• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Copyright
 New field preparation
 Old field preparation
 Bed preparation
 Crop growing : Labor required,...
 Harvesting : Labor required,...
 Hauling
 Packinghouse operations, labour...
 Summary
 Reference






Group Title: Research report - Bradenton Agricultural Research & Education Center - GC1978-2
Title: Labor requirements for tomatoes grown in southwest Florida under the full bed mulch system
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00067715/00001
 Material Information
Title: Labor requirements for tomatoes grown in southwest Florida under the full bed mulch system
Series Title: AREC Bradenton research report
Physical Description: 8 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Marlowe, George A ( George Albert ), 1925-
Montgomery, Ralph T
Agricultural Research & Education Center (Bradenton, Fla.)
Publisher: Agricultural Research and Education Center, IFAS, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Bradenton Fla
Publication Date: 1978
 Subjects
Subject: Tomatoes -- Economic aspects -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Tomatoes -- Mulching -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Tomato industry -- Employees -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 7-8).
Statement of Responsibility: George A. Marlowe, Jr. and R. Terry Montgomery.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "October 1978."
Funding: Bradenton AREC research report
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00067715
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 73173244

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    New field preparation
        Page 1
    Old field preparation
        Page 2
    Bed preparation
        Page 2
    Crop growing : Labor required, hrs/acre
        Page 3
    Harvesting : Labor required, hrs/acre
        Page 4
    Hauling
        Page 5
    Packinghouse operations, labour reuired/acre
        Page 6
    Summary
        Page 6
    Reference
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text





HISTORIC NOTE


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

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida







Agricultural Research and Eddcation Center
IFAS, University of Flbrida
Bradenton, Florida

AREC Bradenton Research Rebort GC1978-2 October 1978

LABOR REQUIREMENTS FOR TOMATOES GROWN IN
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA UNDER THE FULL BED MULCH SYSTEM

GeOrge A. Maridwe, Jr. ahd R. Terry Montgomeryl

The combination of increasing costs, frequent unavailability of skilled help,
and attempts to unionize farm workers have created a pOtential labor crisis for
American vegetable growers. An awareness of the labor inputs required for the
major Florida vegetable crops may help growers to assess opportunities to increase
labor efficiency and reduce related costs.
Some operations can be combined, eliminated, or substituted after they have
been identified and assessed improvable. Observations of a great many tomato
farms and packinghouses in southwest Florida, and review of related literature
have provided a comprehensive listing of the major labor inputs involved. Machine
operator times as well as all manual inputs are included.
As most of the survey covered Manatee-Ruskin growers and shippers, it may be
important to review some of the production practices characteristic of the area.
Transplanted, staked, Walter tomatoes were produced using the full bed mu
system. All fields were seep irrigated. The average size farm had bet en-9
to 100 acres in tomatoes. Approximately 3,000 plants to the 7,260 r foot afe
yield an average of 820 thirty-pound boxes of marketed mature green ruit.
Typically, only medium, large, and extra large sized fruit are shnp frofntehee
Manatee-Ruskin area. Some operations were on newly cleared land, o t on
previously cropped land so both labor situations are listed. "
The labor inputs, machinery, and materials used in the various ope aons 9
have not been assigned costs. That is the task of the economist who may WS-
to elaborate on depreciation, efficiency of scale, and other cost relations l.

A. New Field Preparation
In new field preparation, heavy equipment has reduced the time required to
remove stumps and roots, but the burning process is still a major input, Table 1.
The labor required for soil sampling is often supplied by the fertilizer sales-
person. Most of the well drilling and installation of the underground distribution
pipe from well to field is done on a contract basis.


GEORGE A. MARLOWE, JR., Extension Vegetable Crops Specialist, AREC-Bradenton
and R. TERRY MONTGOMERY, County Extension Agent, Vegetable Crops, Manatee
County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida.







Table l.--New Field Preparation, Labor Required, Hrs/Acre


Operation

Land clearing

Burn stumps

Root removal

Burn refuse

Level land


Supervision


Hrs

1.5

2.0

1.0

0.5

1.0

1.0


*ug signifies that semi-closed
pipe system was used.


