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Citrus Picking and Hauling Costs, 1960-61
Costs, Cents Per Box
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 190
A Study Conducted with Funds Provided by the
Research and Marketing Act
Department of Agricultural Economics
Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Mimeo Report No. 62-11
COSTS OF PICKING AND HAULING
FLORIDA CITRUS FRUITS
A. H. Spurlock
CO!'S OF PICKING AND HAULING FLORIDA
CITRUS FRUITS, 1960-61 SEASON
Introduction . . . . . 1
Costs of Picking and Hauling, 1960-61 . 2
Variation in Cost Among Firms . . . 7
Comparison of 1960-61 Costs with Previous Seasons . 10
Explanatory Notes . . .. .. 12
This is the 11th annual summary of costs of picking and hauling
citrus fruits, prepared from a sample of citrus dealers, packinghouses,
and processors. Other handling and marketing costs in the citrus
industry are released in separate publications as indicated inside the
Costs of handling citrus fruits from the tree to the packing or
processing plant for the 1960-61 season were summarized by type of
fruit for 37 firms. However, some firms did not provide all the
services studied, nor handled all the picking, which included delivery
to the roadside and loading in the truck, and hauling from the grove
to the plant. Six of the firms furnishing data were citrus dealers
specializing in the procurement, sale, and delivery of fruit to the
processing plant, 27 were principally packers of fresh fruit and 4
were processors. Most of the dealers also contracted with other
operators to pick and haul some of their volume. Contracting with
other operators to pick and haul part or all of their volume also
was common among the fresh packers and processors.
The number of firms included by location was Polk County, 13;
Orange County, 8; Lake County, 4; Pinellas County, 3; Indian River
County, 3; and one each in Hillsborough, Pasco, Seminole, Hernando,
Marion, and Highlands counties.
Total volume of fruit handled varied widely among firms. Only
I firm had less than 200,000 boxes, and 11 firms had more than 1,000,000
boxes each. The average volume for the 37 firms was 989,509 boxes,
obtained by counting the largest number of boxes either picked or
Costs of Picking and Hauling, 1960-61
The average costs per box for picking and hauling citrus fruit
for the 1960-61 season from the grove to the processor or packinghouse
are shown in Table 1,. These costs are weighted averages; that is,
the total money costs of all firms were divided by the total number
of boxes. In prior years the costs for citrus dealers were shown
separately to reflect somewhat different methods of operation. The
distinction between citrus dealers and packers and processors in
methods of picking and hauling is perhaps not as clear as it once was.
Packinghouses often pick and handle some fruit destined for canneries
by the bulk methods used by citrus dealers and processors. A few
packers also use bulk handling methods for the fruit which is packed
1.--Average costs per box of piJ.ing and hauling citrus fruits, 1960-61 season.
Fresh fruit packinghouses, processors and citrus dealers
igh T. ". drivers
Payroll taxes, insurance
S..aie, oil, grease
"....s- and taxes
Supplies an'd shop expenses
Ofc. supplies and expenses
Telephone and tel-graph
.r,-I and auto expense
Foreign labor expense
mi -- Ilaneous expensea
Total other costs
34 34 32 26 ....
1,098,498 587,006 233,396 50,280
Cost Per Box (cents)
2.66 2.08 4.01 2.66 2.08 4.01
18.90 13.84 57.11 18.90 13.84 57.11
2.59 2.78 3.83 2.59 2.78 3.98
.. 1,42 1.18 2.85 1.42 1.13 2.85
3,00 .. .. .. 3.00 3.00 3.00
.41 .39 .31 .41 .oX .72 .82
.12 .41 .16 .58 .53 .283 .70
3.53 26.37 20.35 68.94 29.90 23.88 72.47
.20 1.32 1.01 3.30 1.52 1.21 3.50
3.73 27.69 21,36 72.24 31.42 25.09 75.97
1.83 .72 .66 .72 2.55 2.49 2.55
1.61 1.98 2.08 2.70 3.59 3.69 4.31
.52 .15 .09 .28 .67 .:1 .80
1.38 .85 .57 1.41 2.23 1.i5 2.87
.37 .13 .08 .26 .50 .45 .63
.70 1.29 .70 2.14 1.99 1.40 2.84
.07 .32 .30 .47 .39 .37 .54
.04 .06 .03 .06 .10 .07 .10
.08 .15 .07 .16 .23 .15 .24
.54 .40 .16 .88 .94 .70 1,42
.09 .23 .12 .45 .37 .21 .54
.63 .33 1.25 .63 .33 1.25
.21 .31 .14 .43 .2 .35 .64
7,44 7.27 5.33 11.29 14.71 12.77 18.73
11.17 34.96 26.69 83.53 46.13 37.86 94.70
dtcl vtrn .-o i
ncW n e eA epen e g an wA 1 ,
,)tions, radio expense donations, and bad debts.
