Title: Marketing Florida Asparagus plumosus ferns
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 Material Information
Title: Marketing Florida Asparagus plumosus ferns
Physical Description: ix, 181, (1) leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Chiang, Tze I, 1923-
Publication Date: 1958
Copyright Date: 1958
 Subjects
Subject: Ferns -- Marketing -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Asparagus -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Agricultural Economics thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Agricultural Economics -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1958.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 180-181).
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Tze I Chiang.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098009
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000420269
oclc - 36793613
notis - ACG8084

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MARKETING FLORIDA ASPARAGUS PLUMOSUS FERNS












By

TZE I. CHIANG


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY









UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
JUNE, 1958














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The writer wishes to express deep appreciation to

Dr. Cecil N. Smith and Dr. Donald L. Brooke for their advice,

assistance and moral support throughout the preparation of this

dissertation. He is indebted also to Dr. H. G. Hamilton,

Professor J. R. Greenman and Dr. Murray W. Shields for their

helpful and constructive direction of this study. Acknowledgment

is also made to Mr. Dan Badger for his excellent assistance in the

field interviews. Finally, deepest gratitude is extended to

Mrs. Barbara Altieri, Mrs. Virginia Edwards, Mrs. Mary Ann McKinley

and Mrs. Elizabeth Story for their painstaking efforts in the preparation

of this dissertation.


, C7













TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . ii

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . . . v

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS . . . . . . . . . . ix

Chapter
I. INTRODUCTION......... . . .... ... 1

mportanc . . . . . . . . . . .
Objectives and Scope of Study . .... . . . .. 3
Method of Procedure . . . . . . . . . 5

II. SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FLORIDA FERN INDUSTRY . 12

Historical Development . . . . . . . . . 12
Production Practices . . . . . . . . . 14
Marketing Practices .... ............ . 17

III. SUPPLY ASPECTS OF THE FLORIDA PLUMOSUS FERN INDUSTRY 20

Areas of Production ................. .. .20
Distribution o Acreage . . . . . ...... 22
Trends in Acreage . . . . . . ... ... 24
Trends in Shipments ... .... .. .. .. .... . . 27
Estimated Production in 1955-56 .. . . . . . 32

IV. DEMAND FOR PLUMOSUS FERNS . . . . . . . 36

Introduction . . . .... . . .36
Plumosus Fern Price Trends . . . . . . . . 36
Fern Prices and All Farm Prices Compared . . . . .. .38
F.O.B. and Consignment Price Trends . . . . . .. 42
Effects of Price Changes on the Fern Industry . . . . 44
Competition From Other Greenery . . . . . . . 45
Receipts From Plumosus Markeiings . . . . . . . 48









TABLE OF CONTENTS--Continued

Chapter Page
V. MARKET OUTLETS ....... ......... . .... 52

Types of Market Outlets . . . . . . . . . 52
Consignment to wholesalers . . . . . . .... 59
Direct Sales to Whiolesalers .... .. . . . . . 63
Direct Sales to Retailer . . . . . . . .. . 6
Other Outlets . . . . . . . ... 64

Vi. MA-;KT DISTRIBUTION .....,............ 66

Scope of Distribution . . . . . . . 66
Transportation . . . . . . .... . . 79

VII. MARKETING COSTS AND RETURNS ..... ..... . 86

Purpose and Nature ................... 86
Marketing Labor and Supply Costs . . . . . . . 87
Average Marketing Costs and Returns . . . . . 93
A Case Study .. ... . . . . . . . 98

VIII. MAJC P:{ ^,' IN THE FERN INDUSTRY . . . . 103

Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Production . . . . . . . . 118

IX. IMPROVING MARKETING PRACTICES . . . . . . 122

Introduction . . . . . .... . . . . 122
Methods. . .. . . .. ... . .. 123
Orcgnizction For Imrrovini Mtarketing Practices . . .. 127

X. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS .. . . . . . .137

APPENDIXES . . . .. . . ... .. .. . . . 147

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . 180












LIST OF TABLES


Table Page
1. Distribution of Growers Interviewed Who Furnished Satisfactory
Data in Major Fern Producing Counties . . . . . . 8

2. Distribution of Growers Interviewed Who Supplied Partial or
Incomplete Data in Major Fern Producing Counties . . . 9

3. Number of Years Growers Interviewed in Major Four County Area
Have Been in Fern Business . . . . . . .... 14

4. Acreage and Number of Plumosus Ferneries by Counties in
Florida, 1955-56 . . . . . . . . . . 22

5. Acreage and Number of Ferneries by Size of Growers in Florida,
1955-56 .... ........ .. ............ 23

6. Acreage Trend, by Size Groups, of 50 Growers Interviewed in
Volusia, Lake, Seminole and Putnam Counties, 1951-52 to 1955-56. 25

7. Acreage Trends of 50 Growers in Four Major Producing Counties,
1951-52 to 1955-56 . ........ .... ... ... 26

8. Acreage Trend Reported by 50 Growers in Four Major Counties by
Size and Type of Fernery, 1951-56 . . . .. . .. 28

9. Acreage Trend of 50 Growers by Counties and by Type of Fernery,
1951-56 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

10. Volume of Ferns Shipped from Pierson Railway Express Agency,
Volusia County, 1949-56 ........ . ..... .....30

11. Estimated Production of Plumosus Ferns in Florida, 1955-56 ... .33

12. Estimated Production of PIJmosus Ferns by Counties, 1955-56 Season.. 34

13. Average Prices Roceived for Plumosus Ferns from 1940 Through 1956 .37









LIST OF TABLES--Continued

Table Page
14. Index of Prices Received by Fern Growers Compared With Index of
Prices Received and Prices Paid by Farmers from 1940 to 1956 . . 40

15. Estimated Receipts from Sales of Plumosus Ferns by Growers in Florida,
1955-56 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

16. Estimated Receipts from Sales of Plumosus Ferns by Counties, 1955-56 . 50

17. Average Number of Buyers to Which 50 Plumosus Fern Growers Interviewed
in Volusia, Lake, Seminole and Putnam. Counties Sold Ferns, 1955-56 .53

18. Proportion of Plunosus Ferns Sold by Florida Growers to Various Sales
Outlets, 1955-56 ......... .... ... ... .. . 55

19. Estimated Quantity of Plumosus Ferns Sold by Florida Growers to
Various Sales Outlets, 1955-56 .... . . . . 56

20. Average Prices Received by Florida Growers for Plumosus Ferns Sold
Through Various Outlets, 1955-56 . . . . . . . 57

21. Estimated Receipts from Sales of Plumosus Ferns Made Through Various
Market Outlets, 1955-56.. ............ . .58

22. Proportion of Wholesale Consignment Florists Making Settlement Reports
to Growers at Various Intervals, 1955-56 . . . ..... 60

23. Proportion of Ferns Shipped to Wholesale Consignment Florists Which
Were Sold, Dumped and Carried Over, by Seasons, 1955-56 . . 61

24. Market Distribution of Ferns Shipped from the Pierson Railway Express
Agency Station, August, 1956 . . . .. . . . .. . 67

25. Number of Fern Growers Interviewed Who Reported Shipments to
Various Distribution Areas, 1955-56 . . .. . . . 69

26. Volume of Sales and Prices Received for Ferns Shipped to Wholesale
Consignnmnt Florists in Various Cities Clcssified by Size of
Population, 1955-56 .... ..,.... ..... ... .72









LIST OF TABLES--Continued


Table Page
27. Volume of Sales and rices Received from Ferns Shipped to
Wholesale Consignment Florists in Various Cities Classified
According to Distance from Fern Shipping Points, 1955-56 . . . 75

28. Average Express Rates from Florida Fern Shipping Points and Average
Prices Received for Ferns Shipped to Various Markets, 1955-56 . 78

29. Types of Transportation Used by Florida Plumesus Fern Growers in
1955-56 . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

30. Average Shipping Days and Crates Shipped by Florida Fern Growers,
1955-56 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

31. Percentage of Plumosus Fern Shipped Each Day of the Week, Pierson
Railway Express Station, 1956 . . . . . . ... 81

32. Summary of Shipments from Pierson Railway Express Station, August, 1956,
by Number of Crates, Nrumber of Sprays and Size of Crates .... .82

33. Express Rates for Ferns Shipped from Pierson, Florida, to Important
Cities, 1955-56 .. . . . . . . .. . . . .. 84

34. Express Rates for Ferns from Leesburg, Florida, to Important Cities,
1955-56 . . . . . . . . . . .. . 85

35. Average Labor Hours Used for Cutting Ferns, 1955-56 . . . ... 88

36. Estimated Cutting Costs per 1,000 Sprays of Fern, 1955-56 . . . 88

37. Average Labor Hours Used Annually in Packing and Grading Ferns,
1955-56 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

38. Estimated Packing and Grading Costs per 1,000 Sprays of Fern, 1955-56 .90

39. Average Annual Shipments and Amount of Ice Used by Jize Croups
of Plumosus Fern Growers, 1955-56 . . . . . . ... 91

40. Estimated Ico Cost per 1,000 Sprays of Ferns, 1955-56 . . . . .91

41. Estimated Crate Costs per 1,000 Sprays of Ferns, 1955-56 . . . 93









LIST OF TABLES--Continued

Table Page
42. Average Marketing Costs per Plumosus Fern Grower, 1955-56 . . 94

43. Average Returns per Acre from Marketings of Plumosus Ferns, 1955-56 . 95

44. Average Marketing Costs and Returns per 1,000 Sprays of Plumosus
Ferns, 1955-56 ................... .... 97

45. Expenses of a 50-Acre Fernery, Volusia County, 1955 . . . . 99

46. Summary of Total Costs and Returns for a 50-Acre Fcrnery in Volusia
County, 1955 ,.................. ..... 101

47. Summary of Costs and Returns of a 50-Acre Fernery, Volusia
County, If. . . . . . . . . . .... 101

48. Seasonal Variation in Volume Shipped and Wholesale Prices of
Plumosus Ferns, January, 1955, to August, 1956 . . . . 108

49. Percentage of Commercial Grades by Different Size Groups oF
Growers, 1955-56 . . . . . . . . . .... 117

50. Average Price received per Bunch of Plumosus Fern Consigned 'c
Wholesale Florists in Various Cities, 1955-56 . . . . .. 148




































































* e a>












CHAPTER I


INTRODUCTION


Importance

Asparagus plumosus, although a member of the lily family and not a true

fern, is nevertheless known as a "fem" by most people in the horticultural specialty

business. The true plant name for this product, Asparagus plumosus nanus, is probably

not known to many of the florists who purchase and sell it daily. For simplicity it

will be referred to as plumosus fern throughout this dissertation.

The plumosus fern is one of several items of greenery used for ornamental

purposes to complement flowers in corsages, wreaths and bouquets. Of the various

flower-supporting greens, plumosus ferns are believed to be the most important in

terms of the volume shipped to market. From 1929 to 1953, as personal consumption

expenditures for flowers and other ornamental plants doubled, the production and

marketing volume of planosus fern also increased to meet the expanded market demand.1

The production oF plumosus ferns in tho United States is largely concentrated

in Florida. The 1950 Census of Agriculture indicated that Texas, Louisiana,Kentucky,

California and other states together produced 5 percent while Florida produced at


1Warren K. Trotter, Problems in Marketing Florist Crops, Comell University
Agricultural Experiment Station A.E. 983 (Ithaca: 1955), p. 25.









least 95 percent of the nation's supply.2

The value of sales of plumosus ferns was reported at $2, 716, 802 in 1949 by

the Special Census of Horticultural Specialties.3 The report noted that 213 growers,

each of whom had sales of not less than $1,000, produced 344,601,212 sprays of

plumosus ferns. Their value was more than a tenth of that reported for all marketing

of flowers and ornamental horticultural crops in Florida.

No secondary data or other information pertaining to the plumosus fern

industry are published by governmental or other data-gathering agencies. The

available data most relevant to the industry which are listed in the Special Census

report are those on production volume, value of sales and the number of establish-

ments producing ferns in various states. Annual estimates are made by the U. S.

Department of Agriculture on the cash receipts from the sales of all nursery and

greenhouse products.4

The growing importance of horticultural specialties as a component of form

income has been recognized by research administrators in the last decade. The

U. S. Department of Agriculture and many state experiment stations have put con-

siderable resources into research work on marketing florists' products. The present


U. S. Bureau of the Census, United States Census of Agriculture: 1950,
Horticultural Specialties, Vol. V, Part I (Washington: U.S. Government Printing
Office, 1952), p. 84.

31bid.

4The Agricultural Marketing Service estimated total cash receipts derived
from Florida horticultural specialty crop marketing to be $31,818,000 in 1956.
See The Form Income Situation (FIS 165) (Washington: U.S. Agricultural
Marketing Service, September, 1957), p. 57.









study is a part of Research Project 679 of the Florida Agricultural Experiment

Station. The project is concerned with the marketing practices of flowers and

ornamental plants in Florida.


