Potential profits from greenhouse-grown organic strawberries are greater than conventional greenhouse or field-grown strawberries in Florida

Daniel J. Cantliffe, James E. Webb, John J. VanSickle, Nicole L. Shaw

Abstract


In Florida, 7,100 acres of fresh strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) were planted in fields during the 2003–04 growing season using polyethylene mulch raised beds and drip irrigation. Florida is the second largest fresh market strawberry-producing state behind California. Because Florida enters the market prior to California during the winter months, Florida strawberry value per pound exceeds that of California ($1.10/lb compared to $0.62/lb, respectively). Florida strawberry growers are faced with many challenging obstacles such as the loss of methyl bromide, urbanization, weather, water restrictions, pests, and foreign competition. Many of these challenges are removed with the use of a protected structure such as a greenhouse. The objective of this research was to create a model determining the feasibility of greenhouse production of strawberries, grown both conventionally and organically, as an economical alternative for Florida strawberry growers competing in a global market. Although greenhouse production requires a significantly larger capital investment (total costs organic: $158,076/acre; non-organic: $168,951/acre) compared to field production ($25,602/acre), potential profits of greenhouse-grown organic strawberries were as much as 9.5 times greater than field production ($22,316/acre compared to $2,419/acre, respectively). Conventionally-grown greenhouse strawberries profits ($3,855/acre) were 1.5 times greater than field production. These findings are significant for Florida growers searching for alternatives to field production.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283