Title: Florida chrysanthemum industry
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Full Text
Agricultural Economics Mimeo. Report 56-10


7doZ


Cecil N. Smith and Donald L. Brool
Associate Agricultural Economists


Figure 1.--Growth of Chrysanthemum Acreage in Florida, 1949-50 to 1955-56 Seasons. The background
picture shows an arrangement of flower beds and lights in a cloth house at Stuart.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
FLORIDA AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATIONS
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA


May, 1956


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
INTRODUCTION . . ... ...... 1

Research Procedure ... ... .. .... .... 3

ACREAGE AND VALUE ... . . ... 3

Acreage. ... . . 3
Pompon and Standard Acreage .. . 5
Recropping of Pompons .. .............. 6
Pompon Yields . ....... 7
Production and Value .... .... ..... .. 7

MARKETING PRACTICES .. .. 9 ... .. 9

Market Outlets . ................ 9
Price Variability . . . .. 11
Consignment Sales ... . . .. 12
Grading and Packaging . .. .. 16
Market Information. . . . 20
Transportation .. ... ... .. 21

SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK . . . 22








THE FLORIDA CHRYSANTHEMUM INDUSTRY"
by

Cecil N. Smith and Donald L. Brooke2-
Associate Agricultural Economists
Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations


INTRODUCTION


Although chrysanthemums have been grown in Florida for a considerable

time, outdoor commercial production on a fairly large scale dates back only

to the past six or seven years. Much of the credit for the rapid development

of this industry can be attributed to the degree of insect and disease control

brought about by various new insecticides and fungicides. The application

of research results on day-length and lighting practices has also contributed

to its rapid development.

The chrysanthemum industry has" now acquired a place among the gladiolus,

foliage plant and fern industries as a major flower producing group in Florida.

In large measure it is composed of Eastern and Mid-Western flower growers

who have migrated to the Sunshine State. In addition to producers who trans-

ferred their operations to Florida, a number of growers of gladiolus and other


1/ The research on which this report is based was supported in part by funds
appropriated under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (RMA, Title II).

2/ Appreciation is expressed to chrysanthemum growers for supplying infor-
mation on their acreage, production and marketing practices and to Dr. H. G.
Hamilton, Head, Department of Agricultural Economics, for his guidance and
supervision of the study. Acknowledgment is also made to Mrs. Shirley Dykes,
Statistical Clerk III, for her assistance in tabulating and analyzing the data uti-
lized in preparing this report.












flowers have added chrysanthemums as a supplementary enterprise,

Most outdoor chrysanthemum growers in Florida plan on a November to

June flowering schedule. Peak periods of production are in January and

February, with lesser peaks at Easter and in May and June. Slightly more

than half of the current chrysanthemum acreage in Florida is covered with

plastic cloth; the remainder is in the open.

Available information indicates that the investment required for entry

into the chrysanthemum industry is high. The cost of land, buildings, drainage

and irrigation facilities, plastic covering, lights and other essential items may

exceed $10, 000 per acre. An intensive insect and disease control program

must be followed. The control of weeds and nematodes necessitates a soil

sterilization program by chemicals or steam. Labor requirements are also very

high; as much as 1,000 hours of labor per acre is required in the production

and marketing of a crop.

The Florida chrysanthemum industry has been favored with good weather

conditions the past few seasons. The shift in hurricane paths away from Florida

during the last four years has meant very little wind or rain damage from this

source. In fact, the extensive hurricane damage to greenhouses and other flower

producing acreages in the North Atlantic States during recent years has probably

resulted in an expanded demand for Florida chrysanthemums during the early part

of the season. Growers have also been fortunate in escaping serious damage from









-3-


frosts and freezes in recent years,

This study of the marketing practices of chrysanthemum producers was made

in response to requests of flower industry organizations. No prior study of the

scope or marketing practices of this new industry has been made and information

on its size, rate of growth, market outlets, transportation practices, etc.,are

needed for use in ICC hearings on transportation rates, to enable the industry

to evaluate and improve its marketing practices and for other purposes.

Research Procedure:--Lists of commercial chrysanthemum growers were ob-

tained from agricultural extension workers and growers. Data on past and

current acreage, marketing practices, sales in the previous season and other

aspects of the industry were obtained,where available,from all known commer-

cial growers by personal interview during January, February and March, 1956.

