Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Irish potatoes

Group Title: Agricultural economics report - University of Florida Dept. of Agricultural Economics ; no. 61-4
Title: Labor and material requirements, cost and returns for Irish potatoes and cabbage in the Hastings area, Florida
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00074612/00001
 Material Information
Title: Labor and material requirements, cost and returns for Irish potatoes and cabbage in the Hastings area, Florida
Physical Description: 15 p. : ; .. cm.
Language: English
Creator: Brooke, D.L
University of Florida -- Agricultural Experiment Station. -- Dept. of Agricultural Economics
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1960
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by D.L. Brooke.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00074612
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 67671277
clc - 000489581

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Irish potatoes
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
Full Text

October 1960

Agricultural Economics
Mimeo Report 61-4





in the




D. L. Brooke
Agricultural Economist

Department of Agricultural Economics
Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations




Introduction . . . ..

S. . 1

Irish Potatoes . .... . . .. 3

Labor requirements .. ..... 3
Season of operations . . 5
Material requirements . . . 6
Costs and returns ..... . 8

Cabbage . . . ..... .10

Labor requirements . . . 10
Season of operations . ....... 11
Material requirements . . 13
Costs and returns ...... . ... 14



Donald L. Brookel


The purpose of this report is to present information on

practices and costs currently applicable to the production of Irish

potatoes and cabbage in the Hastings area of Florida. Estimates of

usual labor and material requirements and costs of production and

harvesting were obtained by personal interview with growers in the

area. Each grower was asked to estimate the usual time required

for each operation in producing and harvesting a crop and the

approximate dates when such operations were performed. Materials

used were also estimated by the growers, together with normal yield.

No systematic sampling procedure was used but an attempt was made to

get a sample representative of the more successful growers. There-

fore, it is believed the data show the practices of the better


The most common practice for the majority of growers in the

sample was used in developing these data. Unusual operations or

methods were omitted. Labor and power requirements as shown include

1Associate Agricultural Economist, Florida Agricultural
Experiment Stations, Gainesville, Florida.

the hours of man labor and tractor use. Truck use was omitted because

of the difficulty in calculating the hours used. On some crops, trucks

are used in a number of operations Thile on others they are used merely

to go to and from the field. Even though idle most of the day, they

are still tied up while the operation is in progress.

It should be pointed out that these data relate to one crop or

enterprise and the total amount of labor required in operating a farm

cannot be obtained from the data given in the following tables. A

great deal of labor is required for jobs not directly related to any

individual crop or enterprise, Work on roads, bridges, fences, repairs

to equipment and buildings and all daily farm chores come in this

classification. If all labor performed on a farm were prorated to

various enterprises the amount used would be higher than that shown

in the tables of requirements.

The data on costs of production, harvesting and marketing and

net returns per acre were obtained independently from that of labor

and materials requirements. Information on costs includes items of

overhead, interest, land rent and miscellaneous expense in addition to

direct costs of labor, materials and machine expense. Costs and returns

data were in many cases obtained from profit and loss statements. Where

more than one crop was included, allocations of cost were made to indi-

vidual crops on the basis of man and machine hour requirements. Where

profit and loss statements were not available growers were asked to

estimate costs. Special attention was given to items such as machine

hire, cover crop seed, insurance on equipment and miscellaneous expenses.

Land rent, at the prevailing rate, was charged on all acreage planted

in lieu of taxes and a charge was made for interest on capital invested

in land and buildings. Interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum was

charged on cash outlay for labor and materials for the number of months

required to produce and harvest a crop. Interest at 6 percent was also

included as a cost against capital investment in machinery and equipment.

Labor requirements: Man and machine hours required to produce and

harvest an acre of Irish potatoes are shown in Table 1. Initial

fertilization and planting, including the cutting of seed pieces, require

more man hours per acre than any of the other production operations.

Ditching and draining, other than by dragline, is the second greatest

user of man hours. Where draglines are used to clear perimeter ditches

an estimated additional 0.2 man and 0.2 machine hours per acre are

required at an average cost of $2.50 per acre. From 3 to 4 cultivations

and 1 to 2 sidedress applications of fertilizer are made during the

growing period, requiring 1.4 man and 1.4 tractor hours per acre. Insect

and disease control requires only slightly more man and tractor time than

the cultivating and fertilizing operations. Total pre-harvest require-

ments averaged 24.3 man hours and 7.5 tractor hours per acre.

Three different harvesting methods are in common use for Irish

potatoes in the Hastings area. The oldest and most prevalent method

employs the use of a 2-row tractor-drawn digger, a crew of laborers to

pick the potatoes off the ground and place them in sacks and a truck and

crew to load, transport to the packinghouse and unload, the filled sacks.

This type of operation required 32.6 man hours and 1.5 tractor hours per


TABLE l.--Irish Potatoes: Labor Requirements in Hours Per Acre,
Hastings Area
(Based on data obtained from 22 growers)
i i- i i N i' i i 7 7 l l i ,.


Pre-harvest labor:
Ditching and draining
Preparing land
Preparing rows
Planting and fertilizing
Cultivating and fertilizing
Insect and disease control

Total pre-harvest labor

Harvest labor:
Picking up
Hauling to grader

Total harvest labor

Other labor (cover crop)

Total--all operations

Estimated yield, hundredweight

Hours per acre
Man Tractor

7.1a 1.3a
1.8 1.8
0.4 0.4
9.0 1.0
1.4 1.4
1.6b 1.6

24.3 7.5
2-row 1-row 2-row
Bulk Harvesterc Bagper Diggerc
Man Tractor Man Tractor Man Tractor
5.7 1.1 8.0 2.0 1.5 1.5
3.0 4.0 4.1

8.7 1.1 12.0 2.0 32.6 1.5

3.4 2.7 3.4 2.7 3.4 2.7

36.4 11.3 39.7 12.2 60.3 11.7


aDoes not include dragline cleaning of ditches.

bNecessary only in dry years. An equal amount of pump time
may be required.

CEight, three and eleven records respectively.

A second harvesting method employs the use of a 1-row tractor-

drawn digger-bagger. Here the potatoes are lifted from the ground by

the digger-bagger, elevated to a sorting table and dropped into field

sacks at the back of the machine. Filled sacks are stored on the

machine and set off at the rows' end for further transportation to the

packinghouse. This type of harvesting requires 12.0 man and 2.0

tractor hours per acre. This is one-third more machine time and about

60 percent fewer man hours than is required by the method first


A third method of harvesting is more completely mechanized.

It employs the use of a 2-row tractor-drawn and power-operated, or

self-propelled bulk harvester. This machine digs the potatoes and

elevates them to the bulk-body of an accompanying truck for direct

transportation to a packinghouse. Only 8.7 man hours and 1.1 tractor

hours are required for harvesting and packing in using the bulk har-

vester method. Savings in labor are considerable but the capital

outlay for machinery is much in excess of that for conventional type


Total labor requirements for production and harvesting of

Irish potatoes range from 41.3 man and 11.7 tractor hours using

conventional diggers to 36.4 man and 11,3 tractor hours using a

l-row bulk harvester,

Season of operations: Gro-ers begin land preparation for the planting

of potatoes in October of each year (Table 2). The cover crop is

TABLE 2.--Irish Potatoes: Usual Season of Operations in the
Hastings Area

Operation Usual Dates

Ditching and draining Oct. 1 Mar. 31
Preparing land Oct. 1 Dec. 15
Preparing rows Dec. 1 Dec. 31
Planting and fertilizing Dec. 20 Jan. 31
Cultivating and fertilizing Jan. 15 Mar. 31
Insect and disease control Feb. 10 Apr. 10
Irrigating Jan. 15 Mar. 31

Harvesting Apr. 10 May 25

Cover crop
Planting May 15 June 30
Care June 15 July 31

chopped and disked first. This is followed by listing of the land

and the preparation of rows. Fertilizing and planting of seed usually

extends from December 20 to January 31 of each season. The first culti-

vation is given shortly after the plants appear above ground in January

or early February and the last of 3 or 4 cultivations is made in March.

Insect and disease control begins in early February and continues into

April. Ditching and draining is necessary after each cultivation during

the growing season. Harvesting of potatoes usually begins April 10 of

each season and continues until the last of May. In some years adverse

weather conditions may cause harvesting to last until early June.

