• Staff Writer

Top Three Most Profitable Crops to Plant this Fall

Updated: Nov 15

The days are shorter, the heat has subsided and the harvest is either active or finished. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t new life to plant. Dependent on region and soil, there’s potential for additional income nurtured from the land. Here are the top three most profitable and nutritious crops to plant this fall.




Growing Leafy Greens


The go-to vegetable is leafy greens! This is the broadest category as there are so many vitamin-rich plants that withstand harsh temperatures. What is a leafy green? The category can include broccoli leaf, collard greens, endives, radicchio, cress, mustard greens, green / red / rainbow chard, parsley, cilantro, green / red / lacinato kale, green / red / romaine / iceberg lettuce, spinach and kale.


What do I start with?


Many start growing spinach. According to eatthis.com, spinach is the third most popular vegetable in America. We are opting for a different trend. We recommend starting with kale.


Growing Kale





Kale is often noted as one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on earth. This is due to the leafy greens’ vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And, to absorb the most nutrients, it’s recommended to eat kale raw as to not alter the composition.


Kale Components


One cup of raw kale contains 684% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin K, 206% of the DV for vitamin A and 134% of the DV for vitamin C. Writer Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD, also noted for heathline.com, “It also contains antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene, which reduce the risk of diseases caused by oxidative stress.”


Farmers and consumers have been keen to choose kale, and it’s documented. “The majority of kale is grown domestically in California and Georgia, and a large portion of kale production is certified organic. From 2007 to 2012, the number of farms reporting growing kale more than doubled from 1,000 to 2,500, with 1,680 acres having been harvested in California.”


Kale Is An Easy Crop to grow


“Kale is an easy crop to grow and integrate into a farming system due to its resistance to most pests (it is susceptible to a few common pests, such as black diamond moth) and diseases, as well as its ability to thrive in cool environments. Farmers’ markets also play a role in the success of kale and other leafy greens due to season-extending techniques such as cultivation using hoop houses (also known as polytunnels), which create a longer market season.” —Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence, a branch of Colorado State University.


Growing Brussels Sprouts





This nutrient-dense vegetable is best planted as a fall crop in warmer regions. The produce loves cool weather and can even handle a little bit of frost. Brussels sprouts truly can be grown in any region of the United States. Again, the majority of the crop is currently grown in California.


Drive through the stunning coastal locales of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Mateo and see thousands of acres of year-round Brussels sprout farms. The crop soaks up the cool, ocean air and delivers produce June through January.


According to Foodrepublic.com, “A 2008 survey conducted by Heinz revealed that Brussels sprouts are the most-hated vegetable in America. A similar poll in Britain found the vilified vegetables at the top of the most-hated list there, too. And yet, Brits grow about six times more of the baby cabbages than we do in the U.S.”



Times Have Changed


However, fast-forward to 2022, and the tiny cabbage is racing up the charts in popularity. People have caught onto the health trend. “Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C (way more than an orange, by the way), vitamin K, as well as beta carotene, folic acid, iron, magnesium and fiber. They’re also high in selenium, which is associated with reduced risks of certain cancers, as well as increased male virility.” —Foodrepublic.com


Demand is High for Brussels Sprouts


“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Retail Report, Brussels sell best on promotion around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but promotions during other parts of the year are on the rise….The study found the average number of stores with Brussels on promotion in 2016 increased 70 percent from just three years prior, from 462 per week in 2013 to 787 per week…That means acreage is up as growers struggle to meet increasing demand for fresh as well as value-added and processed Brussels sprout products.” —Produce Processing, from Raw to Ready.


The same article interviewed growers and got this response.


“Now we’re up over 10,000 (acres) in California, and more in Mexico. And where it used to be that the crop went to 80 percent frozen and 20 percent fresh, that’s flip-flopped. Now it’s about 15 percent frozen and 85 percent fresh because of demand. And we’re getting more money for the fresh because we can’t meet demand.” — Steve Bontadelli, general manager of Brussels sprouts grower, packer and shipper Pfyffer Associates in Santa Cruz, California.


A True Renaissance For Tiny Cabbage


Another interviewee from the article noted this. “Brussels are undergoing a renaissance,” said Jacob Shafer, spokesman for Mann’s. “The rise is, in some ways, connected to recent research stating Brussels sprouts are as rich a source of many nutrients compared with kale.”


Types of Brussels Sprouts





Choose which variety is best for your region as there are over a dozen, and they come in all different sizes. The most popular choices are Bubbles, Prince Marvel and Oliver.


Growing Blueberries





Our third choice is the blueberry! Beware, this crop will not be able to produce an immediate yield in its primary years, but with time, it’s the one of the greatest financial rewards in terms of dollars per pound. The blueberry bush performs well in a multitude of climates and altitudes.


Identify which type of blueberry will grow best on your land. There are four types of blueberries: Highbush, Lowbush, Hybrid HalfHhigh, and Rabbiteye Blueberries.


According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “Blueberries can be planted in spring or also in late fall in all but coldest regions. In Zones 5 and below, it’s best to wait until early to mid-spring to plant. If available, 1- to 3-year-old plants are a good choice. These can be bought in containers or bare-root.”


Color Translates to Health Benefits





Their stunning color variety of deep indigo to royal blue packs a big nutrient punch. Megan Ware reported for Medical News Today that, “Blueberries contain a plant compound called anthocyanin. This gives blueberries both their blue color and many of their health benefits. Blueberries can help heart health, bone strength, skin health, blood pressure, diabetes management, cancer prevention, and mental health.

One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of a person recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.”


Pro Tip: Try and plant a few different fall produce options to see what best suits the land. And, if possible, add a bit of mulch around the base any plants you put into the ground. It helps protect against frost. And, blueberry bushes also thrive in containers if you want to test different spaces in your land.


SUMMARY


Vitamin-dense vegetables and fruits are in high demand. Try planting these three fall crops to be the most profitable. Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Blueberries pack incredible nutritional and financial value for farmers.


Author: Julie Bielenberg, a writer and farmer on the western slope of Colorado.




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