Yield, input, and economic data from research plots in central Mississippi are being used to test the economic potential of organic vegetable crop production. A six-part, multi-year rotation, including winter and summer cover crops, has been set up to generate yield, cost, and economic return data from vegetables produced in Mississippi using methods allowed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture National Organic Standards and accepted by local growers employing pesticide-free and other similar management methods. Data being collected include labor and input costs, yields, and market prices for harvested crops. Marketable produce is being sold through a grower-retailer at a farmer's market. During 2004, the first full year of the rotation, 10 vegetable species were included in the plots. Pest pressure has generally been minimal. With one exception [one of two potato (Solanum tuberosum) cultivars failed to produce a good stand], all crops planted have produced fair to excellent yields. Crops generating high retail prices in this study include potatoes, snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), and leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa). In the future, the yield and price data being generated will be combined with new and existing cost data to create enterprise and production budgets for use by perspective and existing organic vegetable growers.
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