Specialty crops research is an essential part of the UC Small Farm Program. Small-scale farmers can often find a profitable niche by differentiating their products from more widely available commodities by unique quality, taste, appearance, or harvest time.
Small Farm Program advisors conduct ongoing field research on specialty crops, including crops new to California production. Some specialty crop research is conducted at the request of small-scale farmers who raise questions about new methods of producing certain crops. Advisors also regularly participate in variety tests aimed at helping small-scale farmers decide which new varieties might flourish under local growing conditions.
Below are some resources for information pertaining to specialty crops.
Specialty crop production information, in general
Choosing a new crop
Production information, by crop
- Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook
An array of specialty crops are introduced in this 192-page, full-color handbook, with market and culture information. Compiled with the expertise of more than 30 experts, the handbook was published in 1998, and also includes a glossary of Asian vegetable names. Sample pages and ordering information are included in the link above.
- UC Vegetable Research and Information Center
Vegetable information from throughout the University of California system, organized by crop.
- UC Fruit and Nut Research Information Center
This database compiles information about more than 45 fruit and nut crops, with specific publications, links and resources from throughout the University of California.
- Backyard Orchard
Additional information about starting and maintaining a small-scale orchard, from University of California researchers. Also includes information about specific fruit and nut varieties.
- Archived specialty crops articles
A collection of articles that were produced by the Small Farm Center and by USDA. The articles are listed by crop and are all online for easy viewing.
- Agricultural Alternatives Free Publications, Penn State Cooperative Extension
An archive of brochures on an array of agricultural production options. Each brochure includes information such as planning, marketing, production and resources for a crop or product.
Production costs, by crop
- Cost & Return Studies, UC Davis Department of Agricultural Resources and Economics
Economic studies of various crops throughout California, including costs to establish, costs to produce, and overhead costs.
- Cost studies
A collection of 14 recent cost of production studies for specialty crops, co-written by Small Farm Program farm advisors. List includes various Asian vegetable varieties.