Dandelion Production
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jay Williamson
Posted on: March 06, 2009

Thank you for helping us with our questions. We have done some preliminary research on dandelion production. We have our soil tested on an annual basis and it appears that is will be very suitable. Our zone, precipitation etc. are also o.k.. We also have land that has not had any chemical application so that should not be an issue. I know that we can purchase the product from you and we have the equipment to ‘get our field ready.’ We would probably only start with a small are to see if we are capable of growing this herb so we probably will ‘hand’ harvest for now. What we are wondering is your opinion if this herb is still in demand with a relatively small growing base in Canada. When we were looking at different herbs to possibly grow, it appeared that the demand for this one was increasing and at present a lot of it needed to be imported. Is this still the case?

Dandelion has two very different commercial markets: dried roots for the medicinal herbs market and fresh greens for the produce market. It may be possible to grow for both markets though I have not heard of anyone actually doing that.

Dandelion roots are one of those herbs that is always in steady demand, never swinging much up or down like some other herbs that have received "star" attention in the media. A perfect example of a former "star" herb whose market later crashed is St. John’s wort. So, on the demand side of the business equation, I would say that the dandelion market continues to grow. But I must hasten to add that I do not have recent market information on this crop; my comments are based on general impressions of the market and on our own recent experience selling the seeds and dried roots.

The market for fresh dandelion greens is much more limited in North America. Quite likely there is no market for it in your area. However, dandelion greens ought to be eaten more because of their high nutritious value along with just enough bitter principles to promote better digestion. Foods with a touch of bitterness like dandelion greens have incredibly positive effects on health.

Also, I am wondering where we could get information on post harvest practices. For example, do we need to dry it, are there brokers who would buy it freshly harvested? We are kind of at a loss for where we locate this type of information or those type of individuals. Sorry for the confusing questions, I am hoping maybe you could provide us with some guidance to get us on the right track.

Have you checked our GrowerZone section of our website? There is some useful information on dandelion’s agronomy in the "Resources" and "ProGrowers" areas of the GrowerZone, for both the dried and fresh markets.

For the dried medicinal market, have a look at the monograph from the Instituto Sperimentale per l’Assestamento Forestale e per l’Alpicolturo. It is in Italian unfortunately, but it is well worth the trouble of inviting an Italian friend over to translate it (perhaps sharing a good bottle of Italian wine too!). Yes, you will have to dry the roots. Buyers of roots are not interested in having to dry and process the roots; they want a finished dried product, either in whole or a milled form, in sacks or barrels that can be shipped direct to their customer.

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