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Cost of producing celery on Evergaldes organic soils, season 1937-38...
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066205/00002
 Material Information
Title: Cost of producing celery on Evergaldes organic soils, season 1937-38...
Physical Description: 2 v. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Howard, Raymond Holt
University of Florida -- Agricultural Extension Service
Florida State College for Women
United States -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: University of Florida, Agricultural Extension Service
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Creation Date: 1937
Publication Date: 1939-1940
Frequency: annual
regular
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Celery -- Growth -- Costs -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by R. H. Howard.
Dates or Sequential Designation: 1937/1938-1937/1938 to 1938/1939.
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: Each issue is cumulative from the 1937/1938 growing season.
General Note: "Cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics (Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914) Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida, Florida State College for Women, and United States Department of Agriculture cooperating".
Funding: Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
 Record Information
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 70875581
lccn - 2006229360
System ID: UF00066205:00002
 Related Items

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
    History of celery production in Florida
        Page 2
    Celery production on Everglades organic soils
        Page 3
    Cost of production
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
Full Text


clev~ A


COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORKil IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECOiT01ICS
(Acts of May g and June 30, 1914)
AGRICULTURAL EXTE1ISIOI1 SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN
AND UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATING
WILMON IEWELL, Director.






COST OF PRODUCING CELERY ON EVERGLADES ORGANIC SOILS,
SEASONS 1937-38 AND 193g-39


Extension


ny' R. H. Howard,
Economist in Farm Management


AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS. DEPARTMENT
AGRICULTURAL E:.T1i:SIOiT SERVICE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA


Celery AE 2


May, 1940


-r -~
C..









COST OF PRODUCING CELERY ON EVERGLADES ORGANIC SOILS,
SEASONS 1937-38 AND 1938-39

By R. H. Howard


Celery is one of the leading commercial vegetables grown in
Florida during the winter and early spring months. There are five principal
areas as shown in Table I. The total acreage planted in celery is small
compared to many other truck crops, ranging from about 6,500 to 8,000 acres
annually. The average annual gross fo.,b. value is exceeded only by tomatoes
and beans, according to the annual reports of the State Marketing Bureau.
Florida ranks second in total acres and production, being exceeded only by
California. However, the average price received by Florida celery growers
ranges from 10 to 20 percent greater per crate, according to the Bureau of
Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Statistics of 1939.


History of Celery Production in Florida

The first commercial production of winter-grown celery in Florida
dates back some 45 years, For many years prior to 1S95 celery had been grown
in Florida, but not commercially. In those days its plantings were limited
to the better class of home gardens. The first commercial planting was made
in Hillsborough County on some heavy bottom land near Tampa and in the vicin-
ity of what is now Ybor City. The first crop was small but attracted much
attention as a money crop. This pioneer celery grower planted 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 for the principal celery producing areas
in the State.

It was 1899 before car-lot shipments began in the Sanford area.
Prior to this date plantings consisted of small patches and all celery was
shipped to large commercial centers by express. The Sanford area developed
quickly and in car-lot shipments/ has been the leading producing center
since that date, Until about 1919 the Sanford celery was grown on the sandy
soil. But after most of the better class of the sandy lands were in celery
production, a further expansion was caused by finding its adaptability to
the muck soils in the southern part of the county (Seminole). In a few years
the muck soils became quite popular for celery production due to their
natural fertility, particularly in nitrogen. But the potential supply of
this type of land was comparatively small and the cost of clearing, draining,

V Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Market News Service, issued March 1928.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The writer wishes to express his appreciation to the celery
growers who furnished information which made this study ,possible, and to make
special mention of their cooperation and interest; to Mr. M. U. Mounts,
Palm Beach County Agricultural Agent, for assistance in obtaining the data.
Much credit is also due Dr. 0, V. ioble, Head of the Department of Agricultural
Economics, for his valuable suggestions,








and water control was high. However, due to the success of growing celery
on the muck soils in this area, growers began to look for similar lands in
other areas of the State. Several growers in 1927 moved from the Sanford-
Oviedo area to Sarasota, where another area developed on muck soils. In a
few years this area became second in importance in celery production in the
State. The muck lands adapted to celery in this area were likewise limited.


TABLE I.-ACREAGE OF THE PRINCIPAL CELERY PRODUCING
AREAS IN FLORIDA, SEASONS 1935-36 TO 1939-40.*

Areas : 1935-36 : 1936-37 : 1937-38 : 1938-39 : 1939-40**

Sanford Oviedo 4,250 5,300 5,600 4,980 4,750
Sarasota 1,350 1,275 1,300 1,250 1,350
Manatee 500 525 450 265 450
Belle Glade 100 ISO 400 600 1,000
Marion County 250 175 175 160 I80

Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Division of Crop and Livestock
Estimates.
** Preliminary.


