October 25th, 2018
Most Profitable Cash Crops in Stardew Valley
Yes, I know, this isn’t what Stardew Valley is about. I’m currently on my fifth play-through and I still get starry-eyed when I start giving presents to the character which I have a crush on, but after 200 hours it’s nice to help beef-up my wallet a bit so that next House Expansion won’t put me in the Barn. This guide is a look at helping players get some extra cash in their wallet with a cursory glance at which crops might be a good idea to keep around if they’re wanting to lightly min-max some crops to make their lives easier.
I want to start off by giving credit to Thorinair, who created an absolutely phenomenal interactive tool to allow you to deep dive into different scenarios, input your relevant farming skills, and even see what the best crop to plant is midway through a season. You can check out the tool for your own research, it’s a delight to use and I’m happy I stumbled across it. It covers a plethora of criteria such as:
- How/if you are going to refine a crop (Preserve/Ferment)
- Which seed vendors you have access too
- Whether to include cross-seasonal profits (such as Corn which grows for 2 seasons)
- Number of days to calculate (great for the Greenhouse since season doesn’t impact growth)
About the Data
Since data-dives aren’t everyone’s jam, I’ve compiled the top 5(ish) crops on a season-by-season breakdown that will give you the highest profit margin over a single season. Some other quick information about how this list was created:
- These crops assume a Farming Skill level of 4 (don’t worry Year 1 players).
- It does not include the Farming 5 “Tiller” profession (10% more profit per crop).
- Profit per Crop is an average of Normal, Silver, and Gold tier quality crops and assumes (~33.33% chance for each).
- Calculations are made with the assumption of NO fertilizer being utilized. In some instances, fertilizer improves the average profit margin to make one crop more profitable than another, but often results are the same. Please refer to the calculator if you plan on using special fertilizers for specific planting recommendations.
- Crops are NOT processed, these are the raw crop values.
- This profit list DOES include the cost of the seed in the profit average using the following equations:
- For multi-harvest crops:
((((Normal + Silver + Gold)/3) * # Harvests per Season) - Seed Cost)
- For single-harvest crops:
((Normal + Silver + Gold)/3 - Seed Cost)
- For multi-harvest crops:
- This list also does not account for ROI; meaning two big things:
- Multi-harvest crops such as Strawberries, Blueberries, and Hops will always have a larger value since you only have to pay for the seed once.
- The first two or three seasons of Year 1 these crops aren’t necessarily what will give you the most money because of ROI + Expansion, but I’ll cover that in more detail at the bottom of this post.
Now that we’ve covered the disclaimers, let’s jump right into it:
650 gold profit per crop.
Obtained during Egg Festival (Spring 13th), but even with the late start, if you plant Strawberries after the Egg Festival ends at 10pm you’ll be able to grow the plant fully in 8 days and get 2 harvests worth out of the plant before Summer 1, netting you a 200 gold profit per seed purchased, still higher than any other freshly planted seeds on the same day as the Egg Festival.
#2 Green Beans
240 gold profit per crop.
Green Beans are wonderful for first-year farmers to start making money and they’re a great introduction to Trellis crops. They can be a pain in the butt to plan around, but it’s best to learn early-on! Since they’re also used to unlock the Spring Crops Bundle and a cheap learning opportunity for Trellis planning, I recommend planting a bunch of them.
175 gold profit per crop.
Purchased from the Oasis shop (requires Desert access), meaning this will not be accessible to any Year 1 player.
138 gold profit per crop.
With their longer harvest time but high return rate, Cauliflower is still a great staple for your farm considering you need them to unlock your Spring Crops Bundle.
~75 gold profit per crop.
Potatoes are amazing first-year crops. They have a 25% chance to spawn a second potato on harvest and with a growth period of only 6 days you’re able to get 4 harvests completed before Summer 1.
A brief note about Summer, the “top 5” most profitable crops are inaccessible to Year 1 players, so I’ve extended it to the “Top 6” to be inclusive.
668 gold profit per crop.
This is the best multi-harvest crop of the summer without processing and the most profitable crop for Year 1 players. Each harvest of a Blueberry bush has a 100% chance of yielding two additional berries (3 per plant), so even though they only sell for ~62g each, you’ll harvest 12 per plant in a season at only 80g per plant.
537 gold profit per crop.
Purchased from the Oasis shop (requires Desert access), meaning this will not be accessible to any Year 1 player. While Starfruit is the highest raw crop value, it takes a backseat to Hops when processed by a keg.
