Indiana- the Flower Growing State?

Niche market for flowers meshes with other enterprises. Tom J. Bechman

Published on: Mar 29, 2004

John Larimer doesn't raise gladiola flowers in his farming operation. But yet most years they grow as a cash crop on part of the land he owns. As a matter of fact, if you visit the Indiana Farm Management Tour this summer, you will drive by a field of the colorful flowers on your way to Lord's Seeds, Lorimer's seed business that he operates with his family.

The tour will be June 30 and July 1 in LaGrange and Elkhart Counties in northern Indiana. Lord's Seed will be the first stop on the tour early on the morning of July 1. The farm is located near Howe, Ind., just south of the Indiana/Michigan line.

So what about the flowers? Why would a farm operation rent land to someone else to grow flowers? It's all part of their overall crop rotation scheme, explains Lorimer. Raising seed corn is so much their business that he actually says he feels he is part of the service industry, instead of a regular farmer.

Lorimer discovered several years ago that when a field is forced to stay in seed corn production for several years in a row, yields begin to drop. Frustrated by this reality, he hit upon an idea—swap land with neighbors so that he could develop a better rotation.

So he may rent out land that he owns or operates to a neighbor to raise flowers, or maybe potatoes, also a popular crop in pockets of northern Indiana and southern Michigan. In exchange, the neighbor in turn may rent land they own or operate back to Lord's Seeds for growing seed corn.

The result is a better rotation for both parties. Over time, Lorimer explains that the shift to a better rotation has helped his production, and consequently his income, in significant ways.

Come to the two-day driving farm tour this summer and learn more about this unique concept. The tour is sponsored by the Indiana Farm Management Association and Purdue University Cooperative Extension.