Growing Spearmint Commercially in Canada
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Noah Harmer
Posted on: September 04, 2006

I am planning to grow North American spearmint, Mentha spicata.

I want to vacuum pack and brand it, but if you’d rather do that your self way ok as I would be hiring another company to do it. The mint does need to be vacuum packed or somehow preserved soon after harvesting and curing, or quickly shipped if fresh. After the mint is cured, dry enough to self preserve in packing, wet enough to stay green and tast fresh and alive, it will need very quick packaging or it will turn brown, lose flavour and oil, and not be nearly as good a quality of mint. Like tree leaves.

My current plan for it is herbal tea, this is a very fine plant and I and many others enjoy it for taste hot or iced, though I have heard of medicinal properties this does not factor into my usage.

I would prefer to sell it sun cured but if you pickup and pay you can have it fresh. I would need deposit before harvest as if I do not arrange to package it it will brown and spoil after cutting and I would not accept responsibility if your pickup had been our arrangement.

I will be farming it entirely organic, no pesticides, no fertilizers, and no natural or unnatural "improvements" to nature, I.E. irrigation, compost, vinegar insecticides and etc. I do not know my eligibility for certification to organic because I just recently got the land, was pasture for a short period, cultivated before that, no idea what sprays if any or when. Am also not familiar with that process, taking it as common sense that plant do what plants do best and interference usually just makes a mess. I plan to have about 20 metric tons cured spearmint in 2007, equal to maybe 40-50 tons fresh or so I’m told.

If you can give me an idea of what you’d pay for this mint at "farm gate" per kilo that would be great. As I said I am trying to prearrange an order or orders for this crop before October this year 2006 as I holiday and plan to continue farming in the southern hemisphere. Any questions, ask away.

I have grown more than 2,000 acres of spearmint at any given moment, mostly the Todd-Mitchum varieties. Were are you located? And, have you considered COG? The person that does that will be able to sell dried spearmint Leaf at $4.00/lb in 20,000-lb. quantities.

My markets currently use upward of 400,000 lbs annually in various cuts and forms. Markets begin at $0.80/lb. I was the one who invented the way to harvest leaf from the field, using bean harvesters. We need a certified organic product now.

I am also available as an outside consultant, and enjoy travel.

Thanks for the info.

COG? please explain. A bean harvester? No thanks, scythe, sicle or small hay combine/baler, I’m just starting, this is year 1 and I have no beans. Quantity correction: 20,000 lb x 2.2 = 44,000 lb dry (sorry we’re metric), so about 100,000 lb fresh.

If you’d be willing to work with me on percentage commission of the final sales I’d like to talk more about this. If not please let me know and thanks for your help.

I’m in Canada, just starting out, male, 20, and looking for something to grow around the trees of my new 9000 tree hazlenut orchard while they grow so I can buy more land and plant more trees. If I end up with herbs around the trees I would to farm mint because of the fact that it "chokes" the competition with its leaves like a tree and is perennial.

COG = certified organically grown. You don’t have to own a bean harvester to have someone come in and cut for a percentage of the sale (share cropping).

And, I don’t sell fresh produce, only dried material. I don’t have those kinds of markets, primarily restaurants and gourmet food services.

If you are smart, you might select something that could be rotary mowed between trees, like we do grapes. The labor involved with put your costs above normal sales. We often did thyme, and then used that for oil production.

Mints have their own enemies, including grass and other annuals. This contaminates the harvest and makes most mints unsellable.

Yes, COG is what I want, maybe need transition time, just got farm 2006.

Will you work on a percentage of the sale? You to sell the dry mint? I need an answer.

My final product plan is cured whole spearmint tops, stems and leaves and fowers and all together for freshness and variety, COG or transition to, vacuum packaged and branded, dry/green for tea or other use, packages sized appropriate to use. I.E. tea: 25g, 50g, & 100g, or bulk needs: 1kg, 10kg, 100kg, and ect.. I would prefer to sell to grocery distributors or manufacture on contract a third party brand of herbal tea.

I need $20+ Canadian dollars per kilogram (or about $9 USD/lb) depending on what is done, package size if any, if delivered, other value added and etc., but about $20/kilogram cured and baled/collected at gate.

The market will not support your desired price. Barry Meltzer of San Francisco Herb & Natural Food Co (800-227-2830) is currently selling spearmint from facilities I originally developed under a USDA grant for processing herbs and spices (see www.herbfarminfo.com). His pricing is currently listed for July 2006 as spearmint leaf, cut-and sift, tea bag cut, or powder is US$1.30/lb. F.O.B. Oregon.

The Trout Lake Farm program offers Certified Organically Grown (COG) spearmint Leaf, cut-and-sift or tea bag cut US$3.00/lb., F.O.B. Washington.

I strongly recommend you become a bit more educated in this field of agriculture. Begin by reading my book "The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop" (available from Richters) and then going to www.richters.com, check out various marketing responses I have made under "Q&A" section.

Keep a log of various questions. Then I would recommend you call me for responses. I can help you, I can even make you able to survive in this current market. BUT, it is going to require you to educate yourself a bit more thoroughly, and then using me or someone more experienced as a consultant to help get you started in the right direction.

I have already suggested that I cannot help you with the marketing of produce. I have marketed leaf product for almost 37 years, having created the process for field stripping of the leaf (making it a domestic product). Intercropping is a very good way to keep weeds down and secondary sources of incomes.

Mints, however, may not necessarily be the right crop selection for soil and habitat situations. I’m trying to be a bit more helpful in your overall business plan. Of course, when I was your age I knew everything I needed to know.... But now, I’m just old and grumpy. <just kidding> I might also add that it was me whom the Amish selected to help them with both their business plans.

Do some homework. Then get back to me with your more detailed questions. That’s the best way I sense I can help you at this time. How else can I help you?



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