more difficult.
Table 17.--United State celery for fresh market: Prlckus rcc
:Crop y:ara OcLobe r NovIm beVr" I kcc(IIr b Ja IIIy "Ibrun ay IMarnch April uay. Jue I July
------------------------- E '(]1UH - - - -
1953-54 3.80 3.70 3.15 2.15 3.30 3.05 3.45
1954-55 3.25 3.70 3.60 4.00 4.95 4.35 3.40 3.20 3.60 3.60
1955-56 4.55 3.80 3.05 3.05 3.10 3.20 3.15 3.10 4.00 3.60
1956-57 2.75 3.65 4.45 5.50 5.40 3.20 3.25 4.40 5.30 3.95
1957-58 2.90 3.00 3.30 3.85 4.75 5.30 7.50 7.50 4.80 3.80
1958-59a 3.05 3.05 3.15 2.75a 2.45 2.35 2.65 2.70 3.80 2.95
1959-60 4.65 4.10 3.65 3.60 3.65 3.10 2,45 3.45 3.80 3.80
1960-61 3.10 2.85 2.45 3.00 3.35 2.65 3.05 3.55 3.80 3.70
1961-62 3.30 4.25 3.15 4.70 5.80 7.10 7.20 5.40 6.10 6.00
1962-63 2.85 2.85 3.70 4.05 4.25 3.30 3.50 3.35 3.60 4.30
1963-64 3.10 3.50 3.75 4.74 6.39 6.65 3.82 3.65 4.73 4.52
1964-65 4.32 4.19 3.56 3.89 3.85 5.00 4.26 4.60 4.54 4.72
1965-66 4.70 5.38 4.43 5.20 5.40 4.20 3.35 5.51 6.86 6.79
1966-67 3.59 4.42 3.90 3.43 3.34 3.64 3.85 6.27 6.13 5.85
1967-68 5.39 5.08 5.33 5.35 5.06 3.78 4.97 5.23 6.99 4.50
1968-69 3..67 4.34 4.20 4.66 4.22 5.04 5.26 7.71 7.66 7.45
1969-70 5.08 6.12 6.10 6.86 5.57 4.80 6.32 9.90 4.96 4.52
1970-71 4.72 4.32 3.75 3.65 3.45 4.03 3.92 5.22 5.08 5.86
1971-72 5.57 8.67 10.70 10.00 9.96 5.27 6.46 5.54 5.07 5.44
prices after January 1, 1959 are f.o.b.,or include selling charge at origin.
Table 18.--Florida celery for fresh market: Prices received per hundredweight, 1953-54 through )971-72
Crop years October November December January February March April May June July
1953-54 3.25 3.40 2.85 1.85 3.10 3.90
1954-55 -- 3.75 4.25 3.75 4.85 4.10 3.35 2.90 3.35
1955-56 -- 3.80 2.60 2.80 2.70 2.85 2.90 2.90 4.85
1956-57 3.30 3.80 3.55 4.75 4.00 3.20 2.45 4.10 5.70
1957-53 -- 3.25 3.10 3.45 4.35 5.20 6.90 7.30 4.90
1958-59 -- 4.25 2.75 2.50a 2.35 2.15 2.25 2.45 2.95
1959-60 -- 4.30 3.05 3.00 3.50 2.75 2.40 2.80 3.10
1960-61 -- 3.20 2.35 2.75 3.25 2.70 3.00 3.35 4.00 3.80
1961-62 -- 4.55 3.40 4.85 5.80 7.50 7.40 5.80 6.00 --
1962-63 -- 3.10 3.60 4.00 4.25 3.40 3.50 3.30 3.45
1963-64 -- 3.80 3.75 4.75 6.40 7.00 3.90 3.60 4.0 -
1964-65 4.05 3.60 3.85 3.85 5.30 4.20 4.40 4.70
1965-66 -- 5.70 4.45 5.20 5.40 4.05 3.50 5.60 7.40 -
.966-67 -- 4.40 3.70 3.30 3.40 3.60 3.00 6.10 6.00 7,00,
1967-68 -- 5.60 5.50 5.50 5.20 4.00 4.90 5.20 7.00
1968-69 -- 4.90 3. 0 4.90 4. 60 5.10 5.60 7.80 7.40 6.00
1969-70 -- 6.20 5.50 7.00 5,80 4.90 0.10 9.90 4.90 5.20
1970-71 4.65 4.25 3.70 3.75 3.60 4.25 4.30 3.20 5.40 3.65
1971-72 -- 0..0 10.50 10.80 9.70 6.10 (.50 6.00 5.80 --
aPrlces after January 1, 10.u9 are f. o. b., or include selling charge at origin.
