Organic opportunity

05/01/2007 02:00:00 AM

Grallert says Santa Sweets organic production costs range 50 percent to 75 percent higher than conventional production.

The increased cost results from a variety of inputs, such as additional monitoring of crops and management of pests. Other costs include protective barriers for weed control, special fertilizers and composts, and additional shipping charges from farther-away specialty suppliers, Grallert says.

"Pest and disease control is a challenge, without chemicals or with," says Mesh of the Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers Association. "Farmin' ain't easy."

Longer crop rotations can help manage disease control, he says. Other considerations growers must take into account with organics include variety selection, timing of plantings, layout of farm space, and beneficial plants and insects.

Tillage, cultivation and intercropping can be used in lieu of chemicals for weed management, Mesh says.

"In the long term, as growing materials are more available and more organic acreage is in production, the market (conventional vs. organic) will level itself off,"Grallert says.


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