Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE02-420.’
We wholesaled the certified organic berries for $2.30/lb in 2004 and $2.15/lb in 2005.
For armchair economics we can use last year’s yield and extrapolate out on an assumption of 1 acre of Titania. At an average of 4.7 lb/bush and a population of 1633 bushes/acre we would have a total yield of 7675 lbs/acre. At $2.15, this would give us a gross of about $16,500/acre. I estimate that we spent about 3 person hours of labor (10/hour) in each 100′ row on pruning, hand weeding, mulching and cultivating. This comes out to $1633/acre on maintenance. We pay our pickers $1/lb or $7675/acre. I am estimating establishment costs of around $10,000/acre (cover crop, field prep, plant materials, planting). Cost of mulching materials, annual cover crop seed, time supervising pickers, marketing, storage in our walk in cooler and transportation are not included in the estimate. We have used no external inputs for this crop. Without counting establishment costs, this gives us a return for 2005 of about $7000/acre.
We are happy with the results thus far. We learned that black currents are well adapted to this climate and organic growing systems. We found a good wholesale market. We found a variety (Titania) and performed markedly better than the others. We will be more confident in yield projections after a few more years of experience.
We think we could market and manage about one acre with local pickers and are slowly expanding our planting. We may look at some mechanical harvesting equipment as we grow. In the future we will plant our bushes closer together (24″ spacing) to create a hedge that effectively shades out weeds. We are also planning on installing the drip irrigation system that we have already bought.