gal and audit, advertising, dues and
I -' I --
I ludes i t r st s li ht
Picking.--This is the operation of getting the fruit off the tree
and into the highway truck, commonly termed "picking and loading." The
principal costs of performing this service are labor, fuel, repairs,
licenses, insurance and depreciation for the grove trucks, crew trucks,
tractors loading machines and other picking equipment, and management and
Picking costs, as shown in Table 1, include all amounts paid for
direct labor for picking and delivery to the roadside, grove truck expense,
and a portion of overhead and management expenses. Picking labor was
allocated to the various types of fruit from payroll analyses and piece
rates insofar as possible. Fuel and repairs were prorated on a box basis
equally to all kinds of fruit. Certain overhead expenses, which tend to
be fixed, were distributed between the several types of fruit in the ratio
of 1.00 to grapefruit, 1.50 to oranges and 3.00 to tangerines.
The methods of picking and handling fruit (tree to roadside operation)
such as picking in boxes, tractor baskets, grove trailers, and pallet boxes
are mixed among the various operators. A single operator may use 2 or
more methods. The method used affects the cost of labor as shown in
Table 1 as well as the distribution among classes of labor. For example
picking in boxes required loading and driving labor for the grove truck,
whereas some other method would eliminate loading and sometimes driving
labor also. Thus an operator using some crews with the box method and
some by other picking methods would have in the aggregate a labor
distribution which would not represent either single method exactly.
Labor costs for handling citrus in boxes are higher than for the
other methods, especially if the fruit is destined for a packinghouse.
From a limited amount of data, costs per box for packinghouse fruit
are about 3 cents higher for orange pickers and 2 cents higher for
grapefruit pickers. Loaders average about 2 cents more for box fruit
for packinghouses, grove driveisl cent more and foremen 1 cent more.
Thus labor costs for picking oranges are about 7 cents, and grapefruit
6 cents per box higher for packinghouse fruit picked in boxes than for
Total picking costs for 34 firms picking oranges averaged 34.96
cents per box and for grapefruit, 26.69 cents (Table 1). Total picking
costs for tangerines averaged 83.53 cents per box for 26 firms. Labor,
including workmen's compensation insurance and payroll taxes was the
largest item of cost in picking fruit, being approximately 70 percent
of the total for oranges, 80 percent for grapefruit and 86 percent
Hauling.--This operation refers to the transportation of fruit
from the roadside to the processing plant or fresh fruit packinghouse.
It includes also the hauling of packinghouse eliminations to the
cannery, this being counted as a separate haul. This is usually a
somewhat less expensive haul than from grove to plant, according to
operators. One of the reasons for this is heavier loading of trucks
and the use of bulk handling methods. Hauling does not include the
use of trucks in the grove, this being considered a part of the picking
and loading operation.
.Citrus hauling costs for 34 firms with an average volume of
1,098,498 boxes were 11.17 cents per box for 1960-61 (Table 1). This
is a composite cost for all kinds of fruit hauled, and all types of
operators. Labor costs including payroll taxes and workmen's com-
pensation insurance were 33 percent of the total and truck expense
(fuel, repairs, licenses, depreciation, insurance and rent) 56 percent.
The distances over which the fruit was hauled are unknown, but
citrus dealers and processors are believed to have had longer hauls
than packinghouses hauling box-fruit. While costs do not vary directly
with distance hauled, they do increase with longer hauls. On the other
hand, hauling box-fruit is somewhat higher than bulk hauling.
Hauling costs per box do not appear to be closely related to
total volume hauled. The smallest operators had the highest costs,
but several large operators also had comparatively high costs.
Hauling costs perhaps are affected more by the volume per truck owned,
and by average distance of haul as well as by the proportion of box-
fruit and tangerines hauled.
Most operators stated that hauling costs are about equal for
oranges and grapefruit, but higher for tangerines because of the
lighter loading required.
Picking and Hauling Costs Combined.--The last two columns in
Table 1 show the average costs for the complete operation of moving fruit
from the tree to the cannery, which includes picking and hauling combined.
This is obtained by adding together the costs allocated to the separate
services. Oranges cost 46.13 cents per box, grapefruit 37.86 cents,
and tangerines 94.70 cents for picking and hauling to the plant.
Many citrus firms, both dealers and packers, contract with other
operators to pick or haul, or both. Contract picking and hauling was
separated from the expense of the firm's own crews. Rates or amounts paid
contractors are not shown in TAble 1 because of the difficulty of determining
the exact service performed and the kind of fruit.
