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J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Nov 10;58(21):11400-7. doi: 10.1021/jf1022077. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Yield, content, and composition of peppermint and spearmints as a function of harvesting time and drying.

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North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University, 5421 Highway 145 South, Verona, Mississippi 38879, United States.


Peppermint ( Mentha × piperita L.) and spearmints ('Scotch' spearmint, M. × gracilis Sole, and 'Native' spearmint, Mentha spicata L.) are widely grown essential oil crops in more northern latitudes; however, there is limited information on how harvest time and drying influence peppermint and spearmint yield, oil composition, and bioactivity, when grown south of the 41st parallel. In this 2-year study, the effects of harvest time and drying on the yield, oil composition, and bioactivity of peppermint ('Black Mitcham' and 'B90-9'), 'Scotch' spearmint, and 'Native' spearmint were evaluated. Peppermint oil from the dried material had higher menthol and eucalyptol concentrations. Menthone in both peppermint cultivars decreased from harvest 1 (late June) to harvest 5 (late August) or 6 (early September), whereas menthol increased. (-)-Carvone in spearmints accumulated early, before flowering, allowing for early harvest. Oil yields from the dried spearmint biomass reached the maximum at harvest 3 (mid-July). The essential oil compositions of the four mint genotypes were similar to that of 11 commercially available oils, suggesting that these genotypes can be grown in the hot, humid environment of the southeastern United States. The antioxidant activities (ORAC(oil) values) of the essential oils were 4372, 1713, 1107, and 471 μmol of TE L(-1) for 'Scotch' spearmint, 'Native' spearmint, peppermint, and Japanese cornmint ( Mentha canadensis ), respectively. The oils of the four mint genotypes did not affect ruminal fermentation in vivo, and did not exhibit antimicrobial, antileishmanial, or antimalarial activity at levels that would warrant bioassay-directed fractionation in a drug-discovery screening program. Specifically, the oils did not show greater than 50% growth inhibition against Leishmania donovani , Plasmodium falciparum clones D6 and W2, Candida albicans , Escherichia coli , Pseudomonas aeruginosa , Cryptococcus neoformans , Mycobacterium intracellulare , or Aspergillus fumigates at 50 μg mL(-1).

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