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Jeanine M. Davis

U.S. farmers are looking for new crops that will help diversify their farms and increase their profits. With the rising popularity of natural products, some farmers are interested in growing medicinal herbs. The dietary supplement industry is

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Elaine M. Grassbaugh, Mark A. Bennett, and Andrew F. Evans

40 WORKSHOP 3 (Abstr. 656) Seed Quality Issues in Medicinal Herbs

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Kathryn M. Kleitz, Marisa M. Wall, Constance L. Falk, Charles A. Martin, Marta D. Remmenga, and Steven J. Guldan

herb cultivation ( Falk et al., 1996 ). Diseases in current crops such as chile peppers ( Capsicum annuum ) could be reduced with alternate crops that may not serve as hosts to the pathogens. Thus, the cultivation of medicinal herbs on small New Mexico

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Jeanine M. Davis and Jacqulyn T. Greenfield

Seventeen North Carolina farmers received $5000 grants to grow medicinal herbs as part of a research study to determine the economic feasibility of producing herbs in different regions of the state, including producing the quality and quantity of medicinal herbs required by the industry at a price that is competitive in a global market. With the help of five buyers in the natural products industry, four medicinal herbs were selected to be grown: California poppy, dandelion, Echinacea purpurea, and valerian. The growers experimented with new crops, learned new production methods, and adapted existing methods and equipment to these crops. These growers were also introduced to new markets and made connections with buyers, statewide and nationally, in an industry that can be difficult to enter. Growers were responsible for keeping detailed records of production, harvest, and postharvest handling. To produce a marketable crop in 1 year, some of the growers started seedlings in their greenhouses, while others direct seeded into the field. With the natural products industry moving toward a nonchemically grown product, growers in this project had to produce their crop without pesticides. Weed pressures were the biggest challenge to most of the growers. Prior to harvest, bioactive constituents were tested on the dried raw material to see if levels met buyers' requirements. Other testing methods determined percentage of ash, moisture content, microbial limits, and heavy metal accumulation. For postharvest handling, tobacco farmers who had drying facilities experimented with different temperature regimes to produce a uniformed dried material. Buyers and growers were then introduced to each other to complete the sale of goods.

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Jeanine M. Davis* and George B. Cox

Weeds are a major concern in the production of many medicinal herbs. Weeds can interfere with the growth of the herb, reducing yields of foliage, flowers, and roots. The presence of weeds in the harvested herb can lessen the value of the herb or render it unmarketable. Weed control on medicinal herbs is difficult because there are few herbicides cleared for use and many herbs are organically grown. In this study, we examined the use of white and black plastic mulches to control weeds in the production of six medicinal herbs in the northern piedmont region of North Carolina. The herbs were grown for 2 years on raised beds with drip-irrigation. The beds were left bare or covered with black plastic mulch or white plastic mulch. The herbs grown were Arnica chamissonis, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, Leonurus cardiaca, Scutellaria lateriflora, and Spilanthes oleracea. Transplants were field set in May and June. Depending on the particular herb, foliage, and flowers were harvested during both growing seasons and roots were harvested at the end of the second season. Both plastic mulches provided excellent weed control compared to the bare ground treatment. A. chamissonis flower yields were reduced when plants were grown with either plastic mulch. Growth and yield of E. angustifolia, L. cardiaca, and S. lateriflora were unaffected by any mulch treatment. In contrast, total season yields of E. purpurea tops (stems, leaves, and flowers) and roots were higher with both plastic mulches than with the bare ground treatment. Root yields of S. oleracea were higher with the bare ground treatment than with either mulch, but top yields were unaffected by treatment.

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James M. Affolter and Marta Lagrotteria

The province of Cordoba in central Argentina is naturally rich in aromatic and medicinal herbs that are in high demand as ingredients in teas and herbal medicines. Most of the herbs sold are harvested from natural populations, and this activity is a primary source of income for families in the Sierra de Cordoba region. As a result of over-collection and other poor harvesting practices, many native plant populations have been reduced in size or extirpated. The economic consequence of the gradual decline of this resource has been a loss of real income in rural areas coupled with a pattern of emigration from small towns to larger cities. PRODEMA is a collaborative effort by universities in Argentina and the United States, with the sponsorship of the Cordoba government, to domesticate and to market the most commercially important species. Horticultural research has focused on the development of propagation techniques and identification and selection of desirable chemotypes.

