Take risk or play it safe?

Almost Eden

Golden Chicken
Messages
135
During the last growing season, I definitely played it safe by growing what I knew would flourish and sell. I was mainly concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and just keeping the business afloat at that time. I know we're not out of the woods yet with the virus, so I'm not sure whether to play it safe again or to take a risk and grow something that is more valuable, but unpredictable. What have you decided to do?
 

MartyR

Farm Hand
Messages
20
I guess you could say that I play it safe every year. I grow what I know will thrive on my land when given half a chance. I see no reason to change that.
 

jack

Farm Hand
Messages
92
As farmers, we are always playing it safe year in, year out. We may not notice it, but every farmer targets a crop with potentially high returns. You can go with what you anticipate will be in short supply soon.
 

BarkerB

Farm Hand
Messages
53
Play it safe for sure. The farming industry is too touch-and-go for me to reach out to try new things. I guess if I was making a lot of profit I would be more willing to try new things.
 

greg

Farm Hand
Messages
98
As a farmer, you can only hope that a crop you plant will flourish and that there will be a ready market. You can never be sure that everything will go as planned. Take the risk and hope for the best!
 

jjp8182

Farm Hand
Messages
84
Why would this be an "either/or" situation and not some level of mix?

May just be me, but a small trial/test plot/row(s) of the potentially high value/less-predictable crop with a healthy quantity of the more stable/known crop(s) would seem an option. Could even just be enough that even a partial harvest of the high value crop covers what would have been made in the same space on the lower value crop.....

Even as someone who's not commercially growing (yet) I can't see a case for wholly changing over given different products attract different customers and a customer-base generally doesn't change/grow overnight (even if market demands can/do --- as has been seen with the current pandemic).

...again just me and my way of thinking.....and I'm assuming this annual crops not something like fruit/nut trees where a change over takes years.
 

Almost Eden

Golden Chicken
Messages
135
Why would this be an "either/or" situation and not some level of mix?
Fear. Well, for me at least. Prior to the pandemic, I took risks by growing exotic vegetables and flowers that I had no experience with so they might not thrive or they might be too weird for my customers. I thought those plants would add to my market reach and I thought I could make them grow, but it wasn't a sure thing. Those risks were balanced by what I knew would thrive and what I knew my customers would pay for. The pandemic made me more cautious because I don't want to lose my greenhouses or my business. The pandemic feels like risk enough. It's hard to put into words, but it boils down to fear. Some demographics have been hit harder than others economically. My area seems okay, but no one knows how long that will continue.
 

OhSusanna

Golden Chicken
Messages
119
Even as someone who's not commercially growing (yet) I can't see a case for wholly changing over given different products attract different customers and a customer-base generally doesn't change/grow overnight (even if market demands can/do --- as has been seen with the current pandemic).
It sure felt like that's what happened to my U-pick berry operation. I also host weddings and that seemed to go up in smoke overnight as well. I imagine that's how many farmers feel after they've experienced a natural disaster too. Farmers are made of tough stuff though. We'll fight to bounce back and make it work.

So, you don't have a farm stand or a stall at the farmers market? If not, then I'm assuming you just grow what your family likes because that's what I would probably do.
 

jjp8182

Farm Hand
Messages
84
It sure felt like that's what happened to my U-pick berry operation. I also host weddings and that seemed to go up in smoke overnight as well. I imagine that's how many farmers feel after they've experienced a natural disaster too. Farmers are made of tough stuff though. We'll fight to bounce back and make it work.

So, you don't have a farm stand or a stall at the farmers market? If not, then I'm assuming you just grow what your family likes because that's what I would probably do.

I think we have some differences in terms there: customer-base was intended to mean the current (loyal?) customers who know about and shop a particular location (potentially looking for specific items). That knowledge of location/product isn't something that typically changes quickly. Where the market demand was meant to include both the current customer-base along with every one else and they (collectively) are carrying out the act of looking for and buying a specific product -- and that can completely evaporate overnight for any number of reasons (pandemic, recalls, popular trends/fads, etc.).

As for me I'm currently working to figure out what grows well in my current area - and what could (I'm not a native to the area, and am learning the very different climate/soil) prior to starting any sort of commercial operation open to the general public. Particularly since the general public (from what I've seen) isn't generally supportive of producer learning processes or changes in product availability (whether temporary or permanent). The exception to that might be if as a producer/seller you're known for having the occasional exotic/different product (in addition to basic staples) that can't be found elsewhere. In that case ceasing to carry those different products could have a negative outcome.

Though whatever the business I figure if you're selling directly to the public having repeat customers walk away empty handed or not finding what they were looking for on their visit isn't a good trend to have or create. I have worked enough different types of jobs (& been part of trying to explain why something was the way it was) to have learned that lesson.

Figuring out how to get them aware, and to a location to buy product can be challenging enough in normal times ..so when they are scared of even going out due to a pandemic?...... That's not exactly a time I'd want to consider making drastic changing the core nature/uniqueness of the already known business (unless absolutely forced to do so as it could almost be like starting over). If anything, it'd very likely be the time I'd want (or want to create) a repeat-customer contact list in order to be able to communicate directly to them (preferably en-masse & while not sharing their contact info) to advise of what mitigations have been put in place and advise when products (especially unique ones) have become available for sale -- much like many major corporations try to do with their loyalty programs and emailing lists.

....again just me and the only business/plans I understand the details of are my own so feel free to disregard or use/adapt as desired. Differences in situations drive difference in solutions.
 
 
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