Estimates on production, cash receipts, etc., were made by the authors in

several instances where growers were unable to supply this information.

Growers of potted and greenhouse chrysanthemums were not included in

the study. In brief, the only growers contacted were those growing chrysanthe-

mums outdoors on a commercial scale for -a-e as cut flowers.


ACREAGi A'ND VALUE

Acreage:--The acreage devoted to chrysanthemum culture rose from less

than five acres in the 1949-50 season to more than 230 acres in the 1955-56












season-/ (Table 1). In this period of only six years, chrysanthemum acreage

in Florida increased more than 50-fold. These figures indicate the gross acreage

devoted to chrysanthemum culture rather than to the area devoted to flower pro-

duction alone. It is estimated that from 40 to 50 percent of the area in chrysan-

themums is taken up by walkways, roadways, posts, etc., with from 50 to 60

percent of the area being devoted solely to flower culture.


Table 1.--Trend in Acreage of Chrysanthemums by Counties and
Areas, 1949-50 to 1955-56 Seasons

(Includes Acreage Recropped)


County
or Area


Martin
Lee-Charlotte
Dade
Palm Beach
Other East Coast.
Other West Coastb/
N and C FloridaS/

Total


1949-50 1950-51
----------

0.2 1.8

1.4 1,4
1.0 1.5

1.5 2.0
0.5 2.1

4.6 8.8


Season
1951-52 1952-53

S- -Acres -
12.8 19.8
0.2 0.2
1.4 1.4
2.6 2.6
3.1
3.5 3.5
4.1 9.4

24.6 40.0


1953-54 1954-55 1955-56
------------

33.9 72,0 112.6
15.0 25.4 39.1
8.3 16.2 19.3
5.3 9.2 17.3
12.1 18.9 22.5
11.0 10.3 13.2
10.4 10.6 9.2

96.0 162.6 233.2


a/ Indian River and St. Lucie Counties,

b/ Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties.

c/ Lake, Orange, Polk and St. Johns Counties.

3/ Includes recropped acreage. For instance, the total acreage of pompon
chrysanthemums in the 1955-56 season is 222.2 acres, but only 159,2 acres of land
are devoted to their culture. The difference is accounted for by second and third
crops grown on the initial acreage. (See Table 3, page 6, for a breakdown of these
data.)












Of the 233 acres (including recropping) being cultivated in chrysanthemums

during the 1955-56 season, nearly half (113 acres) is in Martin County. Other

important producing areas include Lee, Charlotte, Dade, Palm Beach, Indian

River and St. Lucie Counties, as well as several counties in the Tampa Bay Region.

In the early stages of the industry, the principal producing areas were in

Palm Beach, Dade and Pinellas Counties. Although production in these counties

has increased from the 1949-50 season to the present, the rate of growth of the

industry in the Stuart area (Martin County) has exceeded that in all other pro-

ducing regions. Chrysanthemum production in North and Central Florida has

failed to keep pace with that in South Florida.

Pompon and Standard Acreage:-- Of the 233 acres of chrysanthemums being

grown in the 1955-56 season, 222 are in pompons and 11 acres in standards (Table 2).

As is true for pompons, Martin County has the largest acreage in standard chrysan-

themums.

Table 2.--Distribution of Chrysanthemum Acreage Between
Pompons and Standards, by Counties and
Areas, 1955-56 Season

( includes Acreage Recropped)

County Pompons Standards Total
or Area Chrysanthemums
------ --- ---Acres ------------- -
Martin 105.4 7.2 112.6
Dade 17.2 2.1 19,3
Other 99.6 1.7 101.3
Total 222.2 11.0 233.2









-6-


Although complete information on the acreage in standards for the previous

(1954-55) season was not acquired, it is estimated that standard chrysanthemums

were grown on seven acres. Of the 162.2 acre total, the remaining 155.2 acres

were in pompons. No breakdown between standard and pompon chrysanthemum

acreage was obtained for seasons prior to 1954-55.

Recropping of Pompons:--Twenty-eight percent of the land area devoted to

the production of pompon chrysanthemums in the 1955-56 season was recropped.

Twenty-seven percent of the 159 acres of land being cultivated in pompon chry-

santhemums were double-cropped and one percent was triple-cropped (Table 3).

