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William B. Evans, Kenneth W. Hood, Keri L. Paridon, and Peter M. Hudson

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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William B. Evans, Kenneth W. Hood, Peter M. Hudson, and Keri L. Paridon

Yield and economics of vegetable crops are being evaluated in non-adjacent organic (OG) and nonorganic (NOG) vegetable production field areas in Crystal Springs, Mississippi. Each production area has six sections in which crops are rotated over several seasons and years. Production techniques and management are as similar in timing and methodology as possible between the systems without compromising either system. Production methods, timing, and costs are recorded for each operation. These are combined with yield data to create budgets and estimated returns for each production system/crop combination. When possible, harvested produce is marketed by a cooperating grower-retailer at a local mid- to up-scale farmers market. Three years into the study, positive returns have been found for several crops including potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), lettuce (Latuca sativa L.), summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativa L.), and others. Marketable new potato yields in 2005 were under 10,000 lb/acre for Yukon Gold and Red Lasoda in either production system. Estimated net returns, based on an actual $2.00/lb market price, were positive for all system/cultivar combinations although final budget numbers are not firm. Significant differences in yield among cultivars were seen in potato, lettuce, summer squash, and cucumber. Organic production budgets for other crops in the study are also being developed.