As early as 1910 the Sanford and Everglades Railroad had been placed
in operation, making a loop through the "celery delta" east of town to
make travel and transportation easily available to most residents and
farms throughout the "delta." The Sanford Traction Company (street car)
used the same roadbed (tracks). It served well as personal transportation
even as a school "bus." Both the freight and passenger service was owned
by five local men. S. O. Chase was president and one of the founders;
A. P. Connelly was general manager and J. N. Whitner was the commercial
agent. As improved roads, some paved, became available this transit and
freight system was no longer needed. In 1905 and 1906 there were only
296 registered automobiles in all Florida. By 1915 the number had in-
creased such that a state highway system became necessary .
In Black Hammock at Oviedo the SALRR and the ACLRR extended their
lines into the area for the convenience of the grower-shipper. The SALRR
made a loop of the area, serving two washhouses and precoolers in the
The Plant system extended its lines, created from many short lines,
into Tampa in 1884.and reached Palmetto in 1895. The FEC early built a
branch line into the Everglades on the east side of Lake Okeechobee while
the ACL came into Lake Harbor from the southwest side of the lake. Later
ACL extended its line across the muck to terminate at the farm-located
facility of A. Duda and Sons. Thus all celery producing areas had access
to rail transportation. Such access is reflected in the monthly loadings
of celery by stations in 1926-27 and 1928-29,(Tables 19 and 20).
Interstate shipments over the state and U. S. highway systems by
truck were very limited in the 'teens and 'twenties due to the lack of
good roads and inadequacies of the trucks of that period. Estimates of
interstate shipments by truck for all vegetables, melons, potatoes and
strawberries in 1931-32 were set at 5 percent. Since there were 8,245
carlots of celery by rail, this would indicate about 400 equivalent car-
lots of celery moving interstate by highway truck. In 1936-37 the truck
shipments were approximately 600 carlOt equivalents compared with 9,090
carlots by rail. When counts could be mhde of roadguard station passing,
monthly tabulations became possible. Monthly records were reported in
1938-39 for a total of only 684 carlot equivalents compared with 8,031 by
rail in straight carloads, or only about 8 percent. The next season
Table 19 .-Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Carlot (rail) shipments by counties and billing stations for the
1926-27 crop year
County Station Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June Total
Highlands Avon Park
Total Hillsborough County 4 3 1 8
Manatee Bradenton 5 11 12 3 6 1 38
Gillett 2 57 1 1 61
Manatee 5 8 25 20 12 2 72
Matoaka a 17 50 93 84 123 5 372
Oneco 10 51 63 39 48 3. 214
Palmetto 1 138 60 36 22 17 274
Parrish 9 9
Terra Ceia 6 5 2 13
Total Manatee County 9 237 183 230 177 206 11 1,053
Orange Killarney 6 4 6 16
Oakland 1 1
Winter Garden 2 5 5 1 13
Total Orange County 6 6 11 6 1 30
Putnam Palatka 4 1 5
E. Palatka 3 11 3 3 4 24
7 12 3
Total Putnam County
Total Sarasota County
Total Seminole County
St. Johns Hastings
Total state b
11 888 1,808 2,621 1,497
aIn the original MNS report Natoaka was incorrectly listed as a Sarasota County siding. A check with one of the
original shippers and partner in the Matoaka Celery Company confirmed Its location and the origin of the celery as being in
bListing by stations and total exclude shipments in mixed cars, express and highway truck.
c Waybills written enroute by the conductor since nofreight agent was available at the siding where the car was loaded.
Source: (17 1.
T'~l;d 20, --Florida colhry for fresh market and processing: Carlot (rail) shipments by counties and billing Satilons for the
1928-29 crop year
County Station IDec. Jan. ob.
