If you had 10 acres of good growing soil, with water for irrigation easily channeled to it from springs on the hill...what would be the most profitable use of that land?
I don't think that livestock would be more profitable than gardens, but I may be wrong. If I am right then what plants would you recommend that are appropriate for NE TX?
If there was a continual flow of cold spring water, you might consider raising trout. I'de raise redworms also partly to offset protein feed cost for them.
I should think on a 10 acre scale you, and if it went according to plan, it could be profitable beyond your wildest dreams.
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
Fence it to permanent pasture and board thorough breed horses. Ten acres isn't going to grow that much alfalfa but dependent on climate a "truck" farm with a variety of produce might work.
It would be pretty hard to compete with all the commercial trout farms but agiain local market might make it work. Feeding trout 1.5% of their body weight will get you a 1.5:1 to 2:1 conversion rate but man that is a lot of worms!! If you were to try a aquaculture venture try to plan for a multi-tasking setup using all levels of the water column. For example if you have warm water some exotic crayfish cultured with koi with some aquatic or high humidty plant.
If your in the right location putting in wine grapes could really payoff. Some places out here will lease your land and develop it with the vines taking the profit for seven years then its all yours.
I expect flowers would return about as much as any legal crop would.
With a sweet corn population of 20,000+ plants per acre for 200,000 to 250,000 total, yielding one ear per plant, if sold for 25¢ to 35¢ per ear that would yield around $50,000 before expenses. Selling bundles of stalks in the fall for decorations should yield another---well several thousand if you are near enough a large city to sell retail to individuals or wholesale to a large store operation.
In Purdue vegetable trials Mortgage Lifter variety of tomatoes yielded some 70+ pounds per plant. California growers told me that they space their tomato plants at one foot intervals and I think the rows are on 36 inch spacing. With 435,600 square feet per 10 acres and with 3 square feet per plant you could have 145,200 plants growing to tend. Assuming that each yielded 70 pounds per plant the yield would be 10,164,000 pounds. Wholesaling them at 30¢ per pound would get you 3 million or so. Retailing them at 49¢ would give you $5 million.
Hm, how hard do you want to work at this, growing, marketing, etc.?
One of the most popular farming money makers in my part of ne Tx is "pick your own" peas. Purple hull, Cream peas, & Crowders sell like hot cakes. If you want to pick them yourself to sell, you can get up to $20 a bushel for them, or you can let people come in & pick their own for as much as $14. Field corn is a good seller, too, to the Mexican community.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Mt.35:24
n Purdue vegetable trials Mortgage Lifter variety of tomatoes yielded some 70+ pounds per plant. California growers told me that they space their tomato plants at one foot intervals and I think the rows are on 36 inch spacing. With 435,600 square feet per 10 acres and with 3 square feet per plant you could have 145,200 plants growing to tend. Assuming that each yielded 70 pounds per plant the yield would be 10,164,000 pounds. Wholesaling them at 30¢ per pound would get you 3 million or so. Retailing them at 49¢ would give you $5 million.
Over here tomatos get about 13 cents per kilo. Also dont forget that for a farmoperation like this, you need half a dozen workers.
For a one man/family business, concider growing cut flowers and or garden plants, good margin and low startupcosts.
Alfalfa at 1oo bales per acre per cutting at $5.00 per bale ,here where I live theres 8-10 cuttings a yr. thats where that idea came in ,But sell to the horse track at $8.00 a bale and see the profit, But of course the rabbit raisers want it too.
Check out www.freeplants.com That business plan doesn't need much acreage (I am going to do it on 4.5) but with acreage you could grow out landscape shrubs and trees to see the larger sizes - either retail or wholesale. Low maintenance and high profit.
I also like the truck farming idea. If I weren't working full time also, that is something I would try. Don't konw much about orchards or vineyards. A spring watered 10 acres of rich soil is a treasure - I agree putting animals on it would not be as good as growing some kind of crop.
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Truffles if you can get 'em to grow. Average production of a mature orchard is 75 lbs /acre, $300.00/lb to BROKERS (up to $1000/lb if you can find the retail market for them). Hmmm... 75 X 10 =7500 X $300 =2,250,000.00 Of course you'll need a couple of pigs to help you find 'em....
Oh ya, the bonus... Most varieties you only harvest for 3-5 mos.
Out of all of us, you are in the best position to determine what the most profitable use of the land is. The determining factor is likely to be markets rather than production capability. It doesn't matter if you can produce a really high value crop if you can't find a market for it.
My suggestion would be to look for at least 3 different crops that you can produce from the property. That way if you have a failure of one crop (in a year) you don't lose everything. Consider our black walnut production. One year we had 8,000 lbs of nuts (in the hull) and the next year we collected 2 5 gallon buckets (maybe 50 lbs) from the same grove.
Again, focusing on risk management, I would try to keep from having a single customer represent more than 20% of your customer base. I had one company (market) approach me but I would have had to sell them all my honey production to meet their needs. Needless to say, I don't do business with them.
Be prepared for it to take time to build up your customer base. Look for complimentary products. Also remember that using "tricks" to extend your season (by starting early or protecting against late frost) can increase the value of your product.
In 2002 I sold mine for $2.25- $2.50 a pound (could get up to $3.50 a lb now), hanging weight, including cured hams and bacon. At about 140 pounds each, that's $315 - $350 each minus a small amount of feed, trucking and slaughter costs.
