Lavender Production in Massachusetts
In 2001 - 2002 as part of an Extension outreach project, lavender was grown in southeastern Massachusetts. The goals of the project were to:
- Determine the management practices for commercial lavender production in Massachusetts.
- Determine the cost of commercial production of lavender for cut flowers and/or oil production.
- Evaluate the market viability for lavender production in Massachusetts.
The following information was learned as a result of this project.
- Can easily be propagated from softwood cuttings.
- Hardwood cuttings can also be propagated, but more difficult.
- Tissue culture from callus derived from leaf buds is possible.
- To maintain varieties lines lavender should not be propagated from seed.
- Lavender requires well-drained soils.
- Sandy, sandy loam, or gravelly soils are ideal.
- Lavender does well in low-fertility soils.
- Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5.
Spacing Between Rows
- Between rows: 4 ft., with a range of 3-6 ft.
- Between plants: 1-3 ft., 30" most common
- 3,000 - 5,000 plants per acre - 4,000 about average.
Price of Plants
- Plugs: 128 plug tray $50-60, less for large quantities ($30-40).
- 2" pots: $3-$4 retail, $1.50-2.00 large quantities.
- 4" larger pots:- $4-$6, large quantities for around $3.00
- Plants should be "hardened" off before being put into the field.
- In Massachusetts spring planting is recommended.
- Flower buds should be trimmed off during the first year, and sometimes the second to speed up establishment.
- Drip tape recommended.
- Needed primarily in the first year, sometimes second.
- Some irrigation may increase production in mature plantings. Overhead irrigation may increase disease problems.
- Overhead irrigation may cause older plants to break open in the middle.
- Composted manure and bone meal used at planting.
- Up through year three, around 100 lb. N per acre can encourage vegetative growth.
- Mature plants need no more than 50 lb. N per acre.
- Excessive applications of N can decrease oil quality, and make plants unhealthy (also leads to increase weed competition). Phosphorus and Potassium requirements are also very low.
- Periodic liming may be necessary to keep pH at 6.5 or higher.
- Probably biggest production issue - critical for good yield and high quality.
- Landscape fabric/weed barrier - expensive but dramatically decreases weeds.
- Mulches - with young plants can help - organic mulches can trap moisture against plants.
- Sand, gravel, oyster shells, etc. can be used. Light colored soils or mulches increase production and improve plant health/vigor.
- Drip Irrigation to discourage weeds between rows.
- Herbicides - pre-emergent herbicides effective but registration in question.
- Cultivator between rows & hand weeding in rows is most common. Mature stands shade out most weeds.
Pests & Diseases
- Root rot - Phytophthora and Armillaria - proper soil drainage is key to preventing.
- Spittle Bug - common, unsightly, but causes only minor damage.
Confusion exists with cross-naming, inconsistency in cultivars worldwide Lavandula angustifolia ("True," English, French)
Lavender Munstead Lavandula angustifolia' Munstead'
Lavender Sarah Lavandula angustifolia ‘Sarah' (munstead selection)
Lavender Hidcote Lavandula angustifolia ' Hidcote'
Lavender Hidcote Pink Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote Pink'
Lavender Jeana Davis Lavandula angustifolia 'Jeana Davis'
Lavender Bowles Early Lavandula angustifolia 'Bowles Early'
Lavender Martha Melissa Lavandula angustifolia ' Melissa'
Lavender Fred Boutin Lavandula x intermedia 'Fred Boutin'
Lavender Fat Spike Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'
Lavender Dutch Lavandula x intermedia 'Dutch'
Lavender Provence White Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence alba'
Lavender Provence Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence'
Flower Yields - 'Grosso'
- Approximately 150 stems per bundle.
- 4-7 bundles per plant - 5-6 average.
- 12-15 bundles to yield a pound of dried buds.
- Buds per plant – l/4 to ½ lb. per plant dried buds.
- Bundles per acre 4,000 x 5 = 20,000.
- Buds per acre: 1,000 - 1,500 pounds dried buds per acre.
- L. angustifolia yield between 3 and 15 quarts of oil per acre (about 5 to 25 lbs.)
- Lavandin yield between 20 and 95 quarts of oil per acre (about 35 to 180 lbs.).
- 1998 prices for lavandin oil, around $10.50/1b., true lavender oil about $22.50/1b.
- Thus, on the wholesale market, lavandin varieties will generate around $400 to $2,000 per acre for oil production. True lavender L. angustifolia will generate around $120 to $350 per acre.
- It is highly unlikely that most U.S. lavender producers can compete in the wholesale essential oil business with producers in some other parts of the world.
- Oil production for small producers should be aimed at high quality, value-added markets.
Harvesting - Pruning
- For oil production, mechanical harvesting is a must.
- Hand harvesting is necessary for bundles, buds, and fresh flowers.
- U-pick is an option that some farms use on a limited basis.
- Proper pruning and shaping of plants extends life, improves production.
- Most U.S. lavender producers must develop their own products & markets, or partner with someone who will.
- Value-added products are often key to marketing.
- Culinary uses and markets for lavender are rapidly growing - L. angustifolia is valued around $7.00 per ounce for premium quality culinary quality buds.
- Lavender can be used to produce products such as lavender jelly, cookies, ice cream, culinary herb blends, lavender tea, honey, etc. Bath products - soaps, shampoos, bath oils, lotions, bath salts, spritzes, etc.
- Perfumes, candles, incense, etc.
- Sachets, potpourri, wands, pillows, etc.
- Bundles, dried arrangements, wall hangings, wreaths, etc.
- Retail about $6 -$10 per dried bundle, typically around $7.00 (125-150 stems/bundle).
- Wholesale price about $2-3 per bundle. $30/1b. high end retail price for clean, colorful buds.
- As low as $6.00 per pound for low quality buds - typically around $ 10.00 per pound is as low the price/pound goes for buds in this area.
Prepared January, 2002
by Paul Lopes, Floriculture Specialist, University of Massachusetts, Extension Floriculture Program