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Costs and Returns for Sugarcane
Production on Muck Soils in
Food and Resource Economics Department
Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville 32611
Costs and returns for suga rcane production on muck soils in
Florida during the 19 83--84 season were estimated from data
provided by local producers and dealers servicing them. An
efficient 640-acre farm was ass' .umed. Results show a cost per net
ton of ..sugarcane of 23 and of $20 per standard ton. Costs per
gross, net and harvested acre: were $65c3, $741. and $865 respective-
ly. Net returns to management and risk were $211 per gross acre.
Key words:: Everglades, u:.uqarcane-, enterprise budget production
The use of trade names i I n this publication is solely for the
purpose of providing spec::. fi ::. information. It is not an en-
dorsement, a guarantee, or a warranty of the products named.
IBM PC i.s a t:. a r adermalk of Inter n a tion al Bins Mach i nes Corp.
Lotus 1-2--3 is a trademark of Lo...tus Development Corporation.
i ABLE OF CONiTENTS
LIST OF TABLES ,............. ..... ... iii
INTRODUCT ION .. .. .. .. .... ... .. .... .. 1
METHODOLOGY AND DATA SOURCES . ... .. . 3
Management ri .. ... .. ..... ...... 3
Farm Characteri st.ics. .. ., . 3
Machinery and Equi:pmenliei .,. ., 4
Labor . ,. . 4
Cultural Practi ces ,. .. ,. . . 7
Costs and Prices,, .. 7
Data Sources .. 1 ()
COSTS AND RETURNS ... ... . .. . . 11
Produtcti on Costs.t ,, . 11
Revenues and Co( ts: ., .. .. . . 11
Retu-trns;. to Factors of P:"odIucti oni., . . 15
Costs aund Returns per Unli t,, . . . 15
SUMMA:AR;Y AND CONCL...USIONS, .. . ., 1 7
REF ERENCES .. .. .. ... . .. . . 18
L....[S OF TABLE
1 Assumed land di stri but.ion, yield, percent trash
and sucrose for a 640--acre sugarcane farm in south
Florida:, 1 983-84 . . .. .. .. 5
2 Estimated :initial i investment and assumptions for
machinery anrd equi .pment' used on a 640-acre sugar-
cane farm in south Florida, 1983-84. . . 6
3 Assumed pre-harvest cultural practices performed by
di f feren-t machinery and equipment to produce 161
acres of plant cane .i.i south Flor ida, 1983-84. . 8
4 Assumed pre-harvest cultural practices performed by
diff erent machinery and equipment to :produce 322
acres of stubble cane in: s oul h Florida, 1983-84 9
5 Summary of production cost:.s estimates by activity
for a 640--acre sugarcane farm in south Florida,
1983-3-84 . .. .. .. . . 12
6 Est. i mated h-arvest:ing nanrid over lead activities costs
for a 640-acre sugarcane farm in south Florida,
1983--84. . . . . . 13
7 Stummar y of estimated revenuess, costs. and margins
f or a 640-acr square sugar an farm in south Fl or i a,
1983-84. .. ,. .. . . 1.4
8 Estimated totaJ returns to f actors of production
per gross acre; +a r a 64 0-acre sugar-a.ne farm in
south Florida, 1983-84 ., . . 16
COSTS AND RETUiI'S FUI:R SJi.. i.I;: : FPRiDU)L FION ON MUCK SOILS IN
FL.RI .A,, 198 384
Jose Al varez and Francisco Rohrmannn
:: 1I '; .. JCT 1 -1\iN
Sug l.ar:cane production icn south F:lorida takes place in the
area arn..d and south of Lake Ok:-eechobee. Although Palm Beach
County accounts i for most:. (:..f Ihe acreae o, tLhe crop i.s also grown i.n
Herncidry, Gl aides and Mart .i.n Cuni i s. Dr i ng the 1982-83 season,
the value o:f the sugar and molasses prc-duced *from 355,300 acres
devoted to sugarcane a. n .:unc. i. d t:io ;5.-2 (ii 1 n Alvar: ez and
Shuler :198:3). Mu.ik.::ey arnd.i Gu' don (1 C; ) have st .ated that "beyond
its relat:i vel y lar ge con r L .:uti on io cash r ecei pts in the
fOL ur-1ount cy sugar prod.:uc:tio.. ar ii;ea, the production of sugarca ne
and associated sugar milling operations iimake a significant
contribution to thLe local econ omy" ( p. 1).. Using 1980 data, this
contriut: .i on tra..nslated to. over 'I (l,,000 local .jobs generated
through direct, indirect and. induced active y, and over $1.1
billion in gro s s i ales.