Objectives and Scope of Study


Objectives

The purpose of this study is to determine and analyze the marketing practices

used in the plumnosus fern industry in Florida. The specific objectives of the study

are as follows: (1) to estimate acreage, quantity produced and receipts of the industry;

(2) to determine the type, extent of use and effectiveness of various selling practices;

(3) to determine the scope of market distribution; (4) to estimate costs and returns

to growers; and (5) to point out major problems of the industry and some of their

possible solutions. In short, it is a composite study of the efficiency of the marketing

practices of the Florida segment of the plumosus fern industry.


Scope of study

This study is largely concerned with estimates of acreage, quantity of ferns

produced and returns to the plumosus fern industry, marketing practices, the effi-

ciency of various marketing methods, market distribution, methods of transportation,

growers' costs and returns, the major problems of the fern industry and the nature of

seasonal variations in fern supply and demand.

There are ten chapters in this study. Chapter I serves to indicate the impor-

tance, purposes and methods used in this study. Chapter II presents the historical

background of the plumosus fern industry in Florida and the practices utilized in








production and marketing.

Supply aspects of the Florida plumosus fern industry are analyzed in

Chapter III. The areas of production, distribution of acreage, trends in acreage,

trends in shipment and estimated production volume are all presented in this chapter.

Chapter IV is concerned with the demand aspects for plumosus ferns. The

demand for plumosus ferns is affected to a great extent by competition with other

greeneries. The prices received for plumosus ferns over a period of years are compared

with prices received and paid by all farmers. This chapter is also concerned with the

status of competing crops and the marketing receipts of the industry.

In Chapter V an analysis is made of the volume shipped to different market

outlets and of the prices received in each outlet.

Chapter VI is concerned with the scope of distribution in terms of the volume

shipped to the different areas and states, methods of transportation, an analysis of

prices received in cities of varying size and distance and express rates in terms of

gross returns and volume shipped.

A general picture of growers' costs and returns in various size groups is

presented in Chapter VII. A case study relating to per-unit costs and returns is

also contained in this chapter.

Chapter VIII pinpoints the major problems in the plumosus fern industry.

Problems of market information, the seasonal character of supply and demand,

commission sales, standard grades and competition from other greenery all stand

out as stumbling blocks to orderly marketing. The problems of production which

involve insects, worms, diseases, soil nutrition and weed control are also briefly









covered.

Several suggestions for improved marketing practices are made in Chapter

IX. Part of the discussion relates to the organizational requirements for carrying

out these suggestions.

The summary and conclusions of this study appear in Chapter X.


Method of Procedure


Planning study

Published information related to the marketing of florists' products and some

unpublished materials concerning plumosus ferns were reviewed. Several preliminary

field trips were made to visit growers in order to become acquainted with the production

and marketing practices followed in the fern business.

A tentative research project was drawn up. The area covered in this study

includes ten counties in Florida--Volusia, Lake, Putnam, Seminole, Marion, Palm

Beach, Brevard, Duval, St. Lucie and Hillsborough--in which plumosus ferns were

produced. The major fern producing area--Volusia, Lake, Seminole and Putnam

Counties-was the region in which this study was concentrated. These counties form

a contiguous area; other plumosus producers were scattered in the remaining six

counties and accounted for a relatively small amount of the total fern production.

The sampling unit in this study was the individual grower. A grower was

defined as an individual who owned or leased land utilized for the production and

marketing of plumosus ferns. A list of growers was compiled through interviews and

correspondence with county agents, grower supply firms and growers themselves.









This list of growers contained the names of 210 operators in Volusia, Lake,

Putnam and Seminole Counties and 24 in other counties. Growers were stratified

into three groups according to size of fernery.5 These three strata were composed

of small, medium-sized and large growers. The stratum of smail growers contained

those who had ferneries between 0.5 to 9.99 acres; medium-sized growers from 10

to 19.99 acres; and large growers 20 acres or more. A sample was designed which

involved the obtaining of data by personal interview from all large growers, 50

percent of the medium-sized growers and 10 percent of the small growers. There

were relatively few large growers but many small ones. The cost of interviewing a

large grower was not significantly different from that of interviewing a small grower.

It was desirable to take a high percentage of large ferneries in the sample in order to

reduce the variability of the estimate.

The random method of sampling was applied in selecting small and medium-

sized growers. A sample of growers was devised by selecting all 24 large growers,

15 medium-sized growers (wiih 6 alternates) and 27 small growers (with 10 alternates).

After the sample had been designed and the selected growers interviewed, a

revised list of fern growers was made by a gro,, of growers in the major plumosus

fern producing area who were endeavoring to obtain approval for a proposal to form

a State Fem Commission. This group compiled what was presumed to be a complete

list of fern growers. As previously noted, the list obtained initially had the names

of 210 operators in Volusia, Lake, Putnam and Seminole Counties and 24 in other


5Growers outside the four-county area of Volusia, Lake, Putnam and
Seminole were not included in the sample design.









counties. The revised list contained 376 names for the four major counties. Nearly

all of the additions were in Volusia County. All of these additional growers were

classified in the small size group. The acreage of plumosus ferns in Volusia County

was estimated at 1,350 acres; this figure was based on the data previously obtained

and upon the facts provided by the Volusia County Agricultural Agent and several

leading growers. It was decided not to redraw the sample of small growers and to

make additional field interviews because there was considerable uniformity in the

data obtained from the small growers. The parameters for this group of small growers

for whom no definite data were obtained were estimated from the data of small

growers in that county for whom information was available.

The data obtained for this study included acreage trends in recent years,

quantities sold, average prices received, method of sale, method of transportation,

type of outlet, destination and date of sale, marketing costs and growers' opinions

on improving marketing practices. A general questionnaire for field interviewing

was prepared and pre-tested. As a result of the experience in the pro-test, several

changes were made in the field questionnaire.


Collecting data

Data wore collected through personal interviews, most of which were conducted

during the summer of 1956, with each listed grower, either manager or owner, who

was selected in the sample. A detailed questionnaire (see Appendix) was used in

the interviews to obtain data on selling practices, quantities sold and prices received,

methods of transportation and market outlets. A sub-samrple of seven growers was









contacted- and asked to provide, from their sales invoices, detailed data on prices,

shipmanlts, ourleis and ot!he marketing practices during th1 period from January, 1955,

to August, 1956.

The number of growers interviewed in the four county area was 66. Fifty

;owve.-s provided data clasiFied as satisfactory (Tablo 1). Six:een growers provided

data which were only partially complete (Tabie 2). Of this group, nine had leased

their ferneries to other growers, four had gone out of business and three ware

uncooperative. In analyzing the data, it was assumSd that a like proportion of

growers in the appropriate size groups had leased their femeries or gone out of

business. Adjustments between size groups were made to take these relationships

into account.


TABLE 1

DISTRIBUTION OF GROWERS INTERVIEWED WHO FURNISHED
SATISFACTORY DATA IN MAJOR FE.RN
PRODUCING COUNTIES


SiZ3 Number of Distribution of Sample Growers by County
Cro. -n Growers
Vol usia Lake Putnamr Seminole

Smal!
(0.5 9.99 acres) 18 13 1 4

Medium
(10 19.- acres) 15 8 6 1

Large
(20 acres and above) 17 10 2 1 4

All Growers 30 31 9 6 4









TABLE 2

DISTRIBUTION OF GRC e": ; INTT^V.' ':'D v0o10 SUPPLIED
PARTIAL OR IN(: ./.?'. :T DATA IN MAJOR
FE.,N 1.-. UCING COUNTIES


Number of Distribution by County
Size Group Growes
Growers
Volusia Lake Putncam

Small 12 6 4 2

i''diL ; 2 2 .

Lcrge 2 1 1 .

"" wers 16 9 5 2



Of the 24 crowers in counties other than Valusia, Lake, Seminole and Putnam,

13 were interviewed. Most of these interviews were made during the fall of 1956.

'' "-y of ' t, growers vwere small and did not supply all the informetricn requested.

Nevertheless, sufficient data were supplied to permit estimates to b2 made of the

-na' parameters studied. Data on the cereage of growers not interviewed were

obtained from various sources. One interview, that vith a large grower in Marlcn

County, was made ,'.r!n. June, 1 I,; in obtaining the list of fern growers no

cooperator had -iv: any record of this fernery.

Considerable information was obtained from the Railway Express ~ --n

office at Pierson, Volusia County. This is the IcrL. .j! plumosus fern producing

center in Florida. Daily rocrds of fern shipments for August, 1956, ware obtained

with respect to destination, volume, weight and '-.'3hl charges, shipper and buyer's









name. Additionally, records of shipping volume from 1949 to 1956 were acquired,

according to the availability, either on a daily or on an annual basis.

Some minor information was gathered from The Florists' ioview, correspond-

enco with agriculturists in the West Coast area, bulletins6 related to the production

of plumosus ferns and Florida daily newspapers. Although these materials are not

solely related to marketing practices, they served to provide a better understanding

of the operations in the whole industry.

As a matter of interest, the writer of this dissertation, because of his Chinese

background and employment experience, reviewed a number of Chinese marketing

publications.7 The reading was helpful in understanding the nature of an unorganized

industry and the possibility for improving its marketing practices.


Analyzing data

Data collected from the general questionnaires, the railway express office

and sale invoices were tabulated and analyzed to show the quantity and value of

plumosus fern sold by various selling practices to outlets in different locations.

Comparisons were mode of the stability and seasonality of sales and the net income

received through different methods of sale.

Analysis was made of the extent to which sales were made to various markets.

The marketing volume was classified according to states and methods of sale.

6V. J. Platt, Asparagus Fern Culture, Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Bulletin 153 (Gainesville: 1952) and R. Stoutamire, Growing Asparagus Plumosus in
Florida, Florida State Department of Agriculture Bulletin 12 (Ta lahcssee: 1948).

7See bibliography.




11



Comparisons of costs and returns were mode between the different sizes of

growers. Due to lack of sufficient data, this comparison is an approximate one.

The statistical relationship between volume shipped and prices received was

explored. Production and sales data obtained were expanded to develop estimates

of the total producing acreage, volume of sales and income received from marketing

plumosus ferns in Florida.












CHAPTER II


SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FLORIDA FERN INDUSTRY


Historical Develo.pent

Plumosus ferns have been grown in Florida for a period of 60 ye-c. Whether

the plant was initially grown in Lake Conty or in Volus?a County is a controversial

point. Residents of these two areas claim that plumosus ferns were first grown in

their county. Each of these groups has a history of places cnd persons to prove its

claim. It would seem appropriate to give credit to both areas since their develop-

ments appear to have been independent and their starting points close together.

One account concerns John James and his wife.1 James had been a florist

in England before he moved to Florida with his family in 1886. He was employed

in 1892 as manager of an orange grove in Yalaha, Lake County, and built a small

greenhouse similar to his former structure in England. Along with other seeds,

plumosus fern seeds were purchased in the North to be planted in the greenhouse.

It was from these and from other seeds sent from Italy that the plumosus industry

began. Fern sprays were cut and shipped to northern markets. After 1895 James

quit his job as manager of the orange grove and operated the plumosus fernery

independently. The business developed and was passed on to James' daughters--

Mrs. D. J. Vhitt and Mrs. M. J. Morris. Mrs. Whitt now operates 25 acres,

1"Pioneer in Plumosus," The Florists' Review, Vol.62, No.1606,
September 6, 1923, p. 37.









included among which is the first half acre planted by her father.

Another account claims that Peter Pierson and his son, Eugene, of Pierson,

Volusia County, wore ;-he first piumosus fern producers in Florida.2 With the encour-

agement of his brother, Andrew Pierson, a florist in Connscticut, Peter Pierson

established the first plumosus fern slcia house in 1904 on a quarter acre of land. A

second slat house was constructed on higher ground in 1'"6. The practice of grow-

ing each spray on a string was soon abandoned and the method of cutting and packing

sprays used today was established. F. D. Harper established the third slat house in

Volusia County in 1907. It was not until :!ie ate 1920's that hammock type fomeries

gradually emerged.

The production of plumosus forns in :. riida has a long history. Most fern

growers have been engaged in the business for more than ten years. It requires two

years for a plumosus fern plant to reach maturity. It is not considered good policy

for a new grower to plant a large acreage during any one year due to the limitation

of market outlets. Once the land is cleared and capital invested, it is difficult to

withdraw from the business because of the long run nature of production. Most

growers start with a small acreage and gradually build it up to their desired level.

Generally speaking, of 50 growers interviewed in this study, the larger growers

were ones who had been in the business over a long period of lime. Most large

growers began with a small acreage and have gradually increased their acreage by

plantings end purchases of other ferneries.


Information obtained from Volusia County Agricultural Agent.








Of 17 large growers in the major fern producing counties, 12 have been fern

producers for over 20 years; 11 out of 15 medium-sized growers have been in the

business between 11 and 30 years; and 13 out of 18 small growers have engaged in

fernary operations from 1 io 20 years (Table 3). It would appear that growers, as

they gained experience and were successful in the fern business, have been able to

enlarge their scale of operations.


