Foraging is one of the earliest skills a player can level in while playing Stardew Valley. Picking up forage and chopping down trees both gain experience points for the Foraging skill.
Even just clearing space on the farm for crops generates XP points for Foraging. This means that a player can level up quicker in this skill than any other path.
Once Foraging has been upgraded to Level 5, the player’s next sleep sequence will feature a special screen. The player will be asked to choose their foraging profession from two choices: Forester or Gatherer.
These choices will affect the final profession that a player can take, which in turn will affect their mid-to-late game experience.
Level 5 Foraging: Forester or Gatherer, which should I choose?
When choosing between Forester or Gatherer, by far the best choice is Gatherer. The Gatherer profession allows the player to double their profits from foraging, finish the Community Center earlier, and accomplish the Shipping Collection.
Gatherer also leads directly into Botanist, which can single-handedly triple the profits due to high-quality forage.
In comparison, the Forester profession allows you to gain 25% more wood when chopping down trees. Wood is one of the most common resources in the game.
It’s unlikely that a player will ever run out of wood, as it can be harvested both in and out of the farm. Therefore, Forester doesn’t give a lot of advantage in this area, even in early-game. But first, let’s break down what each profession means.
Recommended Profession: Gatherer at Level 5
- Foraged items now have a 20% chance to be doubled
The Gatherer profession allows the player to double their profits by harvesting twice the normal amount of forage.
Not only is this small boost extremely profitable, but it also reduces the time spent on foraging by the sheer amount of items it can double in a single day.
This is especially helpful in completing the Community Center Bundles and the Shipping Collection at the same time. This path also opens up two more professions at Foraging Level 10:
- Foraged items are always the highest quality
- Location of forageable items revealed
Gatherer is unquestionably the best profession choice for early-game because the profits from the doubling can help player advancement significantly.
If the player doesn’t have enough space in their backpack, then this profession might require going back and forth from the chests to the forage, and that’s time-consuming. Otherwise, this profession has no downside.
Recommended Profession: Botanist at Level 10
The Botanist profession grants the player maximum profits by making sure that every item is of the best quality.
Since this is a late-game path, it will add a sweet bonus to already established routines like forage routes around Pelican Town. Choosing the Botanist also retains the doubling chance of the Gatherer profession, leading to more than one high-quality forage per item pickup.
Tracker at Level 10
Tracker helps the player locate forageable items by adding yellow arrows along the edges of the screen, while green arrows point to possible panning sites.
It’s worth noting that it only activates when the forageable item is off-screen and that the yellow arrows also include artifact spots for digging.
This can be helpful for the Museum Collection as well as the Shipping Collection and ensures that the player doesn’t spend all their time wandering around while looking for forage.
Botanist vs. Tracker
Botanist, while absolutely essential in early-game, starts being less and less useful as the player transitions into mid-to-late game. The bonus of high-quality forage still pales in comparison to the sheer profit of Artisan Goods.
On the other hand, Tracker doesn’t give exact locations for the foraged items, and can often lead to inaccessible spots when utilized.
The player will have less and less time to spend on foraging as the game progresses, so the time spent on hunting down artifact spots is much better utilized on farming, mining, or fishing activities.
Forester at level 5
- Gain 25% more wood when chopping down trees
The Forester profession allows the player to gain more wood while chopping down trees; perfect for early-game goals like buildings, fences, and basic crafting recipes.
This option is tempting for those who often run out of wood for projects, especially the rare Hardwood. This path opens up to two more professions once the player reaches Foraging Level 10:
- All trees have a chance to drop hardwood
- Syrups worth 25% more when sold
Lumberjack at Level 10
The Lumberjack path grants the player a chance to drop hardwood when cutting down trees, which is essential for some late-game crafted items.
It’s a good way to obtain lots of Hardwood in a short amount of time. Having lots of hardwood can give the player access to the Farmhouse Upgrade 2, which expands the farmhouse for marriage and parenthood.
Hardwood also lets the player purchase the Stable, which grants a free Horse for mobility around Stardew Valley.
Tapper at Level 10
Tapper raises the price of syrups by 25%, which can be useful in a large-scale tree tapping operation.
It’s helpful for a profit-focused run, and involves planting as many trees, placing tappers on those trees, and waiting until they produce syrups.
For laidback players, this may be their choice since it’s not as action-intensive as the other paths. It also leaves the player with more time to spend on other things like farming or mining.
Lumberjack vs. Tapper
Lumberjack is better than Tapper because the need for hardwood is higher than the profit obtained from selling tapped ingredients.
Hardwood is more in demand for crafting than syrups and sap. Unfortunately, while Lumberjack gives extra hardwood and Tapper gives extra G per syrup sold, there isn’t much use for these professions in late-game.
By the time a player reaches Foraging Level 10, the player is often at the point where they can access the Secret Woods, an area northwest of the Cindersap Forest where six Large Stumps grow and refresh every day. These can be harvested for hardwood consistently.
Tapped syrups are required in crafting the necessary machines to make Artisan Goods, which far outrank the syrups in terms of sheer profit alone.
Selling the syrups alone isn’t very feasible when a single Keg can produce almost three times the amount for less time.