The Next Big Thing in Ag? Small Crops

On January 12, 2018

Specialty Crops

Corn, wheat, sorghum — these crops are Kansas staples. But the next big thing in farming just might be something small — small crops, that is.

Popular specialty crops like tomatoes, berries and carrots are on the rise in Kansas, according to a recent report by the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Part of the growth in smaller specialty crops is due to more consumers wanting locally grown food. (Way to go, consumers!)

Although the Department of Agriculture says more in-depth data is needed, the results from their recent survey are pretty interesting.

Top Crops

The top specialty crops over a three-year period were:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Beans and salad mix / lettuce (tied)

Small Scale Today…

The percentage of farms growing specialty crops only devoted limited acreage to them. (How big is an acre? About ¾ the size of a football field.) Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1-2 acres: 63 percent
  • 4-6 acres: 14 percent
  • 7-10 acres and 11-15 acres: Nearly 5 percent each (tied)

…But Growing Tomorrow!

  • Specialty crops are grown in more than half the counties of Kansas
  • 42 percent of growers who took the survey plan to expand their operations
  • 78 percent of the specialty crop operations reported starting after 2001

They may be small potatoes now, but one thing is clear: specialty crops are a growing industry.

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