OCT 6 1553
Agricultural Economics Mimeo Report 54-2
COST OF H AN DL ING
FRUIT FROM 4 THE TREE
ONTO THE HIGHWAY T RU C-K
Eric Thor and Luke D. Dohner
Department of Agricultural Econocmics
Florida Agricultural Experiri;ent Stations
Due to the many requests for the results of this study, a
preliminary summary is being released in order that growers and
handlers may have the information for use in planning for the
1953-54 season. A publication is being prepared and will be
available in the near future which will cover the subject in
COST OF HANDLING CITRUS FRUIT
FROM THE TREE ONTO THE HIGHWAY TRUCK
The purpose of this study was to determine the most efficient method of
handling citrus fruit from the tree onto the highway truck. The analysis did not
include the labor of the pickers since this was the same for all methods studied.
The data used in this study were collected by: (1) time studies of actual
field operations, (2) examination of cost records of handling and packing firms
and (3) personal interviews with foremen, workers, managers and equipment dealers.
The time study data used in this analysis were statistically tested to assure
that the sample was large enough to be reliable.
Two categories of cost were calculated for each method: (1) fixed cost, which
was independent of the hours of use and (2) direct cost, which included those costs
directly associated with use, such as labor and fuel.
Under practical field conditions, the volume of fruit that was handled per
hour was regulated by the volume that was picked. The volume of fruit picked was
determined largely by type and yield of fruit and by the number of pickers in a
crew. The size of the picking crew for the firms studied was limited to the number
of pickers that could be supervised by one foreman. The average number of pickers
for the field units studied was 30. The average rate of picking was approximately
10 boxes per picker per hour.
Five handling methods were studied:
1. Hand Dumping Field Box: This method consisted of pickers emptying
the fruit from their picking sacks into standard field boxes, which
were then loaded by hand onto a narrow, flat-bed field truck for
hauling from the picking area to the loading site at the roadside,
where the full field boxes were dumped into the loading elevator
which carried the fruit onto the highway truck. The empty field
boxes were returned to the grove and distributed to the pickers.
The equipment used per field crew was two narrow-bed, flat field
trucks (goats); approximately 20 field boxes per picker; and one
loading elevator. The number of workers included were four loaders,
who also served as field truck drivers, and one field foreman.
2. Field Box Bulk Field Truck: Under this method, the pickers emp-
tied their fruit into the standard field boxes, which were then
dumped by hand into a bulk field truck for transporting to the
roadside. The loaded field truck backed up to the loading ele-
vator; the front end of the truck box was raised; the rear end
gate was opened and the fruit rolled into the hopper of the load-
ing elevator, which carried it onto the highway truck. The
equipment used per field crew studied was two bulk field trucks,
one loading elevator and approximately 10 field boxes per picker.
The workers required were one field foreman, two field truck drivers
and two loaders.
3. Portable Elevator Bulk Field Truck: A portable elevator was
towed behind a bulk field truck between the rows of trees that
were picked. The pickers emptied their fruit from their picking
bags into the portable elevator, which conveyed the fruit into the
bulk field truck. The truck transported the fruit to the roadside
where it was transferred, with the use of a loading elevator, onto
a highway truck. For each field crew, the equipment consisted of
two portable elevators and three bulk field trucks; the workers
were one field foreman and three truck drivers.
4. Tractor Bulk Field Trailer: This method consisted of the pickers
emptying their fruit into a small two-wheeled bulk trailer with a
capacity of 20 to 25 boxes per trailer. Some of the firms studied
had partitions which divided the trailer into two 10-box containers.
Two pickers usually emptied their fruit into one trailer, each using
a separate compartment. The trailers were towed by medium-sized
field tractors to the roadside loading area. The trailers were then
unloaded by raising the front end of the trailer and letting the
fruit roll out of the rear end to the hopper of a drag-type loading
elevator, which carried the fruit onto the highway truck. The equip-
ment used was two field tractors, 18 trailers and one loading ele-
vator; the workers were one tractor driver foreman, one tractor
driver and the highway truck driver, who was needed to move the
semitrailer truck during the loading process.
