Alternative Crops for Hastings

By Ernie Neff

Farmers in the Hastings area of St. Johns County have traditionally grown potatoes and cabbage. But Bonnie Wells, commercial agriculture Extension agent for the county, says, “Potato growers have been looking for other things to grow to diversify their farms.” She reports on some of the alternative crops that are being tried in the area or that will likely be tried soon.

“We have a purple sweet potato” grown commercially on 25 acres, she reports. “We do grow cabbage well here, but we can grow other things such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts … Artichokes have done really well this past year.”

Sweet corn is another alternative crop being looked at in the Hastings area. “We did pretty good (with sweet corn),” Wells says. “We’re still trying to figure out the nutrient management plan for that.”

The area is experimenting with trials of citrus and datil peppers, Wells reports. “We’re going to look at beets and carrots for the first time this year … We’re always looking for new things.”

According to Wells, there has not been a lot of pest and disease pressure with the new crops being tried in Hastings. “All of these things are new to our area. We don’t have those pests yet, or they’re not actually a problem for where we are,” she says.

Hear Wells’ full interview:

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