Results of Our Labour: Harvest Projection and Price Calculation Based on a 128 Plug Tray of Leaf Lettuce.
Fresh City Farms provides a "Planting Log Sheet and Plant Request Form" that helps project when to expect your first harvest and its anticipated weight. This is important because it helps organize your work schedule (harvest days are usually longer vs. general maintenance days), allows management to anticipate crop availability, and helps project overall profit potential. I was given a 128 plug tray of lettuce (Bronze Arrow Lettuce and Black Seed Simpson) to transplant on May 23. Since they were seeded on April 30, and had 45 days to maturity cycle, I should therefore anticipate harvest around June 15. On June 15 I harvested 10lbs of lettuce, and on June 26, 15 lbs for a total of 25 lbs. Now let’s take a look at average crop yields per 100ft. Leaf lettuce averages approximately 50lbs/100ft. If 128 lettuces were transplanted 5" apart (I believe 6" is standard) than 53ft of lettuce were planted for a total of 26lbs of lettuce (128 x 5" = 640"/12 = 53.3ft). Thus the projected yield and the actual yield were only 1 lb off. Further, 1 lbs of mixed leaf lettuce is market priced at $10 (we sell our mixed leaf lettuce bags for $5/0.5lbs). Therefore the price value of a 128 plug lettuce tray that yields 26lbs of lettuce should generate $260. The costs of our production include the Member Farmer’s 65% cut of total revenue sales which puts each tray at $158 profit. Other costs include occasional crop failures (5 lettuces didn’t make it to harvest, 4 were left for seed) and transportation. To summarize, one 128 plug tray of leaf lettuce will use approximately 53ft of space, yield 26lbs of lettuce, and generate $260 of revenue. Please comment if you disagree with these calculations. The Planting Log Sheet provides a means to anticipate harvest dates, production quantity, and profit potential. In the next post you will see how it is also an important reflective tool to measure progress, increase efficiencies and, most importantly, set realistic goals and expectations.