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Old February 10, 2016   #1
BigVanVader
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Default Crop planning for market

We had our annual meeting for my main market last night and this year ALL growers are required to do a crop plan. I have never done one and it looks a lot more involved than I like to get. Do any of you know a program, preferably free, that I could use or any info to help me get started? I normally just kinda grow everything at once and decide what to plant in empty spots as the need arises. I think a plan would help me be more focused but I hate spreadsheet type work with a passion. Help
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Old February 10, 2016   #2
Starlight
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Not sure if you have seen this or if it is even what you are looking for. Thought it might help. You can always tailor to your needs.

http://rodaleinstitute.org/sample-sp...reek-farm-csa/
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Old February 10, 2016   #3
PureHarvest
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I highly recommend 'The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook' by Richard Wiswall.
It comes with a CD you can put into your computer. It has an easy to follow enterprise budget for each crop you might grow.
There is no getting around using some form of data management for planning. Usually this means a spreadsheet.
But, with the tool mentioned above, the sheet is already built, and you plug in your own history or projections.
I found it easy to use, considering that I had found all previous templates confusing or not based it reality.
The cool thing is that it forces you to come up with a base land unit for your scale, and assign values to each material or labor step.
For example, your base unit might be a 50' row. You then assign values to every step you do for that unit.
You can then evaluate what each crop costs you to grow and which crop makes you the most money because you are using the same base land unit.

Last edited by PureHarvest; February 10, 2016 at 08:30 AM.
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Old February 10, 2016   #4
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigVanVader View Post
We had our annual meeting for my main market last night and this year ALL growers are required to do a crop plan. I have never done one and it looks a lot more involved than I like to get. Do any of you know a program, preferably free, that I could use or any info to help me get started? I normally just kinda grow everything at once and decide what to plant in empty spots as the need arises. I think a plan would help me be more focused but I hate spreadsheet type work with a passion. Help
There always has to be a bureaucrat around to take the fun out of things.

My guess is they just want to know who is growing what how much and when.

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Old February 10, 2016   #5
Ricky Shaw
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Even the absolute worst review implies the software is worth the $30.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Organic-Fa.../dp/1603581421
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Old February 10, 2016   #6
PureHarvest
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There will always be a negative review, lol.

The estate planning and tax stuff is not what i found valuable.

His crop budget templates are/were gold to me.

It forces you to assign values to repetitive labor steps and cost of materials. You then plug yours into the cells and they calculate for you. It also forces you to really think about every step you take/make so you get the true cost of production.
You can the plug in different yields and sale prices to project what your think revenue will be. Then the calculations are automatic and you see your net.
In the end you can rate crops against each other in your system, and you might be shocked to see what is a money maker or loser.
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Old February 10, 2016   #7
PureHarvest
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Old February 10, 2016   #8
PureHarvest
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Big van, perhaps this is overkill for the purpose of your original query, but you should consider this for your own internal use.

For the market police, you could just list out a production schedule on a Word Doc.
Just break it down by crop:

Lettuce: 10' rows, sowing 5' each date
Sowing dates:
March 1, 10, 21, 30
April 1, 9, 15, 29
Projected harvest: April-May, 20 heads per week.
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Old February 10, 2016   #9
BigVanVader
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Thanks all, I found this. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...#gid=813085863 Seems pretty simple, thoughts?

Pureharvest I would like to have a program that keeps track of everything because lets face it, if I am going to make a run at this seriously I need to do it right. I just wish I had know sooner so I could have started planning for it.

Last edited by BigVanVader; February 10, 2016 at 09:52 AM.
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Old February 10, 2016   #10
joseph
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigVanVader View Post
I normally just kinda grow everything at once and decide what to plant in empty spots as the need arises.
That is what I would submit as my crop plan... With a note that it will be about the same as last year. And that it is impossible to predict how crops are going to grow...
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Old February 10, 2016   #11
BigVanVader
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joseph View Post
That is what I would submit as my crop plan... With a note that it will be about the same as last year. And that it is impossible to predict how crops are going to grow...
Lol Joseph I have no doubt that is what you would do
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Old February 10, 2016   #12
PureHarvest
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Well put Joseph!