Operation

Sample soil

Apply lime

Disk

Drill well

Install u.g.*
pipe
Total


underground distribution


B. Old Field Preparation


The time required to remove the plastic mulch from the previous crop, and
to remove and stack stakes agree with the findings of Otte (11). Since these
three operations are manual operations, a fairly large supervisory input is
required, as shown in Table 2. Mechanization of these three operations to
conserve labor deserves serious attention. Biodegradable mulch would have a
significant advantage in this preparatory stage.


Table 2.--01d Field


Preparation, Labor Required, Hrs/Acre


Operation


Hrs


Destroy previous crop 0.5


Burn-off plastic

Remove plastic

Remove stakes


Stack stakes

Supervision


0.5

8.0

5.0

3.0

2.5


Operation

Sample soil

Apply lime

Rotovate

Disk (3X)

Level land

Total


Hrs

0.2

0.3

1.0

2.2

0.8

24.0


C. Bed Preparation


The actual preparation of the bed, with the addition of amendments, fumigation,
and application of mulch has been well mechanized as shown in Table 3. The sequence
of operations may vary slightly among growers but each tries to re-press the bed
and apply the plastic film as soon as possible after the fumigant has been injected
to maximize the effectiveness of the toxicant.


Hrs

0.2

0.2

0.7

3.0

0.3

11.4







Table l.--New Field Preparation, Labor Required, Hrs/Acre


Operation

Land clearing

Burn stumps

Root removal

Burn refuse

Level land


Supervision


Hrs

1.5

2.0

1.0

0.5

1.0

1.0


*ug signifies that semi-closed
pipe system was used.


Operation

Sample soil

Apply lime

Disk

Drill well

Install u.g.*
pipe
Total


underground distribution


B. Old Field Preparation


The time required to remove the plastic mulch from the previous crop, and
to remove and stack stakes agree with the findings of Otte (11). Since these
three operations are manual operations, a fairly large supervisory input is
required, as shown in Table 2. Mechanization of these three operations to
conserve labor deserves serious attention. Biodegradable mulch would have a
significant advantage in this preparatory stage.


Table 2.--01d Field


Preparation, Labor Required, Hrs/Acre


Operation


Hrs


Destroy previous crop 0.5


Burn-off plastic

Remove plastic

Remove stakes


Stack stakes

Supervision


0.5

8.0

5.0

3.0

2.5


Operation

Sample soil

Apply lime

Rotovate

Disk (3X)

Level land

Total


Hrs

0.2

0.3

1.0

2.2

0.8

24.0


C. Bed Preparation


The actual preparation of the bed, with the addition of amendments, fumigation,
and application of mulch has been well mechanized as shown in Table 3. The sequence
of operations may vary slightly among growers but each tries to re-press the bed
and apply the plastic film as soon as possible after the fumigant has been injected
to maximize the effectiveness of the toxicant.


Hrs

0.2

0.2

0.7

3.0

0.3

11.4







Table 3.--Bed Preparation,


Operation

Mark-off field

Apply phosphate,
minor elem.

Form pre-beds

Make ditches

Press beds

Apply starter
fertilizer


Hrs

0.3

0.2


0.5

1.2

0.7

0.2


Operation

Apply fumigant

Re-press beds


Apply ins. bait

Apnly herbicide

Apply fert. bands

Apply plastic


Supervision

Total


Hrs

1.4

0.8


0.1

0.1

0.2

1.3


4.0

11.0


D. Crop Growing: Labor Required, Hrs/Acre

The growing period of the crop may range from 100 to 120 days, the longer
period usually being the spring crop. The labor figures given are for an average
of approximately 110 days.

As may be seen in Table 4, the supervising, spraying, and irrigation inputs
account for approximately 60% of the total labor needed for the period. Usually
the ditches are cleaned after each rain. For a fall planted crop, the number of
cleaning may be 6 to 8.


Table 4.--Crop Growing:


Operation

Setting plants

Re-setting

Set stakes

Drive stakes

Apply herb.
(RM, 2X)

Tie plants
(4X)


Hrs

2.0

1.0

2.5

2.5

1.0


2.8


Labor Required, Hrs/Acre


Operation

Clean ditches (4X)

Irrigation

Spray plants (20X)

Prune plants

Supervision


Total


Hrs

2.0

7.0

9.0

4.0

10.0


43.8


Labor Required, Hrs/Acre








Reduction in labor for this period would depend a great deal on the development
of earlier maturing cultivars with greater insect and disease resistance, chemical
pruning sprays, and more fully automated irrigation practices.