Material, requirements: Sebago and Red Pontiac are the two principal

varieties of potatoes planted in the Hastings area. An average of

1,700 pounds of seed is required per acre (Table 3). Growers use

about 2,300 pounds of a 6-8-8, 7-8-8 or 7-9-9 analysis fertilizer in

one application at planting time. This is followed by an application

of nitrate of potash or soda at the rate of about 300 pounds per acre.

Some growers prefer a liquid 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 top dressing mixture

at the rate of 3 gallons per acre. The use of top or sidedress appli-

cations is open to some question. Weather conditions have a definite

bearing on the need for additional fertilizations.

TABLE 3.--Irish Potatoes: Usual Material Requirements Per Acre,
Hastings Area

Material Kind Amount

Cover crop seed Sart, Star Millet, FS-1, Higari 12 lb.
Sesbania, Sorghum 20 lb.
Seed Sebago, Red Pontiac 1,700 lb.
Fertilizer 6-8-8, 7-3-8, 7-9-9 2,300 lb.
Fertilizer (top Nitrate of Potash, Nitrate of Soda, 300 lb.
dress) or 10-10-10, 20-20-20 3 gal.
Spray Zineb and Maneb fungicides; chlorinated
hydrocarbon and organic phosphate
insecticides 800 gal.
control Aldrin, parathion 1 gal.
Weed control Dinitros 1 gal.
Containers 100 lb. burlap bags 150 bags

Aldrin or parathion is being used for wireworm control at the

rate of 1 gallon per acre. The application of fungicides and insecti-

cides is normally a preventive rieasirre rather than one of control.

Insurance against infection or infestation may be less costly than

control since yield may be adversely affected by disease or insect

damage. An average of 8 applications of spray are made at regular

intervals during the growing season. This requires an average of 00

gallons per acre of spray. Zineb and mancb fungicides and chlorinated

hydrocarbon and organic phosphate insecticides are being used. Many of

the materials are compatible and are applied simultaneously.

Costs and returns: A comparison of costs and returns for Irish potatoes

in the Hastings area for the five-year period 1952-53 to 1956-57 and

the 1959-60 season is shown in Table 4. Principle changes are noted in

the costs of seed, fertilizer, spray and dust materials and depreciation,

The latter has increased because of an increase in capital invested in

machinery and equipment and a slight change in the method of allocating

costs for potatoes and cabbage on farms where both are grown. More

of the overhead expense is being applied to potatoes because of the

increase in mechanization of crop production and harvesting. Net

returns were slightly lower in 1959-60 than for the five-year average,

primarily the result of a lower than average yield during the 1959-60


Comparative costs and returns per hundredweight of potatoes

sold are shown in the lower portion of Table 4. The combination of a

lower yield and increased costs resulted in an increase in growing cost

of $0.78 per hundredweight in 1959-60 over the five-season average.

Harvesting and marketing costs also increased about $0.05 per bag.

Prices received were higher ia 1959-60 and the net result was an

average return of $0.53 per hundredweight in 1959-60 as compared to

$0.52 per 100 pounds during the five years 1952-53 to 1956-57.

TATPE 4.--Irish Potatoes: Per Acre and Per Unit Costs and Returns in the
Hastings Area, 5-Season Average 1952-53 to 1956-57 and 1959-60

tem5-Season 1959-60

Number of growers
Number of acres
Average acres per grower
Average yield per acre (cwt.)



Growing costs:
Land rent
Spray and dust
Cultural labor
Machine hire
Gas, oil and grease
Repair and maintenance
Licenses and insuresn.-e
Interest on p::oducvt'in capital
(6%--4 mos.)
Interest on capital invested
(other than land)
Miscellaneous expense
Total growing costs

Harvesting and_ marketing co-s:
Picking labor
Grading and packing labor
Total harvesting and marketing costs

Total crop costs

Crop sales

Net returns

Average per acre
$ 29.17 $ 29.09
58.90 63.11
61.84 74.50
10.80 12.26
35.82 37.04
4.28 2.99a
10.16 12.26
10.15 21.27
11.62 29.21
3.07 4.47



$ 22.21



$ 84.72



$ 22.12



$ 70.02
ner ITundried Aeiht

Growing costs
Harvesting and marketing costs
Total crop cost
Crop sales
Net returns

aReported by 16 growers averaging $4.11 per acre.



