Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 17:21 EDT

Cash Crop

Cash crop is a term used to reference a profitable crop for farmers. Plants like cotton and tobacco are a few cash crops farmer tend to deal with. These crops do not stay with the farmer for their livestock feed or used in the home, rather, in many cases they are exported; thus creating revenue for the farmer.

The price of cash crops is largely based on supply and demand in more developed countries, where the supply is actually coming from lesser developed areas. When a bumper crop, that is a crop that yields better production for supply and demand, comes along, crops like coffee fluctuate in price. For some countries the price of imported goods does not offset the cost of exported goods. This is due to the low tariffs on industrial goods within the international trade system.

Cash cropping became popular after World War II as well as with the influx of the baby boomers. Cash cropping is a precise and time-tested method for raising affordable food in large quantities.

All cash crops grown are based on the climate in which the crop is grown. For instance, crops of Rhodiola rosea, a plant used for depression, anxiety, and reduced fatigue, are grown in the Asian Arctic. Temperate climates allow for fruit trees, cereals, and some vegetables, such as potatoes. Tropical and subtropical climates provide a much broader spectrum of cash crops such as soybean and rice, in the subtropics, and sugar cane, bananas, and cocoa, from the tropic climates.

Countries like Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam produce only a few crops for export. The climate of the United States, however, provides for 35 different cash crops. In the Northeast blueberries and strawberries are grown, while Florida offers oranges and grapefruits. Apples are exported and distributed from Washington, with grapes, avocados, and apricots coming from the Southwest. The midlands of the United States provide a large amount of cash crops ranging from beans in North Dakota and Michigan, to corn and tobacco in the southern states. Sugarcane, kiwifruit, and bananas are largely provided by the climates of Hawaii.

Coconut is one of the only cash crops that is used as part of the global cash crop. Over 80 countries possess the climate to be able to grow coconut, which is used for its oil for cooking and some cosmetics.

Along with the mainstream cash crops comes the black market cash crop such as coca, opium poppies, and cannabis. Cannabis is said to be the most valuable cash crop in the United States topping out at $35.8 billion in 2006; more than corn and wheat combined.

Image Caption: Cotton flower in Malkapur. Credit: Hrushi3030 / Wikipedia

Cash Crop