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Missouri Specialty Crop Industry
By: Brent Carpenter, MU Extension - 02/14/2018

A group of our colleagues at MU recently released two reports describing the extent of the specialty crop industry in Missouri. I have found these reports to be chock full of relevant data about an important sector of the ag economy that is often difficult to assess. Locate the results of the 2017 survey (19 pages) and the 380 page Historical Perspective of the Missouri Specialty Crop Industry at this site: http://crops.missouri.edu/horticulture/

Specialty crop categories include 1) Fruits and berries, 2) Tree nuts, 3) Vegetables, potatoes, and melons, 4) Nursery and flowering plants, and 5) Horticultural goods, such as, honey.

The initial 2017 survey (phase one) had 469 useable respondents. The map of production sites by county shows substantial specialty crop production occurs in much of west-central Missouri. The statistics below are for the group of respondents, statewide, from the initial survey.

The majority of growers (75%) indicated they had been producing for at least five years. Almost half (45%) said they had been growing specialty crops for over ten years.

The median open acres of for an operation is 3.0, but some are quite large. The median square feet under protection is 3,264.

One hundred (23%) of the respondents had gross sales less than $1000. Forty percent had sales in the $1000-$9999 category and 26 percent had sales of $10,000-$49,999. Nearly ten percent had sales over six-digits.

The survey revealed some interesting results about distribution outlets. Most growers use only one or two outlets for their specialty crops. On-farm sales and farmers markets were the primary outlet.

The survey has been reopened to ensure that all growers have the opportunity to participate. New surveys are being accepted until March 31. For those who did not previously complete a survey and want to respond anonymously, take the survey at http://tinyurl.com/SpecCrop. A new summary report will be available in spring 2018. A complete economic impact analysis is also planned.

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