Agricultural Economics Mimeo. Report 62-8
The Pinellas County
by Cecil N. Smith
Associate Agricultural Economist
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction . .. . .. . 1
Industry Characteristics ........ ......... 2
Research Procedure ........ . 2
Nursery Sales. . . . .. .. .
Product groups. .. . . .. 5
Nursery stock sales ... ............. 7
Landscape sales . . . . 8
Wholesale sales . . .. 10
Containers . .. . 11
Employment . . 12
Investment . . . . 13
Summary. . . . 14
The Pinellas County Nursery Industry
by Cecil N. Smith
Associate Agricultural Economist
An economic study of the nursery industry in Pinellas County was
carried out as the initial phase of a study concerned with marketing
practices of the nursery industry in Florida. Data on market outlets,
total sales, purchases of other nursery stock, amount of nursery stock
sold in containers, pricing policies and other factors were obtained
from a sample of Pinellas County nurserymen. Experience gained in the
conduct of the Pinellas County study has been used in planning and
conducting a similar state-wide study.
Pinellas County was selected as the pilot area because nurseries
of many different types are located there. Both subtropical stock and
hardier nursery products are grown in this county. It is bounded on
two sides by water--Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico--and on another
by the Tampa metropolitan area. Many producers and sellers of nursery
stock are located within the adjacent environs of Tampa and Hillsborough
County. It was expected that much of the nursery stock produced in
Pinellas County would be sold there; the results of the study have borne
out this hypothesis.
1Appreciation is expressed to nurserymen and others who supplied
data and otherwise contributed to the completion of this study. The
research on which this report is based was supported in part by Hatch
Act (Title II) funds.
2In this study, as in the state-wide study, primary emphasis is
given ornamental nursery products.
The nursery industry is a complex segment of agriculture. Individ-
ual growers produce a wide variety of products and sell them through
many different channels of distribution. Some products are propagated,
grown to marketable size and then sold to consumers. In other instances,
nursery plants are propagated by nursery operators and sold to other
nurserymen as "liners" for further growing on. Some landscape nursery-
men buy more mature stock to fill their sales and marketing requirements.
Certain portions of all classes of nursery stock may be resold immedi-
ately and some grown on for later sale.
The complexity of the nursery business makes it difficult to
acquire data for making an analysis of production and marketing practices.
Very few nurserymen use any standard system of accounts. Any one or a
group of sales likely includes products of many different types and
classifications. Data on prices and quantities of specific products or
types of products which go to the same type of outlet are hard to acquire.
Thus, in an economic survey, it is difficult to obtain information
classified by specific commodities going to various outlets.
Names of all nursery operators in Pinellas County were obtained
from the State Plant Board of Florida in the spring of 1960. A complete
listing was made of all operators classified as producers of ornamental
Now Division of Plant Industry, Florida State Department of
or other nursery stock. Firms which handled but did not produce nursery
stock were eliminated from the list.
The 367 growers of nursery stock in Pinellas County were then
classified into 4 size groups (Table 1). The 27 nurserymen with one or
more acres operated almost 200 of the 250 acres reported by growers of
nursery stock. A sample was designed in which all growers in the large
(1.0 acre and over) and medium (0.5 to 0.99 acre) classes were inter-
viewed. Random sampling methods were used in selecting respondents in
the small and very small size groups. In the small group (0.1 to 0.49
acre), 15 percent of the growers were selected for interviewing. The
sampling ratio for the very small group (operators with less than 0.1
acre) was 7.5 percent. The 214 very small growers cultivated less than
11 acres in nurseries in the county.
TABLE 1.--Number of Nurserymen by Size Groups and Acreage,
Pinellas County, 1959.
Number Average Size Number
Grower Size Groups of Acreage. (are) in
Large (1.0 A. and over) 27 199.9 7.40 27
Medium (.50 to .99 A.) 22 16.5 .75 22
Small (.10 to .49 A.) 104 22.9 .22 17
Very small (.01 to .09 A.) 214 10.7 .05 16
Total or Average 367 250.0 .68 82
Information relative to the study objectives was obtained by
personal interviews with 82 nurserymen. A questionnaire was used to
secure data on sales of general classes of nursery stock. The data were
then expanded into estimates of the total sales and other characteristics
of the nursery industry.in Pinellas County. It was assumed that the data
obtained from the nurserymen interviewed were representative for those
not selected in the sample.
The information presented in this report relates to estimates of
the business operations of nurserymen who produced at least a portion of
the stock sold. Data on the sales of foliage plants, technically classi-
fied as flowering plants rather than as nursery products, are included.