Table 3.--Pompon Chrysanthemum Acreage by Counties
and Areas, 1955-56 Season

County initial Double Triple Total
or Area Crop Cropped Cropped Cropped
e-e.--.---- Acres -- ---- -----
Martin 68.8 35.8 0,8 105.4
Lee-Charlotte 30.6 8.4 39.0
Dade 12.6 3.9 0.7 17.2
Pclm Beach 11.6 5.3 -16.9
Other East Cnasa/ 20,0 1.5 1.0 22.5
Other West Coast/ 9.3 2.9 12.2
N and C Floridac/ 6.3 2.7 -- 9.0
Total 159.2 60.5 2.5 222.2

a/ Indian River and St. Lucie Counties.
b/ Hillsbcrough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties.
c/ Lake, Orange, Polk and St. Johns Counties.











The proportion of the producing area which was recropped varied from

11 percent of the initial acreage in the Indian River and St. Lucie County

ara to 36 percent in Martin County. A small number of producers stated

their intention to follow the practice of triple-cropping their acreage in coming

years. Several growers plan to extend their operations to include year-around

production.

Pompon Yields:-- An average yield of 22,500 bunches of pompons per

acre was reported by the state's growers for the 1954-55 season. Individual

producers had yields which varied from 3, 000 bunches an acre to more than

30,000. Yields in the southern portion of the Florida peninsula were generally

larger than those in the north and central section. In Martin County, where the

greatest concentration of the industry is located, growers had average yields of

24,600 bunches of pompons in the 1954-55 season. Average yields per acre for

the Dade and Lee-Charlotte areas were 26,300 and 23,900 bunches, respectively.

Production and Value:--Chrysanthemum growers were asked for information

on their production, average f.o.b. prices received and the cash receipts from

chrysanthemum sales during the 1954-55 season. In some instances growers were

able to provide data on average prices received for sales to each outlet, but in

others they gave only the average price received for their entire sales. As a

consequence, the only price data utilized in this report are those for all sales

made during the 1954-55 season. Individual sales figures have been consolidated
into county, area and state averages.









-8-


More than 3,500,000 bunches4 of pompons and 72,000 dozen standard

chrysanthemums were reported harvested and sold by some 46 commercial growers

during the 1954-55 season (Table 4). The total cash receipts to growers from

their salewere.nare than $2,650,000. Of this sum, $2,478,000 was from the

sale of pompons and $172,500 from that of standard chrysanthemums.

Table 4.--Quantity Harvested, Price per Bunch and Value
of Sales of Chrysanthemums, 1954-55 Season

Pompons Standards
County Quantity Price Value Quantity Price Value Total
or Area Harvested per of Harvested per of Value
Bunch Sales Dozen Sales
Bunches Dollars Dollars Dozen Dollars Dollars Dollars
Martin 1,630,000 .72 1,168,580 37,325 2.22 83,055 1,251,625
Lee-Charlotte 605, 000 .74 445,320 1,200 2.25 2,700 448,020
Dade 397,100 .65 257,320 19,967 2.48 49,500 306,820
Palm Beach 187,639 .72 135,727 5,000 3.10 15,500 151,227
Other East
Coast 372,500 .67 248, 372 -- 248,372
Other West
Coastyb/ 197,000 .73 143,750 8,000 2.50 20,000 163,750
N and C
Floridac 111,000 .71 79,000 700 2.50 1,750 80,750
Total 3,500,239 .71 2,478,069 72,192 2.39 172,505 2,650,574

a/ Indian River and St. Lucie Counties.
b/ Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties.
c/ Lake, Orange, Polk and St. Johns Counties.


Martin County led in both the production and cash receipts from chrysan-

themum sales. This was the case for both pompons and standards. The Lee-
Al The breakdown into bunches of various sizes is noted later in this re-
port. No effort was made to make a tabulation of prices by size bunches be-
cause of varietal, quality, sales outlets and other differences.












Charlotte area and Dade and Palm Beach Counties ranked next, in the order

mentioned, as producers of pompons. Dade was second in importance in

standard chrysanthemum production and was followed by Palm Beach County.

It is estimated that Florida chrysanthemum growers will receive approxi-

mately $3,800,000 for their crop in the 1955-56 season. This estimate is

based on the assumption that yields and prices in 1955-56 remain at the same

levels as in the previous season.


MARKETING PRACTICES

Market Outlets:--Three-fourths of Florida's pompon chrysanthemum cut

flowers were sold through wholesale commission florists in the 1954-55 season

(Table 5). Wholesale florists were likewise the major outlet through which

growers sold their standard chrysanthemums.

