Things to consider when growing new crops
Lower prices of c o mmon crops and attractive returns of less grown and lesser known crops can attract producer interest. An Alberta Agriculture bulletin suggests some matters farmers should explore before sowing acres into new crops like flax, camelina, pulses and hemp. The first step involves figuring out the costs of production and whether costs and expected yield will return a profit. The bulletin says it is extremely important to grow crops that are profitable and acceptable to bankers as well as the farmer seeding. What happens to profits if yields or prices are lower than planned? Suggestion for farmers with crops new to them is to start small: learn how to grow that crop, what bugs may cut into yields. Perhaps more important, find out if there is a market for this crop. Get a contract to market some or all of the crop before you seed. About 15 years ago some Prairie farmers tried spice crops like borage and caraway seed whose global acres run in the 20,000. One Assiniboia farmer grew a three-year supply of one spice crop in one harvest. Certain crops like hemp or organics require grower certification by police or organic agencies, regular inspections and piles of paperwork. Some pulse crops need less fertilizer and produce more nitrogen for the next year’s acres, but market prices may be impacted by import tariffs as with peas to India.