Japanese cornmint (Mentha canadensis L. syn M. arvensis L.) is an industrial crop cultivated for its essential oil, which has wide personal uses and industrial applications. Japanese cornmint is the only commercially viable source for production of natural menthol because its essential oil contains high concentrations of menthol (Galeotti et al., 2002; Lawrence, 2007; Zheljazkov et al., 2010a). Japanese cornmint is grown in India, China, Japan, Paraguay, and Brazil (Lawrence, 2007; Singh and Saini, 2008), and to a limited extent in eastern Europe (Topalov and Zheljazkov, 1991; Zheljazkov et al., 1996).
Menthol is an important monoterpene used in the pharmaceutical, therapeutic, food, and cosmetic industries (Lawrence, 2007). Menthol and the dementholized oil have a stable market (Lawrence, 2007). Menthol and Japanese cornmint essential oil has been used for treatment of insomnia, nasal congestion, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, bad breath, headache, and other infections (Farco and Grundmann, 2013; Patel et al., 2007). Besides its medical uses, menthol is used widely in personal care products such as moisturizers, lip balms, chewing gums, and bathing products (Lawrence, 2007; Ram et al., 2006).
The United States is a major importer and user of menthol and dementholized oil; however, there is no production of natural menthol in this country. Introducing Japanese cornmint to the United States will provide a new high-value crop for American growers and domestic production of natural menthol. Previous studies indicated feasibility of growing Japanese cornmint in Mississippi (Zheljazkov et al., 2010a, 2010b) and in Wyoming (Zheljazkov et al., 2013). Although there has been research on the timing of harvest representing the stage of development of the crop on Japanese cornmint in the south of the United States (Zheljazkov et al., 2010b), there is no information on how harvest time within a 24-h period would affect oil concentration and composition of Japanese cornmint grown in a more northern climate.
Diurnal variations in essential oil content and composition of aromatic plants from the same family have been reported previously for clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.) (Shevchenko, 1973; Tsvetkov and Balinova-Tsvetkova, 1976), for lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.) (Hassiotis et al., 2010), and for basil (Ocimum gratissimum L.) (De Vasconcelos Silva et al., 1999). Additionally, a recent study on ‘Native’ spearmint in northern Wyoming reported a significant effect of diurnal changes on spearmint essential oil content and composition (Bufalo et al., 2015). The effect of diurnal changes on Japanese cornmint in North America has not been investigated. Such information would be important for domestic producers of Japanese cornmint. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of harvest time within a 24-h period (0700 hr, 0900 hr, 1100 hr, 1300 hr, 1500 hr, 1700 hr, 1900 hr, 2100 hr, 2300 hr, 0100 hr, 0300 hr, and 0500 hr) and harvest date (Harvest 1 and Harvest 2) on essential oil concentration and composition of Japanese cornmint.
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