Table 5.--Outlets Utilized by Florida Chrysanthemum Growers
in Marketing the 1954-55 Season Crop
Outlet Pompons Shindards
Quantity Quantity
Bunches Percent Dozens Percent
Wholesale commission
florists 2,627,213 75.0 67,455 93.4
Retail florists 497,450 14.2 4,737 6.6
Direct to wholesale
florists 254,650 7.3
Local buyers 110,927 3.2
Grocery Stores 10,000 0.3
Total 3,500,239 100.0 72,192 100.0

a/ Includes sales to "brokers," peddlers and other growers.









-10-


Some 14 percent of the 3,420, 000 bunches of pompon chrysanthemums

produced in Florida during the 1954-55 season were sold by growers directly

to retail florists. A sizable proportion of the growers reported making flower

sales direct to wholesale florists on a fixed price basis; more than 250,000

bunches of pompons were marketed by this method of sale.

Local buyers purchased more than 110,000 bunches of pompons from

growers. Most of these sales were made to flower "brokers."-/ Small

amounts in this classification were also made to peddlers and to other growers

whose flower supplies were too short to fill their orders. Many growers failed

to report sales made to other producers and, as a consequence, it is believed

that the quantity of flowers sold to other growers is under-reported. Never-

theless, since such sales by one grower to another are usually made to fill

orders going to terminal destinations, there is reason to believe that this

omission does not perceptibly change the data on the distribution of flowers

to various outlets.

The only outlets reported utilized in selling standard chrysanthemums

were wholesale commission florists and retail florists. Ninety-three percent
of the more than 72,000 dozen standard chrysanthemums marketed by growers


5/ Usually a broker is defined as an agent who, for a fee, brings buyers
and sellers together and assists in negotiating contracts between them. In the
Florida flower industry a person who buys flowers locally for his own account
and resells them to other outlets is known as a broker.








-11-

in the 1954-55 season were sold through wholesale commission florists. Almost

seven percent of the total--nearly 5,000 dozen--were sold direct to retail

florists. No sales to other cutlets were recorded.

The tendency toward more f.o.b. sales is now apparent in many commo-

dity groups within the cut flower industry. Many such direct sales are being

made to wholesale florists.

Price Variability:--Substantial variation about the state overage f.o.b.

equivalent price of 71 cents a bunch for pompon chrysanthemums was reported.

County average figures (listed only for leading counties in Table 4, page 8)

varied from 61 to 90 cents a bunch. Individual grower average prices ranged

from 35 to 90 cents a bunch.

Growers reported more price variability in sales made to wholesale

commission florists in large metropolitan markets such as New York, Chicago

and Philadelphia than in those sales made to smaller markets. In general,

growers noted that the large metropolitan markets had higher prices in periods

of scarcities and lower prices in times of gluts. On the whole, prices tended

to remain steadier throughout the marketing season in the smaller markets. Most

growers reported an overall higher level of returns from shipments made to

wholesale commission florists in the smaller markets than to those in the larger

cities. It was pointed out by some growers that houses in the large metropolitan

areas have the advantage not possessed by those in smaller markets of being

able to move large quantities of flowers when supplies are above normal.








-12-


Although higher prices were generally reported for chrysanthemum sales

made on ri, f.o.b, rather th n -on.a consignment basis, a portion of this

added return is often offset by higher costs, More handling, extra bookkeeping,

advertising, salesmen's commissions and other costs in making f,o.b. sales must

usually be considered in a comparative analysis of returns from various outlets.

It was noted, however, that flower prices during scarcities or other periods of

peak demand were often higher on consignment sales than on those made on a

direct basis.

Consignment Sales:- Historically, consignment selling has been the major

sales method of marketing most perishable products. This method of sale has

lessened in importance in many industries as a result of product standardization,

better grading practices and other factors. Consignment soiling may be said to

have the advantage of determining a price which will clear the market. Never-

theless, this system may often not be equitable to many of the agencies

involved in flower trading because of the lack of current and accurate infor-

mation on supplies arid prices in alternative markets and the difficulties in-

volved in diverting shipments from one market to another.

Data on the number of wholesale commission florists to whom shipments

were made in the 1954-55 season were obtained from 31 shippers. Consignment

shipments were made to approximately 27 wholesale florists by the average

shipper. Nineteen of the 31 made shipments to 25 or fewer firms (Table 6).