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Kathryn M. Kleitz, Marisa M. Wall, Constance L. Falk, Charles A. Martin, Steven J. Guldan, and Marta D. Remmenga

Field studies were conducted to determine the production potential of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) medicinal herbs at two sites in New Mexico. Las Cruces, N.M., is at an elevation of 3,891 ft (1,186 m) and has an average of 220 frost free days per year, whereas Alcalde, N.M., is at an elevation of 5,719 ft (1,743 m) and averages 152 frost-free days per year. In-row plant spacings of 12, 18 and 24 inches (30.5, 45.7, and 61.0 cm) were compared at both locations. The corresponding plant densities for the 12, 18 and 24 inch spacings were 14,520 plants/acre (35,878 plants/ha), 9,680 plants/acre (23,919 plants/ha), and 7,260 plants/acre (17,939 plants/ha), respectively. Data were collected on growth rates, fresh yield, and dry yield for the herbs grown at each site. All crops at both sites had highest plot yields at the 12-inch spacing, suggesting that optimum in-row plant spacings are at or below the 12-inch spacing. Yields of 1.94 ton/acre (4.349 t·ha-1) of dried yerba mansa root, 0.99 ton/acre (2.219 t·ha-1) of dried echinacea root, and 2.30 ton/acre (5.156 t·ha-1) of dried mullein leaves were realized at the 12-inch spacing at Las Cruces in southern New Mexico. Yields of 1.16 ton/acre (2.600 t·ha-1) of dried valerian root, 0.93 ton/acre (2.085 t·ha-1) of dried echinacea root, and 0.51 ton/acre (1.143 t·ha-1) of dried mullein leaves were harvested at the 12-inch spacing at Alcalde in northern New Mexico. Yields of fresh echinacea flowers were 1.56 ton/acre (3.497 t·ha-1) in Las Cruces. Yields of dried mullein flowers were 0.68 ton/acre (1.524 t·ha-1) in Las Cruces and 0.66 ton/acre (1.479 t·ha-1) in Alcalde.

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Constance L. Falk, Hildegard van Voorthuizen, Marisa M. Wall, Kathryn M. Kleitz, Steven J. Guldan, and Charles A. Martin

Cost and return estimates are presented for selected medicinal herbs grown in a plant-spacing study at two sites in New Mexico. The selected herbs were echinacea [Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench], valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), and yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica Nutt.). Significant returns to land and risk were observed in the crops grown at the closest plant spacing, 12 inches (30 cm). Return to land and risk after two growing seasons from echinacea was estimated for a 10-acre (4-ha) farm to be $16,093/acre ($39,750/ha) in Las Cruces and $14,612/acre ($36,092/ha) in Alcalde.

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Anita L. Hayden

Hydroponic and aeroponic production of medicinal crops in controlled environments provides opportunities for improving quality, purity, consistency, bioactivity, and biomass production on a commercial scale. Ideally, the goal is to optimize the environment and systems to maximize all five characteristics. Examples of crop production systems using perlite hydroponics, nutrient film technique (NFT), ebb and flow, and aeroponics were studied for various root, rhizome, and herb leaf crops. Biomass data comparing aeroponic vs. soilless culture or field grown production of burdock root (Arctium lappa), stinging nettles herb and rhizome (Urtica dioica), and yerba mansa root and rhizome (Anemopsis californica) are presented, as well as smaller scale projects observing ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale) and skullcap herb (Scutellaria lateriflora). Phytochemical concentration of marker compounds for burdock and yerba mansa in different growing systems are presented.

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K.H.S. Peiris and S.J. Kays

Centella asiatica, the Asiatic pennywort, is an herbaceous perennial indigenous to the southeastern United States. In some Asian countries, it is valued as an important vegetable and is widely cultivated. In addition, it is considered an important medicinal herb due primarily to the pentacyclic phytochemical, asiaticoside, which effectively treats a variety of skin diseases. Information on the botany, photochemistry, medicinal, nutritional value, and cultivation of the crop is reviewed. This species may warrant preliminary field and consumer acceptance tests as a speciality vegetable in the United States.