Alternative Crops From Mast-Producing Trees

Alternative Crops From Mast-Producing Trees

For many farmers and landowners, Return On Investment (ROI) is a major concern when converting crop or pasture land to trees. Although government incentive programs can encourage conservation measures such as hedgerows and riparian buffer zones, these measures must ultimately contribute to the financial health and productivity of the farm in order to be sustainable.

This is one reason mast-producing trees are so valuable a part of conservation and restoration efforts. As truly multipurpose plants, they offer benefits not only to wildlife and the environment but also to humans. Mast-producing trees offer many business opportunities for farmers and other landowners interested in diversifying their income with alternative crops.

The following is a sampling of some of the many crops produced by various mast-producing trees and shrubs that are suitable for commercial sale:

In addition to crops produced directly by mast-producing trees and shrubs, there are a number of crops and livestock that can be raised in association with trees and shrubs. For example:

Although cattle, sheep, and horses are not suited to a heavily wooded lot, they appreciate the shade and shelter of large trees and perform well in silvopasture agroforestry systems.

Value-added products and services related to mast-producing trees and shrubs include:

  • Apple cider
  • Baked goods
  • Canned fruits
  • Dried fruits
  • Game park or private hunting preserve
  • Handmade wood furniture or toys
  • Honey and beeswax products
  • Hunting guide
  • Jams and jellies
  • Maple syrup
  • Nature preserve
  • Sawmill
  • Trail rides
  • U-pick
  • Wine

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