Josec- A. varez and Franc: isco :.,Rohrmiann are A rea Economi st and Direc--
tor oi f IBM: i Grant, r-espec i.::' .vely:.. F:ood: and Resour..ice Economics De--
p:artme.nt, Un university of i Forida iEverg:l ade;.s Research and Educat:i on
Cent er Bell11e G1 ad e Fi... 3:3.:5..:' ,.
Enterpr :i. ..budget or !: .'i imip: rtant crop: were last
published in 1979 (t..opt.: e1 ) .. Changes in factor and outp.. utt..t
prices, as well. s requests fro:i growers, researchers, bankers
and government agent cie:, made it necessary to devel op a current
budget,, The purp:::ose of i publ :i. cati on is to update cost and
return figures for uct .gar :. ,. pro duct ion Ion the muck s::ils of
south h F ::)ri. da:,
An ent ..erpr i. se 1::fudget. .i. ; a sy stemat i c li sting of income,
expenses,, capitall, labor and mac.:hinery requi rements .f:or a given
crop,, Enter:.:r :i. se bu:::dgets h- a several important applications.
Sugarcane Iprod uce mi ," I I .:i:e current t. bud:!:gets to gauge their costs
and p::ract:i. c:es against a i "i.::,**,- ichi,!la:'k" farfm, Bud::gets allow comparison
of production cos":',, arnd reven:.*es': bet between different regions of the
cou .ntry and betw-1en cro .: i I the same region., They are a. so
useful in land a:: pp.ra i sa ,: : ::i. e .Ithe value of agricultural land
is closely related to the potential net revenue f r::om the crop
produced on ctha .I : land., Fi l .i .1v Ip.ublished budgets document costs
for historical p:urp::ses and serve as a ready reference f or those
desiring C general? e.:conomi(: stats. s !. on C Lhe crop in question.
The f: figure :. n this r.epo :ri w.ere developed wi th a computer :ized
sugarcane budget general I..tj... :;Iesi ~ ned by the authorsr. The software
package is inrtendedl for :::,.- ar use with an ITDM Personal Computer
having a mini mum !memory of :9,.: Kilob::ytes of Random Access Memory,,
two disk drives, a r inter, and either version 1 or IA of the
L. .ot u s 1 2-3 1 e. c tron ic si.::r e ds:-.:i-; t,,
ME.THODOL...OGi Y LWiD DATA B5.JOURCE:.
Many var iab l: es :i. nif :1 ..enc: e su .g a r c :a ri e product i o(n in south
Florida., Variati:ons in managementt, farm size,, soil. type, soil
depth, distance from Lake Ok:eech obee, and many other factors
result in d different systems e production with corresponding
:input and output. levels,, For this reasiEi:on, several assumptions
were needed in developing) thi s budget,
This study assumedd: (* :A high level of management; (b) the
manager is a profit i ma: .imi ie. er(c) .Ue o:f the latest technology;
and (d) the grower 1s ei:. i.f an i independent producer or a mi ll.
cooperate ive member, buL :: : in o..L o rower-processor.
F-arm^ Chli -. r ..t.. i. ;t. C.
SSugjarcane frm in )ou h Flori da vary in size from small, ,
owner.-operated Lto large., courpoi:."rl-un farms. Ini this study, a
640-acre (usually ref'err-d L..o) a "o ::e sect: i onr") .farm was assumed.
Since the per-acre cost anid le ld fig ..ures obtained were considered
representation i o e b-:s. managed f arms i i the area, l larger
operations c:n use i i. 1 em.; uf the bas:.i. unit t1::: estimate the
co:rresp::rondi costs arld r et u..r"<: t i ur'es. However, some economies
of scale are :present-i r ma .iner r y cosls.
