Peppermint Harvesting - When and how to harvest peppermint
Harvest can generally take place from late spring until early autumn. If you grow peppermint for essential oil, knowing when exactly to harvest is very important for the quantity and quality of essential oil. It requires extensive research, sampling and constant “trial and error” effort. Many essential oil growers harvest when the majority of plants are just before full bloom, during summer (July in most areas of US). This is the first cut that is solely intended for distillation and essential oil production. However, in many cases they can harvest a second cut about two months later, and this second cut is intended solely for dried material. In other cases, farmers that are not interested in essential oil can normally harvest three cuts, with the first being around late spring, the second during summer and the third around early autumn. However, these are just some common reported patterns that should not be followed without making your own research.
In general, we must choose a sunny day with mild weather and no wind in order to harvest. A potential rainfall at the day of the harvest (or even 2-3 days before) will decrease the quality of the final product. Extreme heat and strong winds will also favor the evaporation of essential oil, so a portion of our product will be lost if it is too hot or windy. The crop is harvested through rotary disc mowers, the machines that are used as hay cutters. If there isn’t such a choice, the crop is hand harvested through scissors.
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