Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Climate Crunch Cometh!

Quoting one of my favorite Australian suppliers.   Now you all know about the fire that burned John and Petra Day's Fragonia plantation and the ongoing saga as they recover from that fire and rebuild their plantation..
This discussion is with a different supplier, who produces different oils. I had asked him about an
Nerolina Leaves
unusual variant of Nerolina that I had been asked to source, one with over 90% Nerolidol.  And since I was writing I asked about some oils we are either low on, or have difficulty sourcing, among them Eucalyptus Globulous and Lemon Myrtle.  The reply:


In the course of our research, way back when, we identified a patch of M. q. trees that yielded 95% nerolidol. We harvested enough seed to plant a few acres, and the plants grew very well. In due course, we harvested and distilled, and verified the very high nerolidol level.

International market interest was zero. Zilch. Nada. The paddock was eventually ploughed out and replanted with Tea Tree.
There are LOTS of Euc. glob that have been planted over the past decade or two, and those plantings continue with timber production as the primary objective. What we haven’t seen much of is essential oil produced from the plantation thinnings. This was to be an integral part of the plantation management plans. Maybe it will still happen, as there seems to be a real shortage of the EO from the traditional sources.
(my note, yes there is!)
Lemon Myrtle…. we are short, too. The dominant producer had a massive fire which destroyed the production plant and stock. It has been rebuilt, but prices have escalated, not surprisingly.  (my note, echoes of Fragonia!)
The Australian climate has changed so much in recent years that formerly reliable growing conditions are all over the place. There are some oils that we will not see again any time soon, Rosalina being one in particular that we put huge time, effort, and money into. Last season’s crop was so poor that it wasn’t worth harvesting.

All of this has us seriously considering whether we will continue to provide smallish quantities into the North American market. I’ll know more in the coming weeks, but get ready: Climate Crunch Cometh!

And reading this breaks my heart.  Besides John Day, the Fragonia distiller, and of course Chris Burder of Stone Ridge Farm, I have two Australian exporters that I trust. We have been burned by 'highly recommended' sources in the past and trust the people we trust. For one of them to consider stopping what they are doing is heart-breaking.
Now that's Australia.. we know that French essential oil production has not been as expected for several years now.  We are hoping that this Spring's weather will allow a good Thyme crop. Last year's was dreadful, because of bad weather during the Spring growing and harvesting season.

As my friend says, "Climate Crunch Cometh." and more difficulties are going to come.

I believe that our aromatic crops are "the canary in the coal mine."   Because we are a relatively small and specialized market, we see the effects of unusual weather patterns on our crops now.  How long before we see them in our food supplies?

No comments: