It is critical to assess the economics of the rotation systems for both strawberry and vegetable producers. Both have high production costs. Organic lettuce grosses about $11,000 an acre with production costs of $9,000 per acre (see Tourte et al, 2009 http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/files/lettuceleaforganiccc09.pdf), whereas strawberries can gross $41,000 per acre at $11 per tray and cost $26,000 (Bolda et al, 2006 Sample costs to produce organic strawberries: Central coast, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Page 21. University of California Cooperative Extension. ST-CC-06-O. ). Trade-offs between input and management costs, rotation length and yields of marketable quality produce are being assessed for the Mother and Baby trials.
The economic analysis underway is based on hypothetical organic farms for vegetable and strawberry production for two scales of operation, 25 acres and 3 acres. In both cases the land will be rented so that the strawberry production is carried out by a strawberry producer and the vegetable crops are managed by a second producer who specializes in vegetables. We will also consider the case where one farmer produces both strawberries and vegetables. For each vegetable crop (lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower) and the strawberry crop, records were kept of the calendar of operations for each of the 16 Mother trial rotations. For each operation, the equipment used, labor input including hand weeding costs and materials inputs were recorded. The costs of each operation will then be calculated based on the operating time per acre on a commercial scale. The expected differences for the two different scale operations will be equipment, equipment hours, and labor hours. We will determine the equipment complements and hours of labor for each size operation from the experience of the grower cooperators. A detailed cost of production calculation will then be completed for each crop/treatment combination and the costs will be calculated on a per acre basis for each size operation. The associated income per acre will be calculated based on the marketable yields from the trials and the current market price for the organic product. The net returns per acre will be calculated for each crop/treatment combination. The performance of the different rotations measured as net returns will be compared separately for strawberry growers and vegetable growers for each size operation, and subsequently combined for a single grower.
We anticipate the economic analysis will be completed by mid 2016