Oregon leads the U.S. in peppermint production, growing nearly 35% of the national total. Production has remained stable over the past few decades, but the location where peppermint is grown has shifted from the Willamette Valley to Central and Eastern Oregon. In Central Oregon, most acres of peppermint are in Jefferson County, with some acres also grown in Crook County. The peppermint grown in Central Oregon is distilled to extract the oil.
Peppermint is planted either in the late fall or in the spring, using special mechanical planters. Because mint is a perennial that does not produce seed, it is planted using stolons (rootstock). Mint stolons are taken from existing fields and then planted within a few days. Fields of mint are generally left in production for three to five years and then replaced with another rotational crop.
Mint is harvested from late June to mid-August. Maximum oil yield is highly dependent upon environmental conditions. Warm, sunny days increase the amount of oil, which is stored in glands on the underside of the leaves. Optimum oil yield and quality is attained when 10% of the peppermint crop is in full bloom. It is cut and windrowed much like hay, then dried in the field for several days before it is collected for distillation. At the distillery, oil is extracted from the leaves.
|2011 Acres Planted:||1005|
|2011 Yield Per Acre:||80 Pounds|
- Approximately 90% of U.S. mint oil is used in toothpaste, gum and other confectionary items.
- The U.S. produces nearly 70% of the world’s peppermint and spearmint supply.
- One drum of oil, about 400 pounds, will flavor approximately five million sticks of chewing gum or 400,000 tubes of toothpaste.
- Early Romans believed eating mint would increase your intelligence. They also believed that the scent of mint would stop a person from losing their temper. Royal ambassadors carried mint springs in their pockets.
- Peppermint is one of the oldest and best home remedies to help aid with indigestion and other stomach problems. Studies show that peppermint lessens the amount of time food spends in your stomach by aiding in digestion.
- Research has shown that smelling mint improves concentration. Japanese companies have been known to pipe small amounts through air conditioning systems to invigorate workers and boost productivity.