To Ask About Alternative Crops
to try a new alternative crop or crops takes a considerable
time investment. Following are a series of questions that you
should research for each crop, prior to growing it. For your
convenience, the list is divided roughly into production and
economic issues, both of which are equally important.
there consistent markets for the crops?
there a profit to be made?
there a local market or marketer?
the crop a cash crop (wheat) or a rotational crop (canola)?
is the future value of money-rotational cash flows?
you develop future rotations that allow a consistent market
organizes the shipment if there are several loads from several
is the cost of production-fertilizer requirements, equipment
is the risk of alternative crops vs. the stability of wheat?
Can we compare growing alternative crops alone (including
risk) with growing wheat continuously?
we put a dollar value on rotational benefits (weighing rotational
benefits with returns)?
are the equipment needs? Will you have to purchase new equipment-pre
and post harvest?
it a commodity-based crop or a specialty crop?
contracts available and at what volume?
are the consumer perceptions of the product?
there buyer hang-ups e.g. are they willing to buy from a
new market area?
are the impacts of middle marketing e.g. livestock food
do you grow the crops?
do you protect the crops?
you need new equipment for the crops (pre- and post-harvest)?
the crop a real or perceived benefit? Rotational crops are
a perceived benefit that can backfire because they really
there standardized rotational models that apply to this
you find a smorgasbord of crops rather than a single "silver
is the rotational impact on subsequent crops?
is the carryover nutritional value and scavenging capabilities
of each rotation?
is the residue, nitrate, microbe, water usage, and disease
impact of rotations?
are there biological effects of rotation and timing e.g.
anyone explored multiple uses for the crop - e.g. forage
and grain, value-added products?
there quality requirements-dockage, grain damage, oil content?
Specifications get tight when stocks are high but are relaxed
wen supplies are short.
(Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas) clearinghouse
funded by USDA national sustainable Ag information service
800-346-9140 url: http://www.attra.org/
CSANR, Chris Feise, 509-335-2885 url: http://csanr.wsu.edu
Ag Coordination/Action Team, University of Idaho, Cinda
Williams, 208-885-7499 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rural Council, Frank James, PO Box 236, Boise ID 83701,
Clearwater Environmental Institute, PO Box 8596, Moscow
83843-1096, 208-882-1444, url: http://www.pcei.org
Ag Network (SAN) at the National Ag Library, 301-504-6425
Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) National Ag Library
301-504-5724 url: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/
State University IMPACT Center url: http://impact.wsu.edu/
you are growing a food crop and don't know anything about marketing
it, you can go to the grocery store and write down all the products
that have that crop as an ingredient and then phone them all
those companies. You can also go to the library. People get
stingy with information because they did the legwork looking
for information when they got started and think others should
invest time too. In addition, growers are more secretive on
alternative crops because it will impact the market by saturating
it and lowering prices. Trade secrets can make or break a farmer
and determine the success or failure of the crop.
Hennings, Linda and Ron Mielke, Tracy Eriksen, Jerry Snyder,
Keith Schafer, Bill Heinemann, Paul Scheller (Producers); Chad
Shelton (Western Farm Service); Desmond O'Rourke (WSU IMPACT
Center); Karen Cummings, Tom Lumpkin( WSU); Ed Adams, Lynn Alderson,
Jon Newkirk, Diana Roberts, Bill Schillinger, and Linda Loos
(WSU Ag Horizons Team) provided concepts that are summarized
in this report. Information is from a workshop held in Ritzville,
WA, on January 16,1998.
Sustainability. Highlights from a seminar series conducted by
Washington State University's Ag Horizons Team and funded by
USDA Western Region SARE.
222 N. Havana
Spokane, WA 99202-4799
Phone: (509) 477-2048
FAX: (509) 477-2087