Farming is a major mechanic of Stardew Valley, being a farming game at its core.
Harvesting crops, and tending to animals all contribute to leveling up the Farming skill.
Each increase in the Farming skill level reduces the energy cost for the Hoe and the Watering Can.
It also increases the chance for a higher quality crop.
As Farming 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 farming profession from two choices: Rancher or Tiller.
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 Farming: Rancher or Tiller, which should I choose?
When choosing between Rancher or Tiller, the best path to take is Tiller.
This profession gives the player a 10% increase in crop profits, which makes early-game farming extremely lucrative.
Tiller also leads directly into Artisan, which is the best money-making skill in the whole game.
But first, let’s break down what each profession means.
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Rancher at level 5
- Animal products are worth 20% more
The Rancher profession allows the player to get more profit out of selling raw animal goods.
These animal goods include milk, eggs, and wool, some of which can be collected every day from their respective animals.
This option is perfect for animal lovers: those who buy the coop first before setting up a planting space, or those who dislike the regular planting, waiting, and harvesting of crops.
- Befriend coop animals quicker
- Befriend barn animals quicker
Rancher Profession Summary
The high cost and the long waiting time for buildings make this profession less than attractive in the early game.
Even when the buildings have already been placed down, the player has to buy the animals separately, at a relatively high cost.
The potential profit gained from selling animal products at a higher price is offset considerably by the building costs, and the duration spent on waiting for animals to produce their products.
It’s much more cost-efficient to choose Tiller as players often spend most of their time farming anyway.
Coopmaster at Level 10
The Coopmaster profession makes the player befriend coop animals faster, and thus produce high-quality products in a shorter amount of time.
This profession also makes eggs hatch faster, and is essential for no-crop runs.
A player with this skill can make a decent chunk of change by just throwing an egg into the incubator and selling the happiest coop animal every few days.
Shepherd at Level 10
Like Coopmaster, the Shepherd profession makes the player befriend barn animals faster, and raises the quality of animal products produced in a shorter time.
Sheep also grow wool significantly faster, which can be crafted into Wool and used in making clothes.
This skill can help a player craft their clothes and allows for greater customization.
Iridium quality Wool can also be sold raw for a good amount of money.
Coopmaster vs. Shepherd
Coopmaster is better than Shepherd only by the amount of time it takes for the player to get an animal up to maturity and with maximum hearts.
A player can get a maxed-out friendship level for a chicken faster than a sheep, and eggs are always produced faster than wool.
Unfortunately, both professions are poor choices in the late game.
They give very little boost to the end product in terms of price compared to other skills.
While new players fall into the trap of creating a Coop first before setting up the crop farm, seasoned Stardew Valley players often relegate the buildings and animal housing to the late game.
By then, there are better sources of income than selling animal products raw.
The same goes for Shepherd, with the added disadvantage of sheep being even harder to take care of than chickens.
Both professions require a lot of time for very little reward.
Tiller at Level 5
- Crops are worth 10% more
The Tiller profession gives the player a 10% profit boost every time they sell crops.
This profession is extremely useful in early-game, where crops have yet to be processed into artisan goods.
Every player is given 15 parsnip seeds to plant at the start of every game, and selling the grown parsnips guarantees an immediate level-up into this skill level.
Tiller’s profit boost also affects the Flowers and any Fruit that hasn’t been foraged, making it the best skill for a profit-focused run.
This path also opens up two more professions at Farming Level 10:
- Artisan goods are worth 40% more
- All crops grow 10% faster
Tiller Profession Summary
The profession Tiller is better than Rancher simply because a player can plant many crops, harvest them, and generate profits faster than taking care of animals can do.
In the early game, when the priority is harvesting as many crops as possible, Tiller provides a nice bonus that leads to better rewards in the mid to late game.
Artisan at Level 10
Artisan is singlehandedly the best profession in the entire game, with the 40% boost to artisan good profits making up for the long processing times.
Because of this, Artisan is considered the best strategy for high profit and high rewards, both in mid-game to late-game.
The over-reliance on Artisan can be detrimental to someone who wants relaxed gameplay, but there is virtually no downside to an overabundance of money in this game.
Agriculturist at Level 10
Agriculturist gives the player a 10% boost in crop growth, which is essential for crop-only runs.
The number of harvests doubles significantly with this skill, leading to more frequent selling.
When paired with Speed-Gro fertilizer, crop growth quickly speeds up to allow the player almost thrice the number of crops harvested in the same period of time.
Artisan vs. Agriculturist
The skill Artisan is better than Agriculturist because the 40% bonus affects anything that can be pulled from a machine.
These include cheeses, jam, and wines, among others.
The multiplier is applied on top of the base product value, which is already dependent on the quality of the crop that is being processed.
Agriculturist’s multiple harvests pale in comparison to the sheer profit being made using Artisan, though this option is still preferable when needing large amounts of a certain crop.