Herb Crop Suggestions for Eastern Washington
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Cathy
Posted on: February 13, 2006

My husband and I live in eastern Washington (just outside of Spokane). We have about 20 acres of land. The ground is sandy and the conditions are arid. We are trying to think of a crop that would be easy to grow and boost our modest income. Do you have any suggestions?

I grew up in Seattle and Okanagans, and did my undergraduate work at Pullman. I found Baby’s Breath to grow native in your region, and it yields upward of $4,000/acre as a wildcrafted (no machinery needed) crop. "Outside of Spokane" offers several different environments to the West and South. Which one are you?

Selecting crops for specific regions of Washington State must take into account a number of variables. This would include soil types, available capital equipment, and future market needs. It would not make sense to cultivate a seed like Coriander if you did not have a combine available. Further, you also must be sure that there will be a growing market for this crop when it does come into production.

Custom farming is where you may not necessary own the needed capital equipment but it is available in the community. Many farmers like to use their equipment on other crops than their own, generating further incomes on the use of their equipment. Often many of their crops require specialized equipment for harvesting, drying, and processing.

Often, farming means something quite different to different regions. California farmer generally hold less that 40 acres on specific crops, while in Iowa a farm might have 2,000 acres under cultivation with a single crop. Cottage Industries are where the crop is used to make something else prior to leaving the farm. All of these aspects must be defined as part of the crop selection process.

I recommend you first read my book "The Potential Of Herbs As A Cash Crop" (available from Richters). This gives an overview of the various aspects of growing and marketing herbs. Then read my book "Getting Started," available at www.herbfarminfo.com. This helps you begin crop selections and marketing directions.

If you want help developing your business plan, I am also available as an outside consultant. I also have a number of useful articles and references for further study on your own at

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/altagri/a_a_index.html

Beyond that, this is your business, and I am sure you have ideas of your own. How else can I help you?

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