Celery production on muck soils has increased rapidly in Florida.
Of the total acreage produced since the 1937-38 winter and spring crop, more
than 50 percent of celery has been grown on muck soils.


Celery Production on Eyerglades Organic Soils

The first commercial acreage of celery planted on the large poten-
tial supply of Everglades organic soils was in 1928. Plantings were repeated
for two or three years but apparently with little success, as several years
elapsed before commercial plantings were resumed. Many of the production
problems in this area have been worked out by the Everglades Agricultural Ex-
periment Station, and this crop has been grown more extensively in this area
since 1935-36, the acreage planted increasing from about 100 to 1,000 acres
in 1939-40, as shown in Table I.

Apparently the muck soils are particularly well adapted to various
truck crops, and especially to leaf crops. String beans were a sure money
crop in the Everglades for many years, but recently the margin of profit has
been diminishing and many growers have had to branch out to other crops. The
production of almost any truck crop in the Everglades may easily by overdone,
due to the vast amount of good potential land. This is what happened with
string beans several years ago and is likely to occur in the production of
celery if plantings continue to increase during the next four or five years
as in the past five years.

The estimated celery acreage planted in the Belle Glade area of
Palm Beach County amounted to only about one-eighth of the total acreage
grown in 1939-40, but this has been the third largest producing area since








1937-38. Based upon average yields and price received for the 1937-38 and
1938-39 crops, the gross income to growers in this area amounted to about
$180,000.00 and $375,000.00, respectively.


Cost of Production

Of the more important truck crops grown in the Everglades, the per
acre cost of producing celery is highest. Celery being a heavy feeder, large
initial outlay of money for fertilizer in comparison with other truck crops
grown in the area is necessary. More time and expense is necessary in growing
the plants in the seedbeds, and in preparing land for efficient control of
water, both in and out of fields. Then too, celery, unlike other truck crops,
requires a special operation of blanching, which adds considerably to the cost
of production.

Naturally, one might expect considerable variation in costs incurred
in producing celery among ,rolaers in a comparatively new area and with a crop
that has expanded so rapidly. With the exception of two or three operators
now "producing celery in this area, most growers have only a few years experi-
ence in growing this crop.

The average cost figures used in this report are based upon two
surveys made following the production and marketing of the 1937-3g and the
1938-39 crops. Accurate book figures, with the exception of marketing cost,
by operations were difficult to obtain, since most celery growers also had
other crops for which the cost of labor and other items were difficult to
separate. Fi:u-res on costs for land rent (if land was not owned by the oper-
ator), fertilizer, and spray and dust materials, were more often obtained from
growers' records. All yields and items of cost of marketing were obtained
from packinghouse records. The expense of producing celery was divided into
four main classifications: cost of raising plants, cost of growing celery in
the field, cost of harvesting, and the cost of marketing,

Cost of Raising Plants: The cost of raising plants sufficient to
insure ample plants to set the celery acreage desired varied among different
operators, as normally would be expected. The usual seedbed covers an area
4 feet wide and 300 feet long. Each bed under normal conditions will set
about one and one-half acres of celery. However, most growers at seeding time
figure one acre of celery set in the field per seedbed. If the plants do well,
more acres of celery are set than the number of seedbeds planted. So, the
success and supply of plants, in a large measure, determines the total number
of acres of celery set in the field during any one year,

Based upon the number of acres set and produced up to harvesting
time, it cost the average grower $22.69 in 1937-38 and $23.60 per acre in
1938-39 to raise the plants, as shown in Table II. The cost of raising plants
includes all cost of materials, labor, depreciation on equipment, repairs, and
land rent. It should be noted that no charge has been made for oi)erator's
supervision or interest on money used for production purposes. The variation
in cost of raising plants between individual operators was influenced most by
the number of acres set and grown from the number of seedbeds sown. In other
words, if one operator set, on the average, only one acre of celery per seedbed
and another set two acres, the cost per acre was approximately doubled for the







TABLE II.-COSTS AND RETURNS FOR AN ACRE OF CELERY, BELLE
GLADE AREA, FLORIDA, SEASONS 1937-38 AND 1938-39.

