Growing Lavender: What Does It Take?

planting machine built by Gary Young in 1994

Gary’s planting machine he built in 1994. Spikes on the wheels make holes; workers sitting on the bench take herbs from the three racks and plant them.

Let’s examine the facts. I travel an average of six weeks a year just to visit growers and distilleries around the world and have been doing this for 25 years. I have watched farms come and go and have watched distilleries dismantled and sold as scrap iron. I have also watched fields replaced with standard crops of grape seed, wheat, corn for bio-fuel, and hemp for rope and building material. The crop just depends on the commodity market for the year. Why are the crops changing so dramatically?

As a born rancher and farmer, I can easily understand. As a businessman, I can also easily understand. Let’s look at some more facts.

When I started my first farm in 1992, wages were $3.25 an hour for farm labor. We were not required to pay overtime or benefits, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) never dictated how we operated our business. Diesel fuel was under $1 per gallon, and we could buy a good used 110 hp Massey Ferguson 2705 tractor for $5,000 to $6,000.

In 1992 the price of lavender essential oil from France was $78 a kilo, plus shipping FOB France. Good farmland was $600 to $1,000 per acre.

To grow lavender, you must have a greenhouse to germinate the seed and create starts for spring planting. You also must have a planting machine, or you have to plant by hand. After you plant the starts, you must wait three years before the first harvest. Then how do you harvest?

You can’t harvest with a wheat combine, hay swather, potato digger, or corn harvester, and no equipment is manufactured in the U.S.A. for planting or harvesting lavender. Therefore, I built my own planting machine and have engineered and built two lavender harvesters.

6 thoughts on “Growing Lavender: What Does It Take?

  1. You built that machine?
    Um, I know the guy with the grease on his hands! Please do give credit where credit is due!

  2. We take for granted at times what makes an oil so great and yet what goes on behind the scenes is so important. Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes yet again to all the things you do in order to make this company work in our country. Blessings.

  3. Please make your comment blogs in printable form for us distributors. These explanations make it easier for distributors to defend the price of YL oils. Especially when other companies claim to be therapeutic grade. I had one patient get sick from diffusing a non-YL Eucalpytis oil from the health food store. By the way YL oils helped heal his COPD lungs so that he barely needs his oxygen take.

  4. Steve,

    I don’t believe there are videos, but one could tie string or twine around small bunches of the lavender to create bundles and then cut with a sickle bar or sharp knife. It depends on how much you want to cut. You have to try to see what works the best with what you have and how much you want to cut. Remember to cut between 6 and 8 inches from the ground.

    - Gary

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