The farm assumed was est.abli shed and its land subdivided
into :.6, 40--acre b::l.ock:: ; r here were 14 one-.half mile long field
ditches (7 mil es total) and 2 one-mi.le long seepage canals. The
farm was assuLmed to b:e located less than 15 mi les from the mi ll,
thus no e:.tra charges :for t :raelN:Iortati on of: cane to the mill were
made. The soil. was ...i :s .ied as m-uckI and the land di stri buti on
and correspondi. ny y ield-.- <:.-: e shw.n. :in Tabl:e :1...
Ma c::h i nEr y .. L Id:_ .g 1. 3 .L L n01
The machinery and equip::,ment a:ssum:ed (Table 2) can perform
al 1 necessary I operations in the time required when is used
eff ici gently. A typical work:i.. o day +or a machi ne was assumed to
be .5 hours i.e., equip rmeit .n':age t i me represents 85% of labor
time, allowing for the ltime ] osl. in activities such as refueling,
Annual .ix ed co..sts inci t.i r u dep: r eci. ati on, repairs,, interest,
ta: -Ees and i insurance De:p re .... :.t i on wias ca c:ul ated using the
straight line methii.cd, a-ssume:d a ina.ri:hi nery :life of ten years and a
salvage value of i.. o- th- purchase cost.: This method was used
because it .. ta-kes into a.....o ....u the normal ustief:ul service life of
the machinery, thus spl eadi.nqI ichi.nery ownership p ::: costs over the
enrit ei r i od.
Repl::,airs were est .i Jat1ed al.. 3, of purchase cost.,, Interest on
machi nrery loans was calcul ate.: d at 13% of the aver-age value of the
machi ne, where average value was de:f i.ned as the average of the
purchase cost arind. t:he saH v.: ae val ue. Tames an d ins ur ance
represented 1% of: the initial investment of the machine.
Var-i abl e costs were :the doll. ar amount ,of fuel di irectl y
consumed b:,y power machinery, esti. imat ed at $0..95 p:: er gall.. onr, plus.
the opera t or :' s 'a 1 ar y. F or non-r.p oweri e cqu :i p men~ t, r ep a i rs were
i ncl uded u-nder mac::h i lne r y owner s Ii-i h :::. costs.,
The farm has one .fui .1-i.i employee. Outside labor as. well.
as custom services wierie a umed to be available in the area when
Table 1.- Assumed land distribution, yield, percent trash and sucrose for
a 640-acre sugarcane farm in south Florida, 1983-84
Assumed gross percent Net % Std.
Land use acres % tons/A trash tons/A sucrose tons/A
Fallow 81 12.6 -
Plant canea 161 25.2 47.05 5.0 44.7 14.25 52.56
1st ratoon 161 25.2 40.00 5.0 38.0 14.20 44.49
2nd ratoon 161 25.2 32.00 5.0 30.4 14.10 35.29
Otherb 76 11.8 -
Total 640 100.0
aHalf is from fallow land and half is from successive planting. Eighty-two acres
at 50 gross tons per acre and 79 acres at 44 gross tons per acre, respectively,
average 47.05 gross tons per acre.
blncludes road, ditches and canals.
Table 2.- Estimated initial investment and assumptions
cane farm in south Florida, 1983-84.
for machinery and equipment used on a 640-acre sugar-
No.of New Fuel/ Taxes and
Item units cost Life hr Repairs Insurance Interest Depreciation
Tractor, 110-115 HP
Tractor, 60 HP
Disk, offset, 12',24"
Disk, harrow, 21',21"
Chisel plow, 12',20"
Land leveler, 8-row, 3
Mole drain, 2-row
Furrow plow, 3-row
Rotary mower, 7'
Pump, 36" pipe, 92 HP
Labor cost ,per hour o:. work was estimated to be $5,.00, while
equ i pmernt op erator' -. c:o, sMt .. i:: c. !75, b.oth :i including frin ge
bene-fits. Th'e rnumi3ber of Iho ..tr-: of i.'r:k in a .typical working day was
assumed to be 10. .
Cultur al!. ..:.ti, s.
Table 3 slhow) Le c.u .1 r ::.i. I:practices performed in the plant
cane operate i on. Time over r 'presentI. t-he Inumber of ti mes a
cul. tural p rac :tice was .:. ai- r:i ::-i. ou ThI e e f i cie. ncy measures or
per form ance rates of the oper ::io Li n were stated in acres :per day,,
given the type of mia.:: ch.i ner-'y :i i..'] o e-..l.