: 1937-3 1938-39
Number of Operators. 4 7
Total Acres Planted 408 485
Acres Harvested 368 425
Average Yield of Harvested Acreage (Packed Crates): 448 449

: Average per Acre


Cost of Raising Plants:
Rent on land
Preparing seedbed
Fertilizer
Seed
Fertilizing and seeding
Spraying and spray materials
Irrigation expense
Labor (weeding and caring for beds)
Depreciation on seedbed equipment
Miscellaneous
Total I/
Cost of Growing Celery:
Rent on land
Preparing land
Mole-draining land
Fertilizer
Applying fertilizer
Transplanting from seedbed to field
Water control
Cultivation (includes weeding)
Spraying and spray materials
Blanching:
Applying and removing paper
Depreciation on paper and equipment
Miscellaneous
Total l/
Cost of Harvesting:
Cutting celery and field stripping
Hauling to packinghouse
Total 2?
Cost of Marketing:
Grading and packing
Crates
Pre-cooling
Selling
Ice for cars and inspection
Total 2/
Total Cost Excluding Interest on Production
Capital and Operator's Supervision
Returns from Celery Marketed
Net Returns to Operator


$ .54
5.73
.86
2.90
.32
1.33
.99
4.24
5.50
.28
$22.69

$10.91
5.07
1.00
34.77
.86
14.03
2.88
11.64
16.17

11.38
9.30
3.58
$121.59

$ 34.36
15.68
$ 50.04

$ 58.24
85.12
35.84
26.85
5.85
$211.90

$406.22
487.76
81.54


$ .42
5.51
.95
2.44
.28
1.36
.99
5.19
5.76
.70
$23.60

$11.04
6.51
.87
33.08
.97
18.09
4.30
11.99
17.14

10.87
9.27
1.77
$125.90

$ 28.86
13.07
S41.93

$ 57.99
82.90
35.55
27.33
9.01
$212.78

$404.21
622.05
217.84


Computed on the basis of planted acres.
Based on acres harvested, as no costs for harvesting or marketing were
incurred for the unharvested acreage.








former, Therefore, the management and care of seedbeds was an important
factor influencing the cost of growing plants per acre of celery produced.

The average amount of fertilizer used, analyzing 12 percent phos-
phoric acid and from 18 to 30 percent potash with three to five minor plant
food elements, was 50 pounds per seedbed. No nitrate materials were used in
the mixed fertilizer. However, nitrogen was used as a top-dresser to stimu-
late better growth, if needed. Nitrate of soda was the principal material
used as a top-dresser on seedbeds at the rate of 10 to 25 pounds per seedbed.

Cost of Growing Celery in the Field: On the average, fertilizer
represented the largest single item of cost in producing celery, and also ex-
hibited the greatest per acre difference in the expense of materials among the
operators for each of the two years covered in this study. In 1938-39 the
fertilizer cost varied from $25,76 to $41.53 per acre. Strictly speaking, the
Everglades soils are fertile in the potential supply of nitrogen but very
limited in many of the other essential plant food elements in the profitable
production of celery. The greater part of the cost for fertilizer was for
phosphoric acid and potash. Nitrogen is usually excluded from the commercial
mixture applied before planting but small quantities of manganese, zinc, and
copper are included. Nitrogen was used only as a top-dresser when plants began
to show yellowing as a result of cool weather. According to the Everglades
Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 333, "...it was found that in eight successive
years, fertilizer mixtures containing phosphate and potash plus 3 percent
nitrogen gave higher yields than fertilizers of the same potash and phosphate
content without nitrogen....In seven of these eight years, the increased yield
due to added nitrogen was sufficient to more than pay the cost of nitrogen,
at the very conservative estimated value of 50 cents per field-trimmed crate."

According to the records, fertilizer represented approximately 28
percent of the total cost of growing celery in 1937-38 and 26 percent for the
1938-39 crop. Based upon the average cost for the two years of $33.92 and
yield of 44g.5 crates per acre, the cost of fertilizer was about 7.5 cents per
crate marketed, as compared with between 15 to 27 cents in other celery pro-
ducing areas. The same fertilizer analysis used for seedbeds was also used in
the field at the rate of approximately one ton per acre by most growers.

Preparing land for celery, including putting in mole drains, repre-
sented about 6 percent of the total growing cost. However, preparation of
land is of great importance for profitable production. Much of the expense
in preparing the land was for leveling the fields in order to obtain uniform
irrigation and drainage. Both irrigation and drainage during most growing
seasons are important and level fields aid in the efficiency of water control.

