Lavandin itself has a history (dating back to the 1820s) of different species all with different compositions. The three most common being ‘Grosso’, ‘Abrialis’ and ‘Super’. In the past, the most common was Abrialis but this has evolved over time with ‘Grosso’ now being the dominant type with over 1,400 MT being produced in France alone each year.
Developed in the 1970's by lavender grower Pierre Grosso, the lavandin grosso plant is a more robust hybrid and grows well at lower altitudes meaning larger plantations on a more commercial scale can be managed successfully. Some of the larger plantations in France are amongst the largest commercial plantations of any essential oil in Europe. Lavandin is mechanically harvested and distilled in much larger volumes than its lavender counterpart. Taking France as an example, when we are comparing the economies of harvesting and distilling it’s the difference between 1,400 MT of lavandin versus 50 MT of lavender, almost 30 times larger! These economies bring a more cost effective product.
Lavandin is said to have a number of therapeutic benefits in particular antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and analgesic properties.
Read more about lavandin grosso and other lavender’s in our Elementary Essential Oils section or watch the video below to see the 2016 harvesting and distillation!
The principal cultivating areas of lavandin grosso oil are the Valensole Plateau, Albion Plateau, Drôme Provençale, Vaucluse, and Ardèche, in the southeast quarter of France.
Among the several planting areas, lavandin grosso remains the most popular variety followed by Sumian lavandin. However, Sumian lavandin is fast replacing lavandin grosso, as the latter is severely afflicted by insect pests, especially in the eastern part of the Valensole Plateau. The nurserymen (producers of lavandin plants) are much sought after and see their orders booked almost two years in advance, as there is more than adequate demand from both domestic and foreign markets. They should be able to meet this demand, especially with the inception of new nurseries.
Successive droughts in 2016 and 2017 damaged the plants and adversely impacted production. Yields per hectare were severely reduced leading to much lower production than normal. Due to the severity of the 2017 drought it is expected that both yields and production volumes will be compromised for at least another year or so. Anticipation of the increased areas of production should help maintain the volumes of the past three years (1,500 MT) and address the demand that is estimated around 1,800 MT.
The South East quarter has experienced a changing climate, leaning more towards being dry. As a result, lavandin culturists have started reviewing the working method of several cultures, in order to remain competitive. They are changing towards a near biological mode of culture and focusing on the longevity of the plants rather than the yield of essential oil. Lavandin grosso suffered enormouslyfrom the drought of 2017; and worryingly vegetative awakening has been noted, even if nothing is 100% certain at the moment. We must expect a year or more of volumes being compromised.
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