What are some of the highest-value crops we might raise and sell to get a positive cash flow?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is no simple way to answer your question, as crop selection is market-driven as well as related to your short- and long-term goals. A farm can’t be a farm without being able to cover its costs. Often we see that the highest-value crops are associated with greens; however, this is very market-specific. As an aside, I like to point out that there tends to be a disconnect between high-value greens and calories. While high-value greens usually offer the highest price, they do not contain the calories and nutrients of other crops, like root crops. In other words, the more caloric crops have less profit value. This is why it is important to have clear goals, understand costs of production, and most importantly, do market research to see what your interested markets can bear. It is important to know what you are up against so that you can fill a need in that marketplace. In order to do that, you need to know what needs are already being met and then think of ways to do it differently or better. The research that you do to create a market plan will help in identifying the dynamic factors that influence markets. This includes:? Where am I going to sell/who is my customer?? Size of customer base?? Location of customer base and influence?? Sell directly to consumers or wholesale to commodity markets?? Who is my competition?? Seasonal price fluctuations to expect?? Quality standards to meet?? Time and fuel to reach markets?? Legal or food safety considerations?And while selecting which crops to grow should be market-driven, it is important to evaluate your skill level and other personal criteria, as well as your understanding of costs of production. While you may find which specific crops in your area/markets will bring in the highest value, the profits won’t necessarily correlate unless the costs of production and expenses are low enough for you to achieve your targeted revenue. Understanding the true costs of production for each crop and/or enterprise can be achieved through the completion of a crop enterprise budget. Check out these ATTRA publications to further assist you in understanding crop selection as related to planning for profitability. Evaluating a Farming EnterprisePlanning for Profit in Sustainable Farming