5. Tractor Basket: For this method, the pickers emptied their fruit
into a 10-box container. A standard farm tractor, equipped with
front and rear hydraulic lifts, picked up the baskets in the field--
one basket in front and one on the rear--and transported them to the
highway truck. By use of hydraulic lifts, the tractor dumped the
fruit from the 10-box container into the highway truck. The equip-
ment used was two medium-sized farm tractors and 38 10-box containers;
the number of workers needed was one tractor driver foreman and one
The handling costs shown in this study were not the actual costs of any one
group of firms studied. Rather they were costs calculated at capacity operation
th allowance for unavoidable personal and equipment delays. Capacity operations
d delay allowances were determined from time studies of actual field operations.
Direct costs based on time study data were generally lower than the average
rm's direct cost because actual field operations contained days of less than
pacity operation and thus higher per-box cost. The calculated fixed cost was
.erally higher than the firm's accounting fixed cost because the calculated fixed
st was based on new equipment valued at the 1953 price level. An estimate of the
nual fixed and the per-box direct cost for handling units under practical field
nditions is shown in Table A for all methods studied.
A comparison of the total cost per season for each method at various seasonal
lumes for a 30-picker field crew is also shown in Table A. Direct cost per box
s calculated by dividing the hourly direct cost for each method by 300, the aver-
e number of boxes picked per hour. The total cost was calculated by multiplying
e direct cost per box by volume handled and adding to the annual fixed cost.
The effect of total volume handled per season upon total cost is illustrated
Fig. A. This graph has on the horizontal axis the volume of fruit that might be
cked and handled per season per field crew; and on the vertical axis, the total
st per season. The annual fixed cost for each method of handling is indicated by
e point at which the sloping cost line intersects the vertical scale, while the
ect cost in each case is represented by the slope of the cost line. The differ-
ce in steepness of the slope of the cost line reflects the difference in the
ect cost per hour between the various methods.
By reading total seasonal handling cost from Fig. A, estimates of saving pos-
ble through the use of one type of equipment in contrast with another can be made
r various volumes handled. For example, the chart indicates that with a total
asonal volume of 100,000 boxes, the tractor bulk trailer method has a lower cost
600 dollars than the tractor basket method. However, at a volume of 400,000
xes per season, the tractor basket method has 1,337 dollars less cost than the
actor bulk trailer method.
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Season (1000 boxes)
Fig. A: The Effect of Volume Handled per Season on the Total
Seasonal Handling Cost for All Methods Studied.
The most important factor affecting the cost of handling citrus from the tree
onto the highway truck was labor cost. The highest direct cost method required
105 man-minutes to handle 100 boxes of fruit at a distance of 1,000 feet from the
tree to the highway truck. The lowest direct cost method required only 34 man-
minutes to handle 100 boxes the same distance.
A second factor which was associated with high total cost was the use of
field boxes. Field boxes, which were used in the two highest-cost methods, had
both high fixed and high labor cost.
The tractor basket method had the highest fixed cost of all the methods
studied due to the high capital outlay and a high depreciation rate for the trac-
tor equipped with hydraulic lifts. The direct cost for the tractor basket
method was the lowest for all methods studied because of the small handling crew.
As the volume of fruit handled increased, the total cost for the tractor basket
method moved from the highest total cost method to the lowest total cost method.
The tractor bulk field trailer method had the lowest fixed cost of all methods
studied, and next to the lowest direct cost. For seasonal volumes up to 200,000
boxes, it had the lowest total cost. The hand dumping field box method had
the highest direct cost, the third lowest fixed cost. However, due to the high
direct cost, its total cost was the greatest for all volumes above 15,000 boxes
Eric Thor:gg 7/22/53
Agr. Exp. Stat., Agr. Econ. h50