I figured that I netted about $1.55 a pound on average or $217 each.
On 10 acres planted in alfalfa and cross fenced into 1 acre pastures you can run about 170 hogs per year. 10 - 12 pigs per acre, at least here in Indiana, and rotate their pastures keeping at least 2 acres fallow during each rotation.
Net income about $37,000 you could probably do a lot better now that pork prices are higher.
They are easy keepers and not much work as long as you have good fences!
The market certainly *IS* important! Out here everyone grows things like melons, asparagus, and sweet corn, so we compete with each other. Everyone earns a little, but few of them earn a living wage, and it is seasonal as well. People only earn a little for their Saturdays work.
Then again, there is a lady with a permanant stand on a major road, and since her land is rented she does NOT grow perrenials like asparagus and berries. She already sells my berries for me, and I am going to try her out on a few bundles of asparagus, once they start producing.
There is also a gent about 25 miles away who does the same thing. I might try him, too.
First, of course, I have to have something to offer. I have 100 asparagus roots to put in this spring, and I will use them for test marketing. I can leave the asparagus on consignment, or even just GIVE it away as a sample, to people who might want to sell it for me.
At the Farmers MArket when one person has berries to sell, several people have berries to sell so we are competing against each other. If I sold them myself at the FArmers Market I would only net some $25 per day, once a week, and so instead I left berries on consignment with the folks who run their OWN stands 7 days a week. I like it much better. More picking, less selling.
I move all that I raise and I DON'T have to spend all day Saturday selling when I would rather have the day off with my family. Even on weekends I just get up early, pick, clean up, and deliver. The rest of the day is mine.
Out here, people with huge variety in their offerings do very well. People with a more limited offerings only get $20 to $50 a market, and it takes them many hours to earn it. But, when I sell through the established Market Stands that go 7 days a week, I show up with my goods and I am paid on the spot.
In the beginning, to encourage them to move my product, I stapled a business card on pints of berries and I GAVE them away people with established 7 day a week farmers market stands, and to small groceries. I stated that I was willing to sell on consignment: I would pick up any unsold berries.
I passed the berries out free to 5 small businesses, and I got 3 call backs from interested business people. The grocery stores were not interested, but it seems like every one else was! I get $2.50 a pint (I TOLD you they were common out here!), and the lady I sell to sells them for $5. This is a premium price: out here you can usually buy a pint for $4.
The DOWNSIDE is, things like berries are very seasonal. They sell quickly when they are in-season, and then there is nothing coming in for 10 months of the year. For this reason I am trying out asparagus and other types of berries. I want a longer picking/growing season.
Right now I am selling almost as many berries as I can pick. The work involved in picking berries is not to be underestimated. I often have to come in early because I am just too hot, and yet I pick at sunrise. I never DID have any heat tolerance!
The down side is that it takes years for blackberries to yield well. The upside is that they sell well, have a good selling price, and the grass cannot strangle them the way grass can kill strawberries.
I mow around the rows to keep the rows reasonable narrow. This worked well until the year that it would not stop raining: now the berries are too overgrown even though I have tried to get them back to their previous rows!
Sounds like you might benefit by surveying what is selling in your area. Do a market survey. Go to each place where you can buy plants (grocery, flower shop, fruit stand,etc.) Take notes on what is there, retail prices and other notes about the location. Then look and see if you can deduce a niche. For instance, maybe no one is selling kumquats, so it looks like there is an unfilled need. However, you research and realize there is an unfilled need because noone wants them.
You might also do a CSA. Again, research your competition in the area and evaluate.
The way is to start small with as little overhead as possible (to increase profit to go back into the business) and evaluate each smaller crop over a year or two and evaluate its profit/loss. Records are crucial, especially time spent. Some crops are high investment in care. This matters as it affects your $ per hour cost. So pick three or whatever is manageable for you-after evaluating your local market, and try them. If you MUST have a profit or you will go under the first year, you might consider making your money for living expenses elsewhere. Or you aren't ready as your savings can't meet those expenses. You get to determine the level of risk you want to take. I'm generally low-risk so I recommend you start small until you fall in love with a success. That way a mistake doesn't cost you the farm.
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See, what works for me, won't necessarily work for you. For some the most profitable use of ten acres is to sell it as lots. Or to raise those thoroughbred horses, or to operate a big rig repair shop (no kidding, there is a guy in our rural area who does just that to his heart's content-the land is his to admire but the shop pays the bills), or to have another type of home office. You get to decide. That's the beauty of self-employment.
Any crop is good as long as you can make more than one thing out of it. Berries are good for you can sell the raw or in jams and jellies or pies and other bake goods. Herbs are good for resturants as well as breads and herbal soaps and lotians. Whatever you do make sure you can do more than one thing with it and it is legal in your area. Livstock can only be sold live because of the USDA. Not much to do there and high cost of maintance, vet bills and feed and all. On that amount of land you can grow more than one crop and have a much high yield per foot. Restraunts are great to sell to for fresh farm produce. They pay top dollor for a high class plass.
There are some good books about this to you might want to read before you get started. Making Your Small Farm Profitable by Rom Macher is a must read. He publishes Small Farm Today magazine. You can find it here on the net. Hope this helps.