BigVan, for your purposes, its never to late to start tracking and planning. You can't manage what you don't measure in my opinion.
Most successful business aren't winging it. I did for years, and looking back, it was the root cause of my failures. It wasn't lack of effort or knowledge. I put in 16+ hr days and studied and asked and read and visited.
I deluded myself by thinking I was planning by listing out the production costs to start the year, but then really never reconciled that to my results. Also, I left out a ton of things I blew off as inconsequential. Especially fixed costs and learning to depreciate things like equipment.
I'm sure there are those that will read this and think, DUH Dude, but I just never put it all together even thought i knew the resources were out there. Typically they were too generic, and my brain would turn off.
So I basically looked at what I spent versus what I brought in by the end of the year, and called that my balance sheet.
Doing an enterprise budget lets you actually see the whole picture and allows for accurate planning for the future.

For me, it took finding the right template to use in a way that was tailored to a small farm, to click in my brain.

Now I can spend hours plugging in different scenarios to plan different crops and enjoy the process.
Like if you have $500 bucks plugged in for compost soil amendment, and you find some for $200, when you plug that in, everything automatically recalculates and you see how it affects the bottom line. Now imagine doing that for everything it takes to produce your crop, and/or doing that for your yield and sales price. It's fun to look at what ifs, then follow up at the end of the year with what actually happened.

Last edited by PureHarvest; February 10, 2016 at 11:00 AM.
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Old February 10, 2016   #13
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I forgot about this farm too. Roxbury farm in NY.
Look under the 'Information for Farmer's tab. There is tons of good stuff there, the best veggie farm planning and info I have ever found in one place.
This will blow your mind with detail, in a good way.:

http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dyna...%20Version.pdf

Planting schedule: http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dyna...CSA%20Farm.pdf

Last edited by PureHarvest; February 10, 2016 at 11:11 AM.
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Old February 10, 2016   #14
PureHarvest
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Their Harvest guide will blow your mind with detail too:
(I have no affiliation with this farm. This was mind blowingly detailed for anyone seriously considering going beyond a hobby level and planning a farm as a business, as it should be done)

http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dyna...%20version.pdf

Example (this is a cut and paste by me, the presentation in the link is top notch visually and easier to follow):

Basil
Yield ⅓ lbs per foot at 6500 lbs to the acre
Value $2.50 per lbs at $16,250 per acre
Standards Harvesting: 4 bins per hour @ approximately 150 hrs per acre plus the time to
load and unload boxes out of field to packing area
Basil is not washed
Tools needed Scissors, knives, regular 1⅓ bushel boxes

Ready to Harvest Indicators and Quality
 Plants 10-15 inches tall, deep green, without holes due to eating damage by Japanese beetle or black
spots (downy mildew).
 Basil downy mildew is a new problem. Purple varieties are less susceptible.
 Harvest before frost.
 Do not harvest flowering stems.
Harvest and Cleaning Procedures
 Basil is harvested in standing up and bending over position.
 Basil is one of the last things we harvest in the morning. To avoid damage basil is harvested in the
same box it is distributed in.
 If desired, eave 3-4 inches behind for re-growth; plants can be cut the height of the box (up to 12").
 Place green box on end and stack stems so the leaves are facing you. When the box is full, the stems
will be standing up straight in the bin. Hold the stems with one hand & cut with the other.
 Before placing the basil in the box remove all yellow and dead leaves.
 Do not get wet. Do not harvest in the rain, since leaves will turn black in storage.
Cleaning in the field Pull off dead or yellow leaves. Avoid plants that are eaten by Japanese
beetle or with black spots (downey mildew) on the leaves.
Packing in the field Loosely fill regular (1⅓ bushel) green box, all leaves up, stems down
Packing for delivery Regular (1⅓ bushel) Green box
Storage
At 41° F, 95 -100% humidity but needs good air circulation, don’t pack in
closed containers for long-term storage. Do not put in cooler
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Old February 10, 2016   #15
Cole_Robbie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
There always has to be a bureaucrat around to take the fun out of things.

My guess is they just want to know who is growing what how much and when.

Worth
My question would be, what are they going to do with the information? It could easily be used to influence a member's decisions, if they come back to you with your own report and say, "well we like these things, but these other crops you want to grow are oversupplied at our market, so you shouldn't grow them." That could be just as illegal as fixing prices.
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