How Profitable Are Minnesota's Specialty Crops?

Updated: 10/25/2013 6:46 PM By: Josh Rosenthal

Alec Pelavskyi, who works for Untiedt's Vegetable Farm in Waverly, is at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market six days a week. Deciding what to plant every year can be challenge.

"Different years are different," he said, "and you never know what customers will like."

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture hopes to change the decision making process by adding some hard financial data to the mix. They just released a report that analyzes the profitability of specialty crops in Minnesota. As Center for Farm Financial Management Agricultural Economist Dale Nordquist explained, it's meant to answer questions like, "what's profitable? What isn't? What are the costs that I'm going to incur if I'm trying to budget for a crop?"

The findings come from data supplied by Minnesota farmers. They show that strawberries and assorted vegetables were especially profitable the past few years. Other crops like apples and blueberries weren't.

"There's quite a bit of interest in locally grown foods right now around the populated area," Nordquist said. "So for people who have that interest, this is important information."

But keep in mind, specialty crops might be the main source of income for some farms, but for most, they're supplemental income. Traditional row crops, like corn, are where the real money comes from.

It means people like Pelavskyi will take a look at the new report, but they won't bet the farm on it. We asked him what he thought his top selling crop in 2014 would be. His answer: "I don't know honestly. You can't, you can't tell."

The full Minnesota Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Report can be viewed here.