When planning what crops to grow in your greenhouse or high tunnel, considering profitability can help you maximize the value from your investment. Here are five profitable plants that can offer the best bang for your buck.
Tomatoes can fetch a great price at market. Running some simple “back of the envelope” calculations, let’s say you have a 30’ x 96’ Nor’easter High Tunnel. If you plant six rows of tomatoes and space the plants two feet apart, that would be roughly 275 plants (leaving some room for walkways at the ends). Each plant should yield 25 pounds of tomatoes, if not more. That is a whopping total of 6,875 pounds of tomatoes – and if you sell them for $3 per pound, that nets $20,625! This can pay for your greenhouse investment in just one year.
There are many variables that can make your tomato crop even more profitable. For instance, if you sell at a farmer’s market in or near a large city, you may be able to sell your tomatoes for $5-6 per pound. Or you could fit more plants in the greenhouse – and most growers do. Rather than growing the classic “round and red,” you can also grow specialty tomatoes such as large heirlooms or some of the fancier cherry tomatoes. This will allow you to sell the plants for a higher price, although you will likely have less yield. The tomato season also gives you some extra time at the end of the year to grow other crops, maximizing your profitability.
This fast-paced crop will “leaf” the competition in the dust! Leafy greens can be very easy to grow and very profitable if done well. There is a wide variety of greens available to grow, such as arugula, mache, cress, sorrel, and Asian greens, and most seed companies also offer pre-mixed salad greens selections, which can be a strong seller. Pick up a reputable seed catalog like Johnny’s Selected Seeds and you will see the hundreds of shapes, sizes, and textures available.
Some greens can be as quick as 30 days from seed to harvest. Many growers are getting three cuts on their greens before they must replant, which saves time and labor. There are also a variety of ways to sell greens, ranging from wholesaling your greens to selling them at a premium at a farmer’s market – and for some specialty greens, you may be able to charge upwards of $25 per pound.
3. Winter Greens
What is your greenhouse or high tunnel doing in the winter? There is a growing market for winter green crops. The difference from regular greens is that winter greens are “cold hardy” and can withstand winter temperatures. Depending on what part of the country you are in, this could include spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, chicories, and some lettuces. Here in New Hampshire, we grow winter spinach every year with no heat!
Winter greens will fetch a higher price at market than greens grown during the summer months. For example, in a 30’ x 48’ Nor’Easter high tunnel, you should be able to grow somewhere around 500 pounds of greens through the winter. If you are selling them for $10 per pound, that is $5,000 over a season that is usually dormant – and you can likely sell for an even higher price.
The Cannabis market can be very challenging, given that the industry is highly regulated and not all states have legalized Cannabis growing. It is critical that you do your research to ensure you are complying with state regulations before beginning to grow. One the legal and regulatory issues have been addressed, Cannabis can be a highly profitable crop, bringing in thousands of dollars per pound. Growing the plant is relatively easy, but picking the right variety/strain and getting it to harvest and processing takes time and skill. From what some of our customers tell us, in a 30’ x 96’ Highpoint greenhouse, you can yield three harvests of 60 pounds of sun grown craft cannabis per year. This means you could end up making about $360,000 per year from just one greenhouse!
5. Cut Flowers
There is a bunch to talk about with cut flowers! There are so many choices to fit your needs and market. You could start with something simple, such as succession planting of sunflowers – an easy grow and a moneymaker. You could force bulbs during the cold season, like tulips and narcissus. Cut flowers tend to fall into two categories: low value and high value. Low value flowers might be zinnias, gomphrena, and centaurea, while the high value flowers that bring a higher price include those like delphinium, stock, and ranunculus.
Cut flowers can be sold at farmer’s markets or farmstands, wholesaled to florists, or even sold online or through social media. There are many creative ways to make money selling cut flowers! One of our customers, Nicole from Flower Hill Farm in New York, offers some great insights on growing and profiting from cut flowers on YouTube.
Farming is certainly not all about making money, but it’s sure is nice to do once in a while. Whether you’re looking to start a new business, add to your current offerings, or just generate some additional cash-flow, these five options can bring big returns for savvy growers. Looking for the perfect greenhouse to start this process early and grow deeper into the season? Rimol has the setup for growers of all experience levels and needs. Click here to check out the many, customizable options.