-13-


Nine had between 26 and 50 consignment accounts and the remaining three

made shipments to more than 50 houses. No grower reported having shipped

flowers to more than 100 wholesale commission florists.

Table 6.--Number of Florida Chrysanthemum Growers
Shipping to Various Numbers of Wholesale
Commission Firms, 1954-55 Season

Number of Number of Growers
Wholesale Commission Firms

1-10 8
11 -25 11
26-50 9
51 100 3

Total 31


Nearly 61 percent of the wholesale commission florists were noted as

sending weekly sales reports to shippers (Table 7). Growers stated that they

received checks in payment for flowers with some of these reports, but that

many receivers did not make financial settlements at the same time. Some 20

percent of the receivers made semi-monthly reports and 17 percent sent them on

a monthly schedule. The remaining two percent made their returns on an

irregular or erratic basis.

Replies to the question, "What suggestions have you (ethics, legal, etc.)

for improving business relationships with and accounting practices of wholesale

commission florists?" were given by 23 growers. Most reported having lost









-14-


money in dealing with wholesdlers whohad failed to settle their ponts promptly.
Many growers reported dissatisfaction with their sales returns from wholesale
commission florists. A number of them suggested that a means should be
found to put out of business those wholesalers who fail to settle their accounts.

Table 7.--Average Number of Wholesale Receivers and Average
Frequency of Receipt of Wholesale Consignment Reports
by Florida Chrysanthemum Shippers, 1954-55 Season
(Data from 31 Shippers)

Frequency Number of Percent
Wholesale Receivers Distribution
Weekly 16.7 60.9
Semi-monthly 5.4 19.8
Monthly 4.6 16.9
Irregularly 0.7 2.4
Total 27.4 100.0

Growers in general believe there should be a law requiring wholesalers
to make correct returns. Several growers stated they would like to see the
Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act amended so as to make it

6/ The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (P.A.C.A.) defines a num-
ber of fypes of action constituting unfair conduct with respect to both sellers and
buyers of fresh fruits and vegetables. Among other things, the Act prohibits the
making of incorrect accounting on consignments, or misrepresenting grade, quali-
ty or condition. It requires persons and firms licensed under its provisions to keep
accounts and records for two years that will adequately disclose all transactions
involved in the business. Commission receivers, dealers and brokers are licensed
by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Complaints are referred to enforcement
personnel located in major markets and are generally settled to the mutua! satis-
faction of the parties involved without resort to the time and expense of court
litigation. Operators who continue to follow unlawful business practices are sub-
ject to the loss of their licenses.
A previous law, the Produce Agency Act of 1927, applies to all perishable
products (including flowers and ornamentals) which are traded in interstate com-
merce. It prohibits the dumping of perishables without sufficient cause, making a
false report or statement, or failing truly and correctly to account for produce
received.
Although the Produce Agency Act and the P.A.C.A. contain many similar
provisions, nearly all complaints made to the U.S.D.A. by fresh fruit and vege-
table shippers and receivers are registered under the authority of the latter. The
licensing and enforcement provisions of the P.A.C.A. make it a more useful tool
than the Produce Agency Act for handling trade disputes.








-15-


applicable to interstate shipment of flowers. One grower suggested that local

wholesale florists in a given market might find it to their mutual advantage to

take corrective action against those of their number who engaged in business

operations of a dubious character.

Although growers generally noted that the wholesale flower buyers who

follow questionable or undesirable trade practices are in the minority, losses in

dealings with these few often give growers a somewhat sour attitude toward the

wholesale trade in general. Several growers mentioned alleged incidents of

averaging, i.e,, that buyers failed to report the true prices received for the

flowers of individual growers, but that they reported overall average prices for

the sales of all growers.

Other growers stressed the point that one of their major desires was to

receive weekly reports from their wholesale receivers. Some wanted the whole-

sale florist to show the quantity sold and price received for each individual sale.

The mutual exchange of information on current and prospective market

demand and supply was emphasized by other growers. Some asserted that they

were often not informed of market gluts until they received their consignment

reports a week or more after price breaks had developed. On the other hand,

many wholesale receivers claim that much of the responsibility for such gluts

lies with growers who practice "open consignment," i.e., those who make ship-

ments to wholesale receivers with no prior notification.









