Nutrient Management Programs for Fresh Market Tomatoes Grown with Plasticulture: Economic Insights

Aparna Gazula, Eric H. Simonne, Fritz Roka


Fertilizer represents only a small portion of the total costs to grow fresh market tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Therefore, growers may apply fertilizer rates in excess of UF/IFAS recommendations to prevent nutrient shortages and maintain productivity. With the adoption of BMPs to implement the TMDLs, growers are encouraged to follow UF/IFAS nutrient-irrigation recommendations. The objectives of this study were to 1) estimate the costs of UF/IFAS nutrient-irrigation management practices; 2) estimate total production costs with the UF/IFAS recommendations; and 3) calculate break-even prices. The estimated cost of UF/IFAS recommended nutrient-irrigation practices was $803.87/acre. Based on an estimated marketable yield of 1,500 25-lb tomato cartons/acre, the estimated production cost with UF/IFAS recommendations was $11,667.96/acre, and the break-even price for a 25-lb tomato carton was $7.78. The irrigation-fertilizer costs represented 4.41% and 2.48% of the total production costs, respectively. Upon doubling them, the fertilizer inputs represented an estimated 4.84% of the total production costs, and the break-even price increased by 19 cents to $7.97. Average prices of ‘U.S. One or Better’ grade tomatoes from 1998–2008 ranged between $7.88 and $14.76/25-lb carton, and the growers would have realized profits for 9 and 8 years with the UF/IFAS, and the growers’ high fertilizer input practices, respectively.


comprehensive crop budget, break-even price, best management practice, nitrogen, irrigation

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