Hostas, petunias and geraniums valuable to Michigan

A recently released United States census report shows that Michigan’s specialty horticulture industry is vital to local communities and the state.

Every ten years, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts a census of horticulture specialties to measure the state of the industry in the nation.  The census counted 21,585 operations in the United States with annual sales of horticulture specialty crops greater than $10,000.  Primary specialty crop categories included nursery stock, annual bedding/garden plants, sod, potted flowering plants, herbaceous perennials, propagative materials, food grown under cover, foliage plants, cut flowers, vegetable transplants, cut Christmas trees, bulbs and cultivated greens.  Information collected includes the number and type of horticulture operations, the value of their sales and the products produced. 

The 2009 census figures, released in December, indicate that Michigan’s horticulture industry is strong and vital to our local communities and the state’s economic well-being.  In fact:

  • Michigan has 1,089 specialty horticulture operations in the state
  • Michigan ranks 5th in the U.S. in gross sales (wholesale and retail combined) of specialty crops with $566 million in sales in 2009 (only California, Florida, Oregon and Texas had higher sales)
  • With $108 million in retail sales, Michigan ranks 2nd in the U.S (topped only by California)
  • Michigan has seen a 10% increase in the sales of horticulture crops since the 1998 census
  • Among Michigan commodities, floriculture ranked 4th in the state following milk, corn and soybeans (NASS, 2009 cash receipts)
  • Michigan ranks first in the nation in the production of begonia baskets, Easter lily pots, cut geraniums, geranium seeds, hostas, petunia baskets, New Guinea impatiens baskets, and impatiens baskets and flats
  • Ottawa county ranks top in the state with annual wholesale and retail sales of $129,335,000

Today, the horticulture industry is economically valuable to communities and beyond.  A healthy horticulture industry creates job opportunities.  The 2009 U.S. Census of Horticulture Specialties revealed that horticulture operations employed 280,201 hired workers and the single largest expense for the operations is hired labor, including salaries and benefits.  Career opportunities in horticulture are numerous and include: production, research, marketing, teaching, landscape design, construction and management, industry support, inspection and communications. 

The complete 2009 Census of Horticulture Specialties is online at or

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