New UC studies estimate production costs for coastal lettuce, broccoli

Aug 7, 2023

California Central Coast growers and others now have help estimating costs and potential returns for growing lettuce and broccoli. Four new cost studies for lettuce and broccoli grown in Santa Cruz, San Benito or Monterey counties have been released by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Cooperative Extension and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

“These studies provide growers with a baseline to estimate their own costs, which can help when applying for production loans, projecting labor costs, securing market arrangements or understanding costs associated with water and nutrient management and regulatory programs,” said Brittney Goodrich, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and study co-author.

The cost studies model a management scenario for a 1,500-acre coastal vegetable operation, where lettuce and broccoli are rotated with other cool season vegetable and berry crops. Each study describes the cultural practices used to produce each crop including land preparation, soil fertility and pest management, irrigation and labor needs. Harvest costs are also shown.    

Six tables show the individual costs of each operation for lettuce and broccoli, material input costs, and cash and non-cash overhead costs in a variety of formats. A ranging analysis shows potential profits over a range of prices and yields.

The 2023 sample cost studies to produce and harvest romaine hearts lettuce, wrapped iceberg lettuce, bunched broccoli and broccoli crowns can be downloaded from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at  

For a detailed explanation of the assumptions and calculations used to estimate the costs and potential returns for each crop, readers can refer to the narrative portion of each study. 

Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities grown in California are also available on the website.

For more information, contact the co-authors: Jeremy Murdock in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at, or UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors emeriti Laura Tourte at and Richard Smith at

By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach