Answered by: Rick Miller
Question from: Rhonda
Posted on: February 04, 2010

What is the market potential for growing sunflowers? We have 6 acres in South Mississippi. We want to grow vegetables and herbs for the market. What do you recommend?

Sunflower seed is a Cargil big corporation crop, not suitable for smaller acreages (like 6 acres). As a wildflower seed for birds, that market is now overwhelmed with overproduction, and prices being sold for under production costs.

Since you already are marketing herbs and vegetables for market, why not enhance your current production offerings with another cottage industry, one where you combine some of your crops into a manufactured item. I would suggest a wildflower salad group, ones not using lettuce, but more exotic items, like fruit and berries. And, herbs and roots, of course.

There are a set of fields in San Diego (600 acres) growing COG vegetables for FedEx shipping to all the gourmet trades. But, no one is yet growing other concepts around basic salad ingredients. New York City has found Basil to be very profitable during the winter months, growing fresh Basil for the Italian seasonings markets. Pesto and many other dish preparations require fresh Basil off-season.

Or, go in a different direction, and try an herbal coffee substitute. Six acres is a perfect farm study, growing Dandelion root, Chicory root, Licorice mint leaf, and Stevia leaf. Roast both roots like coffee, add the two mints, and flavor it with a Vanilla Bean, and you may have something that would boost your vegetable sales. Plus, the Dandelion leaf could be used as a by-product salad ingredient.

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