Top 100 Growers Survey: How To Maintain, Increase Profits

As you can see by the bulleted responses below, there are many factors that go into maintaining and increasing profits and keeping food as safe as possible. The Top 100 Grower candidates also provided feedback on maintaining high yields and incorporating sustainability on the farm.

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To maintain or increase profits, Top 100 Grower candidates say they do the following:
• Diversify products
• Plan ahead
• Use contracts for gasoline/diesel
• Scrutinize expenses; cutting unnecessary spending
• Monitor costs and future price increases
• Target more locally grown
• Grow what customers want and applying inputs at the right time
• Cut unnecessary acreage
• Research prices of input costs and try to get the best price for your product
• Maintain the highest quality produce possible

The key factors related to the success of a farming operation include:
• Dedicated employees
• Constant supply year-round
• Frequent analysis of status
• Strong management team
• Family owned: owners aren’t just management, they are workers, as well.
• Maintain cost effectiveness
• Stress quality
• Learn from mistakes
• Concentrate on specialty crops and make the most of growing demand for some products

Food safety is addressed on the farm in the following ways:
• Having at least one employees dedicated to food safety procedures
• Following USDA guidelines
• Becoming GAP certified
• Using third-party audits
• HAACP (hazard analysis critical control point) certification
• Training employees from field to harvest
• Working with customers by opening the farm to customers so they can see how food safety is addressed
• Treating food safety as a day-to-day approach rather than a yearly audit
• Continuing to upgrade, enhance, and add new procedures to an existing food safety program

Sustainability is incorporated on the farm by:
• Rotating crops
• Using softer crop protectants
• Employing a staff entomologist
• Embracing IPM
• Targeting local markets

To maintain high yields, growers use the following techniques:
• Monitor water usage, soil, and seed types
• Hire personnel to improve production
• Add new technology, such as GPS guidance, new sprayers, planters to help improve performance
• Continually look at new and improved varieties and growing and crop management techniques
• Incorporate variable application of fertilizers to ensure even maturity and keep costs in check
• Research varieties to find the best ones for the area
• Treat fields individually instead of across the board
• Use a permanent underground drip systems
• Employ minimum tillage and using plastic mulch
• Incorporate best management practices in all phases of vegetable production