-16-

Several growers mentioned that they, as chrysanthemum producers, also

had responsibilities for bringing about better and more stable business relation-

ships with wholesalers. They said that wholesalers should be notified in advance

of making initial shipments and that they should be informed of unusual or unex-

pected variations in shipping patterns. They also believed that growers should do

an orderly job of planning their production. Several emphasized that growers

need to have a better understanding of the problems encountered by wholesalers,

especially since direct grower shipments to retailers have resulted in a narrowing

of the market for wholesalers$ services.

Personal contacts with wholesalers were listed by a number of growers

as a means of ironing out problems and obtaining information on market condi-

tions more promptly. A standard reporting form to be used by all wholesale

florists was another suggestion offered. Many growers mentioned a desire to

have similar data reported by all their wholesale receivers.

Nearly all growers stated that they analyzed returns from various receivers

and tended to favor those who consistently paid highest prices and kept them in-

formed of market conditions. Some growers reported that they followed the

practice of cutting off shipments to receivers who failed to make prompt sales

reports, whose prices appeared to be out of line with other wholesalers or who

were delinquent in making payment for flowers shipped.

Grading and Packaging:--Chrysanthemum harvesting, grading and packa-

ging operations are usually performed by hand labor. In the harvesting operation








-17-

the stems are cut or snapped several inches above the ground. The bottom leaves

are strippedimmediately after cutting or at some stage prior to packaging. The

flower stems are carried to a packing house and are either put in water or placed

on a table for immediate grading. In the grading process diseased or otherwise

unacceptable flowers are thrown out; then bunches ore assembled, wrapped and

fastened, usually by stapling. The stems of the packaged flowers are set in

containers partially filled with water to "harden," Later the bunches of flowers

are placed in cardboard shipping cartons and sped on to their destinations.

A 12-ounce bunch of flowers wrapped in parchment or waxed paper was

the most prevalent type of package used by Florida growers for their pompons

during the 1954-55 season. Nearly 58 percent of the 3,500,000 bunches of

pompons sold were 12-ounce bunches (Table 8). Growers reported almost 30

percent of their bunches as having a range in weight, as 10-12 ounces, 12-16

ounces, etc. The decision to package bunches of a particular weight depended

on variety, supply, market demand and other factors. Information on prices

received for various sized bunches was not compiled.Z

More than half a million bunches of pompons were packaged in 12- to'14-

ounce bunches. This quantity was nearly 15 percent of the total. Almost ten

percent of the total--330,000 bunches--were placed in ten-ounce bunches.

About two percent of the total were each packaged in 11-and 16-ounce bunches.

7/ Such a comparison would not be meaningful unless detailed information
were available on sales of flowers of equal quality in various sized bunches to the
same outlets at the same time.









-18-


Table 8.--Bunch Sizes Utilized by Florida Growers in
Packaging the 1954-55 Pompon Chrysanthemum Crop


Size Bunch


9 oz.
10 oz.
11 oz.
12 oz.
16 oz.
10-12 oz.
10-13 oz.
12-14 oz.
12-16 ox,
14-16 oz.
Total
*Less than 0.5 percent


Quantity

No. of Bunches
1,000
330,000
65,000
2,023,239
74,000
195,000
110,000
504,000
180,000
18,000
3.500. 239


Except for a very few pompons in nine-ounee bunches, the remaining flowers

were reported as having been put in bunches with a range of sizes.

Growers were asked for their ideas about establishing a standard method

of grading which the entire industry might find desirable. Most growers thought

that a standard method of grading would be beneficial to the entire industry,

but their ideas on the characteristics of such a standard grade varied considerably.

The three factors believed to be most important in establishing a standard grade

as listed by the majority of growers were the fo5lowing: (1) weight, (2) number

of stems and (3) quality. Few growers mentioned stem length as a major factor

in establishing standard grades.


Percent
*
9.4
1.9
57.8
2.1
5.6
3.2
14.4
5.1
0.5
100.0








-19-


A number of growers indicated the belief that it would be very difficult,

if not impossible, to establish and maintain a standard system of grading

chrysanthemums. Varietal differences and variations within varieties due to

culture, weather and other factors were stressed as hindrances to the develop-

ment of a standard grading system.