The :effi c:i. ernc y in Lr-.:m:.. aO.res per day was used to obtain
thie to:,:tal. numi,.::'r of hIo" s p :.-r .cre -a mat: :i.rne was employ :yed. This
i nforC mati wr ,as. uI .ed c to c.:i !. : I..; l: variable: e product: on costs on a
per acre b as :i. ,
The c:ulLural pri: ::, Lic s::. pr.-forrmed in;' the stubble operation are
shown in Table 4.
QCost and :.i...es.
The costs assumed for the di tffer-ent materials applied are
shown in the c orresp ondin i:c:ti ons of the budget. Other cost
asssu.mptions inclu ded a 1.:::j. interest rate for operating loans, a
t9.75 per gross ton for harvestingg, loading and hauling to the
mill, and land and drainagee tla:. es of $12 per acre,,
he land charge deserves special c:onsiderati on. Brooke (1977)
developed three different figures that could be used depend ng
.upo n the pur pose for which the estimate was computed: (a)
interest on the current marLket value oft land (for long-run costs
Table 3.- Assumed pre-harvest cultural practices performed by different machinery and equipment to produce 161 acres of
plant cane in south Florida, 1983-84.
Tractor, 60 HP
Crew size (#)
vy Light Chisel-
g. dskg. inga
1- Mole Fertil- Furow-
0.5 1 1
- - Acres/day- -
36 0 55
36 0 55
0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0 0
- - $/acre- -
0 3.50 0
0 35.00 0 1(
Seed Scratch- Mech Herb
cov. ing cult, appl!
1 12 3 1
40 50 40 0
40 0 40 0
0 50 0 0
40 0 0 0
1 0 0 0
0 0 0 2.25
25.00h 0 0 1.50
aAbout 1/3 of the land wasassumed to be chiseled due to variations in soil depth.
bTwo miles were cleaned at$600/mileandincluded soil spreading.
cOne 10" diameter mole plow was pulled 2' deep every 20'.
dSix hundred Ibs.of 0-10-40 plus micronutrients were used.
eFive tons of cane at $20/ton plus a cutting cost of $25/acre were used.
Estimate included $7.50 for loading, $25 for hauling and $25 for dropping.
gEstimated charge for seed transportation.
hEstimate assumed 33 Ibs. of Mocap at $0.75/lb.
1v "a w*$-'rt u
Table 4.-Assumed pre-harvest cultural practices bydifferent machinery and equipment to produce 322 acres of stubble
cane in south Florida, 1983-84.
Tractor, 110-115 HP
Spread. Disk Rolling Fertil- Herb.b Chisel-
fodder cult. cult ization appl. ingc
1 2 6 1 2 0.5
- - - - - -Acres/day - - - - -
36 30 36 0 0 40
36 30 36 0 0 40
- - - - - $/acre - - - - - -
0 0 0 3.00 2.25 0
0 0 0 30.00 8.80 0
alt was assumed that 500 Ibs. of 0-10-40 without micronutrients were used.
bEstimate assumed one lb. of Evik at $1.60/lb. with 4 Ibs. of Atrazine at $1.80/lb. plus $2.25 for the aircraft.
CEstimate assumed only about 1/2 of the land was chiseled due to variations in soil depth.
project ons to e:val. uate. 1. :-nd as: an invest menrt); (b) the
opportunity cost;; i:.e,,, the e::pected earnings from the use of the
:land for other crops: (apprl:opri. at:e for several purposes such as
studying shor -ru'n supplyl r responses) ~ ; and ( c) the 1 aidl. ord' s net
cash ren. (for estimating cos:.ts o produ t::i on). The last method
seemed t ..b e the most appr .::i ::I.: i .1.it for the i:..ir :::o f this study.
