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Growing Dandelions For Dollars
When most people see dandelions, they see weeds. When Wanda Wolf sees dandelions, she sees profit.
  Wolf has been in the native plant and herb business for 10 years, and understands what herbalists and nutraceutical manufacturers want. She works with farmers and people who harvest plants from the wild to market their products.
  In recent years, she has discovered that good money can be made from harvesting dandelions so she has started paying farmers $100 per acre to dig out dandelions using a special implement called a sprigger, which is pulled behind a tractor.
  People use dandelion roots in dried form as a body cleanser. Leaves and flowers (fresh frozen) are also marketable products, according to Wolf.
  She says that during World War II, when latex was in short supply, dandelions were grown and harvested for their milky latex sap, which was used to make rubber products.
  The plant actually contains more iron and calcium than spinach. The plant is also said to be useful in dealing with diabetes and cancer. And the root can be taken as a diuretic.
  Wolf says that although the market for dandelions was soft over the last two years due to a glut from overseas countries, she's optimistic about next year's prices and hopes to scale up production here again.
  "The overseas product was generally poorer quality because dandelion roots absorb both good and bad soil components, plus it took a bit of time to clear out our own supply backlogs. I think next year will be a good year for us," she says.
  To make harvesting worthwhile, she says a field needs to be saturated with dandelions. In such a case, Wolf says a grower could expect to yield about 1,000 lbs. of dried dandelion root per acre. She has sold this product for $6 to $8/lb., which translates to a return of $6,000 to $8,000 per acre.
  According to Wolf, one person can pick 5 to 7 lbs./hour of flowers at the first flush of growth in May, selling them for around $4 per pound. Leaves are also harvested in spring.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lonewolf Herb Resource, Wanda Wolf, P. O. Box 18, Phippen, Sask., Canada S0K 3E0 (ph/fax 306 937-2192; lonewolf@sasktel. net).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6