Agronomic research on commercially important herbs
Natural products are becoming increasingly popular as food flavouring and cosmetic and as health supplements in Europe and North America. Presently, the herb and spice industry is expanding very rapidly in Canada, and Saskatchewan is one of the provinces in the forefront. To address the needs of this developing industry, the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre (CSIDC) has expanded the herb research and development program with the objective of developing cost effective and labour saving production practices for commercial scale production of important herbs. This project is being conducted with financial support from the Canada-Saskatchewan Agri-Food Innovation Fund and with market directions from the Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association. The main goals of the CSIDC’s herb research and development program include (i) evaluating the adaptability of promising herbs to Saskatchewan growing conditions, (ii) developing labour saving management practices for mechanized commercial production, (iii) comparing the effects dryland and irrigated production on yield and quality, and (iv) identifying appropriate production and harvest methods to increase yield and improve quality. The herb species included in the agronomic studies include Echinacea angustifolia, feverfew, German chamomile, milk thistle, stinging nettle, and St John’s wort. Many other aromatic, culinary, and medicinal herbs are also being evaluated in observational plots. Preliminary results from the various studies on Echinacea angustifolia conducted at the CSIDC are summarized in this paper.
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