==:--- -- -- ....... ....??.---

Labor requirements: Setting and resetting of plants in the

field requires the greatest number of man and tractor hours in the

production of cabbage in the Hastings area (Table 5). From 3 to 4

cultivations and 2 applications of fertilizer during the growing

period require 2.8 man and 2.8 tractor hours per acre. Ditching and

draining, necessary after preparation of rows, planting and each culti-

vation require 6.7 man hours per acre. The cleaning of perimeter ditches

prior to planting in the field is not included in the above figure. An

estimated additional 0.2 man and 0.2 machine hours per acre are required

for the dragline ditch cleaning. Insect and disease control requires

an average of 1.3 man and 1.3 machine hours per acre. Jhen irrigation

is necessary 3 man hours are required per acre. A total of 51.7 man

hours and 10.9 tractor hours, including seedbed operations, are

required to produce an acre of cabbage.

While some farmers have attempted to mechanize the harvesting

of cabbage by using packing platforms pulled through the field by tractors,

most farmers still cut by hand, haul to the packing area in carts and

pack either at the end of the field or in a nearby shed. Some 51.3

man hours and 4.8 tractor hours are required to harvest an average yield

of 10 tons per acre. If the filled containers are transported to a rail

siding or central loading point an additional 5.1 man hours per acre is

Total labor requirements for the production and harvesting of
an acre of cabbage are 111.7 man hours and 19.0 tractor hours.

TABLE 5.--Cabbage: Labor and Material Requirements in Hours Per Acre,
Hastings Area
(Based on data obtained from 17 growers)

_OHours per acre
Operation Man Tractor

Pre-harvest labor:
Seedbeda 2.7 0.7

Ditching and draining 6.7 0.7
Preparing land 1.5 1.5
Preparing rows and fertilizing 1.2 1.0
Setting and resettingb 32.5 2.9
Cultivating and fertilizing 2.8 2.8
Insect and disease control 1.3 1.3
Irrigating 3.0c

Total pre-harvest labor 51.7 10.9

Harvest labor:
Cutting and packing 51.3 4.8
Hauling to loading point 5.1

Total harvest labor 56.4 4.8

Other labor (cover crop) 3.6 3.3

Total--all operations 111.7 19.0

Estimated yield, tons 10 tons

aper acre of field-set cabbage.
bMachine setting.

CNecessary only in dry ;ears. An equal amount of pump time may be

Season of operations: Seedbed preparation and the planting of seed

in August are the first cultural operations for cabbage production in the

Hastings area (Table 6). Preparation of fields for the setting of

TABLE 6,--Cabbage: Usual Season of Operations in the Hastings Area

Operation Usual Dates

Preparation Aug. 10 Nov. 1
Planting Aug. 15 Oct. 15
Care Sept. I Dec. 15

Ditching and draining Sept. 15 Mar. 31
Preparing land Sept. 1 Dec. 15
Preparing rows and fertilizing Sept. 15 Dec. 15
Setting and resetting Oct. 1 Dec. 31
Cultivating and fertilizing Oct. 15 Mar. 15
Insect and disease control Oct. 15 Mar. 31
Irrigating Dec. 1 Mar. 15

Harvesting Dec. 20 Apr. 20

Cover crop
Planting May 1 June 15
Care June 1 July 31

cabbage starts in September for early fall planting and may take place

as late as December for late planting. The preparation of rows and

initial fertilization precedes planting operations by as much as two

weeks. Cabbage plants are set from early October to late in December

of each season. The first cultivation is given within 2 or 3 weeks after

setting. Further cultivation and additional applications of fertilizer

are made as needed during the growing season. Insect and disease control

may start within 2 or 3 wee:-s of setting. However, most of such control

is required in February and March as the average daily temperature in-

creases. Harvesting of cabbage may begin as early as December 20 and

end in late April of each season. From 65 to 100 days are required between

the setting of plants in the field and the cutting of matured cabbage.

