Starting your own farming business is no small feat. Between the steep upfront costs and the fickle ups and downs of the agricultural market, there are a lot of challenges for farmers to navigate. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to avoid the top mistakes new Oregon farm owners make. Build a solid foundation for your business and set yourself up for success with these crucial tips.
Starting Without a Vision
Before you start looking at land, you need to decide what kind of crops you want to grow on your farm. As one of the top agricultural states in the nation, Oregon is home to a diverse variety of crops, including sweet corn, green peas, peppermint, hazelnuts, and pears. Maybe you want to run a berry farm where you grow blackberries, boysenberries, or blueberries. Alternatively, you could become a part of Oregon’s rich wine country by growing wine grapes.
No matter what you choose, make sure you start with a vision of what you want to grow. This will help you create a business plan and make effective decisions early on to support your specific land use.
Ignoring Soil Type
Once you know what you want to grow on your farm, you need to make sure your land is suitable for that crop. Knowing your soil type will help you invest in the right land, soil treatments, and infrastructure to support your crop production. You can send a composite sample of your soil to a lab for nutrient analysis. This will determine your soil type as well as any limitations it might present. From there, you can decide whether a specific plot of land has the soil quality and nutrients you need to grow your crops.
Soil type also helps you make decisions about crop quantity and quality. Would you rather have a smaller plot of land with a high-quality soil type that produces superior crops in smaller numbers? Or is it better to create a greater yield of average-quality crops? Exploring these options is an important part of determining what kind of business you want to run, how you will manage operations, and what role your farm will fulfill in the market.
Not Matching Crops to Climate
One of the biggest mistakes new Oregon farmers can make is assuming that all Oregon farms face the same climate patterns. The truth is that Oregon has two main climates that create very different conditions for crops. Understanding the intricacies of each region—including the kinds of tools and systems you’ll need to make your crops grow in your location—will make it easier to choose a successful crop and help it thrive.
The west side of the state—including the prosperous Willamette Valley—has a mild maritime climate that helps crops flourish. However, the summers are dry enough that farms need irrigation systems to grow high-value crops. Central Oregon and the eastern side of the state have an arid climate that fluctuates between more extreme high and low temperatures. Farms in this region tend to focus on hardy, dryland crops.
Farm Plus Financial is here to help new farmers find their footing. Learn about how our Oregon farm loans can help you build a solid foundation for your business when you visit us online today.