Lavender is a small aromatic shrub. This is an aromatic plant. The scientific name of lavender is Lavandula. And the plant belongs to the family Lamiaceae. General industry use includes fragrance, spaciality food, and alternative medicine industry. Commercial lavender farming is profitable. However, you must obtain proper marketing techniques. In addition, you can achieve plant protection system in a much easier way. Furthermore, lavender ranks high as a sustainable crop.
Entertainment farming is a very successful form of alternative marketing for lavender. Especially as a focus for annual festivals and product sales. France, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Australia and the Mediterranean regions are the major producers of lavender essential oils. In South Africa, major lavender growing areas are the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.
Economic Importance Of Lavender Farming
The common use of lavender flowers is the decoration. Also, they are very popular for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. However, commercial extraction of essential oils bring the maximum profits for large farms. Lavender flowers yield abundant nectar which yields a high-quality honey for beekeepers. Lavender varietal honey is produced primarily in the nations around the Mediterranean and marketed worldwide as a premium product. Lavender blossoms can be candied and are used as cake decoration. Lavender is also used as a herb, either alone or as an ingredient of herbes de Provence.In addition, lavender has several medicinal properties. Its antiseptic properties enable its utilization as a disinfectant to clean floors and walls. There are 30 different types of lavender oils and blends are traded on world markets.
Health Benefits Of Lavender
- First of all, lavender oil is a very effective in combating the incidence of antifungal-resistant infections.
- The lavender scent may help anxious dental patients for reducing stress.
- In addition, it reduces anxiety and emotional stress.
- Furthermore, it improves eczema and psoriasis.
- It heals burns and wounds.
- Finally, lavender oil improves sleep
Things To Consider In Lavender Farming
- First of all, we must mention climate. Lavender is a Mediterranean plant. So it requires a similar climate to thrive.
- There are over 30 species of lavender, with hundreds of varieties. However, only 3 species are popular for commercial lavender farming.
- If you are starting a large-scale lavender farm, you must have a proper marketing planning. However, you may go for fresh selling or value-added products.
- In addition, you must provide a suitable soil for lavender.
- Finally, check what are the products you can make from lavender. It will ensure more profit from your lavender farm.
Best Varieties For Commercial Lavender Farming
For commercial growing, we recommend three varieties.
- Lavendula Augustifolia, or English lavender: This is a cold-hardy species. It does well in climate zone 5 to 9, with mild summer heat and long hours of daylight. The sweet fragrance of the true lavenders is ideal for culinary use, and the aroma and quality of the essential oil they produce.
- Lavendula x intermedia: This lavender species is a cross between L. Augustifolia and L. Latifolia. Furthermore, they produce large plants, with more long floral spikes than the true lavenders. In addition, they can yield over five times as much oil as English lavenders.
- Lavandula Stoechas: This unique lavender species is easy to recognize, with a cylinder shaped flower head topped by leafy extensions. They are the earliest lavenders to bloom and produce flowers all through the season. However, they are less hardy, with most varieties only suitable for zones 7 to 10. They are popular for fresh cut flowers.
Agro Climatic Condition For Lavender Farming
Lavender is a long-lived perennial, with a typical productive life of about 10 years. A mild winter and warm, sunny summers, is ideal for lavender production. Lavender needs full sun to do well, but not too much summer heat. A cold winter is also necessary to produce the best flower heads. However, lavender can tolerate moderate frost and drought. Spike lavender cannot tolerate frost. All lavenders are sensitive to high humidity. High summer temperatures adversely affect oil quality. Lavender can produce well with an annual rainfall range from 300 to 1 400 mm per year.
Suitable Soil For Lavender Farming
Lavender requires well-drained light, sandy, or sandy loam, or gravelly soils in full sun. Low-fertility soils are still suitable. However, you must maintain a soil pH between 5,8 and 8,3. Too moist soils will cause poor plant growth, diseases or kill the plant. English lavenders prefer alkaline soils, whereas the Lavandin varieties require slightly more acidic soils.
Basic Steps For Lavender Farming
Lavender cannot survive simply in clay soil. You must work down the beds up to 18 to 24 inches. It is best to raise the bed about 6 inches above ground level and mix in 1/3 sand, 1/3 loam, and 1/3 clay soil. Too much sand is better than too much clay. Plain builder’s sand from the local hardware store is fine for improving soil friability.
Lavender mainly propagates from seed, cuttings, layering, tissue culture and division of roots. However, you can do cutting from strong and healthy plants grown out of doors. To propagate by layering, select a long, healthy flexible stem and remove 10 to 15 cm of foliage. Furthermore, you can use tissue culture for the mass propagation of lavender from selected mother plants.
In mild climates, autumn planting is best as the plants can get established just before winter and in spring will grow quicker. In areas with very cold winters, spring planting is the only option. Furthermore, you must maintain spacing according to available moisture and species. In addition, you must consider the cultivar size as well as for mechanical cultivation and harvesting.
You must irrigate the plant for the first 2 years until the proper establishment of the plant. However, irrigation may increase production in mature plantings. Overhead irrigation will increase disease problems and will cause older plants to break open in the middle
Lavender produces well on soils that are nutrient deficient for most other crops. Excessive applications of nitrogen can decrease oil quality, make plants unhealthy and will increase weed competition.
You must control the weeds in a proper way. Take care not to damage the roots. Mulching also reduces the weed incidence and increases soil moisture retention. In addition, drip irrigation suppresses weed growth between rows. Generally, 2 to 3 weed controlling sessions are necessary during the year.
Harvesting & Yield In Lavender Farming
You can harvest lavender flowers at the end of December and early January, according to the season. You must not harvest in too hot weather and very windy conditions as significant volumes of oil can be lost through evaporation. On the other hand, very cold weather prevents the development of esters. The cutting of flowers for the fresh and dried markets usually takes place at a stage of a week later than for oil production. Flowers are also cut having longer stems.
An acre of true lavender (L. Angustifolia) produces from 300 to 1,800 pounds of dried flowers.