The economics of mechanical harvesting of tomatoes in the Salinas Valley, California Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/d791sj695

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  • A study was made to determine and examine the economics of the mechanical harvest of tomatoes in the Salinas Valley of California. To achieve this objective, it was necessary to detail the related cultural requirements of the machine harvested crop to the extent they budget technique, two economic models; one for hand picking and one for machine harvest and making the necessary comparisons. The results found could not be compared with findings of other researchers since only fragmentary economic data pertaining to the complete cost structure of a mechanical tomato harvesting operation are available. The special cultural requirements of the tomato crop to permit mechanical harvest were discussed as well as the harvest procedures and practices. The two economic models were structured on the basis of standard cultural practices for hand harvesting and the practices projected and discussed for machine harvesting. Each model was developed for 75 acres of tomatoes as part of a 500 acre diversified farm. Growing conditions were assumed to be normal for both harvesting methods as were yields at 25 tons per acre. Costs in the models were structured on the basis of actual or projected inputs, rates, and prices. Based on conditions, rates, and charges used in the economic models, it was found that the total of all costs for the hand harvest crop were $684 per acre compared to $615 per acre for the machine harvest crop. The harvest costs were found to be $326 per acre for hand harvesting and $246 per acre for machine harvesting. Costs other than harvest were not greatly different. In order to determine the feasibility of a new method of harvest, the effect on revenue must be considered as well as the impact on costs. Gross revenue from the machine harvest operation was $713 per acre, which was eight dollars less per acre than for hand harvesting. However, because of the much lower costs of machine harvesting, the net revenue was $98 per acre for the machine harvest model compared to $38 per acre for the hand harvest model. The net advantage in favor of the machine harvest method amounts to $60 per acre. From the information analysed, it was concluded that the capital required for mechanical harvesting equipment would be a limiting factor in many situations. Although acreage could be limiting in some cases, only about 38 acres of tomatoes would be required for justification of mechanical harvesting equipment. It was concluded that the mechanical harvest of tomatoes in the Salinas Valley is currently economically feasible and its advantage over hand picking probably will increase with the passing of time.
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