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  • Author or Editor: Alan. W. Hodges x
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Total Florida environmental horticulture industry sales in 2005 were $15.24 billion (B), whereas total industry output amounted to $10.39 B with $3.01 B for wholesale nurseries, $5.25 B for landscape services, and $2.13 B for horticultural retailers, which reflects the average gross margin on retail sales. Direct employment in the industry was 190,000 full-time jobs plus nearly 104,000 temporary, part-time, or seasonal jobs. Total employment impacts were 319,000 full-time and part-time/seasonal jobs, including 24,000 jobs created in other sectors of the economy. Total value-added or income impacts of $8.65 B included $5.19 B in labor income for employee wages, salaries, and business owner (proprietor) income. Fiscal impacts included $549 million (M) in indirect business taxes paid to local and state governments. Results for 2005 compared with previous studies performed for 1997 and 2000 indicate that growth in the industry has been dramatic over this time period. Industry sales increased from $8.35 B in 1997 to $15.24 B in 2005, representing a 7.8% average annual compound growth rate, whereas employment impacts grew at a 9.2% annual rate, and value-added impacts grew by 4.7%. The study also evaluated the impacts to the industry from eight hurricanes that struck Florida during 2004 and 2005. Nearly 80% of surveyed firms were adversely impacted by at least one hurricane. Total damages and losses resulting from hurricanes were estimated at $2.12 B, including product (crop) losses of $1.05 B, structural damages of $465 M, and cleanup costs of $605 M. Product losses of at least $100,000 were sustained by 22% of firms, whereas structural damages and cleanup costs of this level were suffered by 12% and 8% of firms, respectively. Nearly half (48%) of the firms had their business interrupted for 3 weeks or more. Despite these large losses, the industry continues to thrive.

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Cut-flower production in Bolivia is a growing economic activity with sales increasing > 10-fold in the past 6 years. In spite of this growth, Bolivian producers face considerable financial difficulties. Two distinct patterns emerged from this study. Small and medium growers experienced lower costs than larger producers, but the prices they received were also lower. Large operators received twice the small producer price for their flowers, but this gain was offset by the higher costs they had incurred. In the long term, neither selling too low nor operating at costs too high is a sustainable practice.

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Compared with more traditional sectors of U.S. agriculture, little economic information is available on the turfgrass industry, of which golf courses are an integral part. As a result, over the past 30 years individual states have conducted over 60 individual studies that describe in detail the economic importance of their industry. To date, no such information exists at the national level primarily due to the high cost of collecting primary data. To ameliorate this situation, the authors used secondary data from various sources and developed a composite of the turfgrass industry for the entire United States. This report focuses on the golf course industry in particular. Golf represents a very high value amenity use of horticultural products and services, is a major form of development, and uses large amounts of land and water. Results indicate the golf sector is the largest component of the turfgrass industry, accounting for a 44% share. The nearly 16,000 golf courses generated $33.2 billion (B) in (gross) output impacts, contributed $20.6 B in value added or net income, and generated 483,649 jobs nationwide. Economic impacts were also examined for each state, with “top 10” states highlighted. States falling in the top 10 category varied somewhat depending on the variables being examined. The exception were the top four states—Florida, California, Texas, and Illinois—that remained in the top four irrespective of variable type. In general, the top 10 states accounted for 55% to 60% of economic impacts for the entire United States while the top four alone contributed 40% of the total.

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Transplanting of unrooted cuttings into trays filled with root substrate is an initial process in the production of rooted cuttings. There is potential for companies producing transplants to decrease production costs and increase profit margins by improving the labor efficiency of this process; however, benchmarking between firms is lacking. This study focused on benchmarking labor productivity for transplanting cuttings at young plant operations and identifying key factors that differentiate efficiency between businesses. Data were collected on the transplanting process of 14 U.S. young plant greenhouse companies during their peak production week in 2016. Companies surveyed included nine operations producing bedding plants (BPs) as the major type of transplant. The total weekly labor allocated to transplant cuttings averaged 2109 ± 449 hours (mean ± se) at a labor cost of $26,392 ± $5842 to transplant 1,316,111 ± 273,377 cuttings, resulting in a labor cost of $0.023 ± $0.003 per cutting. For steps within the process of assembling a transplanted tray of cuttings, receiving and handling unrooted cuttings was 3% of the total labor cost, filling trays with root substrate was 8%, inserting cuttings into the root substrate was 70%, supervising was 10%, and moving assembled trays to the greenhouse bench was 8%. The labor cost per cutting varied nearly 5-fold between growers, from $0.010 to $0.049, indicating potential for improved efficiency in higher cost locations. Differences in the labor cost between firms resulted from factors including the plant type produced in each location, with greater handling and grading required for tissue culture and herbaceous perennials compared with BP cuttings, and differences in the hourly labor cost to the business which ranged from $9.23 to $18.66 between locations. Although other factors such as training, available labor pool, and lean manufacturing optimization were observed to affect labor efficiency at individual locations, it was not possible to quantify these effects using the survey approach taken. Benchmarked figures can be used to highlight opportunities to improve labor efficiency and decrease production costs, and to evaluate return on investment for alternative labor-saving approaches including robotic transplanting.

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Growers are looking for sustainable alternatives to methyl bromide as a soil fumigant that are effective and economical. Increased demand for organically produced fruits and vegetables has also contributed to the need for environmentally friendly soil-borne disease control methods. Grafting may be a valuable tool for vegetable growers to cope with pest management challenges in production of cucurbits and solanaceous crops; however, there are concerns regarding the higher costs associated with the use of grafted plants in the United States. The main objective of this 2-year study was to determine if grafting with a resistant rootstock could be cost-effective to overcome root-knot nematodes (RKN) (Meloidogyne sp.) and maintain fruit yield in organic heirloom tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production in Florida's sandy soils. The heirloom tomato cultivar Brandywine was grafted onto the rootstock ‘Multifort’. Nongrafted and grafted ‘Brandywine’ plants were grown organically in two fields that exhibited different levels of RKN infestations. Grafted and nongrafted transplants were estimated to cost $0.78 and $0.17 per plant, respectively. The cost of rootstock seeds accounted for 36% ($0.28/plant) of the total cost of the grafted transplants and 46% of the cost difference between grafted and nongrafted plants. Sensitivity analyses were conducted using these estimated transplant production costs and crop yield data from the field trials as well as price information for heirloom tomato. Results showed that under severe RKN pressure, grafting may be an economically feasible pest control measure to help maintain a profitable production given that the risk of economic crop losses due to RKN outweighed the higher cost of grafted transplants.

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Partial budget analyses of five summer fallow treatments in Florida preceding a cash crop of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) were conducted. The five treatments were sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), velvet bean (Mucuna deeringiana), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor × S. bicolor var. sudanense), and tillage. Costs were estimated for each summer fallow treatment, including the cost of seed, inoculant, implementation, management, and termination. Benefits were calculated in terms of contributions to the following cash crop of summer squash in the form of biologically fixed nitrogen and reduced weed pressure. Results showed that total production costs were minimized by cover crops, even though implementation costs were higher than for tillage.

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The United States environmental horticulture industry, also known as the Green Industry, is comprised of wholesale nursery and sod growers; landscape architects, designers/builders, contractors, and maintenance firms; retail garden centers, home centers, and mass merchandisers with lawn and garden departments; and marketing intermediaries such as brokers and horticultural distribution centers (re-wholesalers). Environmental horticulture is one of the fastest growing segments of the nation's agricultural economy. In spite of the magnitude and recent growth in the Green Industry, there is surprisingly little information regarding its economic impact. Thus, the objective of this study was to estimate the economic impacts of the Green Industry at the national level. Economic impacts for the U.S. Green Industry in 2002 were estimated at $147.8 billion in output, 1,964,339 jobs, $95.1 billion in value added, $64.3 billion in labor income, and $6.9 billion in indirect business taxes, with these values expressed in 2004 dollars. In addition, this study evaluated the value and role of urban forest trees (woody ornamental trees); the total output of tree production and care services was valued at $14.55 billion, which translated into $21.02 billion in total output impacts, 259,224 jobs, and $14.12 billion in value added.

