The 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties report, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), shows that horticulture operations in the United States sold a total of $13.8 billion in floriculture, nursery and specialty crops in 2019, down slightly from 2014. The number of horticulture operations decreased 11% during this time to 20,655.
Sales value of Wisconsin cut Christmas trees ranked forth in the nation, composing 6.5% of the total U.S. cut Christmas tree sales, with $23.3 million in sales. The 181 operations in Wisconsin sold 785 thousand Christmas trees in 2019. As of January 1, 2020, there were 7.26 million Christmas trees on Wisconsin horticulture operations to be cut and sold in future years.
Wisconsin’s total floriculture, nursery and specialty crops generated $231 million in sales in 2019, up slightly from 2014. This accounts for 1.7% of all U.S. horticulture sales in 2019. Wisconsin producers decreased in number from 833 in 2014 to 789 in 2019, a 5.3% decrease. Of the 789 horticultural specialty operations, family- or individually-owned operations were the most common, accounting for 53.1% of all operations, but corporately owned operations accounted for 66.8% of all sales ($154 million). Partnerships had an increased share of revenues, composing 18.5% of total sales in 2019, compared with 16.5% in 2014. Total industry expenses in Wisconsin totaled $183 million, down 2.7% since 2014. Hired labor costs, at $67.0 million, were the largest expense, accounting for 36.7% of total expenses in 2019.
Annual bedding and garden plants had a decrease in total sales from 2014, down $2.36 million to $78.4 million in sales in 2019. There were 341 operations with annual bedding and garden plant sales, down 14.7% from 2014. Retail sales composed 62.8% of all annual and bedding garden sales, while the remainder were wholesale sales. Cut Christmas trees and nursery stock showed strong growth, with sales increasing 43.7% and 25.3%, respectively. Sales of sod, sprigs, and plugs experienced the largest decrease in sales, down $2.93 million, or 21.4% from 2014 to 2019.
Wisconsin’s horticulture operations sold more than 5.44 million potted herbaceous perennials in 2019. Potted herbaceous perennials sales generated $26.0 million in revenue.
Food crops grown under protection increased in terms of the number of operations engaged in this practice, and also experienced an overall increase in revenues. The total number of operations engaged in this practice increased 9.2% to 107 operations. Total sales from food crops grown under protection increased 19.1% to $4.91 million in 2019. Tomatoes top food crops grown under protection, with $1.88 million in sales and 10,062 cwt. produced.