Yet, it was d: .f: f i cut Vo pinpoint a "typ:i.cal" cash rent f(:or
several reasons:: r:-enting l:nd .or suci arcane production: is a very
rare phenomenon in the area and the: cost would depend on numerous.
f actorss, Th e $ 1. f:i re was chosen and wa the midpoint i n the
$100 to $1.50 range C.!suggested b:.y several growers,,
The r:::ice p:::er standard ton of cane (net :: tons times a quali. ty
factor which varies with th:e su:croe content) was set at 24., 15,,
Thi s price was the result. of ass.umi.ng the price of sugar at
0. 2:/1 b and mul ti pl i ng .it. times 1. 5 (the air pri. ce
determination f actor). Although this method was stated in the
Sugar Act: whi. ch: ex: pired at t he endi o 1. 974, i ts use has
remained essentially unchangedd, Read ers i interest i n learning
an easy way to comput:e di f er ent relation nshi ps: aimcng various
measures of sugar quality cn:.: cons ulL Al. ]arez and iRohrmanni
Data for activities perf formed, equipment used and their r
corresponding efficiencies, were ob t ai ned through per : o n a per
interviews w:i.th producerss. Pr:ic.es for machinery a -nd inp uts, were
provi ded by loc:a.l. firms servicing the :growers: and the grow ers
COSTS AND RETURNS
Fr oduc t. :on Cost s.
A break-down of production costs by activity :is shown in
Table 5. They are expressed in terms of total amounts and dollars
per acre. The first four major headings (land preparation,
planting, plant cane cultivation and stubble cultivation) show
summary numbers from Tabl.es 3 and 4. The source of the numbers
for harvesting and overhead activities appears in Table 6,
which also shows a computer estimate of the expected deficit or
surplus of the mill quo Ita.
R e e ne s D2 an. d _o t s i ;
Table 7 shows a summary of revenues and costs (both variable
and fixed costs) in terms of dollars per acre and per standard
ton. Total amounts are also included along with relative
On the revenue- side, plant and first r-atoon canes accounted
for about 68% of total revenues, whi le second ratoon cane
represented almost 25%. The contribution of molasses was close
to 7% of total revenues,.
Pl anti ng showed the hii hst percentage of all pre-harvest
var i able costs, wi t. h 8. 2%, f ollo. wed by ratoon cul ti vati on wi th
6. 5%. Harvesting costsii r represenVted about .45% of total costs.
At the bottom of Table 7:, a summary of projected revenues and
costs is presented. Estimated variable costs represented 54%
of estimated total revenues, while fixed costs accounted for
2:1.5%. A net margin of 24. 4% was a residual to the grower.
Table 5.- Summary of production costs estimates
farm in south Florida, 1983-84
by activity for a 640-acre sugarcane
8. LAND PREPARATION
Seed Cost & Transport.
Seed Covering & Insect.
PLANT CANE CULTIVATING
Spread fodder 97(
Disk Cult. 2,342
Rolling Cult. 5,851
Herbicide appl. 7,11(
Plant cane 73,851
1st Ratoon 62,79(
2nd Ratoon 50,232
Pest Ctrl 4,30(
Water Ctrl 3,84(
Table 6.- Estimated harvesting and overhead activities costs for a 640-acre sugar-
cane farm in south Florida, 1983-84.
Tons harvested Har
Item Gross Net Standard cost Net tons
Plant cane 7,575 7,196 8,462 $73,857 Mill
1st ratoon 6,440 6,118 7,164 62,790 Quota 17,000
2nd ratoon 5,152 4,894 5,682 50,232 Expected
Total 19,167 18,208 21,308 186,879 deficit
or >>>> 1,208
Edginga $ 640
Rodent control 1,280
Borer control 3,020
Water controld 3,840
aEstimate based on a cost of $1/acre.
bNot applied in all areas. An average of $2/acre was assumed. This estimate in-
cluded two applications of 2 Ibs. of rat bait at $1/lb. and the operator's salary.
CCharges for scouting were assumed to be $2.45/acre for the season for 322 acres.
Two insecticide applications to 161 acres were assumed. Each chemical application
costs an average of $4.68/acre for 1 1/4 pt. of Azodrin 5 WM plus $2.25 for the
dThe water control estimate included an assumed cost of $5/acre for electricity and
$1 for repairs and maintenance.
Table 7.- Summary of estimated revenues, costs and margins for a 640-acre sugar-
cane farm in south Florida, 1983-84.
Total Variable Costs
Plant cane Cultiv.
Total Fixed Costs
Machinery & Equip.