Mole drains are put about every 10 feet across the fields and ap-
proximately 24 inches deep. These openings run out into field ditches where
the water is regulated by pumps located on the canals. As the water is pumped
into the field ditches, these openings fill up and distribute equally water
over the field. Then too, these openings serve as drains after heavy rains
and during the growing season when a lower water table is more desirable.
When this system of controlling water was found to work, it was believed that
these drains were good for several years. Recently however, the practice of
making new mole drains each year on celery land was found more profitable.
The cost of this operation was about $1.00 per acre each time the land was
moled.








The expense of controlling diseases through the use of fungicides
amounted to approximately 13 percent of the total cost of growing celery in
the field, or 3,7 cents per crate. All fungicides are applied in the form of
spray. Based upon yield records from 1931 through 1939 at the Everglades
Agricultural Experiment Station, fungicides used as sprays showed higher
yields than where the same fungicide was used as a dust. The cost of dusting
is greater than for spraying, including the materials. The indications are,
based upon the records, that it cost approximately $1,23 per acre for each
application of spray. The number of applications varies from 12 to 16, depend-
ing upon the number of weeks necessary to grow the crop ready for harvesting.
Spraying was discontinued when blanching paper was applied. From 85 to 110
days are required, after plants are set in the field, for the average growing
season. Variety and time of year grown are the principal factors affecting
length of growing season.

Blanching celery is an expensive operation and is exceeded. in total
cost per acre or per crate only by fertilizer. The average per acre cost, ex-
cluding interest on capital invested in paper and other materials, and owner's
supervision, for the two years was $20.40, which amounted to 4.5 cents per
crate marketed. Labor applying the paper on each side of rows and removing
represents approximately 60 percent of the total cost of this operation.
Blanching paper was applied from 7 to 10 days prior to harvesting. In recent
years the late crops harvested, which amounted to about one fourth of the total
acreage grown, have been marketed unbleached.

Rent on celery land in the Everglades may seem comparatively cheap
in comparison with other celery producing areas. This may be accounted for, in
part, by the potential supply of land and the fact that no permanent improve-
ments are provided. Celery growers have the expense of laying out the farm
after renting the land. Farm layout for celery is important, having to do with
arrangement of fields, ditching, putting in a centrally located pumping system
that will economically and efficiently control the water, and providing for
roads and bridges over canals and ditches. The necessary expense of preparing
new lands for celery every year or two increases the cost. As a result of this
increased cost and the fact that celery has been fairly profitable for several
years, growers have purchased large tracts of land since the spring of 1939.
Only one operator included in this study owned the land farmed in celery. The
average rent for the two years was $10.97 net per acre of celery grown.

The cost of water control includes the expense of operating pumping
equipment. Depreciation on the equipment and fuel for motors represents the
larger portion of the total cost. The increased cost in 1939-39 over the
previous year was due to the use of larger and more efficient units. An effi-
cient and economical system of controlling water is one of the most important,
if not the most important, factors affecting profitable yields. A well laid-
out system for both irrigation and drainage pays good dividends on its invest-
ment, Irrigation and drainage are indispensable for economical and profitable
celery production on Everglades organic soils.

Cost of Harvesting: The per acre cost of harvesting celery tends to
vary with yields. Yield is affected most by the size of stalks produced, as
most plantings are comparatively uniform, consisting of about 5,200/plants per
acre. Celery is graded according to the number of stalks required to fill a
crate. If the sizes run largely to three, four, and six dozens per crate, the







yield is usually greater, and the per acre cost of cutting, including field
stripping, is not much greater than if the sizes run largely to eight and
ten dozens per crate. This is due to the fact that about the same number of
stalks are cut and handled regardless of sizes. The principal difference in
cost of harvesting a large yield, as a result of sizes principally, is that
more crates are necessarily handled in hauling to the packinghouse, which
affects the cost per acre. On the other hand, since all plants are cut and
handled at least in the field, ,which represents approximately 70 percent of
the total cost per crate of harvesting, a small yield--meaning usually small
sizes--increases the cost per crate for cutting and field stripping but does
not materially affect the per crate cost of handling. The average expense
for harvesting celery was $45.99 per acre for the two years, or approximately
10 cents per crate sold. The reduction in cost of harvesting in 1938-39 below
that of the previous year may be explained, in part, by better organization
of field crews and more efficient methods. Accessible roads near fields, which
trucks may travel, reduces the time and expense of getting the celery to pack-
inghouses.

Cost of Marketing: The cost of marketing an acre of celery varies
directly with the yield per acre, as the charges for grading and packing, pre-
cooling, and selling, are on a per crate basis. The average cost of marketing
an acre of celery for the two years was $212.34. Cost for grading and packing
amounted to 13 cents, crates 19, pre-cooling 8, and selling 6 cents per crate.
The balance of 1.5 cents, making a total cost of approximately 47 cents per
crate, was for miscellaneous items such as icing cars consigned to brokers and
for inspection of a very few cars, as shown in Table III.