E. Harvesting: Labor Required, Hrs/Acre

Most of the tomatoes in the Manatee-Ruskin area are picked by hand into plastic
buckets which hold approximately 30 pounds of fruit. The filled buckets are taken
to a receiving truck, handed up to another person and then poured into a pallet box
which holds approximately 900 to 1000 pounds. The pallet bin dimensions vary
slightly between operations. The average bin is about 30" high, 48" wide, and
47" long.

Pickers pick from 80 to 200 buckets per day. The work day is typically 6
hours. The "average" picker picks 85 buckets per 6-hour day (2,500 Ibs per day,
or 425 Ibs per hour, or 14.2 buckets per hour). The average time to pick, carry,
pass the bucket up to the loader on the receiving truck, obtain a ticket (harvest
record for pay determination), and return to the picking row for highly motivated
pickers ranges between 1.5 to 2.5 minutes. In most operations the truck movement
is coordinated with picker activity.

To obtain an average marketable yield of 820 thirty-pound cartons per acre
with an average pack-out of 85%, approximately 965 thirty-pound buckets must be
harvested. The number of harvests per acre is usually 2 or 3 for the Manatee-
Ruskin area. The approximate yield distribution per harvest is shown in Table 5.

Table 5.--Average Labor and Yields Required per Harvest, Manatee-Ruskin
District, Walter Tomatoes, Full Bed Mulch

Harvest Percent Lbs/Acre Hrs/Acre Bins, Buckets,
Number Harvested Harvested (Ave. Pickers) Acre Acre

1 29 8,395 19.7 8.4 280
2 33 9,553 22.5 9.5 318
3 38 11,002 25.9 11.0 367
Total 100 28,950 68.1 28.9 965


The speed of picking depends on many factors such as number of mature fruit
per plant, size of fruit, spacing of plants and cross walks, position of fruit
on plant, and nearness to receiving truck. Insect injury, disease, or fruit
disorders such as sun-scald, sun-burn, catface or cracking modify the pack-out
but have only a small influence on picking rate.

The strong relationship between yield and picking rate was reported by
MacGillivray and Stevens (9) and is shown in Table 6.




-5-
Table 6.--Effect of yield at Harvest on Worker Output: Mature
Green Tomatoes, California
(From: MacGillivray & Stevens, 1964)
Yield at Pounds Picked Picking Cost Per
Harvest, Per Hour 100 Lbs at $1.00
Lbs Per Hour

3000 57 $1.75
4000 76 1.32
5000 95 1.05
6000 114 0.88
7000 134 0.75


Gavatt (6) showed that the average tomato picker in 1939 picked 56 pounds per
hour. Improvement in yield permitted pickers to average 86 pounds per hour in
1959.

The picking rates shown in the California and USDA studies are significantly
less than observed for 1976-78 in the Manatee-Ruskin staked culture area. Most
reports on tomato picking rate are for ground grown crops. Higher yielding
varieties, improved practices and better field organization have greatly increased
picking efficiency. Marlowe and Montgomery (10) reported that the Walter variety
grown on full bed mulch averaged 68 marketable fruit in the spring in some of the
highest yielding fields. Approximately 12% were extra large fruit (73-88 mms),
30% large (64-73 mms), and 26% in the medium range (58-64 mms). The statewide
distribution of tomatoes sold by size in 1976 was 22% EL, 31% L, 36% M and 11%
small (S).

F. Hauling

The average hauling time from field to packinghouse in the Manatee-Ruskin
region is about 45 minutes. Trucks carry from 16 to 28 bins, the average being
twenty-two 900-1000 pound bins. In 1.3 hours the average acre yield of 29 bins
may be hauled. The difference between the current hauling, harvest, and pre-
harvest labor requirement and those reported by Zepp (14) in Table 7 may be due
to improved yields brought about by the use of the Walter variety, full bed mulch,
and improved cultural practices.