Taxes:Land & Drainage
SUMMARY OF PROJECTED REVENUES AND COSTS
aAssumed to be 10% of variable costs and included pick-up truck
Ret. urns to :Facto s- of Pojdui:: il. n
The ret..rns to variou..s fac-tors of production are presented in
Table B. The break-down facilitates the estimation of the value
of the resources used in sugarcane production and is designed to
test the economic profitability of the sugarcane operation as an
economic uni t.
The figures are giv en on a per acre basis. Total revenue
amounted to an estimated $864 per acre. Deducting variable and
fixed costs ( excluding land) left $336 as the return to land,
management and risk. With the land charge of $125 per acre, the
return to management and risk was $21:1 per acre.
The previous results allow the computation of costs and
returns for the different units of production. The total cost
was obtained by adding total variable and total fixed costs
($299,167 + $118.,S84 = $418,051). The total net return
equals total revenues minus total variables costs minus total
fixed costs ($552,963 $299,167 $118,884 = $134,912).
Gross acreage was the total farm acreage (640). Net acreage
was total acreage minus roads, ditches and canals (640 76 =
564). Harvested acreage was net acreage minus acreage followed
(564 81 = 483) Gross tons produced amounted to 19, 167. Net
tons were 18,209, while the number of standard tons was 2:1.,308.
Table 8.- Estimated total returns to factors of production per gross acre for
a 640-acre sugarcane farm in south Florida, 1983-84
Item Charge Return
Total Revenue 864
Variable Cost 467
Return to fixed cost, land, and Mgt & Risk 397
Fixed Costs (Machinery, Equip. & Taxes) 61
Return to land and management & risk 336
Land Charge 125
Return to management & risk 211
Dividing toLal costs ard i t ota net returns'i by the
corresponding per unit measures provides the following results:
Gross Net Harv ., Gross Net Stand.
acre acre acre ton ton ton
Total Cost ($) 653.20 741.22 865. 3 21.81 22.96 19.62
Net Return ($) 210.80 2329.21 279.32 7.04 7.41 6.33
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Costs and returns figures for sugarcane production on muck
soils in Florida were updated f or the 1983-84 season using a
computerized budget generator developed by the authors. Results
show that, under the assumptions of this study, it cost about $23
per net ton and $19.62 per standard ton of cane produced. These
figures represented a total cost of $741.22 per net acre and
$865.53 per harvested acre,,
Assuming a $125 per acre for land charge, net returns to
management and risk amounted to :210.80 per gross acre, $7.41 per
net ton and $6.33 per standard ton. Estimates for individual
farms in the area would ifluctua.te widely due to factors varying
from the assumpti ons used in this study.
Alvarez, Jose and Franci sco Rohrmann. "Relationships Among
Various Measures of Sugar j !aliI.t.y," Belle Glade EREC Research
Report EV-1984-10, Unrivers ity of Florida., Ever.glades Research and
Educate Ion Center, Belle Bladce, Florida, September 1984.
Alvarez, Jose and Kennethi DI., Shuler. "Economic Importance of
the Ever:glades Agri cultural Area, 1.982-83, Belle l ade AREC
Research Report FV--19:3----8, Un:. versi ty of Florida, Agricultural
Research and Education Cen ter", Bell e Gladce, Flori da, November
Brooke, D.L. "Cost of P-roducing Sugarca ne and Processing Raw
Sugar in South Fl ori da, 1975-76, ", Food and Resource Economics
Department Economics Rep::or t 84, Uni .versi ty of Flor i da,
Gainesville, Florida, Ma"rch 1977.
Lopez, Rigoberto A., Jose Alvarez and Gerald Kidder.
"Enterpr i se Budget -for Sugarcan e Produc t i on in South Florida,
1978-79, F ood and c Resource Econo :mic s Department Ec:onromi c
Inf orm at i on Rep ort 119, U..n :i. i: e r s i t: y of Florida, Gai nesvi 1 e,
Florida, September 1979,.
Mulkey, W. David and John R. Gordon "The Economic Impact of
the Sugar Industry in Sou.th Flor:ida," Food and Resource Economics
Department Ec:onomic Inf: ormfat i on Report 173, Un versity of
Florida, Gainesvi le, Florida, November 1982.