Greenhouses can be a great solution for growing your own healthy food, but this time we will see some of the top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse. The great advantage of greenhouses is that you can grow almost anything in them, and, having provided appropriate conditions, you can have yields throughout the whole year.
Let’s see first some interesting info on the most profitable crops in the world in general. Making the balance between the most planted and the crops with the most profit, cannabis, and rice are at the top considering gross production value, and cannabis and coca are at the top considering crop value per square kilometer. On the other hand, maize and wheat are the most planted crops. Apart from medical uses, the (mis)use of cannabis is known throughout the world being legalized or not, but cannabis is also being used as an industrial plant, which is more commonly called the “hemp”. They are both varieties of Cannabis genus of plants, where hemp contains very little THC dose compared to marijuana. Hemp fibers are among the most durable fibers generally, and the plant is used for many purposes: textile, paper, plastic etc. So, whether you decide to grow the most expensive crop for profit or not, the fact is that cannabis business is becoming among the most lucrative ones.
But let’s put cannabis discussion aside for now since there will be more about it later. And before we start talking about the most profitable specialty plants to grow, first thing is clarifying what specialty crops are. Specialty plants are considered to be “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture” as defined by law. And before we start discussing the most profitable specialty crops, we should reconsider some basic things about greenhouses. First, the size, and therefore investment cost of a greenhouse will dictate materials you will use. There are several options, whether you want to have large tunnels or small hoop houses. For any choice you make, the basic things you will need are metal, PVC or wooden construction and a cover made of plastic or glass. Smaller (and cheaper) choice that pays off quickly would be a hoop house.
Since several years ago United States Department of Agriculture has started developing software in order to help greenhouse owners with maintaining their greenhouse in best possible way, starting from heat savings, predicting crop growth, helping with scheduling and best greenhouse design for chosen crops. That is the Virtual Grower, and since 2011 it is being updated on a regular basis in order to improve greenhouse gardening and gather helpful information. All in all, Virtual Grower is a great tool every greenhouse owner should check out.
In considering the most profitable crops to grow in a greenhouse, you should not limit on traditional growing only. Hydroponic and aquaponic techniques of growing plants are other solutions, for which you will need some additional equipment and setting for your greenhouse. But with a bit more investment you will get much better results since it is much easier to provide the plant with nutrients it needs through water than through soil. Most of the plants have shown great results in terms of yield and health, and hydroponic systems and technologies are being upgraded constantly. And for some choices of specially hydroponic and aquaponic crops you can grow, check out our other articles like 12 Most Profitable Plants for Aquaponics, Small Gardens and Backyard Nurseries or 9 Most Profitable Plants to Grow Hydroponically.
Vegetables are perhaps the first thing that comes to one’s mind when thinking about a greenhouse. Since vegetables are always on the menu, it is relatively easy to find a market to offer your products, but it is questionable which the most profitable vegetables to grow and sell are. It all depends on the quality of growing conditions, amount of space, etc., but there is a decent list showing those relations that we have found on Harvest to Table. But you will probably not focus on vegetable production only when considering the most profitable plants to grow and sell. We’ve begun our research on most profitable specialty crops to grow in a greenhouse on starting guidelines from Greenhouse Management, where all news, tips and professional information on greenhouse gardening can be found. We have also taken some advice from NC State University, GGS Structures Inc., Bright Agrotech and Profitable Plants.
As mentioned above, greenhouse size is the matter of choice, of course, and it is usually dictated by choice of crops you would like to grow. But, since greenhouses might have very limited space for your crops, you will probably want to reconsider plants that require minimal space. So, if you are interested what agricultural crop is most is most profitable per acre, some of the suggestions on that matter have been reconsidered in the list of most profitable crops per acre on a small farm. So, for the issue of the most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse, proceed down to our list of top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse:
8. Heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes are one of the easy specialty crops that make profit fast. They can be harvested as soon as 60 days after planting, and since they are somewhat of an exotic produce, they keep a high price. They are also perfect plants to grow in a greenhouse or hoop house because they require constant conditions concerning temperature and heat in order to give the most of the yield.
As an ordinary green, spinach that’s up next on our list of top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse has shown to flourish when grown hydroponically. A research has shown that germination of hydroponic spinach is from 44%-25%, with germination period of around 10 days, and harvest time after around 40 days, with the yield of around 3.5 oz. With these calculations, it can be assumed that easily grown spinach is among the top most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse.
Even though almost anything can be grown in a greenhouse, it seems that arugula is a perfect plant for greenhouse conditions. Also, one variety of arugula – the rocket was modified to be grown particularly in greenhouses. Since arugula is a popular salad green, finding your place on a local market won’t be a problem. Also, growing arugula does not require much hard work, and it brings around $10/lb.
When considering growing herbs that rank 5th on our list of top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse, you should first start with the most basic ones, like basil, chives, cilantro, mint, dill, and/or parsley. That is simply because every store needs a supply of those essentials. Apart from having good opportunities on market, growing herbs is easy, and especially in a greenhouse, where there are ideal conditions throughout the year.
As the name suggests, microgreens that rank 4th on our list of top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse are those plants that are harvested as immature within around a month after germination. The good thing about growing microgreens in a greenhouse is that you need very little space for the huge amount of plants. And, since not much time is needed from planting to the harvest, you can have new rounds of your microgreens on a monthly basis, which can bring up to 12 harvests per year. The only tricky thing about starting microgreens is finding a market, but since every grocery store and local restaurant needs a regular supply, you should try to make your microgreens the first choice for them.
3. Medical marijuana
As we have seen, cannabis is one of the most profitable crops, and therefore one of the top most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse. Growing marijuana for medical purposes has shown to be a lucrative business. That’s why this crop is among the top three on the list of top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse. There are a lot of companies focusing on producing supply and equipment exclusively for medical marijuana greenhouses, like FarmTek or GGS Structures Inc.
Up next on our list of top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse is Saffron that is a plant that has been long among people throughout the history of civilization. Ancient Greeks used this plant to make perfumes, old Chinese as a medical plant, and it still has a variety of uses up to the present times. Today it is mostly used as a culinary spice and as coloring for clothes. Apart from the great specter of uses, saffron still remains an expensive ingredient. Great idea for growing large amounts of saffron in the greenhouse is growing it hydroponically. But, although the saffron price can get as high as $1500 (and for rare varieties up to $10,000) about 75,000 blossoms are needed for that amount.
As becoming more and more popular, ginseng is also at the top 8 most profitable specialty plants to grow in a greenhouse on our list as well. Ginseng is a plant that has been used in ancient Asian medicine for centuries, and even though not enough serious research was done on ginseng’s effect on human health, this plant has a very high price. By growing ginseng, you can make the profit from literally the whole plant, rootlets, seeds or mature roots. All of those bring high profit (rootlets from $2, seeds from $150 per pound, and mature roots form $300 to $600 per pound).