Table 7.--Average Yield and Field Labor Use for Tomatoes in
Florida, by Areas, 1966-70
(Data from Zepp, 1973. IFAS Econ. Rept. 49:21)
Production Yield, 30 lb. Estim. Labor, Hrs Per Acre
Pre-Harv. Picking Hauling
East Coast 389 84.3 97.8 8.2
Dade 373 55.2 93.3 3.6
Manatee-Ruskin 474 148.4 118.4 16.7
Palm Beach, V.R.* 1075 672.8 191.8 12.1
Lee-Collier 338 83.3 78.5 10.1

*Vine ripened






G. Packinghouse Operations, Labor Required/Acre

Packinghouse capacity varies a great deal in the Manatee-Ruskin region. In
the high capacity, modern sheds, 180-195 bins may be received, sized, graded, and
packed per hour. This rate of handling may require 190-210 persons. The average
acre yield of 28.9 bins often passes through the packinghouse in 0.16 hours
requiring approximately 32 hours of combined labor for the acre run. The amount
of labor per operation was reported by Showalter and Spurlock in 1970 (13).

The current sequence of operations in most of the modern tomato houses in
the Manatee-Ruskin region is as follows:

1. Receive: in pallet boxes from field truck
2. Dump: into chlorinated water, 50-100 ppm, 85-900F (Spring)
3. Eliminate: leaves, undersized fruit, etc.
4. Pre-size: eliminate extra small and small fruit
5. Wash: with chlorinated water spray
6. Pre-grade: separate ripe, pink, and culls from mature green fruit
7. Dry: roller sponge dryer, moving air
8. Wax: thin film of agricultural wax applied
9. Grade: into 1, 2, and 3 grade categories
10. Pre-size: eliminate extra small and small fruit
11. Size: separate medium sizes of 1, 2, 3 grades
12. Size: separate large sizes of 1, 2, 3 grades
13. Size: separate extra large sizes of 1, 2, 3 grades
14. Resize: eliminate extra small and small fruit
15. Pack: into made-up boxes, usually 30 pound cartons
16. Lid: place lid on carton
17. Weigh: box on trip scale, 32 pounds (Fruit 30.5, Box 1.5)
18. Stack: onto pallets for transfer
19. Transfer: move loaded pallets to ripening room
20. Ripen: gas treatment may require 2-3 days in which alternate gassing and
fresh air exchange may be used
21. Load: into waiting shipping vehicles.

H. Summary

The labor inputs determined by this preliminary study are summarized in
Table 8. The manual harvest requirement varied more between farms than any other
operation. Some farms used approximately 40% of the figure shown for the all-farms
average.

Table 8.--Overview of Tomato Production, Harvesting and
Handling Labor Required, Average Hrs/Acre,
Manatee-Ruskin Region

Operation Hours Required
New Field Old Field

Field Preparation 11.4 24.0
Bed Preparation 11.1 11.1
Crop Growing 43.8 43.8
Harvesting 68.3 68.3
Hauling, Handling 1.3 1.3
Grading, Packing 32.0 32.0

Total 172.6 185.2






G. Packinghouse Operations, Labor Required/Acre

Packinghouse capacity varies a great deal in the Manatee-Ruskin region. In
the high capacity, modern sheds, 180-195 bins may be received, sized, graded, and
packed per hour. This rate of handling may require 190-210 persons. The average
acre yield of 28.9 bins often passes through the packinghouse in 0.16 hours
requiring approximately 32 hours of combined labor for the acre run. The amount
of labor per operation was reported by Showalter and Spurlock in 1970 (13).

The current sequence of operations in most of the modern tomato houses in
the Manatee-Ruskin region is as follows:

1. Receive: in pallet boxes from field truck
2. Dump: into chlorinated water, 50-100 ppm, 85-900F (Spring)
3. Eliminate: leaves, undersized fruit, etc.
4. Pre-size: eliminate extra small and small fruit
5. Wash: with chlorinated water spray
6. Pre-grade: separate ripe, pink, and culls from mature green fruit
7. Dry: roller sponge dryer, moving air
8. Wax: thin film of agricultural wax applied
9. Grade: into 1, 2, and 3 grade categories
10. Pre-size: eliminate extra small and small fruit
11. Size: separate medium sizes of 1, 2, 3 grades
12. Size: separate large sizes of 1, 2, 3 grades
13. Size: separate extra large sizes of 1, 2, 3 grades
14. Resize: eliminate extra small and small fruit
15. Pack: into made-up boxes, usually 30 pound cartons
16. Lid: place lid on carton
17. Weigh: box on trip scale, 32 pounds (Fruit 30.5, Box 1.5)
18. Stack: onto pallets for transfer
19. Transfer: move loaded pallets to ripening room
20. Ripen: gas treatment may require 2-3 days in which alternate gassing and
fresh air exchange may be used
21. Load: into waiting shipping vehicles.