TABLE 3

NUMBER OF YEARS GROWERS INTERVIEWED IN
MAJOR FOUR COUNTY AREA HAVE BEEN
IN FERN BUSINESS


Number of Years in Number of Growers in Different Size Groups
Fern Business
Small Size Medium Size Large Size Total

1 -10 8 3 3 14
11 -20 5 6 2 13
21 -30 4 5 8 17
31 -40 1 1 4 6

Total 18 15 17 50



Production Practices

Production of plumosus ferns in Florida usually begins from seed imported from

Italy or California or from seed produced in the state. Seeds are sown as early as

possible in the Spring in seedbeds located on soil similar to that used for ferneries.

From 10,000 to 13,000 seeds are normally contained in a pound; these seeds usually

produce 5,000 to 6,000 plants. The young plants are generally kept in the seedbed









for at least six months before being transferred to the permanent production area.

Shading is an important element in the culture of plumosus ferns. The nature

of the plumosus plant is such that it requires a moist and cool atmosphere for growth.

Shading makes it possible for the soil to retain moisture longer and protects the

greenery from sunburn. With adequate shading and good soil conditions, plumosus

ferns usually remain evergreen and in good shape.

Shade for ferns is usually provided either by slat houses or by natural shade.

Slat houses are constructed almost entirely of cypress slats, which lost from eight to

ten years. The minimum construction cost of a slat house has been estimated to be

$4,000 per acre.3 Ferns grown under slat houses usually have higher yields per acre

than those planted under natural shade. This is especially true in the winter season.

Slat houses provide better protection from frost; kerosene burners may be used more

efficiently inside the slat house. Ferns are planted in the natural shade of a wooded

area in hammock type ferneries. Live oak trees usually provide this type of shade.

The soil should be carefully prepared to remove excess roots and to provide a suitable

plant bed. Ferns under natural shade usually require a larger quantity of fertilizer

but yield a product of a better grade and quality in the summer than those planted

under slat houses. In recent years young oak trees have been planted in many of the

slat houses throughout Volusia County. In time the slat house will decay and lose

its shading value but the young oaks will be large enough to take ovCr the shading

function.


3"Pierson Top Fern Production Area," The Florida Times Union
(Jacksonville, Florida), Vol. 91, June 17, 1956, p. 20.
















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bY it


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operators of other types of horticultural enterprises such as citrus groves. The center

of the plumosus fern industry is located on the northern fringe of the citrus belt in

Florida. A long range of slat houses or hammock type femeries can often be seen

adjacent to citrus groves.


Marketing Practices

Marketing may be defined as beginning with the harvesting of the fern crop.

Harvesting is done throughout the year. Each acre may yield 150,000 to 350,000

sprays yearly. Ferns are cut and bunched into sprays by hand. The length of a spray

is from 20 to 30 inches. Fern cutters are paid either by the hour or by the quantity

of sprays cut. The average wage for fern cutters is from $0.80 to $1.50 per hour.

If the wage is paid by the quantity of ferns cut, the wage rate usually is $1.50 per

1,000 sprays. A good fern cutter may cut 1,000 sprays per hour. After the sprays

are cut, they are either bunched in the field or sent by truck to a packinghouse where

they are processed fa" market.

At the packinghouse, the ferns are normally placed in cold water to prevent

shedding. Sprays are then graded according to length and shape and placed in bunches

of 50 sprays. Spoiled and malformed sprays are usually discarded. Although the

United States Department of Agriculture established standard grades for plumosus

ferns in 1930, the grading process is usually carried out without following definite

standards. Many growers do not follow any kind of grading procedure. They wrap

50 sprays of different lengths and quality in sphagnum moss to form a bunch. The

fern packed in this manner is called greenhouse run.
Ferns are packed in various sizes of containers. The container or crate is









made of wood veneer and is bound by wire. Each crate is lined with several thick-

nesses of newspaper and a piece of ice is placed inside. The weight of ice varies

with the size of crate, shipping distance and season. The most common size of crate

used is the 1,000-spray (20-bunch) container. This requires a piece of ice weighing

from 25 to 30 pounds.

After ferns are packed in crates, a label is placed on each crate indicating

its destination, name of receiver, address and name of sender and number of sprays

in the crate. The crates are hauled by truck to a nearby railway express station.

After being checked in and wveighcd, the crates are placed in the storeroom or on

the express station platform for loading. The fern is normally shipped the day it is

cut in order to preserve its freshness.

Shipping charges are usually paid by the receiver in the northern market if

the ferns are shipped on an f.o.b. basis. On consignment sales express charges are

usually paid by wholesale commission florists who deduct transportation charges from

sales receipts after sales have been made. If sales receipts are insufficient to cover

transportation charges, the commission florist bills the shippers for the amount of

the deficit.

Most of the plumosus fern produced in Florida is shipped to out-of-state

markets. Shipments to some stales require inspection by the State Plant Board as a

precaution against plant disease. Quite a few growers indicated that shipments to

Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado required that a State Plant Boa;-d sticker be placed

on the crates to show that they passed inspection.

Marketing plumosus ferns, like other florists' products, is a highly specialized





19



business. The market for plumosus ferns is through a distinct system of wholesale

and retail florists' markets all over the nation. Marketing problems arise from ihe

seasonal nature of demand and supply, consignment settlements, grades, competition

from other greens and between growers and from other sources. At the present time

the fern industry is not so organized that producers work together toward the solution

of these problems.



















-VS i ;;


:ast ce:

5.001











Figure 1.--Distribution of plumosus fern acreage in
Florida, 1955-56.


j r HOLMES .' JACKSON \
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WAWLILLI i Ar ACLAY


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-iS itcie "l ,- 's^ i ...... -



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MARION
v otiVS
g+

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O ENOEI



PASCO ........... .....









PALM I ZIA, CH
Numbers denote acreage in each ZEE
plumosus fern producing county.
r---------- -




1PA0

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Sufficient air drainage is not provided in many areas in South Florida. The best sites

for plurnosus fernoriss are in east central Florida.


Distribution of Acreage

The acreage and number of ferneries by counties, as determined in this study,

are listed in Table 4. Volusia, Lake, Putnam and Seminole are the four major pro-

ducing counties of plumosus ferns in Florida. These four counties contain about 92

percent of the total plumosus fern acreage in Florida. The remaining 8 percent is

scattered throughout Marion, Palm Beach, Brevord, Duval, St. Lucie and Hillsborough

Counties.

TABLE 4

ACREAGE AND NUMBER OF PLUMOSUS FERNERIES
BY COUNTIES IN FLORIDA, 1955-56


Acreage
County Ferneries
Total Proportion Average
of Total Size
Number Acres Percent Acres
Volusia 309 1,350.0 65.1 4.4
Lake 42 313.2 15.1 7.5
Putnam 21 129.0 6.2 6.1
Seminole 4 114.0 5.5 28.5
Marion 5 84.3 4.1 16.9
Palm Beach 10 22.8 1.1 2.3
Brevard 3 28.0 1.4 9.3
Duvol 1 25.0 1.2 25.0
St. Lucie 3 4.2 .2 1.4
Hillsborough 2 2.0 .1 1.0

Total 400 2,072.5 100.0 5.2









Volusia County is the largest plumosus fern producing center in the nation.

Three-fourths of the ferneries, with 65 percent of the plumosus fern acreage in Florida,

are located in Volusia County. Lake, Putnam and Seminole Counties are next in

importance in terms of acreage. Each of these four major counties has in excess of

100 acres in plumosus ferneries. In the 1955-56 season Florida had a total of 400

ferneries and 2,072 acres in plumosus fern production.

The average fernery size was small in most counties. (Data on average sizes

are shown in the right hand column of Table 4.) There were only three counties in

which the averago-sized fernery exceeded ten acres. The average-sized operation

in the plumosus fern industry in Florida was approximately 5 acres.

For convenience in computing and comparing the efficiency of marketing

practices among the 400 ferneries, they were grouped into three strata according

to their size--small, medium-sized and large growers--in Table 5.


TABLE 5

ACREAGE AND NUMBER OF FERNERIES BY SIZE
OF GROWERS IN FLORIDA, 1955-56

Acreage
Grower Size Group Femsries Average Per
Tota Grower
Number Percent Acres Percent Acres
Small
(0.5 9.99 acres) 345 86.2 985.0 47.5 2.9
Medium
(10 -19.99acres) 31 7.8 368.5 17.8 11.9
Large
(20 acres and over) 24 6.0 719.0 34.7 30.0
All Growers 400 100.0 2,072.5 100.0 5.2









Of the 400 growers of plumosus ferns in Florida, 86.2 percent were classified

as small growers. The small growers had a total of 985 acres--47.5 percent" of the

total. The average size for small growers was 2.9 acres.

The number of medium-sized growers made up 7.8 percent of the total. These

had 17.8 percent of the total acreage. The medium-sized growers had an average-

sized fernery of 11.9 acres. Although there were only 24 large growers, they

operated 34.7 percent of the total acreage in plumosus ferns. The average large

grower had a 30 acre fernery.

The estimated acreage of the industry was 2, 072 acres in 1955-56. This

figure was derived by grouping the data for all growers in the population list and,

as noted earlier, utilizing the figure of 1,350 acres as the area in plumosus ferns in

Volusia County.


Trends in Acreage

Plumosus fern production in Florida was begun shortly before the turn of the

century. Since that time the product has proved its adaptability to Florida's growing

conditions and its profitability in the florists' markets of the nation. According to

unverified figures quoted by Platt, there were 800 acres in Florida in 1930;1 the

figure had jumped to some 2,000 acres by 1952.2 According to the data obtained

from the growers interviewed, a slight increase in acreage was noted from 1951 to

1956 (Table 6). In general, the total acreage for small growers has tended


1A. J. Platt, op. cit., p. 8.

2Ibid., p. 1.









TABLE 6

ACREAGE TREND, BY f17 : GROUPS, OF 50 GROWERS
INTERVIEWED IN VOLUSIA, LAKE, SEMINOLE
AND PUTNAM COUNTIES, 1951-52 TO 1955-56


Period
Size Group Period
1951-52 1952-53 1953-54 1954-55 1955-56

Acres Acres Acres Acres Acres
Small 91.8 88.2 90.0 94.2 89.2
Medium 182.5 182.5 188.5 190.5 209.5
Lcrge 564.0 564.0 573.0 596.0 613.5

Total 838.3 834.7 851,5 880.7 912.2


aNot an estimate for all growers.


downward. The medium-sized growers have slightly increased their acreage. The

large growers have continued to expand their total acreage.

The declining trend of the small growers versus the upward trend of the

medium-sized and large growers indicates a probable shifting of acreage from small

growers to medium-sized and large growers. Many small growers were caught in the

unfavorable market situation of recent years and went out of business. It is quite

probable that many large operators expanded their ferneries by purchasing fern

acreages from small growers.3

County acreage trends of the 50 growers interviewed in the four major counties

are shown in Table 7. Those four counties all showed slight increases in acreage,


3The estimated acreage of the plumosus fern industry in past periods is not
made here because the information at hand is not sufficient to6make an objective
evaluation of the extent of growers' entering and leaving the industry.








TABLE 7

ACREAGE TRENDS OF 50 GROWERS IN FOUR MAJOR
PRODUCING COUNTIES, 1951-52 TO 1955-560


Period
County
1951-52 1952-53 1953 -4 1954-55 1955-56

Acres Acres Acres Acres Acres
Putnam 64.5 62.5 71.5 68.5 70.5
Lake 169.5 170.5 170.5 170.5 176.5
Seminole 10O.0 101.0 101.0 116.0 116.0
Volusia 503.3 500.7 503.5 525.7 549.3
Total 838.3 834.7 851.5 880.7 912.3

aNot an estimate for all growers.


but the increases were all below 15 percent for the past five years. The industry

appears to be growing in terms of acreage but the growth has been relatively slow.

Production of plumosus ferns in Florida is In two types of femrnies--slat

houses and natural shade. Slat houses are sheds which provide shade for ferns and

are almost entirely constructed of cypress wood. The natural shade type fernery is

located in wooded areas where natural or planted evergreen trees provide shade;

most such ferneries are in lowland hammocks. Nevertheless, many femeries on high

ground are shaded by trees. Many growers hove planted trees in slat houses in order

to transform loth shade into natural shade. Slat houses were used by growers during

the early years of the fern industry; however, during the last 15 years the fernery

area covered by natural shade has increased faster than that under slat houses.

Among the small growers, slat house acreage has tended to decrease in recent









years but there has been a slight increase of hammock type acreage (Table 8).

Medium-sized growers showed an upward trend in both slat house and hammock type

ferneries, but the rate of increase in slat house acreage was a little higher than the

increase in hammock type acreage. Large growers showed an upward trend both in

slat house and hammock type ferneries but the rate of increase in hammock type

acreage was greater than in slat house acreage. In general, the acreage of hammock

type ferneries in the entire industry appears to have increased faster than that of slat

house ferneries during the past five years.