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Economic contributions of the green industry in each state of the United States were estimated for 2007–08 using regional economic multipliers, together with information on horticulture product sales, employment, and payroll reported by the U.S. Economic Census and a nursery industry survey. Total sales revenues for all sectors were $176.11 billion, direct output was $117.40 billion, and total output impacts, including indirect and induced regional economic multiplier effects of nonlocal output, were $175.26 billion. The total value added impact was $107.16 billion, including employee compensation, proprietor (business owner) income, other property income, and indirect business taxes paid to state/local and federal governments. The industry had direct employment of 1.20 million full-time and part-time jobs and total employment impacts of 1.95 million jobs in the broader economy. The largest individual industry sectors in terms of employment and value added impacts were Landscaping services (1,075,343 jobs, $50.3 billion), Nursery and greenhouse production (436,462 jobs, $27.1 billion), and Building materials and garden equipment and supplies stores (190,839 jobs, $9.7 billion). The top 10 individual states in terms of employment contributions were California (257,885 jobs), Florida (188,437 jobs), Texas (82,113 jobs), North Carolina (81,113 jobs), Ohio (79,707 jobs), Pennsylvania (75,604 jobs), New Jersey (67,993 jobs), Illinois (67,382 jobs), Georgia (66,042 jobs), and Virginia (58,677 jobs). The total value added of the U.S. green industry represented 0.76% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007, and up to 1.60% of GDP in individual states. On the basis of a similar previous study for 2002 (), total sales of horticultural products and services in 2007–08 increased by 3.5%, and total output impacts increased by 29.2%, or an average annual rate of 5.8% in inflation-adjusted terms.

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Nursery production contributed $18.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2002 and created nearly two million jobs. A U.S. Department of Agriculture multistate research committee on economics and marketing has conducted The National Nursery Survey four times at 5-year intervals (1988, 1993, 1998, and 2003) to help fill the void of publicly available information on production, marketing, and management for the nursery industry. In 2003, the committee conducted the National Nursery Survey using a standard sampling methodology targeting 15,588 total firms representing 44 states with 2,485 nurseries responding. The objective of this analysis was to provide a regional profile of the marketing practices of nursery producers. Regional differences were present in several areas of sales management, selling practices, pricing, and advertising. Generally, the coastal regions had a higher percentage of wholesale sales, whereas interior regions had a higher percentage of retail sales. Newsletters and yellow pages were the most important form of advertising in the Great Plains; trade journals were the most important method in the south central and southeast regions; and catalogs were the most important advertising method for all other regions. The percentage of sales to repeat customers varied from a low of 65.6% in the Great Plains to a high of 76.2% in the southeast. The Appalachian (26.9%) and southeast (26.8%) regions had the highest percentage of negotiated sales, whereas the northeast had the lowest. Although significant differences generally existed among regions in the percentage of sales spent on various transaction methods, nurseries in all regions used in-person, telephone, and mail order as their three most important sales transaction methods, except for the southeast where trade shows were the third most important method of sales transactions. Landscape professionals, rewholesalers, and single-location garden centers were the major market outlets in all regions. Respondents in all regions identified production, personnel, and marketing as limitations for expansion.

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Economic contributions of the green industry in the United States were estimated for 2013 using information on industry output, value added, employment and domestic/international exports, retail sector lawn and garden product sales, and economic multipliers from Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) regional economic models for each state. Direct industry output for all sectors was estimated at $136.44 billion (B), and total output contributions, including indirect and induced regional economic multiplier effects of export sales, were $196.07 B. The total value-added contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) was $120.71 B, including labor income contributions of $82.47 B, other property income contributions of $28.91 B and business taxes paid to local, state, and federal governments of $9.30 B. The industry had direct employment of 1,599,662 full-time and part-time jobs, and total employment contributions of 2,035,636 jobs in the broader economy. The largest individual industry sectors in terms of employment and GDP contributions were landscaping and horticultural services (1,105,526 jobs, $54.70 B); greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production (240,809 jobs, $20.36 B); and lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores (217,798 jobs, $12.87 B). The top 10 states in terms of employment contributions were California (245,267 jobs), Florida (197,073), Texas (149,364), Ohio (77,664), Pennsylvania (77,569), Illinois (76,254), New York (73,676), North Carolina (72,014), Georgia (64,066), and Michigan (63,189). Green industry contributions represented 0.72% of U.S. GDP and 1.11% of total workforce employment, and it contributed over 1.0% of GDP in five states, and over 1.25% of employment in 10 states. Employment contributions averaged 0.6 jobs/mile2 of land area and 6.4 jobs per 1000 persons in the U.S. population, while GDP contributions averaged $34,176/mile2 and $382 per capita. Since 2007–08, green industry contributions in 2013 increased by 4.4% for employment and 2.7% for GDP in inflation-adjusted terms. Growth in the industry was highest for wholesale and retail trade, whereas production and manufacturing declined. Although the green industry has grown slowly in recent years, it remains an important contributor to national, state, and local economies.

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