The sales of food crops grown under protection in the United States grew 149% in the last decade, according to results of the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

“Despite the recent economic downturn, the U.S. horticulture industry as a whole is showing resilience by increasing diversification of the products produced,” said Joe Prusacki, NASS Statistics Division director. “Food crop production has shown the largest growth in (horticulture), possibly a link to increased consumer interest in fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The sale of food crops grown under protection, including fruits and vegetables in greenhouses and hoophouses plus transplants for commercial vegetable production, increased 149 percent since the last time the census of horticulture was conducted in 1998. In 2009, growers reported $553 million in sales of food crops grown under protection, up from $223 million. Total sales of transplants for commercial vegetable production increased from $156 million to $331 million during this same period.

“Overall, total sales of horticultural crops between 1998 and 2009 increased by 10 percent to $11.7 billion,” added Prusacki.

The census results also show a more than average sales increase for bedding plants, nursery stock and propagative materials. A downturn in sales however was documented for cut flowers (down 21%), foliage plants (down 14%) and cut Christmas tree sales (down 3%).

The Census of Horticultural Specialties provides the only comprehensive, detailed data on U.S. floriculture, nursery and specialty crop production at the national and state levels. It provides information on the number and types of establishments, value of sales, varieties of products, production expenses and more. Complete results of the 2009 Census of Horticultural Specialties are available online at