A breakdown of slat house and hammock type ferneries by counties indicates

(Table 9) that the trend of hammock type acreage in each county has an upward

movement except in Lake County where the acreage has remained constant. The

slat house acreage was unchanged for Putnam and Seminole Counties, but there

was a slight increase in Lake and Volusia. In the 1955-56 season, Volusia's acreage

was 40 percent lath house and 60 percent hammock; Seminole County, 87 percent

lath house and 13 percent hammock; Lake County, 93 percent lath house and 7 percent

hammock; and Putnam County, 23 percent in loth house and 77 percent in hammock.

The ratio of slat house to hammock fern acreage in these four counties was 5 to 4 in

the 1955-56 season.


Trends in Shipments

The supply of plumosus ferns sent to market in recent years can be illustrated

by the volume shipped from the Pierson Railway Express Agency from 1949 to 1956.

Pierson is the largest producing and shipping center for plumosus ferns in Florida.
Roughly one-third to two-fifths of the fern supply is estimated to come from Pierson.





28







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TABLE 9

ACREAGE TREND OF 50 GROWERS BY COUNTIES AND BY
TYPE OF FEt'" Y, 1`5-5


Years Slat Hammock Total Slat Hammock Total

Acres Acres Acres Acres Acres Acres
Volusia Lake

1951-52 207.5 295.7 503.2 156.5 13.0 169.5

1952-53 201.5 299.5 501.0 157.5 13.0 170.5

1953-54 208.0 300.0 508.0 157.5 13.0 170.5

1954-55 210.3 315.5 525.8 157.5 13.0 170.5

1955-56 218.3 330.5 548.8 163.5 13.0 176.5


Seminole Putnam

1951-52 101.0 ... 101.0 16.5 48.0 64.5

1952-53 101.0 ... 101.0 16.5 46.0 62.5

1953-54 101.0 ... 101.0 20.5 51.0 71.5

1954-55 101.0 15.0 116.0 16.5 52.0 68.5

1955-56 101.0 15.0 116.0 16.5 54.0 70.5


aGrowers interviewed only; not an estimate for all growers.









Although the volume of ferns shipped in 1956 was slightly higher than that in the

previous year, the volume of plumosus ferns shipped from Pierson has taken a down-

ward turn in recent years. The evidence now available is not sufficient to indicate

whether this is a turning point toward an upward trend or just a temporary upward

movement of a downward trend. Table 10 and Figure 2 show the downward trend in

the volume of ferns shipped from 1949 to 1956.


TABLE 10

VOLUME OF FERNS SHIPPED FROM PIERSON RAILWAY EXPRESS
AGENCY, VOLUSIA COUNTY, 1949-56a


Year Volume Shipped

Boxes
1949 83,943
1950 88,719
1951 86,210
1952 84,936
1953 SO, 502
1954 80,150
1955 75,896
1956 81,600

CData obtained from the Pierson Railway Express Agency,
Volusia County.


The downward trend in plumosus ferns shipped to market in recent years appears

to be in contradiction with the slightly expanding acreage indicated in the previous

section. This contradiction may be partially explained by changes in demand and

prices received for ferns. The changes in demand forced the price level for plumosus












Figure 2.--Annual volume of plumosus fern shipped
from the Pierson Railway Express Station, 1949-56.



Boxes
(000)
100


90 88719
63F943 --- -86210 8 -93
0 -- 80_02 =8010 81600
7580 896-----

70 -

60 -


1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956


-- Trend line


Year


Source: Data in Table 10.








ferns downward in recent years. This downward trend in prices, along with the higher

costs of constructing and maintaining lath houses, accentuated the tendency for

plumosus fern growers to shift production from lath houses to natural shade. Production

per acre is lower in the latter method of production. (This situation Is explained

further in Chapter IV.) It has also been reported that some growers from the Pierson

area have, in recent years, shipped all or a part of their ferns from Seville and

other railway express stations. This practice would tend to make the Pierson figures

less accurate. Data comparable to those from Pierson were not available from other

railway express stations.


Estimated Production in 1955-56

The quantity of plumosus ferns produced in a given time is interpreted herein

as the volume shipped to market. Plumosus sprays may be cut the year around. How-

ever, only the sprays which are sold are counted as production.

Ratio estimates were used to derive the volume of fern production in the

industry. The 50 growers in the sample were grouped into three strata--small,

medium-sized and large--according to their fernery size. A stratum-by-stratum

ratio estimate was used to obtain the average production per acre in each stratum.

The average production per acre times the known total acreage equals the total pro-

duction in a stratum. Adding up the estimates for the three strata gives the industry's

volume. Estimates made from the data for the growers interviewed in the four major

counties were combined with estimates for the remaining counties in arriving at the

over-all production figure. The estimated production of the industry was approximately

383,000,000 sprays in the 1955-56 season (Table 11).









TABLE 11

ESTIMATED PRODUCTION OF PLUMOSUS F 2NS
IN FLORIDA, 1955-56a


Average Production Total
Size Group Per Acre Acree Production

Spry Number Acres Sprays
Small 188,844 85.0 186,010,907
Medium 213,946 368.5 78,839,101
Large 163,914 719.0 117,854,166
Total 184,658 2, 072.5 382,704,174


period from July, 1955,throuCh June, 1956.


In this estimate it is important to consider the variance of average volume

per acre in each size group of growers. The larger variance in a stratum requires a

greater number of sample units in that stratum in order to attain a certain degree of

specification of the estimate. Thsre is no problem on variance in the case of the

large and medium-sized growers because these two groups include enough growers in

the sample (17 out of 24 large growers with 80 percent of the acreage and 15 out of

31 medium-sized growers with 52 percent of the acreage). Only 19 of the small

growers interviewed supplied usable data; thus only 6 percent of the small growers'

acreage was covered in the study. This may not be sufficient to guarantee an accurate

estimate of the small growers' production. The sample taken was highly concentrated

with the larger growers due to the consideration of cost in field surveying and the

availability of data from growers. The cost of interviewing a large grower is little

different from that of interviewing a small grower; however, larger growers generally









keep better records than small growers. Of 42 small growers interviewed, only 19

provided data usable in this study.

The total production of the industry can be computed in another way; i.e.,

by grouping the sample growers by counties and sub-grouping them into small, medium-

sized and large strata according to their size. In Table 12 a stratum-by-stratum

average production per acre in each county was multiplied by the known number of

acres and was equal to the total production of a specific county. in case there were

no sample growers in a specific county, the average production per acre of any stratum

(small, medium-sized or large) was used, depending upon the size of the growers in

that county. The volume of production in each county is shown in Table 12.


TABLE 12
ESTIMATED PRODUCTION OF PLUMOSUS F ERNS
BY COUNTIES, 1955-56 SEASONa


County


Volusia
Lake
Putnam
Seminole
Marion
Palm Beach
Brevard
Duval
St. Lucle
Hillsborough
Total


Acreage

Acres
1,350.0
313.2
129.0
114.0
84.3
22.8
28.0
25.0
4.2
2.0
2,072.5


Average Production
Per Acre

Sprays
180,000
214,264
160,585
234,569
109,049
188,787
222,926
168,887
188,787
183,787
184,658


Total
Production

Sprays
243,002,168
67, 118,329
20,715,409
26,740,866
9,187,373
4,294,904
6,241,936
4,222,175
802,345
377,574
382,703,079


aPeriod from July 1, 1955, through June 30, 1956.


--









The estimated production by counties shown in Table 12 is strikingly close

to the estimate based on grower size groups (noted in Table 11). The higher pro-

duction per acre in Lake, Seminole and Brevard Counties indicates that the acreage

in slat houses outnumbered the hammock type acreage. This agrees with data in

Table 9 which pertains to the slat house and hammock type acreage.

Plumosus fern production in Volusia County alone was 63 percent of the

industry total. The four main counties-Volusia, Lake, Putnam and Seminole--

produced 93 percent of the total volume of the industry.












CHAPTER IV


DEMAND FOR PLUMOSUS FERNS


Introduction

Market price is always an indicator of the interaction of demand and supply

conditions in a free market system. In analyzing the market structure of the Florida

plumosus fern industry, its price trends in the past must be examined in order to

evaluate its current position.

Demand, supply and prices interact to create a particular market situation

at any given time. Changes in demand will induce changes in prices and supplies

and vice versa. The market structure for plumosus fern tends to place sellers at a

disadvantage relative to buyers. The possibility of substituting various items of

greenery and foliage for plumosus weakens the position of the latter in the market.


Plumosus Fern Price Trends

No series of statistics on prices of plumosus ferns has been developed by the

U. S. Department of Agriculture or other public agencies. It has been necessary to

rely on individual fern growers' personal records for data to evaluate the general

trend of prices for plumosus ferns in Florida (Table 13).

The sales unit generally utilized in marketing plumosus ferns is 1,000 sprays

(20 bunches). There is some variation in prices between (1) f.o.b. wholesale, (2)

f.o.b. retail and (3) consignment outlets. The f.o.b. prices for sales made by a

36









TABLE 13

AVERAGE PRICES RECEIVED FOR PLUMOSUS
FERNS FROM 1940 THROUGH 1956a


Average Prices index of Fern Marginal Change
Year Received Per Prices of Price
1,000 Spraysb (1940-44=100) Index

Dollars Percent
1940 5.07 86
+3
1941 5.25 89
+9
1942 5.75 98
+9
1943 6.31 107
+12
1944 7.00 119
+25
1945 8.50 144
+7
1946 8.87 151
+11
1947 9.50 162
0
1948 9.50 162
0
1949 9.50 162
+2
1950 9.62 164
+10
1951 10.25 174
+5
1952 10.50 179
-3
1953 10.37 176
-12
1954 9.65 164
0
1955 9.65 164
-11
1956 9.00 153

aPrices received by the fern growers are not the market prices paid by
florists. It indicates rather the return to growers after paying transportation and
other marketing charges.

Data obtained from a large fern grower in Volusia County.











o 0r


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Id


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war


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to the rationing of durable goods, increased purchasing power and higher personal

incomes. Most consumers diverted some purchasing power to non-durable goods and

created a price rise which benefited many products, including horticultural specialties.

The level of prices paid by farmers followed the rise of prices received by

farmers throughout the war years and early postwar period. The level of prices

received by fern growers was below the level of prices received by all farmers during

most of the period from 1940 to 1956. While the index of prices received exceeded

that of prices paid for agriculture as a whole in the war years and early post war

period, fem growers had a much shorter favorable profit period than that for agricul-

ture as a whole.2 These situations are clearly indicated by the several index series

in Table 14 and Figure 3.

The index series in Table 14 starts from 1940 due to lack of price data prior

to 1940 from plumosus fern growers. The base period is 1940 to 1944 so that prices

received by fern growers could be compared with prices received and prices paid by

all farmers on the same basis.

In prewar years, the index of prices received by fern growers was slightly

higher than the index of prices paid and of prices received by all farmers. This

favorable condition changed between 1941 and 1942. During this period, prices

of major farm products increased rapidly and overtook fern prices. The cost of pro-

duction increased less rapidly than average prices received by farmers, but the rate

of rising costs was a little faster than the rising fern prices. The level of fern prices


2This is with the implicit assumption that these indexes accurately reflected
the costs and receipts situation for all farmers.






































































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increased again in comparison with the cost level in 1944 and even exceeded the level

of prices received by all farmers in 1945. This favorable condition continued until

1947 when most farm prices and costs rose at a rapid pace while fern prices remained

stable.

Since 1947, plumosus fern growers have found less profitable market conditions

for their products. Prices for plumosus ferns have stayed fairly stable with a little

upward trend from 1950 to 1952. On the other hand, overhead and operational costs

have increased and overtaken the price level. This unfavorable condition continued

and even became worse after 1953. The price level of plumosus ferns declined while

the costs of marketing and production continued a moderate upward trend. Fern

growers, like other farmers, were caught in a price-cost squeeze.


F. O. B. and Consignment Price Trends

The price trend of plumosus ferns shipped on an f.o.b. basis was quite different

from those shipped on a consignment basis (Figure 4). The f.o.b. prices rose steadily

during World War II but remained at lower levels than consignment prices from 1941

through 1944. On the other hand, consignment prices were high during the war time

and dropped sharply after the war. The f.o.b. price trend was consequently exceeded

by the consignment price trend during the World War II period, but was considerably

above the consignment price level in the postwar period.

During the 1949-50 period, the f.o.b. price level was relatively stable.

However, consignment price data were not available for these years. The f.o.b.

price level was slightly above the consignment price level during the Korean War.

Both price levels declined after the Korean War. From 1955 to 1956, the f.o.b.

































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price level declined while the consignment price level had an upward trend.


Effects of Price Changes on the Fern Industry

Unfavorable market conditions have had several effects on the industry. The

keen competition among growers for market outlets has created numerous "price wars"

during the peak marketing season and have probably caused many small growers to go

out of business or to sell their femeries to larger growers. The production of plumosus

ferns is an intensive enterprise but it may tend to be less intensive in terms of resources

used if costs of production continue to rise and prices of ferns continue downward.

Fertilizing, spraying, dusting and grading may be reduced, either in frequency or in

volume. Also, the hammock type of fernery has gradually increased and there has

been a tendency to replace slat houses with natural shade. The initial capital outlay

for a hammock type fernery is lower than for the lath house type. As noted earlier,

yields are lower in hammock ferneries. For these reasons, although the acreage in

production increased slightly from 1951 to 1956, there has been a decline in the

plumosus fern supply3 on the market during the past eight years.

The unfavorable price level and the downward trend in volume shipped of

plumosus ferns are strongly indicative of a change in the market demand for plumosus

ferns. This change in demand for plumosus ferns is not a result of any decline in

consumer spending for flowers and ornamental horticultural products. Instead, consumer

spending for florists' products more than tripled in current dollar value from 1940 to 1953


3The decline of supply is indicated by Table 10 and Figure 2 in Chapter III.









and almost doubled from 1947 to 1953.4 It appears that the causes of decreasing

market demand and a declining price level can be attributed to two factors: (1)

the competition from other greenery and (2) a situation in which unorganized plumosus

fern growers are attempting to deal with better organized florists' markets.


Competition From Other Greenery

The major reason for the downward trend of Florida plumosus ferns is believed

to be keen competition from other greenery. The major competing items are sword

ferns, huckleberry and salal from the Pacific Coast; jade and emerald from Mexico,

lycopodium and polypodium ferns from Hawaii; English laurel, oak leaves and smilax

from the Southeast; and leather leaf fern, sprlngerii fern, podocarpus and pittosporum

from Florida. All these items of greenery are competitive with plumosus fern for a

share of the market in one way or another. Many other foliage or greens could be

listed. However, some may not be competitive and others are not competitive to a

large degree. Only the more important competitive greens and their principal supply

sources are discussed below.

Pacific Coast greens.-- Greens from the Pacific Coast are probably more

competitive with Florida ferns than those from any other area. Huckleberry, salal

and sword ferns are natural greens produced largely in the mountain areas of Oregon,

Washington and California. These ferns are generally picked by individuals and sold

to a distributor who grades, packs and ships the greens throughout the nation.

Pacific Coast greens are deemed to have several advantages over plumosus


4Trotter, op. cit., p. 25.

























































os ,n ts zoso covredfor Hawaiian Flowersasog
wh u I i"t is nearer st 'k'* s T ,i s


o ast s ci! l... .... r s is O '* :Ssr.. s o .










": ths C c













or Hawaiian owers i









fern, are becoming increasingly popular for decorative purposes. These foliage are

very competitive with Florida plumosus ferns as well as with Pacific Coast huckleberry

and salal for decorative work in many markets.

Hawaiian ferns.-- Two Hawaiian ferns, lycopodium and polypodium, are

keen competitors with mainland ferns. The lycopodium has a wide market because

it is known throughout the United States. The polypodium fern is favorably received

in the florists' market because of its unusual form and longevity.

Southeastern greens.-- There are several greens from the Southeastern region

which appear to be competitive with plumosus ferns. English laurel from North

Carolina is popular In the East because of its longevity. Smilax, a small leaf, green

or bronze in color with a long stem, is obtained from the mountains of Tennessee and

North Carolina. These greens are used quite extensively in wreaths and funeral

pieces and for other decorative purposes. While not in the Southeast, Indiana offers

an abundance of oak leaves for the florists' trade.

Florida local greens.-- Besides plumosus ferns, Florida produces several other

greens which are extensively used In the florists' market for decorative purposes.

Leather leaf and springerii ferns, podocarpus and pittosporum are shipped out of state

although, as compared with plumosus ferns, they are less important in volume and total

returns. In fact, many plumosus fern growers also produce leather leaf or other greens

in order to have some diversity in their businesses.

Leather leaf fern appears to have a very promising market potential because

of its long lasting characteristic. It is estimated that around 7,350,000 sprays of

leather leaf fern were produced on some 42 acres of land in Florida in the 1955-56









season. This is about 2 percent of the plumosus fern industry's acreage and production

volume in Florida.

Springerii fern is a delicate green. Like plumosus, it is also a member of the

lily family. Its market is limited due to its high perishability. The acreage of

springerti fern in Florida is estimated at about 20 acres. Two million sprays were

marketed in 1955-56.


Receipts From Plumosus Marketings

Receipts from the marketing of Florida plumosus ferns in 1955-56 season were

estimated by ratio methods. The process of making ratio estimates of marketing receipts

was quite similar to that used in making estimates of plumosus fern production volume.

An average return per 1,000 sprays by size groups of growers and by different counties

was computed. After this was done, the total returns to growers in different size

groups and in various counties was obtained by multiplying the average returns by

the quantity of ferns sold in the different groups and counties. The average sales per

grower were also computed by dividing the total returns in each group or county by

the total number of growers in that group or county.

The average returns per 1,000 sprays of ferns marketed may be viewed as a

guide in evaluating the effectiveness of the marketing practices utilized by the various

size groups of growers. The large growers received the highest return, $9.54 per

1,000 sprays; the medium-sized growers were second with $9.36 per 1,000 sprays;

and the small growers were lowest with $8.89 per 1,000 sprays (Table 15). The

average returns to growers depend a great deal upon the type of market outlets to

which ferns are sold, the physical condition in which the products are shipped, the








TABLE 15

ESTIMATED RECEIPTS FROM SALES OF PLUMOSUS FERNS
BY GROWERS IN FLORIDA, 1955-56a


Average Average
Size Group Sprays Return Per Total Growers Sales
1,000 Sprays Returns Per Grower

Number Dollars Dollars Number Dollars

Small 186,010,907 8.89 1,653,637 345 4,793
Medium 78,839,101 9.36 737,934 31 23,804
Large 117,854,166 9.54 1,124,329 24 46,847
Total 382,704,174 9.18 3,515,900 400 8,789

aPeriod From July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


time at which they are sold and other factors. A further exploration of these factors

will be made in a later section.

Total returns to small growers were $1,653,637 or approximately 47 percent

of the industry total, but the average sales per small grower were only $4,793

annually. The value of sales for medium-sized growers was about 21 percent of the

industry's total receipts; the average annual sales per grower were $23, 804. Large

growers received 32 percent of the industry's total receipts with average annual sales

of $46, 847 per grower. The estimated sales receipts to the industry were approximately

$3,500,000.

Data on estimated sales receipts of plumosus fern growers were also developed

on a county basis. The average return per 1,000 sprays in each county was derived

from the total sales value and volume so!d in each county. Returns from sales estimated








on a county basis exceeded the size-group estimate by less than $10,000 (Table 16).

The higher average return per 1,000 sprays in Lake and Seminole Counties

indicates that those counties had a higher proportion of large or medium-sized

growers than Volusia and Putnam Counties. The average returns per 1,000 sprays

in Palm Beach, Brevard, Duval, St. Lucie and Hillsborough Counties were generally

higher than those in the four major plumosus fern producing counties. The higher

return in these minor plumosus fern producing counties may be due to the practice

of many growers to sell their ferns to local florists or perhaps to more orderly

marketing.

TABLE 16
ESTIMATED RECEIPTS FROM SALES OF PLUMOSUS FERNS
BY COUNTIES, 1955-56a

Average Average
County Sprays Return Per Total Growers Sales
1,000 Sprays Returns Per Grower

Number Dollars Dollars Number Dollars
Volusia 243,002,168 9.00 2,187,020 309 7,078
Lake 67,118,329 9.35 627,556 42 14,942
Putna. 20,715,409 8.34 172,767 21 8,227
Seminole 26,740,866 11.63 311,053 4 77,763
Marion 9,187,373 8.50 78, 03 5 15,618
Palm Beach 4,294,904 9.08 38,998 10 3,900
Brevard 6,241,936 9.19 57,363 3 19,121
Duval 4,222,175 9.63 40, 660 1 40,660
St. Lucie 802,345 9.11 7,313 3 2,428
Hillsborough 377,574 12.39 4,678 2 2,339
Total 382, 703,079 9.21 3, 525, 501 400 8, 814

aPeriod from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.









The average sales per grower in each county noted in Table 16 may be looked

upon as being related to the average size of growers. The higher average sales per

grower indicate a large percentage of large or medium-sized growers in that county.

Seminole and Duval Counties have the highest sales per grower; the only growers in

these two counties were classified in the large size group. The average value of

sales per grower in Hillsborough, St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties was among the

lowest group. These three counties have only small growers. The remaining counties

have a combination of different size groups; iho average sales per grower lie between

the highest and lowest figures noted in the last column of Table 16.












CHAPTER V


MARKET OUTLETS


Types of Market Outlets

The plumosus fern grower in Florida markets his product principally in three

general ways: (1) consignment to wholesalers, (2) direct to wholesalers and (3)

direct to retailers. Besides these major market outlets, there can be added an additional

outlet--sale to local growers. Although the latter is insignificant in volume sold when

compared with the other three outlets, it is important for some small growers.

The choice of market outlets by plumosus fern growers in Florida depends upon

many factors. Several dominant ones may be listed as: (1) personal contact with

prospective retail and wholesale buyers, (2) size of shipment, (3) ability to supply

markets throughout the year, (4) desire for cash settlements and (5) dissatisfaction

with the consignment method of selling.

It is believed that the extent of personal contact with the florists' trade

influences very greatly the choice of market outlets. Many growers make several

trip ,acad year to important market areas in the nation to contact florists and make

arrangements for selling ferns to them. Through personal contact, fern growers are

able to learn the demand and supply situation in different areas and can thereby sell

to markets offering maximum returns. It appears that large growers usually travel

more and contact more florists than small growers. The fact that the average return

52









per 1,000 sprays of ferns for large growers was higher than for medium-sized and

small growers, as indicated previously, may be largely due to this reason. The

choice of market outlets by large growers differed considerably from that by small

growers. Large growers shipped more ferns directly to retail florists than to consign-

ment florists (Tab:- 17).


TABLE 17

AVERAGE NUMBER OF BUYERS TO WHICH 50 PLUMOSUS FERN GROWERS
INTERVIEWED IN VOLUSIA, LAKE, SEMINOLE AND PUTNAM
COUNTIES SOLD FERNS, 1955-560


Consignment F.O.B. F
Size Group to Wholesale Wholesale R
Florists Florists Fl

Number Number N
Small Grower 2 3
Medium Grower 4 8
Large Grower 8 20

period from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


.O.B.
etail
orists

umber
4
3
78


Total
Buyers

Number
9
15
106


The number of buyers per fern grower in Florida varied with the size of the

operator's business. Larger fern growers have larger quantities to sell and, other

things being equal, must find more buyers than smaller growers.

Small growers had an average of 9 buyers, the medium-sized growers had

15 and the large growers had 106. It is quite obvious that sales to retail florists

constituted a more important outlet for larger growers than for small and medium-

sized growers. F.O.B. sales to wholesale florists were a more important outlet for


---









medium-sized and large growers than for small growers. Fern growers usually ship

to more than one buyer and to more than one city in order to reduce the risk of shifts

in market demand and to maintain a certain amount of flexibility so that they can

adjust their supplies to better marketing situations should the opportunity occur.

Size of shipment is also an important factor In the choice of market outlets.

Although sales to retail florists are usually at higher prices than those to wholesale

florists, the size of shipments made to each differ considerably. Wholesalers are

generally able to handle much larger shipments of plumosus ferns than retailers. Thus,

the ability of wholesalers to handle larger shipments may be an important consideration

to growers in allocating their supplies to alternative outlets.

The desire for prompt payment for ferns shipped is universal for all fern

growers but it is believed to be especially true for small growers. Some small growers

sell all their ferns to other local growers and receive prompt payment for most such

sales. Fewer marketing services are performed than when shipments are made to

terminal destinations. Sales to retail and wholesale florists on an f.o.b. basis are

made at mutually satisfactory prices. Although settlements for sales made on an f.o.b.

basis may on occasion be slow, most fern growers prefer to make f.o.b. sales since,

in doing so, they are assured of a definite price.

Dissatisfaction with the consignment method of selling is quite prevalent

among plumosus fern growers. A large number of the growers interviewed indicated

that they preferred not to deal with consignment florists. The dissatisfaction arose

from risks of not having the ferns sold, unstable prices and the delayed settlement

reports often involved in Ihe consignment method of selling. This method is still an









important outlet because of the difficulty of finding f.o.b. market outlets for all

ferns and the unfamiliarity with alternative markets by many grow:rE who must rely

on the consignment agent to sell thoir product.

Of all plumosus fern sales made by the industry, nearly a third were sold on

consignment to wholesale commission florists (Table 18). More than 40 percent were

marketed to wholesale florists on an f.o.b. basis. Retail florists purchased one-fourth

of the total on an f.o,b. basis. Nearly 3 percent of all ferns were sold initially to

other growers in the local fern producing area.


