Mint is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean basin and from there, spread to the rest of the world by both natural and artificial means. Japanese mint is cultivated on a large scale. Mint is a primary source of menthol. It is also called Japanese Mint due to its import from Japan. It is a small herb of erect habit. The plant is a common garden herb. It grows successfully in the temperate and Subtropical region. It is a downy, perennial herb, spreading by root-stocks which creep along the ground or just under the surface. It has rigid and pubescent.
It is used in preparations like toothpastes, dental creams, confectionery, beverages and other items like tobacco, cigarettes and pan masala. It is used in the flavoring of a large number of pharmaceutical. It is finds extensive use in medicine in the treatment of nasal and bronchial catarrh. It is also employed as an analgesic in the treatment of carminative, neuralgia and rheumatism.
It can be grown in all tropical and subtropical areas under irrigation. However, it does not tolerate damp winters. A temperature of 20-250 C promotes vegetative growth, but the essential oil and menthol are reported to increase at a higher temperature of 300 C.
Medium to fertile deep soil, rich in humus is ideal for the cultivation of mint. The soil should have a good water-holding capacity but water-logging should be avoided. A pH range of 6-7.5 is best.
Season- of- Month:
Planting is done during the winter months.
It requires thoroughly ploughed and harrowed. All the stubble of weeds should be removed before the crop is planted. Manuring may be done at the time of land preparation by adding FYM @ 25 to 30 t/ha. Green manuring may also be done before the mint is planted. Mints are planted on flat land or ridges. Hence, flat beds of convenient sizes or ridges are made according to the spacing recommended.
The stolon’s are cut into small pieces (7-10 cm) and planted in shallow furrows about 7-10 cm deep with a row-to-row distance of 45-60 cm, manually or mechanically. The plot is irrigated immediately after planting.
Mints require weeding and hoeing at regular intervals in the early stages of crop growth. One hand-weeding is required after the first harvest. Sinbar is applied as spray @ 1kg/ha to controls a large number of weeds effectively. Combining organic mulch with a combination of 0.5 kg/ha of Oxyfluorfen herbicide and weeding or application of Pendimethion herbicide at 1 kg/ha and weeding, are found to give excellent weed control throughout the crop growth. Dalapon (4 kg/ha), or Gramaxone (2.5 l/ha) as post-emergent spray; Diuron (2 kg a.i/ha) or Terbacil treatment (2 kg a.i/ha) as pre-emergent treatment are also recommended for chemical weed control in mints.
The water requirement of mint is very high. Depending upon the soil and climate conditions, the crop is irrigated 6-9 times before the first monsoon. The crop requires three irrigations after the monsoons during September, October and November. Sometimes irrigation is required during winter, if the plant is dormant and there are no winter rains. When mints are grown in temperate climates, only 3-4 irrigations during the period from July to October are required.
Mint responds very well to a heavy application of nitrogenous fertilizers. Nitrogenous fertilizers @ 80-120 kg P and K at 50 kg P2O2 and 40 kg K2O /ha is required for a good crop of mint.
Mint is generally harvested after 100-120 days of planting, when the lower leaves start turning yellow. If the harvesting is delayed the leaves start falling, resulting in loss of oil. Harvesting should be done in bright sunny weather. Harvesting consists of cutting the green herb by means of a sickle 2-3 cm above the ground. Next harvesting is obtained about 80 days after the first harvest and the third one after about 80 days from the second harvest.
Mint oil is a light golden-colored and motile liquid and it should be completely free from moisture before storage. It is stored in large steel, galvanized steel or aluminium containers, filled up to the brim. Storage should be placed in a cool go down, free from light and humidity.