- Additional Plants: herbs
- Crop Production: drought tolerance, varieties and cultivars, new crop development, quality assessment and improvement, winter hardiness, humidity tolerance
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Pest Management: integrated pest management, insect and disease survey
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
Producers continue to diversify the crops they grow to include cut-flowers and oil producing herbs. Their
overarching goal is to strengthen the economic and environmental sustainability of a farm business through
diversification. Unpredictable precipitation conditions, pest challenges, and shifts in consumer demand are forcing
farmers in the northeast to explore high value flower and essential oil herb crops. Lavender thrives in drought
conditions while mint prefers wet soils. This offers the farmer insurance that at least one of these high value crops
will yield given flood or drought conditions. Collaborating with two farms in eastern NY, this two-year project will
investigate which varieties of lavender (Lavandula spp.), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and peppermint (Mentha x
piperita) are most winter hardy and susceptible to insect and disease pests under organic management. A
lavender and a spearmint + peppermint variety trial on each farm will be planted. Insect and disease pests will be
scouted and unknowns identified. Winter survival, bloom date, wet yield, and oil quality will be measured. This
project will also evaluate whole bud/leaf and essential oil quality through chemical lab analysis and a farmer stakeholder sensory evaluation.
Vegetable, fruit, and specialty crop producers in addition to stakeholders in culinary and beverage markets will
benefit from this work. Without on-farm research and outreach to address varietal susceptibility to winter
conditions and pest damage challenges, the brave farmers who try to grow them will not receive the researchbased
information and event participation necessary to make these crops ecologically and environmentally viable.
Project objectives from proposal:
Working with two collaborating farms in eastern NY (Lavenlair Farm in Whitehall and Hay Berry farm in Hoosick
Falls), this project will investigate which varieties of lavender (Lavandula spp.), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and
peppermint (Mentha x piperita) are most winter hardy and susceptible to insect and disease pests under organic
management. Importantly, this project will also evaluate whole bud/leaf and essential oil quality. Herb, flower,
vegetable, berry, and tree fruit producers in addition to stakeholders in culinary and beverage markets will benefit
from this work.
Question: Which commercially available lavender, spearmint, and peppermint varieties grow best in eastern NY?
Objective 1: Determine which lavender varieties survive the winter under 24F degree row cover.
Objective 2: Identify and quantify the major insect and disease pests that attack lavender and mints.
Objective 3: Measure the yield and quality of each essential herb variety against what is found in other regions.
Objective 4: Evaluate essential oil herb quality with the farmers and local stakeholders (tea company, distiller, and