TABLE 18
PROPORTION OF PLUMOSUS FERNS SOLD BY FLORIDA
GROWERS TO VARIOUS SALES OUTLETS, 1955-56a

Outlets

Consignment Direct to Direct to
Size Group to Wholesale Wholesale Retail Other Total
Florists Florists Florists Growers

Percent of Total

Small 35.2 34.8 24.7 5.3 100.0
Medium 36.9 52.1 10.8 0.2 100.0
Ic.-go 20.3 44.1 35.2 0.4 100.0
All Growers 31.1 41.1 25.0 2.8 100.0

period from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


Consignment sales and those made directly to wholesale florists were of almost

equal importance to small growers. Each accounted for more than a third of small

growers' fern marketing. The retail market outlet accounted for one-fourth of smell









growers' sales. Sales to other growers constituted a higher proportion of small growers'

fern sales than hose of othor size groups. Over one-half of the medium-sized growers'

product was sold directly to wholesale florists on an f.o.b. basis. Large growers sold

a higher proportion directly to retail florists than did growers in the other size groups.

The quantity of plumosus ferns sold to the different market outlets is noted in

Table 19. The data in this Table are in thc same proportions as those shown in Table

18 but are presented in quantity terms.


TABLE 19

ESTIMATED QUANTITY OF PLUMOSUS FERNS SOLD BY FLORIDA
GROWERS TO VARIOUS SALES OUTLETS, 1955-560


Outlets
Size Group Consignment Direct to Direct to
to Wholesale Wholesale Retail Other Total
Florists Florists Florists Growers

Number of Sprays
Small 65,457,238 64,731,796 45,901,896 9,839,977 186,010,907
Medium 29,083,744 41,043,636 8,530,391 181,330 78,839,101
Large 23,959,752 51,950,116 41,520,023 424,275 117,854,166
All Growers 118,500,734 157,725,548 96,032,310 10,445,582 382,704,174


CPcriod from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


Returns to growers were highest for ferns sold directly to retail florists at an

average price of $10.27 per 1,000 sprays (Table 20). Consignment prices (after paying

shipping and commission charges) for ferns shipped by small and medium-sized growers

exceeded the average f.o.b. wholesale prices received by these growers. On the









TABLE 20

AVERAGE PRICES RECEIVED BY FLORIDA GROV'RS FOR PLUMOSUS
FERNS SOLD THROUGH VARIOUS OUTLETS, 1955-56a


Outlets

Size Group Consignment Direct to Direct to
to Wholesale Wholesale Retail Other Total
Florists Florists Florists Growers

Dollars per 1,000 Sprays


Small 9.18 8.68 9.57 5.22 8.89

: ",rlir. 9.51 9.17 9.81 5.00 9.36

Large 8.02 8.96 11.18 7.00 9.54

All Growers 9.04 8.90 1V.27 5.29 9.19


period from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


other hand, consignment prices for ferns shipped by large growers was below their

average f.o.b. wholesale prices. Small and medium-sized growers relied on whole-

sale consignment outlets to a greater extent than large growers. It may well be that

small and medium-sizcd growers shipped better quality ferns and made shipments more

regularly to wholesale consignment outlets than did large growers. Also, there is the

possibility that some large growers may have irregularly dumped supplies on the whole-

sale consignment market. Prices received for forns sold to other growers were lower

than those sold tc distant outlets, or:tn packing, hauling, handling and olher services

were not performed, thus reducing the costs of marketing in connection with such

sales.
Receipts to growers from sales to each of the principal market outlets in the


--






















r,(- i .~~ rr t





C'"









In order to understand better the nature of the different market outlets to

which Florida fern growers sell their products, they will be discussed separately in

terms of their importance, services performed and settlement practices in the next

few sections.


Consignment to Wholesalers

Nearly a third of Florida's plumosus ferns were sold on consignment to whole-

sale commission florists in 1955-56. The returns to fern growers for sales made through

this type of market outlets were estimated at nearly one-third of the industry's receipts.

Wholesale consignment florists are located in large cities throughout the nation.

Their major function is to sell flowers and other florists' products for growers. Some

of these firms specialize in handling greenery and supplies other than flowers. ihoen

selling on consignment, such firms do not take title to products handled. A cormmis-

sion, based on a percentage of the sales value, is charged by the wholesale consignment

florist. After selling the product, he deducts his commission, any transportation

charges paid by him and, in some areas, a small advertising or promotion charge 1

from the sale price. The remainder is then remitted to the grower.

Settlements with growers are usually made weekly or at some longer interval.

The frequency of settlements varies considerably with different agents. Table 22 shows

the proportion of wholesale consignment florists who made their reports in various

settlement periods in 1955-56. Of the total, 35 percent were made weekly, 21 percent


1Such payments are usually made to an "allied" florists' group which uses
them for conducting advertising and promotion campaigns. The "allied" assess-
ment seldom exceeds 2 percent.








TABLE 22

PROPORTION OF WHOLESALE CONSIGNMENT FLORISTS MAKING SETTLEMENT
REPORTS TO GROWERS AT VARIOUS INTERVALS, 1955-56a


Grower Size Group Reporting Period
GrowEr Siz Group
Weekly Semi-monthly Monthly Irregularly Total

Percentage of Volume Sold
Small 25.5 25.5 36.2 12.8 100.0
Medium 64.5 10.8 21.5 3.2 100.0
Largo 50.9 11.8 36.7 0.6 100.0

Weighted Average 35.0 21.1 34.6 9.3 100.0

aPeriod from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.


semi-monthly, 35 percent monthly and 9 percent irregularly. Among the size groups,

medium-sized growers had 65 percent of their settlements made on a weekly basis.

Large growers had 51 percent of their settlements made on a weekly basis and 37 per-

cent on a monthly basis. Small growers had only 25 percent of their settlements made

on a weekly basis, 36 percent on a monthly basis, and 13 percent were made on an

irregular basis. Generally speaking, medium-sized and large growers received

settlement reports more regularly than did the small growers.

Commission charges vary from 15 to 25 percent, depending upon services

rendered, the individual market and whether or not the grower is a new, old or

consistent supplier. According to the investigation of sales made to consignment

wholesale florists in 1955-56, 55 percent of the volume was sold for a 25 percent

commission, 44 percent sold for a 20 percent commission and only 1 percent sold for

a 15 percent commission.









A consensus of growers' opinion indicated that sales on consignment to whole-

sale florists wore comparatively unstable in volume shipped and in returns. In addition

to these instabilities, growers hod to bear the risks involved in the marketing process

such as damage in transportation or storage and dumping during a season of excess

supplies. The percentage of plumosus fern sold, dumped and carried over in various

seasons by wholesale consignment florists is shown in Table 23.


TABLE 23

PROPORTION OF FERNS SHIPPED TO WHOLESALE CONSIGNMENT FLORISTS
WHICH WERE SOLD, DUMPED, AND CARRIED OVER, BY SEASONS,
1955-56a

Season Shipped Sold Dumped AveragOve
Carry Over
Percentage

Winter, 1955b 100 89 1 10
Spring, 1955 100 89 7 4
Summer, 1955 100 88 9 3
Fall, 1955 100 90 4 6
Winter, 1955-56 100 93 2 5
Spring, 1956 100 87 7 6
Summer, 1956 100 80 12 8


aData obtained from

Data actually refer


sales invoices of seven plumosus fern growers.

to January and February of 1955.


In this analysis each season was considered as a unit for computing the par-

centages sold, dumped and carried over. It may be noted that a lower dumpingrate

was prevalent in winter than in the other seasons. On the other hand, the su-mmer








season usually had a relatively high dumping rate. The percentage of ferns not sold

but carried over, with sales reported on the next settlement report, was quite irregular.

Although the amounts carried over from one specific accounting period to another

were sometimes one-half or two-thirds of thos- made by individual shippers, the

average proportion in the situation analyzed here (by seasons) ranged from 3 to 10

percent. Even in winter, when the over-all proportion of sales was highest, the

percentage of ferns carried over is likely to be high if a grower sends excessive

quantities to his consignment agent. Some growers claimed that marketing by con-

signment to wholesale commission florists is a dumping ground for all ferns for which

there are no other market outlets. This lowers the market prices for ferns and thereby

adversely affects the return to all growers in the industry. This wildcattingg" practice,

i.e., a grower shipping his product without an order or understanding with the whole-

sale commission florist to receive them, may characterize some operators but it is

not true for all growers.

In order to avoid the risks involved in wholesale consignment selling, fern

growers ship to a number of wholesalers in different markets. This tends to reduce

the risk of a price decline in a given market and to spread the risk in times of a

declining demand. Fern producers may also ship to more than one commission agent

in the same market. Thus they are able to compare returns from different commission

agents. This practice, however, may create misunderstanding between growers and

florists. Some forn growers also indicated that consistent supplies shipped to the same

commission agents tend to establish mutually satisfactory business relationships. Whole-

sale fioris:s tend to give preferential tarmanun.a to their consistent suppliers. The choice









between flexible supply or consistent supply to wholesalers depends largely upon the

fern growers' market relationships and his behavior in marketing operations.


Direct Sales to Wholesalers

About 41 percent of Florida plumosus fern was marketed by selling directly

to wholesale florists in the 1955-56 period. The returns to fern growers for this type

of selling were estimated at nearly 40 percent of the industry's receipts.

A wholesale florist buying on an f.o.b. basis and a wholesale commission

florist may, in actuality, be the same firm. It may receive ferns on consignment as

well as make outright purchases from growers. The major function of the wholesaler

in the distribution system for florists' products is to provide a central location where

growers' products can be displayed and where the retail florist can find a wide selection

of needed stocks.

When the wholesale florist purchases ferns from growers on an f.o.b. basis,

he has to bear transportation charges, advertising costs and the risks involved in

transit and storage.

The average prices received per 1,000 sprays through sales made directly to

wholesale florists were slightly less than the average prices received from consignment

sales to wholesale florists in the 1955-56 period. However, the price for ferns--and

the demand for them--in sales made directly to wholesale florists were steadier than

those made on consignment to wholesale florists. Settlements with growers are made

on a weekly, semi-monthly or monthly basis, depending upon the individual merchant.









Direct Sales to Retailers

Plumosus fern sales made directly to retailers were estimated at about 25 per-

cent of the volume sold and 28 percent of the industry's total receipts in Florida in

1955-56. Average prices received by fern growers for sales made directly to retailers

were higher than those to any other type of market outlet.

Retail florists are located in large cities and in small cities all over the nation.

They buy stocks from wholesale florists or directly from growers. Since plumosus ferns

are used in combination with flowers in the making of wreaths, corsages and bouquets,

retail florists are the final stage in the marketing channel.2

Fern sales made directly to retailers are usually in small quantities but the

demand for them tends to remain rather stable. It is common for many fern growers

to ship one or two cases (1,000 sprays of ferns per case) per week to retail florists

regularly throughout a year. The price received is relatively constant and not subject

to seasonal fluctuations. Retail florists inform growers by letter or by telegraph if

there is any change in their demand for ferns. The receiver pays transportation

charges upon arrival of the fern cases and normally makes settlement with fern growers

within two weeks.


Other Outlets

Fern growers sold ferns to other growers to the extent of nearly 3 percent of

the total volume of ferns marketed and accounted for approximately 1.6 percent of


Although the purchaser of wreaths, corsages, bouquets, etc. is the final
consumer of plumosus ferns, he does not buy the ferns as such, but as part of floral
arrangements.









the industry's receipts. Sales to other growers are of two types. One is consistent

selling to other growers with no shipments made to florists in distant markets. The

other is occasional selling to other growers, but such sales are usually not a major

part of the output of such growers.

In the first case, a few small operators in Volusia County do business entirely

with local fern growers. Thus they do not perform packing, hauling, handling and

other services. The average price per 1,000 sprays is usually around $5.00 to $7.00

if the seller cuts and delivers to the buyer. Payment is usually made shortly after

delivery of the ferns. Only a few fern shippers depend entirely on outright purchases

from other growers for their total supplies. Most fern growers, if they purchase ferns

from other growers, do so only if their own ferneries are producing small outputs.

In the second case, the fern grower, regardless of size, may sell a part of

his ferns to other growers when their supplies are short. Such sales may occur after

the grower has made the first cut of the fernery. The remaining sprays or second

cuts may be sold to other growers. First cuts are usually better in quality than second

cuts, but the quant;y obtained may be as great as that of the first cut.

Another very small but interesting market outlet is open to a few fern growers

during periods of excess supply, normally in the spring and summer. A small number

of fern growers are utilizing a "pickling" process which prevents the shattering of

plumosus ferns. This process involves the immersion of plumosus fern sprays in a

salty or some other chemical solution for a period of several weeks. The fern is thus

stiffened. It is painted In various colors and sold to artificial flower manufacturers.

The sale of "pickled" fern was estimated at 3,000,000 sprays annually and accounted

for nearly 1 percent of the industry's marketing volume.












