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Multi-Use Crop Loaded With Profit Potential
Sea buckthorn is a "new" crop that may be good for your health and your wealth, suggests Brian Lang. The British Columbia plant breeder promotes the crop throughout Canada and the U.S., also selling a wide variety of products made from the plant's leaves and seeds.
"The market is at a good stage," he says. "Most people haven't heard of it yet."
Those like Lang that have heard of the plant are enthused. It has been considered a health food for thousands of years throughout Asia and Europe. One website even claims Genghis Khan and his armies drank the juice to increase stamina and speed the healing of wounds. In Russia and other countries, the oil has been used to treat burns, skin lesions and other skin problems, as well as mouth ulcers and other inflammations and problems of the gastrointestinal tract.
It's loaded with vitamins C, A, E and K, as well as antioxidants, bioflavonoids, amino and linoleic acids, and various microelements. The fruit can be used for juice, preserves and other products, though Lang describes it as an acquired taste.
"It has a very tart, very acidic flavor," he says. "It works well in marinades, as flavoring and in salad dressings."
The leaves are used in herbal tea, and some think this use has the greatest potential market, says Lang. Oil pressed from the seed also has many uses. Lang markets it in gel caps, lotions, creams, lip butter, shampoos, body cleansers and more. He also offers fruit oils and teas on his website.
So far, Lang has concentrated on selling plants through his nursery. He imports oil and tea for the value added products he sells. Most of his customers, he says, plant the shrubs for personal use. "They gather the berries and juice them in blenders or pick the leaves for tea."
Lang sells a broad selection of sea buckthorn varieties. Fruit size, oil content, fruit color, yield and harvest, mature height and even the extent of thorns differ from one variety to another.
He says the plants are easy to grow and will spread in search of water. However, disking alongside a row of plants can contain them. The challenge, he says, is in picking the fruit.
"The berries don't release easily," says Lang. "Researchers in Alberta are working to develop picking equipment, including leaf pickers."
He notes that in China and other areas, sea buckthorn is also planted for erosion control. The plant fixes nitrogen and can be grazed. In fact its Latin name Hippophae refers to its positive impact on the appearance of horses.
"I have put chickens into older plants, and they can't get enough of the berries," he says.
Lang sells unrooted cuttings as well as rooted plants. Prices vary by variety and the age of the plant, ranging from $6.50 to $15 for rooted plants.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Okanagan Sea Buckthorn, Inc., P. O. Box 318, Kaleden, British Columbia, Canada V0H 1K0 (ph 250 497-7186; www. hippophae.ca or okanaganseabuckthorn. com).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6