Sowing St. Johnswort
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Kirk Van Cleave
Posted on: August 10, 1998

Do you know of a preferred way of sowing one acre of St. Johnswort directly? We are going to be organic, and thus the spacing is rather important and the seeds are so very, very tiny...

Our thought was to mix them with sand and pour along lines in the field from a salt shaker...

I would appreciate a gentler approach if you should know of one.

There are a number of schools on how to establish crops like St. John’s Wort. Over the years, I have found that the most "efficient" way to begin most cultivations of any taproot-type plant is via rootstock. This can be from nursery stock, most commonly using pony-packs. Figure 10,000 plants/acre, with an additional 2,000 plants for early kill. You want the field to be solid by the end of the year, preventing grasses and other contamination.

The rootstock will "stole" after it’s first cutting, causing the 6-stem rootstock to now have 40 stems per rootstock. Seed does not guarantee germination, and is why you want to start with rootstock. This eliminates larger needs for cultivation after plant-set. Hypericum has very poor germination rations, requiring up to 6 or seven pounds/acre. Then, the field also needs large cultivations for the next two years.

Seed needs to be germinated prior to seeding or nursery stock generations. If it is germinated like catnip, then the amount of seed necessary for 1 acre of cultivation is less than one ounce. It should be soaked in water for one day and then mixed with sand and refrigerated for ten days. This will crack the seed casing, and it is now ready to germinate.

We usually use a 4-man strawberry planter to set our plants, usually in early May. First cuttings may be available that year (September), but usually not for profits. That will have to wait one year. You can set up French Intensive raised bed systems for by-passing the nursery costs. Those can run about $0.09/plant, give or take. It also must begin in February at the latest.

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