CHAPTER VI


MARKET DISTRIBUTION


Scope of Distribution


Distribution areas

Florida plumosus ferns are marketed throughout the United States and part of

Canada. The major market areas for plumosus ferns, like those for most Florida

agricultural products, lie east of the Mississippi River. According to an analysis of

fern market distribution data collected from the Pierson Railway Express Agency

Station during August,1956, 45 percent of all ferns shipped went to buyers in the

Southeast. Thirty-one percent were shipped to the Northeast and 16 percent to the

Midwest. Buyers in the Southwest and the For West together received 4 percent of

the total. Nearly 3 percent of all shipments went to Canada.

The market distribution of ferns by states in terms of volume shipped, percentage

shipped, weekly average shipments and daily average shipments is noted in Table 24.

Although the period for which the data were collected, August,1956, was one when

shipments were relatively low, available information indicates that this pattern of

a.,irket distribution can be regarded as representative for all seasons. Pennsylvania,

North Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Alabama each received more than

5 percent of all shipments made from the location studied during August, 1956.

Georgia, New York, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Illinois were









TABLE 24

MARKETT DISTRIBUTION OF FERNS SHIPPED FROM THE PIERSON
RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY STATION, AUGUST, 1956


Volume Proportion Weekly Daily
Shipped of Total Average Average


Sprays Percent


Sprays


Northeast
Connecticut
Delaware
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
New Jersey
New York
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Vermont
West Virginia
Washington, D.C.
Subtotal

Southeast
Alabama
Arkansas
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
North Carolina
South Carolina
Tennessee
Virginia
Subtotal


Midwest
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas


87,750
26,000
48,500
97,950
469,500
167,050
301,700
603,750
43,000
3,000
190,650
108,000
2,146,850


364,000
62,400
309,950
325,550
230,400
149,700
229,550
485,800
263,900
490,450
204,750
3,116,450


217,550
87,000
60,050
24,000


1..3
0.4
0.7
1.4
6.8
2.4
4.4
8.8
0.6
a
2.8
1.6
31.3


5.3
0.9
4.5
4.7
3.4
2.2
3.3
7.1
3.8
7.2
3.0
45.4


3.2
1.3
0.9
0.3


19,500
5,778
10,778
21,767
104,333
37,122
67,044
134,167
9,556
667
42,367
24,000
477,078


80,889
13,867
68,878
72,344
51,200
33,267
51,011
107,956
58,644
108,989
45,500
692,544


48,344
19,333
13,344
5,333


3,250
963
1,796
3,628
17,389
6,187
11,174
22,361
1,593
111
7,061
4,000
79,513


13,481
2,311
11,480
12,057
8,533
5, 544
8,502
17,993
9,774
18,165
7,583
115,424


8,057
3,222
2,224
889


--









TABLE 24--Continued


rVolume Proportion Weekly Daily
rea Shipped of Total Average Average


Sprays


Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
North Dakota
Ohio
Wisconsin
Subtotal

Southwest
New Mexico
Oklahoma
Texas
Subtotal

West
California
Colorado
Idaho
Montana
Nevada
Oregon
Utah
Washington
Wyoming
Subtotal

Canada


Total


142,750
60,300
154,250
36,400
500
258,400
81,200


Percent


2.1
0.9
2.2
0.5
a
3.8
1.2


31,722
13,400
34,278
8,089
111
57,422
18,044


Sprays
5,287
2,233
5,713
1,348
19
9,570
3,007


1,122,400 16.4 249,422 41,570


2,700 a 600 100
26,500 0.4 5,889 982
143,950 2.1 31,989 5,331
173,150 2.5 38,478 6,413


3,000 a 667 111
29,250 0.4 6,500 1,083
1,000 a 222 37
1,200 a 267 44
3,000 a 667 111
1,600 a 356 59
5,500 0.1 1,222 204
66,750 1.0 14,833 2,472
1,500 a 333 56
112,800 1.6 25,067 4,178

188,000 2.7 41,778 6,963


6,859,650


100.0 1,524,366


254,061


aLess than 0.05 percent.









other major receiving states. Only three states--Arizona, South Dakota and New

Hampshire--were not included in tha destinations to which Florida ferns were shipped

from the Pierson Express Station in August,1956.

Data on the major marketing areas for Florida plumosus ferns were also obtained

by field interviews with growers during the 1955-56 season. Of 48 fern growers who

provided these data, 35 made shipments to the Southeast, 33 to the Northeast, and

31 to the Midwest (Table 25). These data support the previous analysis, based on the

railway express data, that the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest were the major

distribution areas for Florida plumosus ferns.


TABLE 25

NUMBER OF FERN GROWERS INTERVIEWED WHO REPORTED
SHIPMENTS TO VARIOUS DISTRIBUTION AREAS, 1955-56a


Growers Growers Shipping to Distribution Areas
Size Inter- South- North- Mid- South- Far
Group viewed e e Canada Local
east east west west West

Number of Growers
Small 16 11 10 9 4 1 1 2
Medium 15 7 9 10 6 2 2 1
Large 17 17 14 12 9 8 5 0
Total 48 35 33 31 19 11 8 3

period from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.

The number of growers shipping to the Southwest and Far West, as shown in

Table 25, was disproportionate to the percentage of total volume reported shipped to

these areas in the previous table. This would seem to indicate a relatively small








volume shipped per grower to these areas as shown by the weekly and daily overage

volume data of Table 24.


Receipts and prices in markets of different sizes

A question frequently discussed during field interviews with fern growers was

whether markets in small cities commanded better prices than large cities or vice

versa. The fern growers interviewed did not express a common answer. Among the

answers indicated by 30 growers responding to this question during the field interview,

15 gave no difference, 13 favored small cities and 2 favored large cities.

For the purpose of determining a reliable answer, an analysis based upon the

actual sales reports sent to seven fern growers by the wholesale consignment florists

was made. It is gonarally believed that consignment sales are more sensitive to price

variation than those made to any other market outlet. Analysis of consignment sales

provides a means for delineating the differences in pricing between different size

groups of cities.

Over 30 cities were included in the analysis. They were divided into five

groups according to population. The first group had populations in excess of

1,000,000 persons and included New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. The

second group had populations between 500,000 and 999,999 and included Baltimore,

Cleveland, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Boston, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Minneapolis

and Cincinnati. The third group with populations between 250,000 to 499,999 included

Newark, Indianapolis, Memphis, Columbus, Louisville, Atlanta, Birmingham and

Toledo. The fourth group with populations between 100,000 to 249,999 included

Dayton, Richmond, Norfolk, Albany, Chattanooga, Mobile and Wilmington. The









fifth group with populations under 100,000 included Davenport, Iowa; Terre Haute,

Indiana; Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Highland Park, Michigan; Lafayette, Indiana; and

Wilson, North Carolina.

It would appear that buyers in small cities paid higher prices than those in

larger cities (Table 26). The metropolises like New York and Chicago have a notorious

reputation in the trade as dumping places for florists' products, including plunosus ferns.

The average gross price per 1,000 sprays was $14.20 for cities over 1,000,000 population

and gradually increased to $17.40 in cities with populations of 100,000 to 249,000.1

The gross price per 1,000 sprays in cities with populations under 100,000 was $17.20.

This indicates that average gross prices received tended to increase as the size of the

market (in terms of its population) decreased.

The average returns to growers shown in Tcble 26 were obtained by deducting

the marketing costs of transportation, commission charges and advertising charges from

the average gross prices. These marketing costs varied very little among the different

size groups of cities. Consequently, the average return to growers is related directly

to the gross price received. The inverse relationship between size of market and

average prices received is even more consistent in these data. The last column in

Table 26 indicates the returns to growers in percentage of the gross prices received.

It also reflects, indirectly, differences in marketing cost by city size.

Another means of denoting pricing efficiency2 for ferns marketed in different

1These are the prices at which wholesale commission florists sold forns to retail
florists and other customers.
2The concept of a perfect market is used to evaluate the efficiency of price
making forces in alternative market areas. If the market were perfect, it would be
expected that net prices to Florida fern growers (for fems of equivalent quality) would
be the same in all markets.















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size groups of cities is to compare the percentage of the volume sold with the per-

centage of the returns0 to growers from markets in each population size group. If

the percentage of the volume sold is greater than the percentage of returns to growers,

it indicates a pattern, on the average, of low pricing efficiency for the group; the

reverse situation indicates high pricing efficiency. Dealers in cities with populations

above 500,000 reported lower prices to growers than those in cities with populations

below 500, 000.

The volume sold on a wholesale consignment basis by the seven growers whose

records were studied tended to be rather evenly distributed among different size groups

of cities except for the size group under 100,000 population. The large city size

group contained fewer cities, indicating that large cities usually received greater

volumes of ferns than small cities. The number of wholesale florists is larger in large

cities than in small cities. It would appear thenthat, because of the greater supply

of ferns and competition among the florists in the large cities, the prices of ferns in

those cities would, in all likelihood, be lower than the prices in small cities. It

should be borne in mind that this is a general statement based upon the size-group

average. It may not be absolutely true for individual sales.

The average price received per bunch of plumosus ferns in different cities

for wholesale consignment sales in the 1955-56 period is shown in the appendix.


Receipts and prices in markets of different distances

An other method of analyzing the pricing efficiency of various markets is to

3The gross price received by wholesale commission florists less commission,
transportation and other marketing charges incurred after the product leaves the shipping
point.









compare the distances to markets and their respective prices and returns to growers.

It would be expected that, the greater the distance of the receiving market from the

producing area, the higher would be the price of the product because of increasing

transportation costs. This is generally true, but not consistently so, for plumosus

ferns.
An analysis utilizing the consignment data noted in previous section was made

in which the cities were rearranged according to their distance from Leesburg, Florida,

and divided into five groups. The first group with distances of over 1,251 miles

included Minneapolis and Boston. The second group with distances between 1,001

and 1, 250 miles included Davenport, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit,

Cleveland, Albany, Toledo, New York, Newark, Columbus, Johnstown and Lafayette.

The third group with distances between 751 ar.n 1,000 miles included Indianapolis,

Philadelphia, St. Louis, Wilmington, Louisville, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Terre Haute,

Washington, D. C., Dayton and Memphis. The fourth group with distances between

501 and 750 miles included Norfolk, Richmond, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Wilson

and Mobile. The fifth group with a distance under 500 miles included Atlanta and

Tampa.

The average gross prices per 1,000 sprays shown in the sixth column of Table 27

were quite consistent for markets of different distances. As the distance to market

increased, the average gross price per 1,000 sprays of fern received also increased

in all market distance groups except that from 751 to 1,000 miles. That distance

affected the prices received in the market is generally true. However, the incon-

sistency of price related to market distance in the distance group from 751 to 1,000















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miles serves to indicate that distance was not the sole factor in price determination.

The price of plumosus ferns is determined by the joint forces of demand and supply of

various greeneries from local, West Coast and other sources. Most big metropolises

like New York, Chicago, Detroit, etc., are at a distance greater than 1,000 miles

from the fern producing centers in Florida. It is believed that Florida ferns had

greater competition from other greeneries in the large cities beyond 1,000 miles

than in smaller cities less than 1,000 miles from Florida. The prices received in the

markets under 750 miles were lower than the prices received in markets beyond 750

miles. It is believed that fern growers relied on wholesale consignment outlets to

a greater extent than on other sales outlets in the more distant markets.4 Nearby

markets are easier to contact for f.o.b. sales than distant markets.

The returns per 1,000 sprays to growers shown in the seventh column of

Table 27 were inconsistent with market distances. This indicates that the distance

to markets played a minor role in affecting returns to growers. Transportation costs,

dumping rates, commission charges and advertising charges all affected returns to

growers. Among these factors, transportation costs and dumping rates were considered

the most important. These two factors were related to each other. If the dumping

rate is high in a market, transportation costs borne by sales will be high because these

costs have to be paid whether or not all ferns shipped are sold. The commission and

advertising charges varied very little from one market to another. Returns to growers
are primarily affected by three factors--prices received per 1,000 sprays, transportation

4VWholesale florists and supply houses in these large cities usually carry large
supplies of most items of greenery. The fact that large supplies often depress prices on
the wholesale markets would tend to discourage retail florists from buying directly from
growers; the f.o.b. price in such instances would probably be much higher than prices
at wholesale florists markets.









costs and dumping rates.

Among these three major factors affecting the returns to growers, the gross

prices received and the dumping rates were considered to be more important than the

transportation costs. The higher the gross prices received in a market area, the lower

the percentage of the transportation cost would be of the gross price received. On

the other hand, the higher the dumping rate, the higher are the transportation costs

which must be borne by a unit sold. Consequently, the higher will be the percentage

of transportation costs in terms of the grass price received. Thus the dumping rate of

a particular market area may be indicated by the percentage that transportation costs

are of the gross price received per 1,000 sprays. (Provided that gross price received

and transportation cost are constant.)

