Evaluating Local Cut Flowers for the December Holidays: Horticultural Best Practices, Marketability, and Profitability

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,825.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Moonshot Farm, LLC
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Rebecca Kutzer-Rice
Moonshot Farm, LLC


  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Crop Production: greenhouses, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, market study, new enterprise development
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    Nearly all cut flowers sold in
    the United States are imported from other countries. Especially
    from December through March few local flowers are available. Most
    cut flower farmers in the Northeast region have limited income
    from growing cut flowers during this winter season. However,
    consumer demand for fresh flowers is especially high in the
    winter months, when there are multiple holidays, including
    Christmas. Even with access to heated greenhouse space, timing
    flowers for the Christmas season and other December holidays can
    be difficult for farmers to optimize.

    This project intends to test
    which cut flower varieties can be grown most successfully by
    local growers for December. We will evaluate nine different
    species and identify key horticultural best practices like
    planting dates, optimal temperatures, best varieties, and need
    for supplemental light. We will analyze profitability of each
    crop by tracking plant yields, crop inputs, and labor. We will
    then identify the marketability to both local retail and
    wholesale-to-florist markets by tracking farmers market sales and
    sending a survey to local florists. 

    To share results with other
    growers, we will write articles for relevant publications (e.g.,
    Growing for Market Magazine and/or the Cut Flower Quarterly) and
    host a webinar about the trials for cut flower farmers through an
    organization such as the Association of Specialty Cut Flower
    Growers (ASCFG).

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our project intends to evaluate
    whether cut flowers in December can be a profitable crop for
    farmers in the Northeast. This project will:

    • Determine whether nine specific
      cut flower species can be forced to bloom in December in the
    • Determine ideal horticultural
      practices to achieve December blooms including planting dates,
      supplemental lighting schedules, and optimal temperatures for
      each crop
    • Observe the performance of
      multiple varieties of each species by measuring qualities such
      as stem length, bloom count, and bud size, to determine which
      are best suited for December harvests
    • Calculate profitability for
      each crop by tracking input costs, labor, and sales
    • Determine interest of retail
      and wholesale flower buyers by measuring sales, tracking
      farmers market feedback, and conducting surveys
    • Educate other cut flower
      farmers on maximizing December profitability by publishing
      articles and hosting a webinar
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.