However, information on the sales of operators producing only foliage
plants was excluded. Some data were obtained from department stores and
other outlets handling nursery stock, sod and related products associated
with the nursery enterprise, but were not included in this report.
Nurserymen in Pinellas County who grew at least a portion of their
plants estimated the total sales of nursery plants and allied products
and services at almost $1,970,000 in 1959 (Table 2). Almost 90 percent
TABLE 2.--Estimated Total Sales of Nurserymen in Pinellas County, 1959.
Grower Size Groups Total Sales
Large 1,443,972 64,105 1,508,077
Medium 227,949 29,989 257,938
Small 72,290 94,338 166,628
Very small 17,586 19,120 36,706
Total 1,761,797 207,552 1,969,349
of these marketing were made at retail to home-owners and other buyers.
Sales at wholesale to other nr,,r:.rmnn. department stores and other
outlets handling nursery stock were considerably more important for
small and very small operators than for large and medium growers.
Total sales of the 5 active nurserymen with 5 acres or more in
nursery stock amounted to $1,028,000. These operators, with 61 percent
of the acreage in nursery stock accounted for 52 percent of all sales
made by Pinellas County nurserymen in 1959. They had 34 percent of
nursery supply marketing and 71 percent of all landscape sales of
nursery stock and allied services and materials. Throughout the
remainder of this report, data on operators with 5 acres or more are
included with those of nurserymen in the large group.
Almost $225,000 of the total sales reported by nurseries consisted
of turf grass, bulbs, bedding and vegetable plants, seed and nursery
supplies such as fertilizer and insecticides. Many of the firms selling
these supplies had landscape nurseries, retail sales yards and garden
supply centers as parts of their business.operations.
Product groups.--Ornamental plants were the most important nursery
item sold by reporting firms in 19595 (Table 3). Nearly 57 percent of
all nursery product sales consisted of ornamental plants. The second
most important item, palms, accounted for almost 16 percent of the
Although considered a nursery product, turf sold by outlets other
than nurserymen was excluded from this study because it was purchased
and sold without being grown on at all. Most turf grass sales in
Pinellas County were handled by i+ln :cdn-3n specialized dealers.
Includes stock purchased and resold as well as stock grown.
total. Nearly 14 percent of all sales were made up of shade and flowering
trees. Vines and ground covers amounted to 5 percent of the total.
Remaining product groups, each of which were 3 percent or less of all
nursery product sales, included foliage plants, citrus trees, roses and
TABLE 3.--Estimated Composition of Product Group Sales by Pinellas County
Ornamental plants 637,344
Shade and flowering trees 114,387
Vines and ground covers 61,166
Foliage plants 40,052
Citrus trees 31,780
Potted plants 760
Landscaping materials and
Supplies (fertilizer,etc.) 139,880
Turf grass 21,900
Bedding and vegetable
aExclusive of plants.
GRAND TOTAL 1,508,077 257,938 166,628 36,706 1,969,349
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Nursery stock sales.--Sales of nursery products amounted to
$1,745,0006 in 1959. Excluded from these total sales data were non-
nursery items such as fertilizer and insecticides. Sales of nursery
stock purchased and resold are included in the figure; it is estimated
that Pinellas County nurserymen spent some $228,000 in 1959 for purchases
of nursery stock. Since most nurserymen reported a doubling of the cost
price when stock purchased was resold, the sale price of the purchased
stock was probably about $456,000. It is estimated that the sales of
nursery stock through various outlets by nurserymen who produced the
stock sold amounted to $1,289,000 in 1959.
The $1,289,000 estimated sales value for produced nursery stock is
considerably higher than the $944,881 value reported for this county by
the Regular Census of Agriculture in 1959. Furthermore, there is reason
to believe that the total value of sales of nursery products produced
and sold in Pinellas County is probably higher than the $1,289,000
estimate made in the study. Observations indicated that the majority
of stock purchased was resold and thus the estimates were made on this
basis. Nevertheless, a small proportion of the stock purchased consisted
of liners used for growing on.
The census enumeration reported 97 farms in Pinellas County as
having produced and sold nursery products in 1959. In the previous
census, that of 1954, sales of $569,695 were reported by 73 nurserymen.
Most nursery stock for resale was purchased by growers in the two
larger size classifications and sold mostly at sales yards or in land-
scaping operations. Sources of stock included nurseries in South,
This includes an estimated $276,142 in landscaping materials and
services. Landscape sales are treated in more detail later.
Central and North Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and other areas. Information
to delineate sales of liners from finished stock was not obtained.
