Explore areas where growers need to pay attention when looking to grow alternative crops in Florida.
There has been a lot of talk of alternative crops in Florida, partly because of the damage being done to the citrus industry from citrus greening, and partly because The Sunshine State is a hotbed of agriculture. However, the actual details of different alternative crops are a little more hazy, but a recent article in Vegetable and Specialty Crop News (VSCNews) discusses the economics behind alternative crops and offers tips for getting the most for alternative crops in Florida. See highlights below.
Tips for Alternative Crops in Florida
Kevin Athearn, a Regional Extension agent with the North Florida Research and Education Center shares takeaways in research the center has done on alternative crops in Florida. Obviously, people want to know which alternative crops make the most money, but Athearn maintains there is no right answer. “For every crop, you’ll find some people that have figured out how to make money on their crops, and some people who are losing money on their crops. Every grower has different costs, and every year it’s a little different,” he said. Highlights of his research include:
- Skills like financial management, marketing ability and marketing efficiency can make a difference in whether an alternative crop is successful or not.
- Growers need to choose the best crop to fit their current operations, and Extension agents are good resources to help find a suitable crop.
- Start-up investments, labor requirements, labor availability and marketing are aspects that need to be considered in choosing an alternative crop.
- Growers need to consider where the low barriers to entry are, such as start-up costs, access to distribution, government regulation, competition, etc.
- Growers should identify what gives them a competitive edge; for instance, Florida growers have a competitive edge in that they can get their products to market sooner than growers in the rest of the country. Other competitive advantages that can garner higher returns include lower cost, a higher quality product, or product differentiation.
- Growers should take care not to underestimate their cost and overestimate their marketing ability.
Athearn concluded, “There is a lot of uncertainty in agriculture no matter how skilled you are, but it does boil down to doing a lot of things well and having some luck to go along with it. It’s always good to do research and find out as much as you can from researchers or Extension agents or market research reports, put together a good business plan, include enterprise budget projections by crop and make the best decisions you can with the information you have.”
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.