In previous years a cost has been shown for citrus dealers for
buying and selling fruit. This cost, consisting principally of buyers
salaries, commissions, brokerage, telephone and auto expense has been
omitted from the tables this year because of the small number of dealers
included. For 4 dealers buying and selling costs averaged $0.04 per
box in 1960-61. While raising their costs by this amount it would have
little effect on the over-all average handling costs.
Variation in Cost Among Firms
Total cost varied rather widely among firms for providing the
same service. These variations in total costs for pickirLg and hauling
in 1960-61 are shown in Tables 2, 3, and 4. Not enough is known about
the individual firms' operations to provide much information about
reasons for costs being high or low. The data do not show any consist-
ent relationship between volume of fruit handled and level of costs. In
each volume group there is a wide range of costs for both piLkang and
hauling, indicating the influence of factors other than volume. For
hauling, the average distance hauled and the idle capacity of the
equipment owned doubtless affected the over-all season hauling cost
per box. For picking, costs cannot decrease beyond a certain point
because of the large proportion of labor costs, some of which are piece
rates and do not fluctuate with volume picked.
TABLE 2.--Variation in total cost per box for 34 firms for picking oranges,
32 firms picking grapefruit, and 26 firms picking tangerines, 1960-61 season.
Citrus dealers, packers, and processors
Cost Per Box Oranges Grapefruit Tangerines
(Cents) Number of Firms
Under 21 .. 3
21 23.9 1 5
24 26.9 1 12
27 29.9 4 8
30 32.9 8 4
33 35.9 7 ..
36 38.9 7
39 41.9 5 ..
42 and over I .. *
Under 60 .. .. 1
60 64.9 .. .. 2
65 69.9 .... 3
70 74.9 .. .. 2
75 79.9 .. .. 1
80 84.9 .. .. 9
85 89.9 .. .. 1
90 94.9 .. .. 2
95 99.9 .. .. 3
100 and over .. .. 2
Per Box (cents)
Range in Costs
34 32 26
35.0 26.7 83.5
23.7 45.1 17.6 31.8 58.2 117.4
- ---------- -- -
TABLE 3.--Variation in total cost per box for hauling citrus
fruit from grove to plant, 33 firms, 1960-61 season.
Citrus dealers, packers, and processors
Cost Per Box Number of Firms
5 6.9 ........,....................... 3
7 8.9 ................................ 8
9 10.9 ...................... ..... 6
.1 12.9 ............................... 10
.3 14.9 ............1.................. 1
.5 16.9 ....3.....7.................. 3
.7 and over .........,..........,...... 3
Total number of firms 34
Average Cost Per Box (cents) 11.2
Range in Costs (cents) 6.4 21.2
TABLE 4.--Variation in total cost per box for picking and
Citrus dealers, packers, and processors
Cost Per Box Oranges Grapefruit Tangerines
(Cents) Number of Firms
25 29.9 1 2
30 34.9 1 9
35 39.9 7 9
40 44.9 5 6
45 49.9 7 2
50 54.9 6 1
55 59.9 3
60 64.9 I .. 1
65 69.9 .. .. 1
70 74.9 .. .. 1
75 79.9 .. .. I
80 84.9 ..
85 89.9 .. .. 6
90 94.9 .. .. 5
95 99.9 ......
1.00 and over .. .. 8
Total number of firms 31 29 23
Range in Costs (cents) 28.4 63.0 27.7 52.9 64.6 129.7
aCitrus dealers had an additional cost of buying and
averaging 3.6 cents per box which is not included above.
Management decisions probably affect citrus picking and hauling
costs to a considerable extent. The operation of picking and hauling
fruit is only one segment of the total business operation, whether
the firm be a citrus dealer, packinghouse, or processor. Obtaining
a large and continuous volume of fruit may have advantages to the
firm that outweigh the advantage of merely achieving low cost in the
picking and hauling operation.
Total picking costs for 34 firms varied from 23.7 cents to 45.1
cents per box for oranges, and for 32 firms from 17.6 cents to 31.8
cents per box for grapefruit. The range in cost for picking tangerines
was from 58.2 cents to $1.17 per box for 26 firms (Table 2).
Hauling costs for 34 firms varied from 6.4 cents to 21.2 cents
per box (Table 3).
For picking and hauling combined, total costs for 31 firms ranged
from 28.4 cents to 63.0 cents per box for oranges. The modal group
of 16 firms had costs between 38.9 cents and 51.0 cents. Picking and
hauling costs for grapefruit for 29 firms varied from 27.7 cents to
52.9 cents per box. The modal group of 14 firms had costs between
32.5 cents and 40.9 cents per box. Picking and hauling tangerines
varied from 64.6 cents to $1.30 per box for 23 firms with costs for
9 firms in the modal group between 86.0 cents and $1.06 per box
Comparison of 1960-61 Costs with Previous Seasons
Total picking costs for 1960-61 averaged slightly higher for
oranges and grapefruit and lower for tanterines than the preceding
season (Table 5). Hauling costs showed a small decrease from the
average of the preceding season. Total picking and haulu'g costs,
tree to the plant, were about the same for tangerines but higher for
oranges and grapefruit, following an almost unbroken trend for 11
Some of the season-to-season variation in cost for each service
is due to the firms included. These have not remained identical each
year, and as previously pointed out, costs vary widely among firms.
