Lemon Balm Herb and Oil
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Sinan Tömekçe
Posted on: August 15, 1999

We like to enter the herb game. As you may know that in my country, Turkey, plant diversity is very large. You can easily see many different plants grow around the country but still no one realizes the value of them.

I know that we are still standing at the first stage of this game but we can speed up very fast if somebody in the business show us the correct route.

I am an economist aged 36 working for myself in the stainless steel business and furniture. In the family there are mechanical engineers who are designing and manufacturing plants for the production of corn starch on a turn key basis. We have chemistry engineers, and a pharmacist. Why I am telling you this is to tell you that we are able to organize our knowledge for establishing ourselves in this game. In the meantime we have farming facilities. We are cultivating mainly corn, beet root, onion etc. in the Marmara region.

This season we like to plant as a trial, lemon balm (Melissa officialis) at our farm. We need seeds for about 5 acre (5000 m2). Can you suggest a reliable source?

My personal intention is to work with mother nature but in a very specific type of business. We can establish an extraction plant, arrange the cultivation, extract essential oil, and handle the foreign trading of the oil. What we have to know is to right plant or variety.

I like to say again that we need an advisor who guide us for anything with in this business. Advising us to cultivate the type of plant or advise us to prepare the right extraction which has great demand in the market etc. Together with love, we have to earn money of course with this business.

Mr. Miller, I wonder if you can be our advisor? If you can say yes, we will be very grateful for our mutual interest. If no again we will grateful if you can recommend someone else.

I am available as an outside consultant to assist in the cultivation of new farming ventures. My primary focus is with Richters of Canada, as I believe him to be the finest source of seed in the world for these crops and related botanicals. You should consider other botanicals which are not yet in deep cultivation.

I have grown more than 40 acres of Lemon Balm for more than 10 years, so I understand this specific crop. It is easy to grow, and is a good “first crop” for new farm ventures. Your competition will be India, who grows it primarily for the oil. The leaf-oil is so fragile as to need special drying facilities (like a hop kiln or grain bin) when producing this as an Herb.

While I have never grown Lemon Balm from seed, I understand that this is quite possible. All of my field trials were grown from starts, planted via a Strawberry Planter in early Spring. The germination ration will determine the amount of seed needed to drill a specific field. I used 10,000 plants per acre in all of my studies.

Since world demands are probably less than 2,000 acres (inclusive), and India currently subsidizes this crop, you may find cultivation to not be as profitable as other possible entries for a new farm venture. This is where I am best used, knowing the markets and futures for specific crops. I recommend you consider beginning with a Farm Plan (or business plan) before you arbitrarily select which crops you plan to start.

To that extent, again I am available as an outside consultant. Lemon Balm is taken primarily for the oil, via steam distillation. I have specific fractional data on the oil, as it is appropriate. How else can I help you?

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