Enhancing Cut Flower Production and Marketing for Produce Growers: Methods of Diversification Into Proven Niches

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $73,241.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $17,052.00
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Steve Bogash
Penn State Cooperative Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: sunflower
  • Additional Plants: native plants, ornamentals


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, crop rotation, double cropping, fertigation, foliar feeding, irrigation, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, agricultural finance, market study, value added
  • Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, competition, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, precision herbicide use, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil analysis
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    This program will build on the structure that has been created in the current Penn State Sunflower cut flower trials program by expanding cultivar evaluations to species other than sunflowers. Field-ready transplants will be provided to the three cooperating growers and planted at the Franklin County Horticulture Education Center trial plots and evaluated for yield, marketability and grower “friendliness.” Results will be widely published in a number of grower-friendly outreach publications including web and industry targeted newsletters. There is currently very little budget and economic information available to growers who seek to develop cut-flower-based business plans. The yield data will enable the collaborating business management agent to create individual crop budgets based on accurate yields as well as sales figures. This portion of the program will also include a succession planting study in order to determine the optimum time to replant specific flowers in order to insure a reliable supply. A summer cut flower short course will be held at or near one of the field trial sites to teach new growers the basics of cut flower production. Growers attending the short course and the cut flower meetings will be surveyed for overall program impact. This project ties in well with other regional extension programs that support news enterprise startup, diversification efforts, as well as a near completed survey of mid-Atlantic Florists.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    1) Of the more than 250 cut flower growers that attend the annual Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable conference and hundreds more that attend the cut flower field trials on 5 sites around PA, at least 50% of those attending project activities will utilize the flower cultivars identified in the trials program as superior and increase marketable materials per production area.

    2) The same group as identified above will have access to yield data and succession planting protocols which will enable them to develop specific crop budgets in order to improve their management skills and business planning.

    Project participants will be surveyed annually, specifically targeting how this program has impacted their operations. As the current sunflower program participants, attendees at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference cut flower sessions and other cut flower growers are already on a single relatively current mailing database, tracking changes by this method should prove practical. In addition, the program assistant will carry out one-on-one in person and telephone interviews with program participants in order to collect personal stories and anectdotal information.

    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.