Express rates are uniformly calculated throughout the nation by the Railway

Express Agency.5 If the gross price received increased by the amount of the trans-

portation charge, the returns to growers would remain constant. If the gross price

received increased more than the transportation costs increased, the returns to growers

would be higher, and vice versa. The average express rates per 1,000 sprays shown

in Table 28 increased $0.30 per 250 miles, but the average prices received did not

increase proportionately with the express rates to markets located at various distances

from fern producing areas. It appears that the average price received increased less

than the express rate increased beyond the distance of 750 miles.

The express rates as a proportion of the average prices received in distant


5See Table 29; 97 percent of all ferns shipped in 1955-56 moved by railway
express.

















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Transportation


Method of transportation

Information from the 50 fern growers interviewed indicated that nearly 97 per-

cent of their shipments were made by railway express, 2 percent by air express and

1 percent by truck, bus and parcel post in the 1955-56 period. The mode of trans-

portation by the different size groups of growers is shown in Table 29. Small growers

relied almost exclusively upon railway express. Medium-sized growers shipped nearly

7 percent of their stock by air express and 92 percent by railway express. Large

growers shipped 3 percent by air express and nearly 96 percent by railway express.


TABLE 29

TYPES OF TRANSPORTATION USED BY FLORIDA PLUMOSUS
FERN GROWERS IN 1955-56a

Kinds of Transportation
Size Group
Size Group Railway Air Parcel
Truck Bus Total
Express Express Truck Bus Post

Percentage
Small 99.7 0... .. ... 0.3 100.0
Medium 92.4 6.5 0.8 ... 0.3 100.0
Large 95.5 3.1 0.8 0.2 0.4 100.0
Average 96.9 2.3 0.4 0.1 0.3 100.0


period from July 1, 1955 through June 30, 1956.


Railway express plays the dominant role in transporting plumosus ferns. Florida

fern growers who are far from metropolitan markets make extensive use of railway express








for comparatively cheaper transportation costs. It also provides convenient delivery

of bulky crates. Plu-nosus ferns con be preserved, if cared for adequately, for two

to three weeks between the time they are cut and the time they are used. Consideration

of time in transportation is less imperative for ferns than for most other highly perishable

floral products.

Most growers shipped ferns five or six days a week. Large ferneries tended

to be more regular in shipments than smaller ones. The average number of shipping

days and the average crates shipped per week by different size groups of growers is

noted in Table 30.


TABLE 30

AVERAGE SHIPPING DAYS AND CRATES SHIPPED
BY FLORIDA FERN GROWERS, 1955-56a


Average Shipping Days Average Crates Shipped
Size Group Per Week Per Week

Days Crctes
Small 4.6 18
Medium 5.1 62
Large 5.8 107
All Growers 5.2 62

aPeriod from July 1, 1955, through June 30, 1956.


The average grower shipped ferns five days each week and had a weekly ship-

ment of 62 crates in the 1955-56 period. As fernery size increased, the number of

shipping days and volume shipped also increased. The shipments were usually arranged









in such a way that a relatively constant amount of ferns was sent out each day.

Thus, growers attempted to equate supply with demand. This situation was not true

during the peak and slack marketing season.

The railway express data from the Pierson Station showed that about 24 percent

of all fern shipments during the average week were handled on Monday. The quantities

handled on other days were as follows: Tuesday, 18 percent; Wednesday, 16 percent;

Thursday, 11.5 percent; Friday, 15.5 percent and Saturday, 14.5 percent (Table 31).

The beginning days of the average week usually had a larger volume of shipments

than other days.


TABLE 31

PERCENTAGE OF PLUMOSUS FERN SHIPPED
EACH DAY OF THE WEEK, PIERSON
RAILWAY EXPRESS STATION, 1956

Day of Week Percentage of Total

Monday 24.2
Tuesday 18.2
Wednesday 16.1
Thursday 11.5
Friday 15.5
Saturday 14.5
Total 100.0


Type of containers and packages

Plumosus ferns are usually packed in crates of wood veneer. The crates are

rectangular in shape with various sizes for shipping different volumes of fern. The

most frequently used crate sizes are for 1,000 sprays, 2, 000 sprays and 500 sprays.

The frequency of use of various sized crates for shipping plumosus ferns is











' <' C i









Chicago and Detroit to two fern growers in Pierson, Volusia County, Florida, indicates

that the volume shipped per time varied from 20 bunches to 360 bunches. The volumes

most frequently shipped were 20, 40, 60 and 80 bunches. The average charge per

bunch of ferns for different quantities per shipment is indicated in Table 33.

One noted difference in the average railway express charge per bunch of fern

stands out in Table 33. Among the various units of fern shipped per time, the unit of

20 bunches had a higher rate than other quantities shipped. The 20-bunch unit was

about $0.03 per bunch higher than other units in shipments made to Philadelphia,

Chicago and Detroit and $0.02 per bunch higher in shipments made to Washington, D.C.

There were slight differences in express charge per bunch of ferns among various

shipping units other than 20-bunch units but the differences were not as large. In

considering the optimum volume to be shipped each time, growers may be interested

in this situation.

Another statistic based upon the express rates obtained from the Leesburg,

Florida, railway express station also indicates the difference in relative transportation

cost per bunch of fern to various destinations. It is clearly shown in Table 34 that

shipping 20-bunch units costs about $0.03 per bunch more than 40-bunch units to

the same destinations. Consignment to wholesale florists was estimated at about

2,382,716 bunches (or 119,135,814 sprays) during the 1955-56 period. If all the

consignment sales had been shipped in 20-bunch units, fern growers would have had

to bear an estimated additional transportation cost of $71,481.00. This would have

been 2 percent of the industry's receipts.















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TABLE 34

EXPRESS RATES FOR FERNS FROM LEESBURG, FLORIDA,
TO IMPORTANT CITIES, 1955-56


Railway Express Charges
Destination One Case Two Cases

20 Bunches Per Bunch 40 Bunches PerBunch

Dollars
Columbus, Ohio 3.18 0.16 5.15 0.13
Dirrringham, Ala. 2.63 0.13 4.03 0.10
Washington, D. C. 3.07 0.15 4.90 0.12
Philadelphia, Pa. 3.12 0.16 5.03 0.13
Newark, N. J. 3.31 0.17 5.39 0.13
Milwaukee, Wis. 3.49 0,17 5.65 0.14
Canton, Ohio 3.36 0.17 5.51 0.14
Charlotte, N. C. 2.71 0.14 4.18 0.10












CHAPTER VII


MARKETING COSTS AND RETURNS


Purpose and Nature

It is the aim of this chapter to provide a general picture of the marketing

costs and returns of the average plumosus fern grower in Florida. Although the data

were not obtained for the purpose of studying costs and returns, some information

from the field interviews can be used for this purpose.

Marketing of ferns begins with cutting, as stated in previous chapters, and

includes grading, packing, selling and delivering. Costs involved in the different

marketing processes include labor costs of cutting, grading and packing; material

costs of ice and crates; transportation costs of local delivery to express stations plus

railway express charges; selling costs of commission and advertising charges; and

miscellaneous costs of office salaries, supplies, telephone service, postage, light

and power. Since data on all the cost items were not obtained, only the available

sources of information will be utilized in estimating marketing costs.

Marketing costs and returns differ by types of market outlets. Selling on con-

signment to wholesale florists includes some special costs such as commission charges,

advertising costs and railway express charges which are not borne by growers if their

shipments are sold on an f.o.b. basis. For consignment sales to wholesale florists,

the average gross return reported was $16.00 per 1,000 sprays. After deducting
charges for commissions, advertising and railway express (a total of $6.96), the return

86









to growers was $9.04 per 1,000 sprays of fern in the 1955-56 season. This return is

the amount the grower received from the average consignment sale. Returns to growers

for direct sales to wholesale florists were $8.90 per 1,000 sprays. For direct sales

made to retail florists, the price received was $10.27 per 1,000 sprays.l From these

returns must be deducted those marketing costs common to oil types cf market outlets

in order to arrive at a net return to growers. These common marketing costs are Iabor

for cu-ting, packing and grading; material costs for crates and ice; and miscellaneous

costs of office salaries, supplies, telephone service, postage, travel, etc. These

common cost items were evaluated by different size groups of growers in order to

compare their efficiencies on a per unit basis.


Marketing Labor and Supply Costs

The unit used for estimating costs is 1,000 sprays or 20 bunches of ferns. All

unit costs listed were derived from the data collected from the survey of growers. For

example, the average cutting cost per 1,000 sprays of fern was derived from the number

used in the cutting crew per day, average hours worked by cutting crews per day,

average shipping days per week, wages of cutting crews and average marketing volume

per year. All these data were obtained from field interview records. The method of

estimation is shown in Tables 35 and 36. First, the total number of hours worked per

year in cutting was estimated. Then,based upon the estimated total hours, the total

cost of cutting was divided by the annual marketing volume in order to obtain the per

unit cost of cutting.


1See Table 20 on page 57.







































1 ,I ..~ C.~









They are usually paid $0.80 to $1.50 per hour or $1.50 per 1,000 sprays. The difference

between the estimated wages and the wages actually paid out for cutting may be due to

the use of unpaid family labor in the cutting operation. The estimate was based on

total annual cutting hours. These total cutting hours do not necessarily mean hired

labor or out-of-pocket wages. Many of the small growers may do all the cutting, grading

and packing themselves without any out-of-pocket expenses. This estimate serves only

as a yardstick for comparing efficiency between different size groups of growers.

The method used for computing the per unit cost of packing and grading is the

same as that used for estimating per unit cost of cutting ferns (Table 37). The average

hourly wage for packing and grading was much lower than the average cutting wage

because less skilled labor was employed in packing and grading. The medium-sized

growers were still the most efficient group. Their average cost was $0.28 per 1,000

sprays for packing. The small growers were second with $0.48 per 1,000 sprays and

the large growers were third with $0.63 per 1,000 sprays (Table 38). The higher

labor cost for large growers may not mean inefficiency in the use of labor because

the large growers practiced grading to a larger extent than small and medium-sized

growers. Large growers also received a higher return per 1,000 sprays than other

size groups.

The average amount of ice used for packing was estimated on a grower size

basis (Table 39). The crate sizes used in the estimate were based on those of ship-

ments from the Pierson Railway Express Station in August, 1956. Small growers used

about 34,000 pounds of ice annually, medium-sized growers used about 109,000

pounds and large growers used around 168,000 pounds.









TABLE 37

AVERAGE LABOR HOURS USED ANNUALLY IN PACKING
AND GRADING FERNS, 1955-56a


Number Average Average Average Average Shipping Average
Size in Hours Hours Shipping Hours Weeks Hours
Group Crew Per Crew Per Day Days Per Per Per Per
Week Week Year Year

Small 1.9 1.0 1.90 4.6 9 52 468
Medium 3.3 1.5 4.95 5.1 25 52 1,300
Large 6.7 2.8 18.76 5.8 109 52 5,668

period from July 1, 1955, through June 30, 1956.


TABLE 30

ESTIMATED PACKING AND GRADING COSTS PER 1,000
SPRAYS OF FERN, 1955-56a


Average Average Average Average Average Pack-
Size Hours Wage Cost Marketing ing and Grading
Group Per Per Per Volume Cost Per
Year Hour Year Per Year 1,000 Sprays

Number Dollars Dollars 1,000 Sprays Dollars

Small 468 0.55 257 539 0.48
Medium 1,300 0.55 715 2,543 0.28
Large 5,668 0.55 3,117 4,910 0.63

"Period from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


The average cost of ice per 1,000 sprays was estimated at $0.14 for large

growers, $0.17 for medium-sized growers and $0.22 for small growers (Table 40).

Large growers had a lower average ice cost per 1,000 sprays than other size groups









TABLE 39

AVERAGE ANNUAL SHIPMENTS AND AMOUNT OF ICE USED BY
SIZE GROUPS OF PLUMOSUS FERN GROWERS, 1955-56a


Average Pounds Total Pounds
Size Average Crates of Ice Per of Ice Used
Group Shpped Per Year Crate Per Year

Small 66 (500-spray size) 20 1,320
468 (1,000-spray size) 28 13,104
402 (2,000-spray size) 48 19,296
33,720
Medium 226 (500-spray size) 24 5,424
1,612 (1,000-spray size) 30 48,360
1,386 (2, 000-spray size) 40 55,440
109,224
Large 389 (500-spray size) 15 5,835
2,782 (1,000-spray size) 24 66,768
2,393 (2,000-spray size) 40 95,720
168,323


period from July 1, 1955,through June 30, 1956.


TABLE 40

ESTIMATED ICE COST PER 1,000 SPRAYS OF FERNS, 1955-56a


Average Cost of Total Cost Average Average Cost
Size Ice Used Ice Per for Ice Crates of Ice Per
Group Per Year 100 Ibs. Annually Shipped 1,000 Sprays
Per Year

Pounds Dollars Dollars Number Dollars
Small 33,720 0.60 202 936 0.22
Medium 109,224 0.50 546 3,224 0.17
Large 168,323 0.45 757 5,564 0.14


period from July 1, 1955,through Juna 30, 1956.




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