Growing Problems for Lavender
France’s English-language newspaper
Lavander production in France is facing growing problems – with infestations of leafhopper insects, imports from Bulgaria and the threat of European legislation.
Although production of lavender oil last year hit a high of 55 tonnes, growers in the main areas of the Vaucluse, Drôme and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence are highlighting increasing problems with leaf-sucking cicadelles which are killing off increasing numbers of the “fine” plants used in perfume production.
Tiny leafhoppers – around 1-2mm – feed off the sap in the plant but introduce microbacteria which dry out the plant. No treatment has yet been found although some success has been found with kaolin clay – but the effect on bees is not certain and it has not been cleared for use.
Growers are also facing increasing competition from Bulgaria which has gained a foothold in international trade. Although French perfume houses have stuck with locally-produced lavender oil because of its quality, growers fear that increasing Bulgarian trade will hit prices.
They are also protesting about a European regulation on chemical products, with lavender oil being named as such. Lavender oil is recognized for its antiseptic properties but the Reach regulations demand chemical products carry special labels. Oil distillers fear that their healthy products could be forced to carry a danger warning.
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