467 gold profit per crop.
I’ll make a more in-depth post about crop processing in the future, but it should be worth noting that across all seasons and all crops the lowly Hop fermented in a Keg (creating Pale Ale) is the most profitable crop possible. It also has a regrow rate of 1 day, meaning you’ll get new Hops every-other-day for a steady income.
#4 Hot Pepper
360 gold profit per crop.
While they have a lower overall profit margin compared to other multi-harvest crops, the Hot Pepper’s three-day regrow rate makes it a great source of consistent income without needing a trellis like Hops, meaning you can plant more in a smaller amount of space.
232 gold profit per crop.
Melons are good and required for the Spring Crops Bundle, so be sure to pick them up.
#6 Red Cabbage
225 gold profit per crop.
Purchased from the Oasis shop (requires Desert access), meaning this will not be accessible to any Year 1 player. Worth a hefty amount, be sure to keep one on hand since it is needed for the Dye Bundle on the Bulletin Board.
Fall is similar to Summer in that, the “top 5” most profitable crops are pretty inaccessible to Year 1 players.
#1 Sweet Gem Berry
2,750 profit per crop.
Purchased at Gypsy Wagon for 1,000 gold each, they’re difficult to save up the initial funds for. Be sure to keep one Sweet Gem Berry to give to the Old Master Cannoli statue in the Secret Woods for a Stardrop reward to increase your max energy.
693 profit per crop.
Cranberries have a 100% chance of dropping multiple crops on harvest and they’re worth the most unprocessed out of all Fall crops (I’m considering Sweet Gem Berries a bit of an outlier because of their difficult upfront cost required for purchasing seeds). Hold onto a handful to process with a Preserves Jar during Winter to keep incoming rolling alongside Hops Kegs.
540 profit per crop.
Due to requiring a trellis and their lower profit margin, be sure to plant more Cranberries compared to Grapes if possible, however, Cranberry seeds are four times more expensive, it’s still a good idea to plant Grapes early on.
300 profit per crop.
Keep one on hand because, towards the end of Fall, Carolyn will request a pumpkin to carve into a Jack-o-Lantern for Abigail.
170 profit per crop.
An overall weaker plant, it doesn’t have any strong arguments for planting it. There are stronger choices in the Fall for Raw Crop, Preserve Jars, and Kegs. It is not a requirement for any Bundle. No villager “loves” Artichoke. Its sole benefit is that it is an ingredient in some cooking and relatively cheap.
There are no crops which grow in Winter, so I also wanted to highlight crops can grow throughout multiple seasons straight.
4,698 gold profit per crop. If you are able to plant an Ancient Fruit on Spring 1, it will grow for 28 days, then begin reproducing Ancient Fruits every 7 days for three seasons until Fall 28, giving you 8 total harvests and fat stacks of gold.
(-1,235) to 1,265 profit per crop. Coffee is a hard crop to calculate the value for. The profit linked at the top of this post will often show Coffee as being a negative profit most of the time. One coffee plant yields 4(+) coffee beans every 2 days, which can then be planted and grown into additional coffee plants. It gets out of hand quickly and you can fill your entire greenhouse with fully grown coffee plants from a single seed in approximately 20 days. Most of the time it’s calculated negatively because the only way to purchase a Coffee Bean is to buy it from the Traveling cart for 2,500g (25% chance) or 100-1000g (1.26% chance). Personally, I get my first Coffee Bean by killing Dust Sprites in the mines (levels 40-79) since they have a ~2% chance of dropping one and they spawn in large numbers. Even if you pay for the first Coffee Bean, their rapid regrowth rate still make it profitable to purchase one, but you’ll need to spread them quickly and process them in a Keg in order to turn a profit.
535 gold profit per crop. Corn is the first multi-seasonal crop most players will encounter. If you plant it on Summer 1 and keep it watered through Fall 28 it is the most profitable multi-season crop you can purchase from Piere.
273 gold profit per plot. Wheat is multi-seasonal, but since it grows in only 4 days and doesn’t produce replantable seed (meaning you pay for seeds after each harvest), it feels less like a multi-seasonal crop and more like a crop that happens to be an option if you’re low on funds and have some empty tilled space you need to fill at any point during 2/3rds of the harvestable year.
