Good question! It’s not easy, but you probably already know that. We’ve listed some of the best enterprise budgets we (or other people) have collected online, along with advice on estimating costs and revenue, within the Choosing an Enterprise tutorial. The final step of deciding what to grow is to ask the question, but Does it Make Financial Sense? Here you’ll find lots of suggestions and links to help you, but there are just no easy answers here. You will need to do a lot of research and leg work to get accurate ideas of the profit potential–for your farm and your markets–of what you want to grow.

Remember that the first year is the hardest, because you have to create all the numbers from scratch, but after that you’ll always have real numbers to work from, and to improve upon, so that by year 4 or 5 you will have a clear idea of your farm’s profitability. Keep in mind too that it’s a good idea to manage your expectations: most farms take 5-7 years to achieve profit. Be sure to plan for other income sources to keep you going through start-up.

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