Material requirements: Midseason Market, Marion Market, Greenback

and Glory of Enkhuizen are the principal varieties of cabbage grown in the

area. One pound of seed normally produces the 15,000 plants required to

set an acre (Table 7). Seedbed materials per acre of field-set cabbage

include an average of 172 pounds of 5-7-5, 6-8-8 or 7-9-9 analysis

fertilizer and 3 pounds of nitrate of potash or soda.

TABLE 7.--Cabbage: Usual Material Requirements Per Acre, Hastings Area

Material Kind Amount

Seed Midseason Market, Marion Market,
Greenback, Glory of Enkhuizen 1 lb.
Fertilizer 6-0-8, 7-9-9 172 lb.
Top-dressing Nitrate of Soda, Nitrate of Potash 3 lb.
Spray or Pa.iatbion, Systox, Endrin 10 gal.
Dust Pr-athE;n, Spevrvon, Endrin, DDT 3 lb.
Poison bait Criordane, Toxaphene 1 lb.
Herbicide Dinitros .05 gal.

Cover crop seed Sart, Star Millet, FS-1, HI.gari, 12 lb.
Seobani., Sor.,um 20 lb.
Plants M.oeaon Mark:.t, Ma::i.on M-.rket,
Gr-enba:LJ:, Gloy of aokhul..zen 15,000
Fertill.zer 5 --5, 6-8-8, 7-9-9 2,000 lb.
Top-dressing Nitrate of Potash, Nitrate of Soda, 400 lb.
Spray or Paratnion, Systox, Endrin 600 gal.
Dast Ps:at: .li Er.icin, T? xaphene, DDT 195 lb.
Poison bait C.:.ord ?, To:;r.yhena 20 lb.
Containers 5O lb. c ,vaci:y mesh bags, crates or
pa'erbua :d 400

Spray materials for disease and insect control average about 10

gallons per acre of field-set plants. If dust is used instead of spray

about 3 pounds is necessary. One pound of Chlordane or Toxaphene poison

bait and 0.05 gallon of a dinitro herbicide is normally used.

About 1 ton of fertilizer of a 5-7-5, 6-8-8 or 7-9-9 mixture is

applied prior to setting plants in the field. Top dressing at the rate

of 400 pounds in 2 applications is also used. If spray is used for insect

and disease control approximately 600 gallons of solution is required.

Those who use dust apply an average of 195 pounds per acre. Chlordane

or Toxaphene poison bait is used in the field as well as in the seedbed.

Cabbage are packed in 50 pound capacity mesh bags, wirebound or paper-

board containers.

Costs and returns: There was relatively little change in the cost

of growing cabbage in the Hastings area between the five-year average

(1952-53 to 1956-57) and the 1959-60 season (Table 8). Plant, fertilizer,

labor and depreciation costs were slightly higher in the latter year.

Some of the change in depreciation charges is the result of change of

weighting in the allocation of cost between crops as explained earlier.

Costs of harvesting and marketing increased. Higher selling

charges and increasing costs of cutting and packing were largely respons-

ible for the difference. A higher yield and better price in 1959-60

brought growers a net return of $0.06 per unit as compared with an.

average net loss of $0.11 during the 1952-53 to 1956-57 seasons.

TABLE 8.--Cabbage: Per Acre and Per Unit Costs and Returns in the
Hastings Area, 5-Season Average 1952-53 to 1956-67 and 1959-60

Item 5-Season 1959-60

Number of growers
Number of acres
Average acres per grower
Average yield per acre (50 lb. units)

Growing costs:
Land rent
Seed and seedbed
Spray and dust
Cultural labor
Machine hire
Gas, oil and grease
Repair and maintenance
Licenses and insurance
Interest on production capital
Interest on capital invested
(other than land)
Miscellaneous expense
Total growing costs

Harvestin and marketin costs:
Cutting and packing
Total harvesting and marketing cos
Total crop; costs
Crop sales
Net returns

Growing costs
Harvesting and marketing costs
Total crop costs
Crop sales
Net returns


Average per acre
$ 29,38 $

(6%--4 mos.) 4.37


$ 45.47
its $224.86


Average per 50 pound unit

$ 0.61

aReported by 7 growers averaging $1.99 per acre.

DLB:sd 9/28/60 400 copies
Exp. Sta., Ag. Econ.




$ 57.49

$ 24.78

$ 0.58

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