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S3 -i AGRICP"CU AL RESEARCH & P7"CATION CENTER
G C S IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ERADENTON AREC RESEARCH REPORT GC1974-9 October, 1974
STRAWBERRY PRODUCTION COSTS IN THE PLANT CITY AREA, 1974
R. A. Levins and R. D. Downs1
A survey of several local farmers growing Tioga strawberries and researchers
at the Agricultural Research Center in Dover, Florida, was recently conducted to
determine the costs of growing strawberries in the Plant City area. The total
growing cost in 1974 was estimated at $2484.45 per acre pLus $1.77 per flat for
harvesting, packing, and containers (see Table 1). This epo t -use~ the cost
estimates in Table 1 to answer some questions commonly a~kd42i out- th"e eonamics
of growing strawberries. 7 i
Why $354.45 for spray materials? F
We figured that the field would be sprayed once aw-eek for the fis fouren
weeks and twice a week for the next eleven weeks. DuriFgtlis time Benlate wold
be applied 18 times, Captan 29 times, Omite 9 times, Phosdin W6.'ip, d Di b om
9 times, all at recommended label rates. At May 1974 prices theset iould
cost $354.45. J
Obviously, a farmer who is careful not to needlessly apply extra spray mater-
ials will be on his way to saving a fair amount of money on his production costs.
Why are those "fixed costs" included in Table 1?
There's more to equipment costs than fuel, oil, and repairs. By the very
fact that you own equipment, regardless of how much you use it, you face "fixed
costs," the biggest part being depreciation. If market prices are not enough to
cover the fixed costs of equipment at current prices, the strawberry industry
will not be healthy for two reasons. The first is that no new growers will try
their luck since they won't be able to justify the large initial investment in
equipment and land. The second is that existing growers will be in a financial
bind when they are faced with having to replace worn out equipment.
The yearly fixed costs were estimated as follows:
Irrigation system $1,350
25 h.p. tractor with fertilizer
distributors and cultivators 625
Grove disk 135
Fumigation equipment 100
1/2 ton truck 750
This is a total of $3,280, which works out to $656 per acre for a five acre farm.
1R. D. Downs is a Hillsborough County Extension Agent specializing in vegetables.
TABLE 1. COST OF PRODUCING STRAWBERRIES IN THE PLANT CITY AREA, 1974
Dollars per acre
Remove plastic from previous crop
8 hrs. labor @ $2.14/hr.l 17.12
Disk (double-cut), 2 times, 1.5 hrs. each time
Tractor & driver & dice 0 $&.63/hr.2 13.89
Fertilizer for cover crop
Chicken manure,,3 tons, 'delivered and spread 20.00
Plant cover crop, one time
Tractor & driver, 30 min. @ $4.06/hr. 2.03
Seed, 50 Ibs. sorghum 13.00
Disk cover crop (double-cut), 4 times, 1.5 hra. each time
Tractor & driver & disc 0 $4.63/hr 27.78
Lay off rows, one time, one hour each time
Tractor & driver @ $4.06/hr. 4.06
Fertilize, two times, one hr. each time
Tractor & driver, $4.06/hr 8.12
Fertilizer, 3,000 lbs. 6-8-8 special @ $95/ton 142.50
Fumigate, 1 time, 4 hrs each time
Tractor & driver & fumigator 0 $4.59/hr 18.36
3 helpers @ $2.14/hr. 25.68
Fumigant, 175 lb. HC-33 @ $.78/lb. 136.50
Plastic, 11,000' 0 $12.00/1000' 132.00
40 brs. labor @ $2.14/hr. 85.60
23,000 plants @ $23/1,000 529.00
Cultivate, 3 times, 1 hr. each time
Tractor & driver @ $4.06/hr. 12.18
Spraying, 36 applications, 30 min. each time
Tractor & driver & sprayer @ $A.58/hr. 82.A4
Spray materials 354.45
Electricity for Irrigation 75.00
Land Rent 50.00
Interest on above expenses, 9Z for 6 months 78.74
Fixed cost of equipment 656.00
Total Non-Harvest Cost 2484.45
HARVEST COSTS Dollars per flat
Other Labor (leveling flats, etc.) .10
Packing materials .55
Total Harvest Cost 1.77
------------------------ ---- ----
***TOTAL GROWING COST IS $2484.45 PLUS $1.77 PER FLAT HARVESTING COST***
1. All wage rates and piece rates include Social Security.
2. Equipment costs were updated from a 1971 study by Dr. R. E. L. Greene. Tractor
drivers were figured at $2.50 per hour.
What price will I need to break even?
The "break-even p:ice" depends on the yield. Break-even prices for yields
of 1,400, 1,700, and 2,000 flats per acre are shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Production costs per flat.
Sales Non-harvest cots Harvest costs Total cost
Flats per acre --------------- Dollars per flat -----------------------
1400 1.77 1.77 3.54
1700 1.46 1.77 3.23
2000 1.25 1.77 3.02
Remember that the break-even prices are the absolute minimum average prices
that will cover the costs in Table 1. In a healthy industry, market prices will
be higher than the break-even prices to cover the salary you pay yourself for
managing the farm and to compensate for the risks involved in growing straw-
Won't these break-even prices be lower for me if I do some of the work myself
instead of hiring it done?
Yes if you don't mind working for free. Otherwise, you should figure
on paying yourself the same as you would pay anyone else for doing a job.
How do "you-pick" berries affect the break-even price?
The effect of you-picks on the break-even price will depend on both the
number of flats marketed and the number of quarts sold as you-picks.
As an example, assume yo u have sold 1400 flats on the market and you decide
to keep your field open 3 days a week for 6 more weeks for you-picks. During
this time 3600 quarts are sold at 25 each.
This is $900 additional gross income. However, to pay someone $2.14 per
hour for the 18 days to supervise the field will add $308 to your costs.
Sprayi: once a week with Captan and Omite will add another $62 to the costs.
So by the time these costs are subtracted from $900, $530 is left. Dividing
this among 1400 flats will come to 38 per flat.
Therefore, selling you-picks in this example reduces the break-even price
from $3.54 per flat to $3.16 per flat.
How accurate are the cost estimates in this report?
Although every effort was made to assure that the numbers in Table 1
were reasonably accurate, the fact remains that everyone does things a little
differently and costs are changing all the time. Therefore, you may want to
change the numbers in Table 1 to whatever you think they should be for your
farm. Knowing what your costs are is a first step towards good farm manage-
The use of "trade" names is for purposes of clarification and does not
constitute endorsement of any product.