1 CONDUCTING A COST ANALYSIS Jennie S. Popp Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR George Westberry, Retired Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics University of Georgia Athens, GA In the late 1990s, average annual utilized peach production for Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina averaged 260 million s. Average value of production in these states was over $79 million. Peach production can be a profitable enterprise. However, as with any enterprise, potential profits should be analyzed before investments are made. Such an analysis can be made using an enterprise budget. The materials that follow are guidelines to develop a relevant budget. Differences in varieties, size of operation, production practices (particularly irrigation) and associated production costs, and prices received for fruit will affect orchard budgets. COMPONENTS OF A BUDGET Three areas of information are generally included in the peach production budget: estimated crop yield, market price for the crop, and production (or input) costs. Returns to management are generally calculated over the expected life span or production period of an orchard. This time varies, but on average it would range from preplanting to the first year of meaningful production and continue through the last year of full production (from 8 to 18 years). Returns to management would be calculated again starting with the next planting cycle. EXPLANATION OF COSTS Production costs fall into two categories: fixed and variable. Fixed costs are those that accrue independently of the size of production. They include land, machinery, management, and overhead expenses. Land is generally assumed to be owned; however, an opportunity cost (what the money that has been put into land could earn if it had been invested elsewhere) may be charged for land. Ownership costs for equipment, including depreciation, interest, taxes, and insurance, are charged as fixed costs. Management may or may not include cash costs. For owner operators, it is not a cash expense; however, a hired manager would be included as a cash expense. Finally, general overhead includes items that are not specific to peaches, such as tools, farm shop, and other farm equipment. Variable costs are costs that are directly associated with production. These costs are further separated into costs associated with pre-harvest, harvest, packing, and marketing. Key variable cost categories include fertilizers, pesticides, labor, machinery fuel and maintenance, and interest on operating capital. ESTABLISHMENT COSTS AND AMORTIZATION Orchard establishment generally takes place over a three-year period. In each of those years there are a number of fixed and variable costs that need to be considered. Tables 1 through 3 list the types of costs generally incurred in the early years of orchard life. The costs during the non-bearing (pre-productive) years are comed at a fixed interest rate until amortization begins during the fourth year. PRODUCTION BUDGET Table 4 presents an example of an annual production budget for years four through each remaining year of production. In this example, harvest and marketing costs are the largest cost items in the budget. These costs are estimated to be $3.04 per 1/2 bushel. (Pick-your-own operations would have much lower harvest and marketing costs.) The fixed cost section includes recapture of establishment costs of $165 per. This is the largest component of fixed costs. The last section in Table 4 gives the cost per 1/2 bushel breakdown by cost groups. The total budgeted cost per 1/2 bushel of $4.61 indicates that a price of $4.61 per 1/2 bushel is needed to break even.
2 Table 5 shows potential net income variation given the anticipated variation of prices and yields. The expected prices, yields, and net income are anticipated averages for the marketing and cultural practices that are included. Optimistic levels are those levels that would be expected to be obtained one-year-in-six. The pessimistic levels also are for one-year-in-six. When these prices and yields are included with the budgeted costs, net income probabilities can be estimated. For the data presented as an example, there was a 74 percent probability of covering all budgeted costs. The net income level of $581 per should be exceeded half the time and not be reached about half the time. About one-year-in-six returns over $1,438 would be anticipated; in one-year-in-six more than $394 would be lost (an income of -$394). IRRIGATION is not charged off in the budget, but a line is included for irrigation. In most cases, irrigation increases yields by increasing fruit size, thus fewer bushels are needed to pay for the added costs, because large fruits normally receive higher prices. See your Cooperative Extension Service specialist for more information on irrigation costs and returns to irrigation. BREAK EVEN PRICES Table 6 shows the break-even prices for various yield levels. The pre-harvest variable costs and fixed costs decline fairly rapidly with increases in yield. At 200 bushels, the pre-harvest cost per bushel is $3.36, while at 600 bushels it declines to $1.12. Fixed cost per bushel is $2.13 at 200 bushels, but only $0.71 at 600 bushels. The break-even prices (for all costs) show a similar pattern. At 200 bushels yield, the break-even price is $8.53 per 1/2 bushel. At 600 bushels yield, the break-even price declines to $4.87 per 1/2 bushel. INCOME OVER VARIABLE COSTS Table 7 shows the income over variable costs (pre-harvest, harvest, and marketing costs). At a price of $6.00 per 1/2 bushel, it takes a yield of nearly 250 bushels just to cover the variable costs. At $8.00 per 1/2 bushel, a yield of about 150 bushels covers variable costs. DEVELOPING BUDGETS FOR YOUR OPERATION Many of the southeastern states have developed enterprise budgets for peach production in their area. However, as mentioned earlier, differences in varieties, operation size, management practices, input prices, and peach prices will affect the budget for any given orchard. Please check with Cooperative Extension personnel in your state for peach enterprise and irrigation budget information. Alabama: Contact your Cooperative Extension Service agent for recommendations suitable to your orchard or visit for more information. Arkansas: The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station offers a special report entitled, "Economic Analysis of Commercial Fresh Market, Irrigated Peach Production in Arkansas." Contact a Cooperative Extension Service agent for recommendations suitable to your orchard or visit for more information. Florida: The most recent peach enterprise budgets for Florida can be downloaded from the worldwide web at or contact your Cooperative Extension Service agent for recommendations suitable to your orchard or visit for more information. Georgia: The Georgia Cooperative Extension Service offers budgets for establishment and midseason peach production. Contact The University of Georgia Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in Tifton or visit for more information. Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma offers budgets for preplant year, establishment year, year 2, year 3, and years You can download these budgets from Contact Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics or visit
3 South Carolina for more information. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service agent for recommendations suitable to your orchard or visit for more information. REFERENCES Hewitt, T. 2000a. Estimated development costs per for peaches, North Florida. University of Florida, Department of Food and Resource Economics, NFREC, Marianna, FL. Hewitt, T. 2000b. Estimated per annual costs for producing peaches, North Florida (pick your own). University of Florida, Department of Food and Resource Economics, NFREC, Marianna, FL. Hewitt, T. 2000c. Estimated production costs for peaches, North Florida (fresh market). University of Florida, Department of Food and Resource Economics, NFREC, Marianna, FL. Pardue, M., C. Price, J. R. Clark, C. R. Rom, P. Fenn, and C. R. Garner Economics analysis of commercial, fresh market irrigated peach production in Arkansas. Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Special Report 176. University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Little Rock, AR. Schatzer, J., M. Smith, and D. McGraw. 1997a. Peaches, preplant year. Oklahoma State University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Stillwater, OK. Schatzer, J., M. Smith, and D. McGraw. 1997b. Peaches, establishment year. Oklahoma State University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Stillwater, OK. Schatzer, J., M. Smith, and D. McGraw. 1997c. Peaches, year 2. Oklahoma State University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Stillwater, OK. Schatzer, J., M. Smith, and D. McGraw. 1997d. Peaches, year 3. Oklahoma State University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Stillwater, OK. Schatzer, J., M. Smith, and D. McGraw. 1997e. Peaches, year 4 to 15. Oklahoma State University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Stillwater, OK. USDA, NASS, Noncitrus fruits and nuts, 2000 preliminary report. United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Washington, DC. Westberry, G. and M. Collier Mid season peach production budget. University of Georgia, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Tifton, GA. Table 1. Types of establishment and maintenance costs considered in the first year of the operation. Adapted from Pardue et al. (1996) and Westberry and Collier (1998). Item $/Unit Variable Costs: Fertilizer Nitrogen Phosphate (P205) Potash (K20) Lime Land Leveling and Terracing Seeds for Cover Crop Trees ton each Pesticides Herbicides
4 Fungicides Insecticides Labor Machinery Fuel Repair and Maintenance gallon or inch Fixed Costs: Interest %) Tractor Other Equipment Land Overhead inch Table 2. Types of establishment and maintenance costs considered in the second year of the operation. Adapted from Pardue et al. (1996) and Westberry and Collier (1998). Item $/Unit Variable Costs: Fertilizer Nitrogen Phosphate (P205) Potash (K20) Lime Trees (Replacements) ton each Pesticides Herbicides
5 Fungicides Insecticides Labor Machinery and Others Dormant Pruning Summer Pruning Remove Fruit Machinery Fuel Repair and Maintenance gallon Interest inch Fixed Costs: Tractor Other Equipment Land Overhead inch Table 3. Types of establishment and maintenance costs considered in the third year of the operation. Adapted from Pardue et al. (1996) and Westberry and Collier (1998). Item Variable Costs: $/Unit Fertilizer Nitrogen Phosphate (P205) Potash (K20) Lime Trees (Replacements) ton each
6 Pesticides Herbicides Fungicides Insecticides Labor Machinery and Others Dormant Pruning Summer Pruning Remove Fruit Machinery Fuel Repair and Maintenance gallon Interest inch Harvesting and Marketing bushel Fixed Costs: Tractor Other Equipment Land Overhead inch Table 4. Example of a mid-season peach budget. (Westberry and Collier 1998) Item Unit Quantity Price Amt/ac $ Variable Costs TOTAL $ Trees (replants) Each Lime, applied Ton Fertilizer Cwt Nitrogen Lbs Chemicals Appl
7 Machinery Fuel Acre Repairs Acre Labor Hr Land rent Acre Acre Inch Other Acre Interest on operating capital $ % Pre-Harvest Variable Costs Harvest and Marketing Costs Picking and hauling 1/2 Bushel Grading and packing 1/2 Bushel Containers Each % 1/2 Bushel Total Harvest and Marketing , ,127 Total Variable Costs 2, ,799 Fixed Costs: Machinery Acre Acre Recapture establishment costs Acre Land Acre Overhead and management $ Total Fixed Costs Total budgeted cost per 3, ,224 Costs Per 1/2 Bushel Pre-harvest variable cost per 1/2 Bushel Harvest & marketing cost per 1/2 Bushel Fixed costs per 1/2 Bushel 0.61 Total Budgeted Cost per 1/2 Bushel Table 5. Peach prices, yields, and risk rated net returns. Optimistic Expected Pessimistic
8 Yield (1/2 bushels) Price per 1/2 bushels Net Returns ($) 1,866 1,438 1, (-394) (-882) Chances of obtaining the return listed above or more Chances of obtaining the return listed above or less 6% 16% 33% 52% 48% 29% 16% 7% Overall chance of profit at expected yield and price 74% Table 6. Break-even prices for various yield levels. Yield Pre-harvest Harvest and Fixed Costs Breakeven Per Acre Costs Marketing (Bushel) (Bushel) (Bushel) (1/2 bushel) (1/2 bushel)
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