(-100) to 100 gold profit per crop. Sunflowers are a surefire way to throw your money in the trash. They have no effect on the type of Honey produced by Bee Hives and have a chance to drop an additional 0-3 Sunflower Seeds upon harvest (an average of 1.5 seeds per harvest). If you take the 1.5 seed average and calculate it into a reduced cost towards future crops, it ends up averaging out to be about zero gold, eventually making a small profit towards the end of the second season if you get lucky with seed drops. The seeds can be processed into Oil, but overall the Sunflower is not worth it as a cash crop.
Fertilizer Saving Tip Additional Tip:
If you have any crops, not viable in Fall, whose final harvest will occur on or before the 25th of Summer, consider delaying the harvest until the 25th. This way, the land will not fallow before then and any fertilizer will remain. On the 25th then, harvest and replant in Wheat. This multi-season crop will survive to be harvested (by scythe) on the first of Fall, and will additionally save you your fertilizer and any work of restoring the land for planting that might otherwise have been created by the transition of the seasons.
How the Return on Investment (ROI) of cash crops work
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to what qualifies a crop as the “Best Crop”, primarily it depends on whether or not your farm has room to grow. If you’ve been farming for a year or two and do not have room to expand your farm, then you need to focus on growing plants with a high “Gold per Seed” ratio. However, if you’re earlier in the game and you still have room to till more soil, then you want to focus on plants with a better Return on Investment instead.
To illustrate the difference between these two approaches, let’s talk about the ROI of two crops available in Year 1 Spring: the Parsnip and the Cauliflower. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that your farm only has 8 spaces on it for the season and you’re torn between whether to plant Parsnips or Cauliflower (Potatoes would be your best bet). Let’s look at what would give you the most amount of money by the end of the season:
- Days to grow: 12
- Harvests per season: 2
- Seed Cost: 80
- Avg. Sell Price: 218
- Avg Profit: 138
- Profit per day: 11.5
- End of season cash: 2,208 (138 Profit * 8 crops * 2 harvests)
- Days to grow: 4
- Harvests per season: 6
- Seed Cost: 20
- Avg. Sell Price: 43
- Avg Profit: 23
- Profit per day: 5.75
- End of season cash: 1,104 (23 Profit * 8 crops * 6 harvests)
It seems like a pretty cut-and-dry choice to purchase as many Cauliflower as possible because has a large profit margin over the Parsnip, but this isn’t quite how most farms will operate. The above model shows off why it’s valuable to consider high Cost Per Seed values into amount when you have a limited amount of tillable soil at your disposal such as inside the Greenhouse or late-game farms. However, this model becomes unprofitable if we’re able to expand the farm during the season, much like every Year 1 farm which can increase its amount of tilled soil as the season progresses. For the next model we’ll assume “Normal” quality crops and 80 gold to spend so we can see the side-by-side comparison of Investment vs Return out and because it creates a more realistic example. Let’s walk through the same model, but this time with the ability to expand taken into account:
- Day 1: Purchase one Cauliflower Seed for 80g.
- Day 12: Sell one for 175g, purchase and plant 2 more seeds, pocket the 15g remainder.
- Day 24: Sell two for 350g.
- Final gold: 365g.
- Day 1: Purchase four Parsnip Seeds for 80g.
- Day 4: Sell four for 140g, purchase and plant 7 more seeds.
- Day 8: Sell seven for 245g, purchase and plant 12 more seeds, pocket the 5g remainder.
- Day 12: Sell twelve for 420g, purchase and plant 21 more seeds.
- Day 16: Sell twenty-one for 735g, purchase and plant 37 more seeds.
- Day 20: Sell thirty-seven for 1,295g, purchase and plant 64 more seeds, pocket the 15g remainder.
- Day 24: Sell sixty-four more seeds for 2,240g, purchase and plant 112 more seeds.
- Day 28: Sell one hundred and twelve for 3,920g and roll around in your money pit like some sort of Scrooge McDuck of Parsnips. Note: It will be extremely difficult to ever actually achieve having 112 parsnips, especially for players who cannot leverage Sprinklers, since having a high quantity of crops without sprinklers will quickly drain all of your energy watering them.
This is because despite Parsnips having half of the Gold per Seed value of Cauliflower, it has over four times more ROI.
- Days to grow: 12
- Purchase Price: 80g
- Avg. Sell Price: 221g
- Profit: 141g
- Return on Investment = (141-80)/80 = 76.25%
- Days to grow: 4
- Purchase Price: 20g
- Avg. Sell Price: 107g
- Profit: 87
- Return on Investment = (87-20)/20 = 335%