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!
Lavandin grosso has seen a meteoric rise. With a robust demand and more farmers switching to cultivating grosso, it still queens it over the other varieties with 85% of cultivated areas. The other varieties, lavandin super and lavandin sumian, play second fiddle with each representing only 6% of the lavandin surface area. The fields show reasonable balance and equitable distribution of ‘fine’ lavender and ‘clonal’ varieties. But a sizeable portion, nearly half of the total traditional lavender population that is lavender abrialis, is over six years old. This has been replaced by the newer clonal variety. The total areas under lavandin remain stable at around 21,000 hectares.
In 2018, the leafhopper insect wreaked havoc due to ‘stolbur phytoplasma’ and massive quantities of lavender had to be uprooted. Farmers had to undertake intensive efforts to control damage and replant in order to regain traction and lost ground. 2018 to 2019 experienced a stretch of mild weather throughout the autumn and winter months, thus shielding the lavender from extreme freezing or heavy downpours. However, subsequent months were not so kind. The key lavender growing regions experienced intense drought in June with rainfall finally making an appearance in the following month. The total precipitation did not exceed 8 to 11 mm, and is not adequate. Overall the lavandin flowers look rather sunburnt. Distillation has commenced but yield has been abysmally poor, around 30 to 50% below expectations. With the advent of the rain, farmers have decided to stop production and adopt a wait-and-watch strategy.
In the current situation, there are few quantities of oil and it does not seem likely that more will be available in the next few weeks. Despite the augmented cultivation, yields have not matched up with predicted production levels. In the meantime, current available stocks are also being depleted. These factors, fuelled further by widespread speculation, have pushed lavandin grosso prices to exceptionally high levels. In the wake of an unfounded speculative environment and the magnitude of the price rise, the French Interprofessional Organisation (CIHEF) has appealed for reasonable pricing by the lavandin players.
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