The Most Difficult Crops to Grow and Why

Some crops are low-maintenance. Other crops require so much upkeep, planning, and patience that they become the divas of your land. These five crops are some of the most challenging to grow, but the rewards might be worth the work.

Cauliflower

To grow thriving cauliflower crops, you need to pay special attention to when you plant. Although cauliflower is a cool-weather crop, it does poorly in weather that is too hot or too cold, so you have to plant the seeds before the first fall frost, but not before the weather has dropped below seventy-five degrees. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for cabbage worms, small bugs that are attracted to cauliflowers and will gobble up your plants.

Cauliflower is also very picky about the soil it grows in, so be sure to plant the crop in soil with a PH between 6.5 and 6.8. If your soil is within this PH range and has access to plenty of sunlight, however, this crop could bloom on your land. Cauliflower does best in sunny places with cool temperatures, such as Northern California.

Keeping the head of the cauliflower nice and white requires a lot of upkeep. Exposure to the sun can ruin the color and flavor. You’ll need to keep the head shielded from sunlight to protect it from sun damage. One popular way to do this is to bend the stalks in a way that allows the outer leaves to cover the head.

Celery

Celery has an extremely long maturing period (anywhere from 120-180 days), so farmers looking for a crop that regenerates quickly should look elsewhere.

To get that signature crunch, celery requires a lot of moisture. It needs consistent watering and even minor changes to its watering schedule can result in wilted, tough stalks that no one will want to eat. It is also important to make sure it is planted in a soil type that holds water well. Celery does not handle dry spells or hot weather well, so only plant this crop if you live in a cooler region.

Melons

Melons require lots of room to flourish. The vines can take up tons of usable land, limiting what else you can grow on your property. The sheer amount of space melons take up causes many farmers to shy away from growing them.

Besides hogging up all the land, there are many things that can go wrong when growing melons. A common complaint from growers is that melon vines will produce lots of flowers, but only a few full-grown melons. This can be the result of too much rain or not enough pollinators. A swing in temperature can result in bitter fruit. Uneven watering during the early growing stages can result in misshapen fruits that won’t sell.

Melons do best in hot, dry climates with sandy soil types, so a property in the Southwest could be perfect to grow melons.

Wasabi

This Japanese horseradish is notorious for being hard to grow. It grows naturally in rocky riverbeds and attempts to replicate wasabi’s natural habitat haven’t found much success.

There are dozens of reasons why farmers consider wasabi the most difficult crop to grow of all time. The wrong nutrient composition or too much humidity will kill wasabi. It is extremely susceptible to diseases and bugs when grown in large scales. Wasabi also has an extremely slow growth cycle, taking between one to two years to reach full maturity.

If you live in the right parts of the Pacific Northwest and have a property with a lot of wet, wooded areas that have well-draining soil and moisture in the air, wasabi might be the right crop for you to cash-in on.

However, if you look beyond these drawbacks, you might have a serious moneymaker on your hands. Wasabi goes for around $160 per kilogram at wholesale.

Head Lettuce

If you want an attractive head of lettuce, uniform watering is key. Uneven watering can result in misshapen heads that won’t sell at the market.

Head lettuce is also extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. A change in temperature can result in bolting, the premature flowering of the plant that makes it taste awful. Planting head lettuce in the shade of taller plants can help reduce the risk of bolting during the summer. Arizona is one of the top states to grow lettuce thanks to its mild winters and soil type.

These five crops are some of the most difficult crops out there to grow. However, if you think you can tackle the challenges that come along with these difficult crops, you may have found the perfect niche crop.

To stay up to date with everything agriculture, land, and real estate, be sure to follow the REALTORS® Land Institute on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you are thinking about purchasing land to grow one of these high-maintenance crops, be sure to use our Find A Land Consultant search tool to find a qualified agent in your area with the expertise needed to provide you proper guidance on your land purchase.

About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.

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