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| Direct Sowing Catnip |
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jeff and Melissa Delimont
Posted on: April 29, 2000
My wife and I own 23 acres of Kansas farmground that we would like to raise catnip on. One question we have is: can it be sewn without fear of weeds taking over? Another question is where would I look to sell a bulk quantity such as this.
Catnip growers do not sow seeds direct in the field, for precisely the fear that caused you to write. Although catnip is a naturalized plant in North America, it does not compete well against weeds at the seedling stage. Unless the field happens to be exceptionally free of weed seeds, weeds are going to be a problem.
Most growers sow seeds in plug trays and then transplant plugs to the field. The plants are lined out in rows spaced to accommodate the farmers’ weed control equipment. Typically the row spacing is 1 metre (3 feet).
It may be worth experimenting with row seeding directly in the field, but this method is largely unproven and should only be attempted in a small plot (say, 1 acre or 1/2 an acre) as a test.
Twenty-three acres of catnip is a large amount. You would be wise to start with a smaller acreage the first year or two. The main reason is because buyers will not discuss your product until you have samples to show them. So you do not want to take too large a risk in growing so much without knowing that your product is going to be saleable.
There are a number of regional wholesale buyers and brokers who can be approached once you have some product to show them. Buyers are listed in various Q and A postings in the Commercial Growing and Marketing section of Richters website.
The Richters Fourth Commercial Herb Growing Conference Transcripts will feature an article on growing catnip commercial. The transcripts may be ordered online at Richters.