UC Cooperative Extension Southern California & UC Agricultural Issues Center

Examining Californian lemon production costs and returns

A new study on the costs and returns of establishing and producing lemons in Ventura County has been released by UC Cooperative Extension in Southern California and UC Agricultural Issues Center, both part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

California lemon acreage was at roughly 47,000 acres in 2018-19, of which Ventura County accounts for 31%, according to the 2019 Ventura County Crop Report. Ventura County was growing lemons on 14,407 acres in 2019.

“The profitability of lemon production depends on the price of land,” said Etaferahu Takele, UC Cooperative Extension farm management advisor for Southern California, one of the co-authors of the study. “If the price of land continues in its current trend, it could be prohibitive for new entrants to make a profit and limit further expansion of lemon production in the county.”

Their cost analysis describes production operations for Eureka lemons on macrophylla rootstock, which are planted at 155 trees per acre with an expected life span of 40 years. The study includes a detailed summary of costs and returns and a profitability analysis of gross margin, economic profit and a break-even ranging analysis table, which shows profits over a range of prices and yields.

Input from advisors, growers
Input and reviews were provided by Ventura County farm advisor and grower co-operators. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for lemon establishment and production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. 

The new study, “2020 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Eureka Lemons in Ventura County,” can be downloaded for free from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu and the UCCE Riverside County Farm Management website at https://ucanr.edu/sites/Farm_Management/files/338947.pdf.

Source: farmprogress.com

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