Crops on Small Farms Are Much More Diverse

Crops on Small Farms Are Much More Diverse

Generally speaking, the smaller the vegetable operation is, the wider the array of crop types. And our 2018 State of the Vegetable Industry survey results reflect this in a dramatic way.

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Take a look at the two graphics below. On the left are how growers from operations of more than 1,000 acres answered our question “What do you grow?” On the right are those farms with fewer than 100 acres.

Pay particular attention to the orange portion of the bars. That represents the percentage of growers who do not grow the crop. The more orange you see, the less diverse the crop selection.

Let me explain: If a grow selects only five of the crops offered, he or she will select “do not grow” on all the other crops. Conversely, if an operation grows 20 crops, only a few crops will show up as orange (i.e., “do not grow”).

So when a lot of growers in a group select only a few crops, you will see a lot more orange.

A couple of other things to note here:

  1. The most widely adopted crops in each group differ quite a bit. For small growers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers top the list. Those same crops for large growers are much lower. Peppers come in at No. 7; tomatoes at No. 9; and cucumbers are far down the list at No. 15.
  2. Smaller growers plan to increase production at a higher rate than large growers (indicated in red). Every single crop will see an increase in production by at least some small growers. In contrast, no large growers will be increasing production on peas, carrots, or winter squash.