Traditionally, lavender cuttings, carefully selected from five unique clones, are propagated by direct planting in winter, in curved rows to suit the land contours. The contouring protocol maximises soil and water conservation and ensures optimum drainage.
More recently however, we have been evaluating alternative planting technologies to accelerate plant growth and encourage longevity.. Early results have been encouraging with a significantly improved field response, and these methods will assume greater importance in future years.
The cuttings take up to four years to reach optimum oil production. Plants, properly managed, can produce good flower densities for up to 20 years. We progressively assess the viability of plants after 10 years of age and may decide to rest, rehabilitate and replant underperforming sections after this time. In this process, lavender is removed and legume and brassica crops are rotationally planted to build organic matter and restore nutrients.
Our true French lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia), flowers once per year in December and January. Weed control must be comprehensive, as the plants cannot tolerate competition. Minimal quantities of non-residual herbicides are applied and supported by cultivation and hand removal of weeds and stray lavender seedlings. Hand weeding takes place twice a year, in winter and pre harvest. The weeding team walks the equivalent of the distance from the farm gate to Hobart and back!
Following comprehensive soil analysis, nutrients including dolomite or lime, organics including compost from processed lavender and nitrogen (as ammonium phosphate) are applied as required.
Unlike European plantations, pesticides and fungicides are are not applied.. We actively retain 40 hectares of native and cultivated forest around the farm to ensure abundant bird life and hence low insect pressures.
Bees are encouraged through the use of qualified apiarists as fertilised flowers lead to higher oil yields. The farm produces commercial quantities of exquisite Lavender Flower Honey.
An unseasonal frost in November or December can significantly reduce flower yields. Statistically this can occur every seven years. Root fungus related to poor drainage is closely monitored.
Besides the annual harvest, the bushes require side pruning to retain an optimum shape. Without pruning, the plants become leggy and debilitated. This, in part, is the secret behind our plants’ long life. Trimming back by about one third after flowering helps maintain plant vigour.
Irrigation is not required as the average rainfall of 900mm, combined with our contour farming techniques, is adequate especially as the roots of the lavender plants reach very deeply into the soil. However, a drought year may see the harvest and hence oil yields reduced.
Adult plants yield about 5 tonnes of flowers per hectare.