The commercial rate charged for processing celery by the two pack-
inghouses which included grading, packing, pre-cooling, and crates, varied
from 40 to 45 cents per crate. However, the brokerage charge for selling was
based upon the f.o.b. price received at the packinghouse. During the two
years covered by this study it cost the growers 5 cents per crate if the celery
netted less than $1.50 per package f,o.b. packinghouse. If the price was
greater than this amount, the brokerage charged was 10 cents per crate. Such
a basis of charging for this service appears to be fair and reasonable. The
average selling cost was 6 cents per package for each of the two years.

A high percent of the celery was sold f.o.b. the packinghouse which,
based upon the records, is more satisfactory and profitable on the whole to
the average grower. In times of rising prices, shipments to large consuming
markets enable a grower to obtain the latest price which normally would return
the grower more for his celery. If prices are declining the reverse would be
true and the fo.b, packinghouse sales would net more per crate and per car.
Over a period of years the price of celery declines about as frequently as it
rises. According to the records, f.o.b. sales return the grower more for his
celery, due to the extra charges of handling and selling in the consuming
markets,

Total Cost of Production and Returns: The total cost, excluding
interest on production capital used and operator's supervision, was approxi-
mately the same for the two years though some of the individual items varied
considerably. The average cost was $405.21 per acre. Cost for individual
growers ranged from $336.11 to $453,66 per acre in 1938-39 and had about the
same spread the previous year,








Returns from celery were influenced most by the yield harvested
per acre and the average price received per crate, For the 1938-39 crop the
average yield from acreage harvested was 449 crates por acre. Yield among
the seven growers varied from an average of 304 to 557 crates marketed per
acre. The average price likewise exhibited considerable difference among the
different growers, ranging from $0.96 to $1.53 per crate f.o.b. packinghouse.
The lowest average price received by a grower was principally due to low
quality and time of marketing. A large part of this crop was late celery.
The grower who harvested the smallest yield per acre also received about the
lowest average price, which resulted in a minus net return for the crop. One
other grower failed to get enough out of his crop to pay costs of production,
excluding interest on production capital and owner's supervision. The grower
who harvested the largest yield obtained about the highest average price and
as a result of these two important factors showed the largest net returns per
crate and per acre.


TABLE III.-AVERAGE COST OF PRODUCING CELERY, BELLE GLADE
AREA, FLORIDA, SEASONS 1937-38 AND 1938-39.

Number of Operators' Records 11
Total Acreage Planted 893
Acreage per Operator 81,2
Average Yield of Harvested Acreage (Packed Crates) 448.5

Per Acre Per Crate
(Cents)
Cost of Producing Plants 1/ $ 23.14 5.1
Cost of Growing Celery / 123.74 27.8
Cost of Harvesting 2/ 45.9 10.2
Cost of Marketing 2 212.3 47.3
Total Cost Excluding Production
Interest and Owner's Supervision $405.21 90.4

Average Returns $554.90 $1.24
Net Returns to Operator 149.69 .34

1/ Computed on the basis of planted acres.
2 Based on acres harvested.


The average price received was $1.09 for the 1937-38 and $1.38 per
crate for the 1938-39 crop marketed. The average per acre returns for the
two year surveyed, the difference between cost of production (as computed in
Tables II and III) and returns from celery, was $149.69 per acre. Those
returns may seem high in comparison with other truck crops grown in the area
and State, but on the other hand, the outlay of capital invested in pro-
duction as well as machinery and equipment is also much greater. Then too,
the average return per acre as shown is greater than actually was the case
for the total acres planted which included acreage produced but unharvested,
therefore incurring no cost for harvesting or marketing during the two years
studied, Should these costs have been figured on the basis of acres planted,
the figures would have been meaningless as to the actual cost of harvesting
and marketing per acre or per crate of celery. The unharvested acreage, all,








of which was in late plantings, was principally due to poor quality and
price, During the 1937-38 and 1938-39 seasons it was unprofitable to make
plantings of celery which could not be harvested before the second week in
May. In many cases it was unprofitable to harvest the celery produced and
ready to be marketed after the first of May,

The average cost of producing a crate of celery for the two years
included in this study was approximately 90 cents, as shown in Table III.
Returns amounted to $1.24, which left an average net return of 34 cents per
crate to the operator. In 1937-38 the returns were 18 cents as compared to
48 cents per crate the following year.





































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