The Wisconsin Mint Industry    

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Key Mint Pests

Weeds are the key pest of the mint in Wisconsin.  Excessive weed population compete with mint to reduce yields and may contribute off-flavors to the mint oil at harvest, resulting in lowered oil quality.  Some weeds may contain volatile compounds which are extracted along with the mint oil during distillation process.  Up to a 40% yield loss may be realized as a result of weed pressure by pigweed, lambsquarter, and foxtail species.  In addition to yield loss, certain weed species can reduce the marketability of the oil. The most common cultural practices used in Wisconsin mint production to reduce weed competition is a three year mint rotation followed by three years in another crop.  Some of these weeds are the annual broadleaf, annual grasses and perennial weeds.  

Many mint pests are most troublesome on older fields (4 or more years) of continuous mint.  Picking rootstock for planting new fields from old fields simply produces pest problems into these new fields at an early stage.  Some of these pests are the mint flea beetle, variegated cutworm, mint aphid and the two-spotted spider mite.  The most serious pest of peppermint grown on muck soils in Wisconsin is Floridotarsonemus mite, also known as “squirrely mint.”  This extremely tiny mite infests the mint buds but produces no visible symptoms until late in the season.  Hay weight is not affected but oil yield may be reduced by up to 80 percent in infested fields. 

Continued problems with verticillium wilt, rust and mint fleabeetles as well as the emergence of the Floridotarsonemus mite are the current issues that demand attention.  Effective tools to manage these pest problems are necessary for the continued economically-feasible production of min in Wisconsin.