TABLE 5.--Average cost per box for picking and hauling citrus fruits,
- cents per
Total Picking & Haulinga
Oranges fruit rines
box - - -
38.67 28.93 67.24
38.23 29.32 71.74
38.83 31.69 69.33
38.48 30.19 70.47
38.31 30.29 74.10
39.99 31.20 75.86
40.63 32.73 83.23
44.61 R.O 86.84
44.76 35.62 86.36
45.40 36.39 94.91
46.13 37.86 94.70
citrus dealers usually have an additional cost for buying and selling
fruit which has varied from 21 to 4 cents per box.
Most of the items of cost are self explanatory, but a few comments
may serve to clarify some classifications.
Labor cost was the amount paid by operators to their own crews for
the service indicated. Field foremen were sometimes paid a weekly salary,
sometimes a per-box rate, and sometimes a combination of both. Pickers
were paid a piece rate per box, varying with the kind of fruit and the
difficulty of picking. Most operators paid about 12 to 14 cents per box
for picking grapefruit, 50 to 65 cents for tangerines, and around 17 cents
per box for budded oranges. The rate for picking seedling oranges was
20 to 35 cents per box. Any condition which made picking more difficult
usually required a higher picking rate. Loaders transfer the boxes of
picked fruit from the ground to the grove truck. The boxes may be set
on the truck floor, or poured into the truck body, depending upon the
disposition intended for the fruit. Loaders were paid a piece rate
per box--usually 2 to 4 cents per box for the whole operation.
Several different methods of handling fruit in the grove were in
use. Some firms used tractors and 10-box containers to load the fruit
directly into the highway truck, and some operators used a tractor and
25-box trailers instead of grove trucks. Pallet boxes and mechanical
loaders were used in some operations. These innovations eliminated
the loading labor and made the average rates shown for loading less
per box than they would have been had all used the hand loading method.
Grove drivers were usually paid on an hourly basis. In some
cases the foremen drove the grove trucks, tractors or mechanical loaders.
Highway drivers, or semi-trailer drivers, were paid a weekly wage in
most cases, but sometimes a per-box rate. Their function was to drive
the large trucks from the roadside to the citrus packing or processing
plant. Mechanics or shop employees were used by some operators to
keep trucks and other equipment in repair.
Other labor includes workers such as testers, watchmen, yard
and scalehouse labor, and crew-truck drivers.
Payroll taxes and workmen's compensation insurance were added to
the amounts paid workers to determine the total direct labor costs.
Gasoline, oil and grease cost was the amount consumed by grove
and crew trucks, loading machines and highway trucks.
Office supplies and expense included stationery and other materials
for office use.
Telephone and telegraph was used principally in buying and selling
of fruit by dealers, but a portion was allocated to picking and hauling
A few firms rented equipment of various kinds for a part of their
operations. This included trucks and buildings.
Travel and auto expense, was incurred mainly in the buying and
selling of fruit by citrus dealers, but also some in supervising the
picking crews and fruit hauling. Some firms paid a mileage rate for
autos used, while some owned the cars and supplied fuel, repairs, etc.
Miscellaneous expense included a great many items, some of which
were sizeable sums for a few firms but averaged small amounts. This
group is made up of lights and water, advertising, public relations
expense, dues and subscriptions, donations, driver's expense accounts,
business bad debts, legal and auditing, radio expense, and many unclass-
ified items of expense.
Repairs covered all automotive equipment and loading machines,
buildings, and in addition, field box and ladder repair and replacement.
Licenses and taxes were principally the truck and auto licenses,
but also included business bonds or licenses and taxes on any property
used in the business.
Depreciation was the allowance to cover the estimated wear and
tear on the physical assets used in the business.
Salaries were paid to management and office employees where
employed by the firm. In some partnerships and individual proprietor-
ships there was no paid management--this function being performed by
tlhe entrepreneurs. In these cases an estimated amount has been added
to cover the value of the operator's labor and management, If only the
paid management costs had been included, the per-box costs of manage-
ment for dealers (Table 1) would have been slighLly less. However,
this procedure would have left some citrus dealers with no management
expense, as compared with other firms where management was fully paid.
All management salaries shown for packinghouses were actually paid,
though some of such firms did not allocate any of their management or
office salaries to picking and hauling operations.
Supplies and shop expense included various supplies and shop
tools and materials not easily classified with some other expense.