Profitable Growing/Eating

Jensen Mike (miacoden!
Mon May 23 16:45:48 1994


Given the number of propagators who have failed to pay themselves and/or
family members minimum wage, it is interesting to see how many seek
profitability by expanding their operations and hiring employees who must
be paid at least minimum wage. There are so many old jokes with the punch
line "I know we're losing money on each one but we'll make it up in

I know more professional cactus and succulent propagators than CP. The
money-makers do volume production of showy, easily sold species. They are
centered around Vista, California and their greenhouses most resemble
factory assembly lines. Cost control and long-term buyer relationships
are paramount. Personal satisfaction and scientific study are secondary.
With NAFTA, most of the new opportunity for such businesses will be in
Mexico where the climate is at least as good and labor costs are lower.

Others, such as the Wilson's in Oklahoma are in it for fun. They are
semi-retired, have a business that pays them to visit any show and sale
that they want to and are not concerned about making money on it. To
them, it is cheap entertainment.

Several others are in it for scientific study. The premium prices that
they command for rare species fund their regular collecting trips to
South America and South Africa. This last model may be most appropriate
for CP. While these premium suppliers do sell the common varieties, they
usually buy those wholesale from the low-price growers. They do not
compete on price and will cease production of any species or variety
which can be more cheaply outsourced. Their business plan requires a
continuous supply of rare or otherwise exclusive products.


The recent comment about potential toxicity of rhizomes reminded me of
the number of cacti which avoid insect and rodent attack when other
plants around them are being eaten. A surprising number of these contain
psychotropic substances. Peyote is only one of many.

The task is now to research those CP which are avoided by potential
herbivores. If any DO have psychotropic potential, they could really make
that business plan fly. "Eat them, heaven forbid! Honest officer, this is
all for scientific research."

Bob Cruder -