Census finds U.S. horticulture becoming more diverse

WASHINGTON—The sales of food crops grown under protection in the United States more than doubled in the past decade as U.S. horticultural operations are becoming more diverse and taking advantage of newly emerging agricultural trends, according to results of the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties.

The census findings were released Dec. 13, 2010, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

"Despite the recent economic downturn, the U.S. horticulture industry as a whole is showing resilience by increasing diversification of the products produced," said Joe Prusacki, NASS statistics division director. "Food crop production has shown the largest growth in this sector of agriculture, possibly a link to increased consumer interest in fresh fruits and vegetables."

The sale of food crops grown under protection, including fruits and vegetables in hothouses, as well as transplants for commercial vegetable production, increased 149 percent since the previous census of horticulture was conducted in 1998. In 2009, growers reported $553 million in sales of food crops grown under protection, up from $223 million. Total sales of transplants for commercial vegetable production increased from $156 million to $331 million.

"Overall, total sales of horticultural crops between 1998 and 2009 increased by 10 percent to $11.7 billion," Prusacki said. "Looking at the entire agricultural industry, however, this 10 percent increase lags behind the 60 percent increase seen for all agricultural crop commodities during this same time period."

The census results also show a more-than-average sales increase for bedding plants, nursery stock and propagative materials. A downturn in sales was documented for cut flowers, down 21 percent; foliage plants, down 14 percent; and cut Christmas trees, down 3 percent.

Census findings for Virginia indicated 406 horticultural operations in the state with total sales of $186 million, most of it from sales to wholesalers. Complete results are available at www.agcensus.usda.gov.

Contact Krissy Young, 202-690-8123, or Alex Minchenkov, 202-690-8121, USDA.

Support Virginia Agriculture

Join Now

Related Articles

Get Recognized

If your publication or radio or television station is delivering stellar coverage of agriculture on an ongoing basis, this is the award competition to enter. Learn More