2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Turning A Profit With Baby Ginger
“Many growers in our area have an interest in high-value specialty crops that can be produced on small acreage with reduced inputs,” says Errickson. “Ginger fits this description, and it also has several health benefits.”
Growing ginger in a temperate climate has some challenges. Says Errickson, “Timing is crucial for a successful ginger crop. It grows as a perennial in more tropical climates, but in our regions, we can only produce it as an annual. This means that we need to start it early on heat mats in the greenhouse and give it as long of an extended growing season as possible.”
But even so, ginger can be a prolific and profitable producer. At one test site, Errickson’s team harvested more than 430 pounds of ginger grown from 30 pounds of seed. Minus the $300 initial investment in seed, the crop’s retail value came to over $7,000.
Like potatoes, ginger requires hilling two or three times during the growing season. This allows you to pull weeds and top dress the soil. “Ginger is a hungry crop, so fertile soils rich in organic matter will produce the best yields,” says Errickson. “A light layer of straw mulch also helps to control weeds while moderating soil moisture and temperature fluctuations.”
Due to the shorter growing season, Errickson recommends farmers harvest ginger at an immature stage and sell it within two weeks. “Baby ginger doesn’t develop the thick skin that allows fully matured ginger to have a prolonged shelf life,” he explains. “However, this also means that you do not have to peel baby ginger before using it, which is a trait many customers find desirable.” Farmers can make the short shelf-life work to their advantage by staggering their harvests every few weeks and only digging up what they expect to sell at a time.
As with any new crop, Errickson advises that farmers start small and expand their operation slowly. Not only will this help you learn the specifics of growing the crop with less chance of losing a large harvest, but it gives you the chance to develop a market for baby ginger over time. He also emphasizes the importance of starting with disease-free seeds or rhizomes and practicing crop rotation to prevent soil-borne pathogens from affecting the crop.
It’s technically possible to save ginger rhizomes from year to year, but the risk of inadvertently spreading disease into your soil is high enough that Errickson recommends against it.
His final advice for a successful ginger crop? Reach out to agriculture experts near you.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, William Errickson, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station,
4000 Kozloski Rd., Freehold, NJ 07728 (ph 732-431-7260; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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