As farmers and small businesses owners the bottom line is we want to have a successful business. To succeed in this competitive market we have to be creative and find and grow things that sell, pay the bills, and above all keep us doing what we love, farming!
Here is a list of 12 of the most profitable crops. They won't work for everyone but they are worth looking into for your small farm.
1.) Gourmet mushrooms:
If your climate accommodates mushrooms you could grow mushrooms outdoors and offer gourmet mushrooms to your list of items you sell. But even if you don't have the climate in your favor you can do this in a very small space indoors and control the humidity, temperature to get a profitable harvest. From gourmet food item to medicinal purposes mushrooms can get a great price at market. Oyster mushrooms, chanterelle, shiitake and reishi and all highly valued mushrooms you can produce. Not only can you sell the fresh "fruit" mushroom but you can pickle, make tea, make tinctures, dry, or make jerky out of the mushrooms (for vegetarians). Crop cycles are short at about $12 per pound you can make a profit quickly.
This one you do have to have the right climate. Lavender prefers a more mild winter and a warm sunny summer with low humidity. You can harvest 3 times a year. After cutting the flowers and stems you can sell lavender bundles for 6-15 dollars per bundle. You can dry the flowers and sell them all winter long along with teas, soaps and other smell good items.
If you are able to grow hemp in your state it may be a beneficial crop to add to your list. With the legalization of hemp in over 36 states in the US it may be time to give this crop a second look. Hemp grows very vigorously and doesn't require a lot of fertilizer, water or other amendments. It can be used as feed, bio fuel, paper, building material, textiles and the seeds and oil can be collected and used industrially and for culinary uses. The profits range from roughly $130-730 per acre.
Growing cut flowers for market can be a very profitable venture. It's almost unlimited in what you could sell. Perennial flowers from bushes like lilacs or roses or something more annual like sunflowers or cosmos. The greenery included in floral arrangements is also profitable. You could also chose to sell woody ornamental like willow, red twig dogwood, or pussy willows are also a great perennial crop that you harvest year after year.
5.) Trees and shrubs:
This is ideal for a part time or side business. Some highly sought after trees are maple trees, fruit trees, nut trees, Christmas trees, fruit bushes and roses. Just putting in a few hours per week after your initial investment you could find some reasonable profit here.
You can sell both mature roots and young shoots to other growers and make a substantial profit. Seed is selling for about $150-200 a lb and mature roots are selling for $400-500 a lb. Mature roots do take a while to cultivate - 6 years so the payoff here is an investment.
Often used as a rotation grain it is also an ancient grain along side farro, quinoa, spelt, amaranth and millet. It boasts a high amount of vitamin C, protein and iron and has been a big hit with the health conscious and gluten free crowd. It takes the award for highest profit per acre. It averages about $1,600-1,700 a lb per acre.
Microgreens pack a tiny punch in the produce world. You don't need a lot of space and can make up to $50 per pound, and depending on your space and how you set things up you could produce 20-25 crops per year.
9.) Bonsai trees:
Small trees for small spaces. If you have a small space to spare you could start growing Bonsai trees. You can sell the starts that are untrained to Bonsai enthusiasts and the trained trees. The trained trees are usually 2-3 years old so do require some time commitment. The trained trees can go for around $30-hundreds of dollars depending on the amount of time and the specimen.
It doesn't take a large amount of money or a large space to get started in garlic. And with specialty garlic being purchased in local grocery stores, depending on your market, you can find a profitable crop to sell locally. Types of specialty garlic are Romanian Red or Carpathian. A lbs of garlic seed will produce 40-60 plants depending on the variety. Profiting about $16 per lb.
11.) Bamboo, ground covers and drought tolerant plants:
Droughts and fires and dry conditions are becoming the norm. Growing bamboo, ground covers and grasses in pots and selling all over your local area or distributing online. Growing drought tolerant plants and selling them to landscapers, nurseries, and homeowners is another way to generate a profit.
Wasabi is a highly sought after root that is more like a fine wine than a horseradish. Wasabi takes about 60-80 weeks to grow to a marketable size and has highly guarded secrets on how to grow it. Wasabi also gets the award for one of the hardest plants to grow on this list or even get a hold of. It does offer a nice prize for all that effort. Wasabi root goes for around $100 a lb in Japan and $45 a lb in North America.
There are many ways to grow your farm business. I hope that this list is useful and gives you a starting point to dig in and do your own research on what crops might be best for you.