Mar. Apr. May June Total
-. .. ....-------------.---.------ CiarloI s-l-------------- ----------
Ilighlands Avon Park
Lee Cand. waybills
Cond. waybills b
Total Manatee County
179 392 163 333 136
Total Orange County
Palm Beach BelleGlade-
Putnam E. Palatka
Cond. waybills b
Total Putnam County
Sarasota Bee Ridge
3 8 13
88 164 80
8 4 6 42
8 4 7 51
,8 488 9 918
a County 1 88 165 83 89 488 9 923
Longwood 5 5
Oviedo 11,2 130 95 212 356 13 918
Sanford 2,G2 1,706 2,141 1.,236 71 5,416
Cond. waybillsb 23 37 107 6 173
Total Seminole County
St. Johns Hastings
874 1,862 2,273
7 12 7
433 13 6,515
Total stato 1 651 2,442 2,565 2,011 1,124 37 8,831
at the original MNS report Matoaka ,vas incorrectly listed as a Sarasota County siding. A check with one of the original
shippers and a partner in the Matoaka Colcr3 Company conlfirmed Its location and tlhe origin of the celery as being in Manaite
bwaybills written enroule by the con( uSlor Mince no ,. I 11 ., ..I wns available at the siding where the car as loaded.
- ------------- --- I--
--------- -. -I- --`-
the number by truck had almost doubled that of the previous season, and
by 1940-41 the number had increased to 1,681 compared with 8,838 by rail.
Due to the shortage of trucks and diversion to the war effort no
count was made in 1942-43, but only the one season was missed. However,
the movement of celery by truck in 1941-42 had dropped to about 14 per-
cent; in the 1943-44 season, it was only 4 percent. Truck shipments
gradually increased,taking a higher percentage from the railroads after
World War II. In 1952-53 the trucks moved 28 percent of the celery even
with mixed carlot movement included with straight rail.
Gains in truck transport continued in the '60s and '70s in spite
of the availability of rail-truck or "piggy-backs" for the convenience of
the shipper. By 1962-63 the movement by truck had increased to nearly 45
percent of the total interstate shipments; by 1967-68 the percentage in-
creased to 52 percent; and by 1972-73 trucks had gained still more
over rail, moving nearly 77 percent of the total shipments interstate.
Many celery shippers have rail sidings by their precoolers. It is also
generally expected that the majority of the receivers have rail sidings
for unloading at their terminals. Trucks have an advantage in multiple
destinations and stops. Length of time from precooler to terminal is con-
sidered an important factor in favor of the truck.
Chase and Company started shipping celery in 1934 from Sanford to
Jacksonville by riverboat or highway truck, thence to New York City by
the Refrigerated S. S. Line (RSSL). During this period direct exporting
to England began. Both operations continued until 1941, but were terminat-
ed because the government took over RSSL ships for war use .
All methods of shipments interstate are combined into equivalent hun-
dredweights for each month in the 1947-4& through 1971-72 period;these equiv-
alents. and monthly percentages of the season totals are presented in Table
21 and Table 22.
Cost of Production and Marketing
Costs and returns in 1910 are presented under Financing (see page 46).
C. W. Chapman, in his article on celery culture in Manatee County,
was not specific and did not include haiiy hidden costs. He lists fertil-
izer $160 per acre; one-half pound of seed $10; labor, paper for boarding
(bleaching), insecticides and Bordeaux mixture to prevent disease, $330;
Table 21.--Florltd celery for fresh market and processing: Interstate shlpmentta by months, 1947 through 1971-72 crup years
Crollyarm Oct. No. Oc. e Jn. Feb Mar Aril aly Jini July Toil
..-- - -. . . . . -t c w - . - --.. - - '- -
1947-48 7.8 106.0 354.1 501.3 535.2 527.0 472.6 187.4 2,692.0
1948-49 -- 18.1 133.4 353.5 600.1 627.2 567.9 580.3 123.0 -- 3,009.5
19-19-50 -- 18.7 152.7 508.4 592.0 735.3 635.3 757.4 149.8 3,549.6
1930-1 -- 19.2 100.5 533.5 643.6 878.5 774.9 740.1 207.6 3,897.9
1951-52 -- 13.7 197.9 614.5 688.9 805.9 872.5 748.4 180.8 4,122.6
1952-53 16.6 210.3 610.1 657.8 744.0 656.0 650.9 117.5 .3 3,663.5
1953-54 -- 16.5 271.1 530.2 587.9 792.2 814.5 644.6 196.8 -. 3,853.8
1954-55 57.4 237.9 549.0 656.4 786.3 784.6 602.4 183.6 -- 3,857.0
1955-56 82.7 352.7 462.3 591.9 692.2 680.6 644.0 190.6 1.7 3,698.7
1956-57 2.2 68.2 335.4 639.2 486.9 601.8 780,5 606.4 128.4 -- 3,649.0
1957-58 .3 130.1 321.5 313.2 288.6 486.1 630.7 530.7 241.4 2.3 2,944.9
1938-59 .3 118.4 470.8 572.8 471.3 583.1 607.9 510,1 229.1 3,572.8
1959-60 6.5 129.7 282.4 570.2 592.3 749.2 739.4 574.0 228.9 3.4 3,876.0
1960-61 -- 107.0 388.6 555.1 626.2 723.2 638.8 589.0 268.9 9.2 3,906.0
1961-62 .3 206.2 411.4 521.3 557.3 667.9 716.4 604.6 203.2 0.7 3,889.3
1962-63 -- 101.5 417.8 552.7 618.4 713.9 614.2 594.1 232.3 2.8 3,847.7
1903-64 -- 178.1 478.1 651.4 578.9 670.9 708,1 582.8 216.2 2.1 4,066.6
1964-65 -- 192.2 491.9 563.4 510.5 565.1' 30.3 710.4 330.6 .4.0 4,118.4
1965-66 232.9 565.4 656.4 648.2 733.8 743.6 623.4 241.8 11.5 4,457.0
1966-67 2.3 124.4 477.3 664.7 644.0 697.0 667.2 625.4 334.5 11.5 4,248.3
1967-68 1.2 169.7 535.7 622.1 601.0 632.8 739.5 552.4 139.8 3.1 3,997.3
1968-69 .4 142.5 346.4 585.6 667.0 791.0 710.9 632.4 275.5 16.4 4,168.1
1969-70 .4 140.9 460.4 622.8 636.3 713.5 458.9 410.4 276.5 7.3 3,727.4
1970-71 3.8 232.7 556.1 680.4 603.6 690.0 579.2 619.5 299.4 11.8 4,278.5
1971-72 2.1 148.3 496.9 688,4 748.8 651.4 671.6 552.7 187.3 3.4 4,150.9
Converted to hundredweight.
Table22.-- Florida celery for fresh market and processing: Monthly percentage distrilttion of interstate shipments, 1947-48
through 1971-72 crop years
Crop years Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. April May June July Total
------------------..------ ,-...------ Prcent-- ---------------- -----.-- -----
1947-48 .3 4.0 13.1 18.6 19.9 19.6 17.6 7.0 -- 100
1948-49 .6 4.4 11.7 20.1 20.8 18.9 19.3 4.1 -- 100
1949-50 .5 4.3 14.3 16.7 20.7 17.9 21.4 4.2 100
1950-51 .5 2.6 13.7 16.5 22.5 19.9 19.0 5.3 100
1951-52 -- .3 4.8 14.9 16.7 19.5 21.2 18.2 4.4 100
1952-53 .4 5.7 16.6 18.0 20.3 17.9 17.8 3.2 .1 100
1953-54 .4 7.0 13.8 15.3 20.6 21.1 16.7 5.1 -- 100
1954-55 -- 1.5 6.2 14.2 17.0 20.4 20.3 15.6 4.8 -- 100
1955-56 2.2 9.5 12.5 16,0 18.7 18.4 17.4 5.2 .1 100
1956-57 .1 1.9 9.2 17.5 13.3 16.5 21.4 16.6 3.5 100
1957-58 4.4 10.9 10.7 9.8 16.5 21.4 18.0 8.2 .1 100
1958-59 -- 3.3 13.4 16.0 13.2 16.3 17.1 14.3 6.4 100
1959-60 .2 3.3 7.3 14.7 15.3 19.3 19.1 14.8 5.9 .1 100
1960-61 2.7 9.9 14.2 16.0 18.5 16.4 11.1 6.9 .3 100
1961-62 5.3 10.6 13.4 14.3 17.2 18.4 15.5 5.2 .1 100
1962-63 2.6 10.9 14.4 16.1 18.5 16.0 15.4 6.0 .1 100
1903-64 4.4 11.8 16.0 14.2 16.5 17.4 14.3 5.3 .1 100
1964-65 -- 4.7 11.9 13.7 12.4 14.2 17.7 17.3 8.0 .1 100
1965-66 5.2 12.6 14.7 14.5 16.5 16.7 14.0 5.4 .3 100
1966-67 .1 2.9 11.2 15.6 15.2 16.4 15.7 14.7 7.9 .3 100
1967-68 .1 4.2 13.4 15.6 15.0 15.9 18.5 13.8 3.5 .1 100
1968-69 3.4 8.3 14.0 16.0 19.0 17.1 15.2 6.6 .4 100
1969-70 3.8 12.4 16.7 17.1 19.1 12.3 11.0 7.4 ,2 100
1970-71 .1 5.4 13.0 15.9 t1." 16.1 13.5 14.5 7.0 .3 100