Those growers who did advocate uniform grades were almost unanimous in

their opinion that a minimum number of stems be set forth as a definite require-

ment in any standard bunch. They also stated that grades should be constant

regardless of whether prices are high or low. One of the reasons for the

variation in sizes of bunches was the practice followed by a number of growers

of increasing the size of their package when prices were low and decreasing it

when prices were high. Other reasons for this variation were varietal and

cultural differences.

Several growers stated the reason they packaged bunches of a uniform

size throughout the season--in times of gluts as well as scarcities--was the

belief that they would receive no additional return for larger sized bunches.

They claimed they would receive the same price for a bunch of, say, 12-ounce

pompons as another grower who put up a 14- to 16-ounce bunch. The main

reason for this, they contended, was the averaging process used by many

wholesale commission florists in making returns.

Establishing a grade standard involves a great deal of research, testing

and study of its economic merits as well as the operational problems in doing









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the grading. After establishing characteristics to be considered, shippers and

packers need to make trial shipments of these graded flowers to various markets

in order to evaluate their acceptance and to smooth out any problems which may

arise from their use. A survey such as this can only report industry practices

and opinions, and these only in terms of generalities.

Market Information:--Decisions by growers about how to market their

flowers are usually based on past experience and current information--usually

far from complete--on market behavior. Their problems are complicated by

weather and other factors affecting growing conditions and by the extent of

shipments made by competing growers of similar and other flowers.

The information any one grower has is most often only of a fragmentary

nature. In addition, he is operating under the stress of a time lag of one to

three days before he can get his flowers to the market, during which time a shift

in the market situation may occur.

Most growers reported that they relied on telephone and telegraph commu-

nications from their receivers to keep advised of the market situation. A few

growers stated they had a standing request for their receivers to ca!l them when

there was any marked change in the market situation.

Other growers reported that they acquired the information on which they

based ;heir marketing decisions from analyses of wholesalers' returns, market

data published in trade papers, order cancellations, travel to market centers









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and the New York Daily Wholesale Cut Flower Market reports. Although a

few growers indicated their belief thct they had sufficient information on which

to act in making the decisions which would result in the highest returns from

their sales of flowers, most operators Felt that their information was not suffi-

cient.

Transportation:--Data on the methods of transportation utilized in shipping

flowers were obtained from 32 of the 46 chrysanthemum growers interviewed.
The sales of pompons by these 32 operators represented nearly 90 percent of the
total of 3, 500, 239 bunches.
More than 75 percent of the pompon chrysanthemums shipped from Florida
in the 1954-55 season by these 32 growers were sent by railway express (Table 9).
Trucks accounted for 14 percent of the shipments and air freight and express for
almost ten percent. Bus shipments amounted to a fraction of one percent, as did
flowers picked up locally by buyers.

Table 9.--Quantity of Pompon Chrysanthemums Shipped by Various
Methods of Transportation, 1954-55 Season
(Data from 32 Shippers)
Method of Shipment Quantity Averae Distance
Bunches Percent Wiles
Railway Express 2,371,355 75.5 1098
Truck 439,642 14.0 1106
Air 308,517 9.8 1244
Local Pickup 13,500 0.4 0
Bus 7,625 0.3 259
Total 3,140,639 100.0 1107

The average distance for shipments by railway express and by truck was

approximately 1, 100 miles. That of air shipments was almost 1,250 miles and
the average distance of shipments by bus was nearly 260 miles.








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SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK


The Florida outdoor chrysanthemum industry has exhibited a very rapid

rate of growth during its brief span of existence. The 233 acres under culti-

vation during the 1955-56 season represents more than 50 times the acreage

six years earlier.

Flowers valued at more than $2, 650,000 were sold by growers during the

1954-55 season. This represented the production from approximately 160 acres

in cultivation at that time. It is estimated that cash receipts of some $3,800,000

will have accrued to growers from their sale of flowers during the 1955-56season.

This figure is based on the assumption that yields and prices remain essentially

the same as those in the 1954-55 season.

Some further expansion of the industry is indicated for the coming season.

However, about half the growers interviewed noted their intention to main-

tain their current acreage or even to cut down on their operations. A small

number seated that they intended to increase acreage and others were still un-

certain as to future plans. A growing scarcity of labor, mounting insect and

disease problems and the possibility of oversupplying the market were considera-

tions voiced by many growers as affecting their decisions. The risk of damage

by hurricanes, freezes and other weather hazards are factors with which produc-

ers must also reckon.




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