H. Summary

The labor inputs determined by this preliminary study are summarized in
Table 8. The manual harvest requirement varied more between farms than any other
operation. Some farms used approximately 40% of the figure shown for the all-farms
average.

Table 8.--Overview of Tomato Production, Harvesting and
Handling Labor Required, Average Hrs/Acre,
Manatee-Ruskin Region

Operation Hours Required
New Field Old Field

Field Preparation 11.4 24.0
Bed Preparation 11.1 11.1
Crop Growing 43.8 43.8
Harvesting 68.3 68.3
Hauling, Handling 1.3 1.3
Grading, Packing 32.0 32.0

Total 172.6 185.2







It is obvious that the biggest targets for trying to reduce labor inputs
are in the crop growing, harvesting, and packing operations. Perhaps elements
of each operation merit careful scrutiny to assess possible reductions in labor
use. Priority should be given to areas of greatest labor consumption or
vulnerability to increased pressure for higher labor costs. Mechanization of
harvest holds promise. Evaluation of mechanized stake placement and removal
deserves attention. Mechanical tying deserves further study. The search for
a cost-competitive biodegradable mulch material should be continued and
accelerated.



REFERENCES


1. Brooke, D. L. and A. H. Spurlock. 1950. Labor and Material Requirements,
Costs of Production and Returns on Florida Tomatoes. Univ. of Florida
Agr. Exper. Sta. Bull. 474. Gainesville.

2. Brooke, D. L. 1963. Labor and Material Requirements for Vegetable Crops.
Univ. of Florida Agr. Exper. Sta. Bull. 660. Gainesville.


3. Brooke, D. L., R. E.
Farm Operations in
Resource Economics


L. Greene, and R. P. Muraro. 1975. Custom Rates for
Florida. Economic Information Report 34. Food and
Department, University of Florida, Gainesville.


4. Brooke, D. L. 1977. Costs and Returns from Vegetable Crops in Florida.
Economic Information Report 67. Food and Resource Economics Department,
University of Florida, Gainesville.

5. Florida Tomato Committee Annual Report. 1977. Shipments and Sales. Florida
Tomato Committee, Orlando.


6. Gavatt, E. E. 1964. Labor Used to Produce Vegetables.
Statistical Bulletin 341. Washington, D.C.


U. S. Dept. Agric.


7. Geraldson, C. M. 1962. Growing Tomatoes and Cucumbers With High Analysis
Fertilizer and Plastic Mulch. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 75:253-260.

8. MacGillivray, J. H. 1971. How Fatique Affects Output of Vegetable Workers.
Univ. of California Vegetable Crops Series 113, Davis, California.


9. MacGillivray, J.
Effective Use.


H. and R.
National


A. Stevens. 1964. Agricultural Labor and Its
Press, Palo Alto, California.


10. Marlowe, G. A. and R. T. Montgomery. 1977. The Yield Potential of the
Alter Variety Grown on Full-Bed Mulch in Southwest Florida. Univ. of
Florida, Veg Crops Dept., Vegetarian Newsletter Vol. 9:77.

11. Otte, J. A. 1976. Calculating Costs and Breakeven Prices for Full Bed
Mulch Staked Tomatoes. Economic Information Report 59. Food and Resource
Economics Department, University of Florida, Gainesville.


12. Ranney, 1. P. 1960. Labor Requirements on Tennessee Farms.
Tennessee Agr. Exper. Sta. Bull. 316. Knoxville.


Univ. of





-8-


13. Showalter, R. K. and A. H. Spurlock. 1970. Planning Data
Selected Fruits and Vegetables in the South. Part III:
Packing Handbook. Southern Cooperative Series, No. 152.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.


for Marketina
Fresh Vegetable
Econ Res. Service,


14. Zepp, G. A. 1973. Effects of Harvest Mechanization on the Demand for Labor
in the Florida Tomato Industry. Univ. of Florida Food and Resource Economics
Department Report 49. Gainesville.




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