Sample enterprise budgets:
- All crops [.xls spreadsheet]
.pdf files of budgets in spreadsheet above:
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter greens in a soil heated high tunnel
- Winter greens in an unheated high tunnel
- Hanging baskets of petunias
- Hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes
- Green peppers
- Colored sweet peppers
The information has been gathered from 8 different farmers. Each farmer kept records of their labor inputs and also shared, to the best of their abilities, the cost of machinery and material as well as construction costs for their high tunnel structures.
To make the budgets as consistent as possible, an average was taken for the per hour labor cost. Only two farmers used an estimate above $10/hour – several used lower than $10/hour. This does not seem appropriate as many of the owner operators are doing the labor. The average used in all the budgets is $12/hour.
The market price for each budget was kept intact. Retail prices vary dramatically throughout the state, and prospective growers should be aware of the market prices at venues where they sell as they pencil out their own budgets.
The third consideration is that several of these budgets were gathered from tunnel operations where other applied research was ongoing. The variability in yield in a variety trial, for instance, impacts the overall profitability represented in the enterprise budget. Growers are encouraged to not rely solely on these budgets to predict yield, but to seek out other information sources especially from experienced farmers.
The budgets included indicate that tomatoes and winter greens (including spinach) may offer the greatest profitability to retail market farmers. Green or colored peppers, cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes offer only marginal or no profit. The hanging baskets of flowers may be profitable, but they need to be paired with a crop that can stand a bit of shading in order to be a profitable addition to a high tunnel.
These budgets offer prospective high tunnel growers some baseline data that will assist them in making decisions concerning the best combination and rotation of crops in these structures. High tunnel production offers growers flexibility and will make it easier to meet consumer demands.
Whole-farm record keeping tool
Use this Excel spreadsheet to keep track of High Tunnel expenses and revenue. This information can be used to help develop partial budgets for high tunnel crops as well as a whole farm budget. If you are not familiar with Excel, remember to save your work regularly to avoid losing important information. Customize the worksheet so it will fit your business. If you need further assistance, contact the Farm Business Management agent at your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office. (See intro page of spreadsheet for additional instructions.)
Other sample budgets:
- Tomatoes: See page 4, Intervale Community Farm (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture)
- Greens: See page 4, Star Light Gardens (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture)
- Spinach: See page 3, Slack Hollow Farm (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture)
- Raspberries: See page 25, Cornell’s High Tunnel Raspberries and Blackberries
- Sweet cherries: See page 3, Weaver’s Orchard (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture)
- Cockscomb: See page 5, Cramer’s Posie Patch (University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture)