Testing Maralroot, Market for Roots
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: No Name Given
Posted on: August 6, 2003

Do you know how we can test if our maralroot tea is at the correct level 0.5? Also, is there a market for the seeds somewhere? My plants are 3 years this year and I do have some seed. If there was a market for the root I would plant all my seed.

Maralroot is a leading edge crop with a bright future as a commercial crop. It is very hardy, grows well in our climate, and is a potent medicinal with interesting tonic and "adaptogenic" effects. And it is an attractive ornamental to boot.

You are in a good position because you are one of the first growers to experiment with the crop in North America. We have seen over and over that the early adopters who work out the production and marketing of new medicinal crops such as maralroot ultimately do very well in the market growth phase when prices tend to be the highest. It sometimes takes a few years for the market to catch up with the reality that a new herb is being grown in North America, but we are confident the market will eventually start to take an interest in this herb.

At this early stage in market development maralroot definitely occupies a niche market, which has benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are the higher prices and the headstart you have on the competition, but a significant drawback is that you need to work harder to market the herb to first time buyers. You need to educate buyers about the virtues of the herb, and you have to get the word out to the public by getting the media talking and writing about the many virtues of this herb.

Fortunately, in a niche market it is easier to market smaller experimental production lots direct to wholesalers and retailers compared to mature, commodity market crops such as echinacea. Growers of commodity crops make money producing and selling to brokers by the tonne or by the truckload after great effort has been made to squeeze out every production saving possible. Production efficiencies are generally not as critical when a new crop is in the early market development phase.

I am not aware of any commercial labs currently offering ecdysteroid testing. Ecdysteroids are well known to science and protocols exist to quantify their levels in biological samples. Some commercial labs are willing to adapt research protocols for new commercial crops if there is the promise of more business in the future.

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