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USDA releases hort census

The sales of food crops grown under protection in the United States more than doubled in the last 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 released Dec. 13 by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

"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 last time the 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 during the same period.

"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 of Horticultural Specialties provides the only comprehensive, detailed data on U.S. floriculture, nursery and specialty crop production at the national and state levels. It provides information on the number and types of establishments, value of sales, varieties of products, production expenses and more. Complete results of the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties are available online at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov

Originally posted Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

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