CORN FARMERS FINDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN PRODUCE.

nina | February 6th, 2014 - 9:00 am

apple farmThe Seeds of a New Generation

Farmers that live in the heart of the Corn Belt (Southern Illinois area), where most of the corn has nothing to do with sweet kernels on the cob. These farms typically grow field corn, the high-starch variety that is turned into ethanol and cattle feed. 

Some farmers broke away from the culture of corn last fall by planting something people can sink their teeth into. Apple trees!  This year one farmer plans to add more apple trees, blackberry bushes and possibly some vegetables.

These farmers area part of a small but eager cadre of corn farmers who are starting to switch sides, as it were, lured by a little-appreciated fact of farm economics: There is vastly more money to be made in growing other vegetables and fruits. While an acre of corn is projected to net average farmers $284 this year after expenses, and just $34 if they rent the land, as is common, an apple orchard on that same acre will make $2,000 or more, according to crop analysts. A sophisticated vegetable operation using the popular plastic covers called high tunnels, which increase yields and extend the growing season, can push that figure as high as $100,000

Source:  nytimes.com, 2-4-2014

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