Growing St. John's Wort Herb as a Cash Crop?
1998 copyright Alternative Nature Online Herbal
Ask yourself these questions. Can I afford to wait two years for a salable crop?Do I have a large indoor space for drying St. John's Wort ?No, you can't leave it in the field to dry.Can I invest in the manual labor necessary to bring the herb to market?Can I control my plantings to keep St. John's Wort away from neighbors grazing lands?Am I willing and able to maintain organic farming methods? Can my land be certified organic?
Consider these points.
1. St. John's Wort is a perennial, it will take two years to get a salable crop from seed. Even crops from rootlets may take more than one season to get established. Up to now, most of the John's Wort on the market has been wildcrafted and there is very little history regarding its cultivation.
2. Commercial production of John's Wort requires a lot of manual labor. You can't just harvest it like you do hay, it must be hung in a barn to dry unless you build dryers for it.. In all my research, At yields of up to two tons per acre, one may want to consider how much one is able to hire labor to harvest and clean the herb. We all know labor is much cheaper in foreign countries than it is here, so what do you think will happen to the price of cultivated John's Wort
3. St. John's Wort is a weed that grows in abundance almost everywhere. It can get out of hand easily, invading your neighbors pasture land, possibly causing damage to cows and sheep. The world is not going to run out of St. John's Wort, it is too prolific; unless we continue to destroy its wild environment. It will never be endangered by picking. Funny, this is one of the crops you farmers have tried for years to keep OUT of fields. There is currently no herbicide approved for St. John's Wort production. Herb crops require that farmers may have to adapt to doing things in new ways.
4. Production figures per acre. The figures I have heard on this, one source says 600 kilo per acre, one says 2 1/2 metric tons per acre. Of course this is whole herb, not just tops. The top 1/3 of the plant is highest in medicinal properties. Harvesting just the top part of the plant could be done two times a season. 5. St. John's Wort will probably sell for around seven dollars a pound this summer (by the ton), but price likely to go down in 1999 as supply catches up with demand. So after reading all this, and the following linked articles, give it some serious thought before you invest in this crop.
Update 2005---- I wrote that in 1998. Was I right or not??? K Bergeron
Read Richard Alan Miller's Book "Potential Of Herbs As A Cash Crop" if you are serious about herb farming.This is undisputedly the ultimate resource on herb farming, with complete information that takes you from the ground up, literally, and through to the marketing aspect. Includes an extensive list of buyers for botanical products.
We covered St. Johnswort at our 1997 commercial herb growing conference. The transcripts of the lecture,which included considerable growing and marketing information, is included in the transcripts of theconference which is now available. You can order a copy online at richters.com (see books section of the catalogue, click on "R" books). RICHTERS HERBS | Info: email@example.comGoodwood, ON L0C 1A0, Canada | Catalog Requests: firstname.lastname@example.orgTel +1-905-640-6677 Fax 640-6641 | Website: richters.com"