Landscape'sales.--The most important outlet for nursery products in
Pinellas County consisted of sales through landscaping operations. More
than $1,100,000 in cash receipts were generated by landscaping sales
(Tables 4 and 5). Of this amount, it is estimated that the value of
plants amounted to more than $826,000. The remaining $276,000 consisted
of surcharges made for materials, designing and other services.
TABLE 4.--Estimated Value of All Retail Sales Through Various Outlets by
Pinellas County Nurserymen, 1959.
Grower Size Groups
Type Sales Very Total
ales Large Medium Small erma Total
Direct sales 486,983 90,035 62,623 17,586 657,227
Landscape sales 956,989 137,914 9,667 ---- 1,104,570
Total 1,443,972 227,949 72,290 17,586 1,761,797
No guides are available for differentiating between sales of plants
through landscaping and landscaping services and materials. The treatment
utilized was arrived at arbitrarily; the total value of landscape sales
reported was adjusted to break it down into (1) plant and (2) service and
other material categories. Since a mark-up of a third, on the average,
was reported by landscape nurseries in Pinellas County, an adjustment was
made to arrive at sales-value estimates for plants and for the other
materials and services involved in landscaping.
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TABLE 5.--Estimated Sales of Nurserymen in Pinellas County, 1959, by
Grower Size Groups
Type Sales Al .'
Large medium Small Very Groups
Large Medium Small
Nursery products 306,513 49,135 59,957 17,453 433,058
Garden supplies, etc. 180,470 40,900 2,666 133 224,169
Landscaping 956,989 137,914 9,667 ---- 1,104,570
Total Retail. 1,443,972 227,949 72,290 17,586 1,761,797
Nursery stock 64,105 29,989 94,338 19,120 207,552
Total Wholesale 64,105 29,989 94,338 19,120 207,552
ALL SALES 1,508,077 257,938 166,628 36,706 1,969,349
aIncludes nursery products plus landscaping services and materials.
Landscape operations accounted for 63 percent of all retail sales.
Of the total sales made by nurserymen, 56 percent were related to
Of the total sales, 11 percent consisted of supplies other than
those utilized in landscaping and plant materials other than nursery
items. The remaining 33 percent consisted of nursery stock sold
directly to consumers or at wholesale to other firms for resale.
Landscaping jobs varied to some extent with the size of nursery
operations involved. Jobs done by larger nurseries generally ranged
from $150 to $300. Small operators reported that their landscaping
jobs were in the order of $25 to $40 per job. The amount of competition
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was listed as one of the main factors considered in prices quoted on
landscaping operations. Many nurserymen charged the retail price for
the plants and added a surcharge averaging 33 percent for labor,
materials and other costs. In some cases no charges were made for labor
and materials when the value of plants exceeded an established minimum.
A cut-back in home building in the period just before the interviews
were conducted resulted in a reduction in the demand for nursery products.
A number of nurserymen expressed their feeling that inferior land-
scaping done by a few firms gave a black mark to the entire nursery and
landscaping industry. Some nurserymen expressed the opinion that the
standards set by various lending agencies needed tightening to require
that plants be of a given quality as well as a specified height.
Although many tall spindly plants used in landscaping met height specifi-
cations, they were otherwise of poor quality. The result was often a
dissatisfied home-builder or home-owner. Some growers expressed the
feeling that many builders are not interested in quality landscape work.
Wholesale sales.--Although wholesale sales by Pinellas County
nurserymen amounted to slightly over 11 percent of all marketing, the
proportion of sales at wholesale for nurserymen in the small and very
small groups was more than half. Comparable figures for nurserymen in
the medium and large groups were 12 and 4 percent, respectively. This
would indicate that small nurserymen sold their products primarily to
other nurserymen or to department stores and other local outlets handling
nursery products. Many of these organizations had buyers who regularly
visited small nurserymen throughout certain sectors of Pinellas County.
It appeared that sales to an outlet of this type often constituted the
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only market outlet for many of these growers. Actually, some growers
had apparently entered the nursery business as a hobby in order to keep
themselves occupied, and frequently they were willing to sell their
stock at any price.
Some larger nurserymen complained of price-cutting and other
alleged detrimental characteristics of small growers. Although they
numbered 58 percent of all nurserymen, operators in the very small
group accounted for only 2 percent of total nursery sales in Pinellas
County in 1959. Growers in the small size group had some 10 percent of
all sales. Thus it may be noted that growers with less than one-half
acre each in their nurseries had approximately 12 percent of all nursery
Most nursery products in Pinellas County are grown and sold in
containers. This is true whether sold directly to consumers, wholesaled
to other nurserymen, other buyers or used for landscaping. Some 75
percent of all sales of nursery products were reported as sold in con-
tainers (Table 6). Small and very small growers sold some 90 percent
or more of their entire output of nursery stock in containers. For
medium and large growers, it was 83 and 73 percent, respectively.
