Deciding what to grow from the nearly endless list of fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other plants can be overwhelming to say the least.
New farmers may find themselves at an impasse, unsure of how to start. The internet is a great place to get ideas, but the best person to choose the right crops to grow for your farm is you!
Think about it. Not only do you have more access to your community than strangers online, but you also are already familiar with it.
In this article, we’ll cover six steps you can use to decide what to grow in your farm.
The first step to deciding what to grow on your farm is to research the most popularly grown crops in your area.
If you plan to grow outdoors, identifying popular crops will give you an idea of what grows well in your climate.
For indoor farmers, you can use this research as a stepping stone to finding out what isn’t grown in your area. If you can grow high demand crops that grow best in other climates, you’ll be able to sell your product better.
You’ll also want to research what doesn’t grow well in the climate.
That way, if you’re farming indoors, you can have a list of crops that may fill unmet demand. Or, if you’re farming outdoors, you’ll know what crops to stay away from.
Next, find unsupplied demand in your area.
To find these holes in the market, visit grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Take note of what’s being offered and for how much.
See if you can identify any crops that aren’t frequently offered.
Then, meet with potential customers, such as restaurant chefs and farmers’ market patrons and vendors. Ask them what they think is missing from the local market and what they would like to be able to purchase from a local farm.
Once you have a fairly long list of potential crops, you’ll want to narrow it down by considering the profitability of each.
Look for crops with high profit margins.
This can either be crops that are extremely cheap to produce or crops that are in high demand.
Get an idea of how much you can produce and sell each crop for. Stick to the ones that will make it worth it to your business.
Assess Potential Yields
Next, assess the potential yields of each crop.
As a general rule of thumb, grow plants with high yields.
For indoor farms, which are able to grow year-round, you may want to pick crops that continue to yield produce so that you can make the most out of your crops.
Otherwise, you may want to go with quick growing crops, so you can potentially plant more before the season is over.
Consider Plant Needs
Additionally, consider what each crop needs.
Be familiar with the crops you’re planning on growing. Learn how much space, light, and water it needs.
Try to find crops that will fit in the space you have for it to grow. Plants may need specific distances between them outdoors or grow too tall for your indoor system.
For indoor farms, you’ll want to budget for artificial lighting to match your crops’ needs.
For outdoor farms, you’ll want to be sure that your plant won’t get too much or too little light in the space you’ve designated it.
For both, you need to consider how much and how frequently you’ll have to water your crops.
Also, consider what additional maintenance the plants require. Too many special requirements will increase labor costs.
Try to narrow down your list to plants with similar needs so you can have crops that grow in harmony, rather than trying to juggle too many demands at once.
Narrow it Down
Finally, narrow down your list further.
Try not to have too many varieties, sticking to five crop types at the beginning of your farming journey.
This way, you can specialize in and perfect those crops.
Keep in mind your own passions as well.
It may be harder to get truly invested in crops that you’re not passionate about.
Now that you know how to start deciding what crops to grow, you can start planting!
Still need a space to farm in?
Consider one of our Pure Greens Container Farms.
Our farms are completely indoor vertical hydroponic systems complete with controlled environment agriculture technology.
For more information, visit our website or call us at 602-753-3469.