1971-72 .1 3.5 12.0 16.6 1J., 15.7 16.2 13.3 4.5 .1 100
for a total of $500 per acre. Seed was sown from July 1 to September 1 with
transplanting 90 days after first seeding. Harvest started January 6
and was completed April 30. His 30 acres produced about 28,000 crates
with gross returns of about $84,500. Since no harvesting and marketing
costs were mentioned, no idea of profit can be stated. The specific
season was not given .
An intensive study of costs of producing celery was made in the Ever-
glades organic soils in 1937-38 and 1938-39. Costs of raising plants
were computed on the basis of transplanted acres. In the first crop year
four growers planted 408 acres for a yield of 448 crates per acre from
368 acres harvested. The second crop year seven growers planted 485
acres and harvested 425 acres which yielded 449 crates per acre. Costs
of raising plants for one acre were $22.69 and $23.60, and costs of grow-
inc celery were $121.59 and $125.90, respectively (the land rent averaged
$11.46). Based on acres harvested, costs of cutting, field stripping and
hauling to the packinghouse were $50.04 and $41.93, respectively; costs of
grading, packing, crates, precooling, icing cars, inspection and selling,
were $211.90 and $212.78. Total cost, excluding interest on production
capital and operator's supervision, was $406.22 and $404.21. Returns per
acre at $487.76 and $622.05 indicated a better market the second crop year.
This produced widely differing returns--$81.54 in 1937-38 and $217.84 the
next crop year .
At the request of growers through the FFVA provisions were made for
the Agricultural Economics Department of the Agricultural Experiment Sta-
tions to determine costs and returns for celery and other vegetable crops
on a continuing basis beginning in 1946. Period averages covering five
years each are shown in Tables 23, 24 and 25 .
In addition to the research show above much work has been and still
is being performed by the scientists of the Agricultural Experiment Sta-
tions,IFAS, of the University of Florida.
Sanford growers saw the need for a scientific approach to soil im-
balance and salt intrusion as well as disease, insect and weed control.
The Celery Investigations Laboratory was established in 1933, with Dr, E. R.
Purvis in charge. In 1945 the Seminole Farm Bukeau pushed for an expansion
Table 23.--Florida celery: Costs and returns per acre and per crate in tho Everglades area by five-season averages, 1953-57,
1963-67 and 1968-72
1953-57 1 963-07 a 1988-72a
------ ---- -.---- -- ---- 5-season ave rag--- -- -----------------
Growers . .. No. 7 9 8
Acres . . . No. 4,603 7,462 8,595
Acres per grower. . .. No. 658 848 1,074
Average yield per acre, ... Crate 544 585 575
Average costs and returns per
Acre Crate Aere Crate Acre Crate
Land rent 12.53
Spray and dust 43.67
Cultural labor 154.45
Machine hire 2.22
Gas, oil and grease 18.73
Repair and maintenance 23.16
Licenses and insurance 4.72
Interest on production capital (6%-5 mos.)10.14
Interest on capital invested(other than
Mlicellaneous expeonas 6. 54
Total growing cost 435.66
Harvesting and marketigcosts:
Cutting and packing expense 191.28
0.801 584.36 0.999 705.29 1.227
.352 273.82 .468 446.54 .777
.430 266.49 .456 285.82 .497
.073 42.90 .073 53.03 .092
.113 101.11 .178 171.62 .298
093 76.88 .131 83.95 .146
Total harvesting and marketingcosts 577.33 1.061 764.20 1.306 1,0410.96 1.810
Total crop costs 1,01 2.99 1.862 1,343.56 2.303 1,746.25 3.037
Crop sales 1,131.41 2.080 1,524.59 2.606 2,049.52 3.504
Net return 118.42 .218 176.03 .301 303.27 .527
Iuango pr acre
Item 1970-71 season 1972-73 season
From To From To
Yield . . ... Crates
Total growing costs..... $
Total harvesting and marketing
costs ... . $
totall crop cop ts ..... .$
Crop sales... ...... .$
Net return . ... ..... $
periods cover crop years; e.g., 1953-57 is actually 19B-I-53 through 1956-57 crop years.
