A synonym of Mentha canadensis L. is Mentha arvensis L. Japanese cornmint and its commercial varieties are natural hybrids and are propagated exclusively vegetatively (Topalov, 1989). Japanese cornmint includes two cytotypes, one with 2n = 72 (M. arvensis) and the other with 2n = 96 chromosomes (M. canadensis) (Gobert et al., 2002). However, the two names have been and continue to be used interchangeably by many authors. Most authors from Asian countries continue to designate Japanese cornmint as M. arvensis.
Japanese cornmint is considered a subtropical plant and it is grown widely in India, Vietnam, China, in some south American countries (Brazil), and in a smaller acreage in eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania) (Chand et al., 2004; Clark, 1998, Lawrence, 2007; Topalov and Zheljazkov, 1991; Zheljazkov et al., 1996a).
Japanese cornmint essential oil is rich in menthol and the species is currently the only commercial source for the production of natural menthol (Clark, 1998; Lawrence, 2007). Japanese cornmint essential oil, crystalline menthol, and the dementholized oil are some of the most widely used flavor and fragrance agents in beverages and in the food, pharmaceutical, flavor, and fragrance industries (Clark, 1998; Chand et al., 2004; Galeotti et al., 2002; Mint Industry Research Council, 2011; Shrivastava et al., 2002).
The United States has not been and does not currently produce Japanese cornmint despite some incorrect reports (Singh and Saini, 2008). However, the United States is one of the largest importers of crystalline menthol and dementolized oil from Japanese cornmint. As a result of inconsistent supply and quality of these products, the U.S. industry and individual peppermint producers are interested in domestic production of Japanese cornmint. The United States is a major producer of peppermint and spearmint [National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), 2011], species closely related to Japanese cornmint. For 2011, the values of peppermint and spearmint oils produced in the United States were $128 million and $45 million, respectively (NASS, 2011). The need for domestic production of Japanese cornmint has triggered some recent studies in Mississippi (Zheljazkov et al., 2010a, 2010b) and in Wyoming (Zheljazkov, 2011, unpublished data). This recent research clearly demonstrated Japanese cornmint could be a viable crop in the United States, from the humid hot environment in Mississippi to the dry, short-season climate in Wyoming.
Japanese cornmint oil content and composition may be affected by a number of factors such as fertilization (Zheljazkov et al., 2010a), methods of propagation (Zheljazkov et al., 1996a) and harvesting stage (Topalov and Zheljazkov, 1991; Zheljazkov et al., 2010b).
We hypothesized that the length of the DT will have an effect on Japanese cornmint essential oil content and composition. Indeed, various authors used different DTs for extraction of Japanese cornmint, ranging from 60 min (Zheljazkov et al., 2010a, 2010b) to 180 min (Phatak and Heble, 2002). The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of eight different DTs (1.25, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 min) on essential oil content and composition of Japanese cornmint and develop a regression model that describes their relationship.
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