Growing Peppermint Commercially – Starting a Peppermint Farm
Growing commercially peppermint for essential oil and/or fresh or dried leaves has raised much attention during the last two decades. Peppermint is a plant that can grow well in an average environment and can produce different products that can target different industries (soft drinks, fragrance, cosmetic, soap and detergents, food, tobacco etc.). Most of commercial peppermint farmers grow peppermint mainly for essential oil, but they can supplement their income by harvesting a second cut that is unsuitable for essential oil. They harvest the fresh leaves during or just before full bloom (summer months -July in most areas of US). This is the first cut that is normally intended for distillation and essential oil production. A couple of months later (during early autumn), many farmers can normally harvest a second cut, and this second cut is solely intended for fresh or dried material. In this way, they benefit from having two sources of income. Peppermint plant is a sterile hybrid and can only be propagated by rootstocks, runners or cuttings.
We can start a detailed research on which peppermint varieties would be more suitable for our market needs (essential oil vs. other uses) and of course which varieties would be better adjusted to the climate and soil of our region (generally full sun and good drainage are necessary, but different varieties can be grown from cold to subtropical climates).
Peppermint plant is resilient and can grow in almost any well drained soil; however, the average plant can thrive in certain growing conditions. Growing commercially peppermint involves a series of activities. Once established, plants can normally produce material for 4-5 years. Most farmers then plow and destroy the crop, so as to plant new rootstocks or to make a crop rotation. Planting, Irrigation, Fertilization, Weed Control and Harvesting are very important and affect greatly the final yield. These activities represent the majority of costs. Processing, storing and distillation methods are also extremely important for the final quantity and quality of essential oil.
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Growing Peppermint for Profit
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