Crop Production

Learn more about crop production, or the agricultural yield of farmland. See what the employment outlook and earning potential are for related careers, and read about degree and certificate programs in this field of study.

Is Crop Production for Me?

Career Overview

Crop production is one of many factors agricultural professionals have to consider when determining how to get the maximum yield and profit from farmland while still maintaining its productivity. When managing the mass production of crops, such as barley, corn, fruits, tobacco, vegetables, wheat and ornamental plants, you must decide which crops to plant, as well as how often to plant, fertilize, harvest and sell them. Taking your crop production into account can help you survive changes in a crop's market value, resulting from a surplus or deficit of one type of crop versus another.

Earning a degree in crop production, agricultural science or a related field can lead to a variety of agricultural careers, including those of farmers, agricultural managers, agricultural inspectors, consultants and purchasing agents. Some of these careers require working long hours outside, planting, harvesting and inspecting crops. You must also be able to keep financial records to manage your business effectively.

Employment and Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 930,600 individuals worked in farming, ranching and agricultural management in 2012, and roughly three-quarters of them were self-employed that year (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the median annual salary for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers was $69,300. The BLS also indicates that the number of jobs in this career field is expected to decline 19% from 2012-2022.

The BLS projects that between 2012 and 2022, employment of agricultural scientists, including crop production professionals, will increase 3%. The median annual salary for this career was $34,070 in 2012. According to O*NET OnLine (www.onetonline.org), buyers and purchasing agents who worked in farm products earned median annual pay of $55,720 in 2012. The agency also reports that employment in this career field is expected to increase 3%-7% from 2012-2022.

How Can I Work in Crop Production?

Education

Undergraduate degree programs are available in crop production or agricultural business. Courses cover a range of subjects, such as methods for producing and adapting crops, farm accounting, agricultural business management, plant nutrients, arid land management, horticulture and the basics of plant genetics. You can also pursue specializations in fields that include agronomic business, agronomic science or soil science. With this training, you can pursue a career as a farm manager, a farmer or an agricultural inspector.

If you want additional training, graduate certificate, master's degree and doctoral degree programs are available in crop production, seed technology, plant biology, agricultural science, soil sciences and crop sciences. These programs offer courses in diseases that affect plants, methods for managing a greenhouse, plant breeding techniques, plant cell biology and the stages of plant growth.

Research is a large component at this level of study, and you can explore areas such as seed technology, plant breeding, plant genetics and research related to crop production. You might also pursue a specialization, such as crop production or sustainable production systems. This could lead to a career as a plant or soil scientist, agriculture professor or agricultural scientist.

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