Oregon grows approximately 35% of the nation’s total peppermint. In 2018, Oregon had 19,000 acres of peppermint being grown around the state. In the same year, 1.6 million pounds of peppermint was produced holding a monetary value of over $34 million.
Peppermint has been grown in Oregon for many decades and over that period of time the production amount has remained at a stable amount. Peppermint was originally planted in the Willamette Valley, but has since mostly moved to Central and Eastern Oregon. Peppermint is grown in counties such as Crook County and Jefferson County. The peppermint that is grown and harvested in Central Oregon is used mostly for oil making purposes.
Mint is a perennial plant meaning that it will grow back by itself without replanting. There are many different types of mint. Mint plants can be grown in large fields or at your house. Mint has long branches that grow upward. These branches eventually grow and flop over sprawling out on the ground. In bloom, mint plants have white flowers that attract bees and butterflies. The key to growing mint is to have good soil that holds water.
Watch the video below to learn about growing mint in a hydroponic system!
Peppermint is harvested in the months of June and August. When peppermint has reached harvest growth size, it is cut and left in the fields to dry out. Once the cut peppermint is dry, it is chopped, put in a tub and taken to a distiller. At the distiller, the oil is extracted from the plants. Steam distillation is used to extract the peppermint oil from the dry plants.
Watch the video below to learn about peppermint harvest from an Oregon farm!
One of the most common pests of peppermint plants are aphids and spider mites. These bugs live on the underside of the leaves and cause brown spotting on the plant. They suck the sap out of the leaves which drains the plant of its nutrients and that kills the plants. The leave will turn yellow and eventually fall off. This can lead to the entire plant dying and the mint produce will be lost.
Verticillium wilt is caused by a disease in soil that affects the plants even years after the disease was first introduced. It takes many years to get rid of the disease in soil and most of the time the field should be left alone for as long as four years before it regains its original health. It survives best in temperate areas especially those that are irrigated. This soil disease causes the limbs or plants to wilt suddenly and unexpectedly. The leaves can yellow and sometimes the leaf margins turn brown and they will look like they are scorched.
Powdery mildew shows up on the leaves, stems and leaf stalk. This fungal disease appears as a white to gray powdery substance that coats the pores of the plane. The disease appears in circular shapes on the plant that are about 1/2 inch in diameter but they can spread and cover the entire plant. The spots will turn grey over time. The leaves will become yellow and fall off of the plant when severely infected.
Peppermint is found in products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and gum as a flavor addition.
Peppermint is used in tea products because it is has natural calories and is caffeine-free. The oils in peppermint also have benefits like freshening breath, better digestion and reduce headache pain.
Peppermint can be found candy products like mints and candy canes!
A distiller is what is used to turn a dry product into a liquid form using steam. Peppermint is distilled using water.
The removal of something by extreme effort or force.
A chemical product that destroys fungus.