Tble24. --Florida celery: Costs and returns per acre and per crate in the Snlford-OvlcedoI-elItwood area to fve.sc ason
averagv.. 19313-37, I9C3-67 and 1968i-72
lU53-573". 1963-67 1 1GH--72b
-.-------.---------.------ -----,.,i saon iveg -e ------. ---------.-------------
Groers . No. 15 9 5
Acres. .. . No. 1,026 1,857 2,050
Acres per grower. No. 68 202 410
Average yield per
acre. . .. Crate 713 582 529
Average costs and returns per
Acre Crate Acre Crte Acre Crate
------------------------------ Dollars- ---------------------------
Land rent 38.66 36.01 40.96
Seed 35.31 52.33 73.90
Fertilizer 167.56 125.64 108.32
Spray and dust 36.G7 63.85 92.46
Cultural lauor 187.14 170.82 205.66
Machine hire 1.24 2.50 5.23
Gas, oil and grease 22.97 16.37 11.21
Repair and maintenance 25. 74 28.25 40.63
Depreciation 29.79 21.62 14.29
Licenses and insurance 10.20 17.41 12.65
Interest on production capital
(6;-5 mos.) 13.46 13.44 15.12
Interest on capital invested
'(other than land) 8.94 2.16 1.43
Miscellaneous expense 12.91 24.62 13.63
Total growing costs 590.59 0.828 575.02 0.988 635.49 1.201
Harnveting and markelting costs:
Cutting and packing
expense 285.56 .401 319.08 .548 409.46 .774
Containers 298.86 .419 254.62 .437 276.43 .523
HLuling 31.58 .044 44.73 .077 41.49 .078
Other 77.88 .109 107.60 .185 170.19 .322
Selling 90.94 .128 95.11 ,164 92.45 .175
Total harvesting and
marketing costs 785.82 1.102 821.14 1.411 990.02 1.872
Total crop costs 1,376.42 1.930 1,396.16 2.399 1,625.51 3.073
Crop sales 1,448.04 2.030 1,503.23 2.583 1,767.14 3.341
Net return 71.62 .100 107.07 .184 141.63 .268
Range per acre
1970-71 season 1972-73 season
FFrom To From To
Yield.. ... .Crates 415 773 259 527
Total growing costs. $ 600.14 719.29 623.84 712.87
Total harvest and
marketing costs. .$ 718.14 1,337.42 535.27 1,260.86
Total crop costs S$ 1,493.15 2,056.71 1,211.24 1.952.42
Crop sales... .$ 1,185.03 1.902.44 1,009.16 2,120.33
Net return .... $ -313.12 -1.83 -218.99 167.91
"Data includes Sanford and Oviedo only In the five kbop ytars average for the 1953-57 period.
bFive year periods are averages of five crop years c.g., 1933-57 is actually 1952-53 through 1956-57.
