Market of Colored Bell Peppers and an Estimated Profitability for the Production in Greenhouses in Florida

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  • 1 1University of Florida, Horticultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL, 32611
  • | 2 2University of Florida, Food and Resourse Economics, Gainesville, FL, 32611
  • | 3 3University of Florida, Horticultural Sciences, Indian River Research and Education Center

The uninterrupted supply of high quality colored peppers to the U.S. is mainly from imports of greenhouse-grown fruits. Average year-round wholesale market price of these imports was $4.80/kg when U.S. field-grown fruit price was $1.60/kg for colored and $0.91/kg for green. High market prices and a suitable environment for growing colored peppers in inexpensive protected structures led to construction of 25 ha of greenhouses currently growing peppers in Florida. Greater demand for specialty vegetable crops, loss of methyl bromide, and an increase in urban sprawl and price of arable land may result in growers considering greenhouses to produce high value peppers. We estimated the profitability of a greenhouse enterprise with a budget analysis and calculated the returns to capital and management. We assumed use of current technology applied in commercial greenhouse crops in Florida, and in experimental crops at the Univ. of Florida. Revenues per square meter were estimated from current yields and historical fruit price data. Plants were grown in perlite in a high-roof polyethylene-covered greenhouse (0.78 ha) located in north central Florida. Transplanting occurred in August and fruits were harvested from November to May for a yield of 13 kg·m-2 with a total cost of production of $41.09 and an estimated return of $17.89. The return on investment was 17%. Only yields greater than 7.8 kg·m-2 generated positive returns using the average wholesale fruit price during the season ($5.29/kg). For this price, a range of possible yields (5–17 kg·m-2) led to returns ranging from $–9.52 to $30.84, respectively. The estimates indicated that production of greenhouse-grown peppers could represent a viable production alternative for Florida vegetable growers.

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