Farms generate income through their harvests, but not all plants are profitable. These cash crops are valued for their high market values, with some crops fetching more than $1000 per pound. Here are the most common crops grown for profit, and why they fetch high prices in the market.
Saffron is one of the most profitable crops anywhere in the world. The spice is highly valued for its rarity, bright color, and flavor, which upgrades gourmet dishes. Saffron is the most expensive culinary herb by weight due to its scarcity: the spice is harvested as the stigma from the Crocus sativus flower stems.
Lavender is used for its medicinal and culinary properties. This herb is grown in full sunlight, and is relatively low maintenance compared to other crops. Lavender products include lavender essential oil, dried flowers, fresh lavender bundles, and more. At $25 per pound, lavender is one of the most profitable plants to grow.
Basil requires very little space to grow, and can be grown in partial shade. However, full sun provides the best growing environment for the herb. The flavor of basil is dependent on the abundance of sunlight and nutrients the plant receives while growing, and harvesting can be done after a 3- to 4-week period.
Found in cuisines around the world, cilantro is a lucrative cash crop for its wide usage. Cilantro is a low maintenance herb that produces large yields in approximately 40 to 50 days after initial planting. This herb can be grown indoors, as well as outdoors, without any problems.
Growing ginseng is a long-term investment, with the crop taking anywhere between 3 to 12 years to harvest. Naturally occurring forests can help fleshy tuberous roots to form, growing bigger harvests. The herb is widely used for its medicinal properties, and true wild ginseng varieties fetch higher prices than field-grown varieties.
Chives, leeks, and similar greens are some of the best cash crops to grow in a small farm as the plants require little space, techniques, or resources to grow. They are called the gateway crops for their ease in growing and harvesting.
Arugula is a popular green used in salads and garnishes on gourmet dishes. While not as popular as kale, the green is hailed for its distinct peppery flavor, and quick growing season: being ready for harvest after a 40 day period.
Alfalfa, as a microgreen, can be cultivated indoors with small-scale planters. This valuable crop requires only water to grow, and can fetch up to $4 per pound in farmer's markets. Alfalfa requires full sun, and is ready to harvest after 60 days.
Collard greens is a cold-weather crop suitable for temperate climates. Growing plants in the cold-resistant brassicas family such as collards ensures farms produce profits year-round despite the cooling temperatures. Collards are ready for harvest in 80 days.
Shiitake mushrooms and other gourmet mushrooms are used for their medicinal and culinary properties. Select mushroom varieties are also used in vegan leatherette products. Mushrooms can be grown in small spaces, with a harvest period after 3 to 4 months.
The rise in vegan and vegetarian diets have popularized the use of mushrooms and fungi in place of meat as a protein source. The oyster mushroom is one of the most popular varieties used in vegetarian cuisine, and is high in demand, low in maintenance.
Soybean is a diverse crop that produces a number of products from soy sauce, tempeh, and tofu, to soy wax and soy-based inks. The diverse use of this crop makes it lucrative, fetching $500 per acre of the plant.
Corn is the most lucrative crop to grow in North America, particularly in the United States - the biggest exporter for corn and corn products in the world. The crop requires large spaces to grow, and is ready for harvest in 60 to 100 days.
While not a popular crop for average consumers, sorghum is the top grain for use in livestock feed, pet food, and fodder. The grain is packed with nutrients, and can be used in biofuel. the crop is priced at an average of $0.09 per pound, but its high demand makes it a lucrative crop to grow.
Goji berries have been labeled a superfood for their health benefits, and are suitable to grow in small farms. Planting goji shrubs can be done through cuttings or seeds, and are ready for harvest in 2 to 3 years.
Cherry tomatoes are versatile in growing as they are in cooking, with many growers finding success in growing cherry tomatoes hydroponically. These fruiting plants are smaller than their Roma and Heirloom varieties, and are some of the most lucrative crops in the tomato family.
Pineapple is the most profitable crop in tropical locations such as Southeast Asia, and South America. These shrubs grow best in hot, humid locations, and the tropical plant is ready for harvest in 2 to 3 years.
Wheatgrass was popularized as a health food for its high chlorophyll content, and is a source of green food nutrition. The grass is grown similarly to other grass varieties, and can be grown in small baskets of water.
Bamboo is a grass with multiple uses: the shoots are eaten and used in medicine, the woody stalks are used as alternatives to wood, and the leaves are used in producing materials such as paper and textiles. The grass grows quickly, with some varieties growing at a rate of 1 meter per day.
Bonsai are miniature trees or shrubs that are enjoyed as ornamental plants instead of crops. These trees are cultivated to keep their small stature for years, and can fetch anywhere from $100 to even $1 Million depending on. the variety, size, and cultivation.
Small-scale farms are not limited in space but variety. A number of lucrative crop varieties can be grown indoors in small spaces, and can provide growers consistent revenue streams throughout the year.
Growing crops successfully is dependent on the weather, nutrition, and soil health that affect the growth of the plants. Finding the right crop to grow can determine the profitability of the overall farm.