Table25. --Florlda celery: Costs and returns per acre and per crate in the Sarasota area, by five-season averages, 1953-57, and
1963-67 and three-season average 1968-70
1953-57a 1963-67a 1968-70b
------------ -season aver'ge-- --------------- --- 3-season average- --
Growers .. .No. 15 4 3
Acres . No. 396 513 521
Acres per grower. .. No. 27 122 193
Average yield per acre. Crates 864 755 793
Average costs and returns per
Acre Crate Acre Crate Acre Crate
-,--------------- ----- --------- ollrs- ------------------------------
Land rent 41.85 48.97 49.77
Seed 59.72 47.67 44.18
Fertilizer 134.38 139.54 183.30
Spray and dust 52.97 101.94 119.88
Cultural labor 225.18 303.34 360.77
Machine hire -- --
Gas, oil and grease 41.12 45.17 39.62
Repair and maintenance 42.23 62,41 96.51
Depreciation 41.62 37.18 50.54
Licenses and insurance 11.89 42.61 83.24
Interest on production capital
(6% 5 mos.) 15.54 21.41 25.83
interest on capital invested
(other thanland) 12.49 3.72 5.06
Miscellaneous expense 12.11 64.76 55.94
Total growing costs 601.10 0.800 918.72 1.217 1,114.64 1.406
Harvesti n and marketing costs;
Cutting and packing expense 319.40 .370 342.62 .454 585.84 .739
Containers 361.10 .418 319.13 .423 368.02 .464
Hauling 44.71 .052 32.76 .043 46.99 .059
Other 85.87 .099 130.87 .173 230.74 .291
Selling 136.33 .158 90.37 .120 70.54 .089
Total harvesting andmar-
keting costs 947.41 1.097 915.75 1.213 1,302.13 1.642
Total crop costs 1,638.51 1.896 1,834.47 2.430 2,416.77 3.048
Cropsales 1,637.48 1.895 2,096.74 2.777 2,732. 65 3.446
Net returns -1.03 -.001 262.27 .347 315.88 .398
aFive year periods are averages of five crop years; el., 1953-57 Is actually 1952- 53 through 1956-57.
bT'he three year period is actually 1967-68 through 1909-70, as no cost study was made in the Sarasota area for
the next two crop years.
Sourcot I *
in local research and the present Central Florida (Experiment) Station
became operational in 1946 with the late Dr. R. W. Ruprecht in charge.
Early research was directed to sandland problems and Golden varieties.
This station continues active although little celery is currently grown
on the sandland soils. However, there is, in conjunction, a field lab-
oratory in the mucklands at Zellwood. The Central Florida Station was
recently renamed the Agricultural Research and Education Center, with
Dr. J. F. Darby as director.
The Everglades Station was started in 1923. One of the earliest to
work with celery was H. H. Wedgworth, who experimented with six acres at
Shawano. He saw its potential and left the station to grow celery com-
mercially in 1932. Experiments continued at this major center, directed
especially on green varieties, and on diseases, deficiencies, insects
and weed problems affecting celery grown on organic soils.
Many excellent publications have been released as a result of the
research supervised by Dr. R. V. Allison and later by Dr. D. W. Beardsley
as directors of the Everglades Station (now known as the Agricultural
Research and Educational Center [AREC], Belle Glade), the director of the
Central Florida Station (now known as the AREC, Sanford) and the personnel
of the main station at the University of Florida. The Gulf Coast Station
(now known as the AREC, Bradenton) researched for control of black heart
in celery in the '50s in the Sarasota area.
Dr. Max E. Brunk described the methods followed during the mid- and
late '40s. Detail of the work in harvesting, packaging, distribution and
selling is covered. This is a history in itself of that era. Many recom-
mendations made as a result of his study are now accepted practices, and
machinery beyond his imagination is now reality [7, 8].
Beginning with the 1960-61 crop year FCLRS undertook projects in
conjunction with personnel of the Agricultural Experiment Stations locat-
ed at Orlando to determine if celery yields from a specific area could
be accurately estimated by measurements of stalk diameters and plant
population; a limited amount of work Was also done on growth rates ,
The late Henry Schneck will long be remembered for his efforts to
develop Florida 2-13 (see Culture and Varieties, p. 54). His work was
under the direction of the FFVA and the Florida Celery Exchange. An
elaborate research project is underway to develop a plant-growing system
which could result in a mechanized process of plant growing, handling
A few highlights of earlier research follow. Dr. Purvis and his
associates learned in 1934 that the splitting of the skin on celery ribs
was a sign of boron deficiency and that cyanamid would control pink rot;
Dr. Philip Westgate and Dr. Richard Forbes found that accumulations of
salt from artesian water was a major cause of much trouble to many crops
and that copper accumulated in the soil from use as a spray over the years
was toxic to crops when the soil pH was allowed to get much below pH 7.
