Mixed Berry Plantation Economics

Asked April 25, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT

I am a student that is conducting a management plan. One of my management recommendations is to put in a mixed berry (strawberry/blackberry) plantation on a small scale commercial operation. My questions are:How many plants do you plant per acre? What is average price of plants that will grow in east Texas? How many acres are needed to make it profitable?Is there anything other than fertilize that needs to be done (i.e. herbicide)to get plants from start to finish? If so when does it need to be conducted? How much revenue is usually gained per acre? What is the average site prep cost if using a tractor? How many berries does the average plant produce in a given year?Which species would be best to plant?

Cherokee County Texas ag finance ag economics

1 Response

How many plants do you plant per acre?
It will depend on the row spacing, and plant spacing. For strawberries with a 48" row spacing and 24" between plants, you will generally plant about 5,445 plants per acre. However, if you have 36" rows and 12" between plants, you will plant 14,520 plants per acre. The row spacing and plant spacing will depend on the type of soil you have and its ability to drain.

What is average price of plants that will grow in east Texas?
You will want to make sure that you choose a variety of plant that is suitable for East Texas. Generally, Chandler Strawberries grow well in Texas. The average cost per plant is about $6 per plant. Blueberries require an acid soil. However, I am not sure what variety will grow best in East Texas.

How many acres are needed to make it profitable?
Acreage required will depend mainly on the amount of fixed costs you have (machinery and equipment). The less machinery and equipment you have, the fewer number of total acres that will be required to potentially be profitable. However, we have to remember that both production and prices can be highly variable. High production and low prices could mean that the operation is not profitable. There are several good budgets online that you can utilize to help do some sensitivity analysis of production. A couple are listed below:
http://www.ces.uga.edu/Agriculture/agecon/budgets/printed/strawpub.pdf
http://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/strawberries-budgets/

Is there anything other than fertilize that needs to be done (i.e. herbicide)to get plants from start to finish?
You may very well have to use some herbicide and insecticide. This is especially true in some years when insects are heavier than normal. There is a good publication that I have attached that can help you with the other chemicals that might be needed.

How much revenue is usually gained per acre? What is the average site prep cost if using a tractor? How many berries does the average plant produce in a given year?Which species would be best to plant?
Expected revenues and costs can be seen in the two budgets I have included above. This is also true for the number of berries each plant will produce. While these are averages, they should help give you an idea as to what to expect.