Eighty percent or more of the ornamental shrubs, vines, roses and
foliage plants were sold in containers. In fact, 100 percent of all
products reported by very small growers other than ornamental shrubs
were moved in some type of container. A small number of items were sold
"bare root," but most other sales were of "balled and burlap" stock.
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Fewer palms and citrus trees were sold in containers than were other
TABLE 6.--Proportion of Various Types of Nursery Stock Sold in Containers
by Growers in Four Size Groups, Pinellas County, 1959.
Grower Size Groups
Item All Growers
Large Medium Small Very
Ornamental shrubs 82 82 94 97 83
Shade trees 64 87 96 100 76
Palms 33 70 70 --- 41
Citrus trees 44 71 80 --- 46
Vines 94 90 95 100 93
Roses 84 90 100 100 86
Foliage Plants 84 88 100 100 84
All Items 72 83 89 98 75
Some 237 persons were employed by Pinellas County nurserymen in 1959
(Table 7). Of these, 214 were employed full time. The full-time equiva-
lent of those hired on a part-time basis was 23 workers. For firms
Number of Workers Employed by Pinellas
County Nurserymen, 1959.
Size Group Full-time Part-timea Total
Large 194 19 213
Medium 20 3 23
Small --- 1 1
Very small --- -- ---
Total 214 23 237
aFull-time equivalent basis.
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employing labor, there was an average of slightly over one person hired
for each acre of land devoted to nursery production.
The nursery industry in Pinellas County represents a total invest-
ment in land, nursery stock, buildings and equipment of more than
$3,000,000 (Table 8). An average total investment per acre of nearly
$12,000 was recorded. Per-acre sales averaged nearly $5,900 and ranged
from $3,400 to $11,000. It would appear that medium growers utilized
their resources more intensively than growers in other size groups.
TABLE 8.--Estimated Total Investment, Investment Per Acre and Sales
Per Acre for Nurserymen in Pinellas County, 1959.
Size Group Total Investment Sales
Investment Per Acre Per Acre
Large 2,286,700 11,439 5,445
Medium 350,000 21,212 11,064
Small 180,000 7,860 7,054
Very small 127,000 11,869 3,418
Total or Average 2,943,700 11,776 5,876
aNursery stock only.
The data reported on investment were somewhat subjective in
nature. Nurserymen, in most instances, estimated the current real
estate value of their land, stock and equipment. Approximately half
of the investment represented land and a fourth consisted of nursery
stock. The remaining fourth was approximately evenly divided between
buildings and equipment.
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An economic study was made of the Pinellas County nursery industry
as the pilot phase of a state-wide survey. Information on volume of
sales, type of stock sold, marketing channels and other characteristics
is reported here.
Nearly 80 percent of the 250 acres in nurseries in Pinellas County
were accounted for by growers with operations of an acre or more in
size. These large growers had 76 percent of all sales. Nurseries with
less than 0.1 acre had 2 percent of all sales; those with less than 0.5
acre had 10 percent of all marketing.
Of the $1,970,000 in total sales by nurseries growing some of
their plants, $1,470,000 was from nursery products. Fertilizer, insec-
ticides, turf grass and other non-nursery items had sales of almost
$225,000. Income from landscape services and non-nursery product
materials amounted to $276,000.
Nearly 90 percent of all sales were made at retail. The remainder
were at wholesale to other nurseries, department stores and other
outlets handling nursery stock. Landscaping sales accounted for 56
percent of the entire income received by Pinellas County nurserymen
More than 57 percent of all nursery product sales consisted of
ornamental plants. Palms accounted for 16 percent of the total with
shade and flowering trees making up another 14 percent. The remainder
were accounted for by the following product groups: vines and ground
covers; foliage plants; citrus trees; roses; and potted plants.
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Some 75 percent of all nursery products sold were in containers.
Over 80 percent of the ornamental shrubs, vines, roses and foliage
plants were sold in cans. More than 90 percent of the output of small
and very small growers was in containers. Similar percentages for medium
and small growers were 83 and 72, respectively.
Nearly 240 persons were employed in the industry in 1959. This
represents more than one person per acre for those firms which employed
The Pinellas nursery industry had an investment of nearly $3,000,000
in land, nursery stock, buildings and equipment. Half the investment
was in land, a fourth in nursery stock and an eighth each in buildings
Agri. Exp. Sta., Ag. Ec. -- 1,000