Dr. John Wilson discovered many new uses of insecticides (soil fumigation
was started in the early '40s as a control for nematodes, the cause of
spotty growth in celery) . Dr. V. L. Guzman et al. released their
latest findings in Bulletin 757, entitled Celery Production on Organic
Soils of South Florida,in September 1973. This release is complete with
information on celery operations from seedbed to refrigerated transport
to market; the most up-to-date methodology and research with modern equip-
ment are described and pictured.
Research and extension publications from the University of Florida
are listed below.
Publications by the University of Florida9
Date Pub. No. Title and Authors
Dec. 1924 Bull. 173 Celery Diseases in Florida, by A. C. Foster
and G. F. Weber.
July 1932 Bull. 251 Control of the Celery Leaf-Tier in Florida, by
W. E. Stone, B. L. Boyden, C. B. Wisecup and
E. C. Tatman.
Jan. 1937 Bull. 307 Cracked Stem of Celery Caused by Boron Deficiency
in the Soil, by E. R. Purvis and R. W. Ruprecht.
Jan. 1942 Bull. 366 Spraying and Dusting for the Control of Celery
Early Blight in the Everglades, by G. R. Townsend.
9Many publications are out of print and are available only in the
various documents libraries.
Controlling Damping Off and Other Losses in
Celery Seedbeds, by G. R. Townsend.
Celery Harvesting Methods in Florida, 7b Max
Dust Treatments for Vegetable Seeds (see p. 17),
by W. B. Tisdale, A. N. Brooks and G. R. Townsend.
Costs and Returns from Vegetable Crops in Florida,
by D. L. Brooke.
The Cost of Producing and Marketing Celery, Sea-
son 1945-46, by Donald L. Brooke and G. Norman
Same title for Season 1946-47, by the same authors.
Tests of New Insecticides for the Control of Aphids
on Celery in the Everglades, by W. D. Wylie.
Composition of Florida Grown Vegetables, I. Min-
eral Composition of Commercially Grown Vegetables
in Florida as Affected by Treatment, Soil Type
and Locality, by G. T. Sims and G. M. Volk.
An Economic Study of Celery Marketing, Part I--
Harvesting Methods; Part II--Packaging Methods;
Part III--Distribution and Selling, by Max E.
Insects Attacking Celery in Florida, by J. W.
Wilson and N. C. Hayslip.
Labor and Material Requirements for Crop and Live-
stock--II. Truck Crops, by A. H. Spurlock, Donald
L. Brooke and R. E. L. Greene.
Control of Disease in Celery Seedbeds with Methyl
Bromide, by George Swank, Jr. and Vernon G. Perry.
Soils and Fertilizers for Florida Vegetables and
Field Crops, compiled by S. N. Edson and F. B.
Cir. 121 Celery Production Guide, prepared by personnel of
the Agricultural Extension Service in cooperation
with workers of the Agricultural Experiment Sta-
Cir. 153 Commercial Vegetable Variety Guide, by personnel
of the Agricultural Extension Service, IFAS, in
cooperation with personnel of the Agricultural
Experiment Stations, IFAS.
Etiology and Control of Celery Diseases in the
by R. S. Cox.
Emerald--A New Early Blight Resistant Pascal
Celery, by Emil A. Wolf.
Some Economic Problems in the Florida Celery
Industry, by D. L. Brooke.
Competition between Florida and California
Celery in the Chicago Market, by Marshall R.
Godwin and Billie S. Lloyd.
Customer Preference Aspects of Competition be-
tween Florida and California Celery, by Marshall
R. Godwin and William T. Manley.
Commercial Vegetables Weed Control Guide, by
James Montelaro et al.
Labor and Material Requirements for Vegetable
Crops, by D. L. Brooke.
Florida Cooperatives, by H. G. Hamilton, Maxey
Love and A. H. Spurlock (Truck crop cooperatives,
Florida 683--A Utah-type Celery, by Emil A. Wolf.
Economic Background and Trends in the Production
and Marketing of Florida Celery, by D. L. Brooke.
Same title as 121, by James Montelaro and M. E.
Production of Vegetable Plants in Seedbeds on
Sandy Soil, by Donald S. Burgis.
Control of Blackheart of Celery, by C. M.