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J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Jan 30;91(2):337-43. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4191.

Effects of different irrigation, drying and production scenarios on the productivity, postharvest quality and economic feasibility of Origanum syriacum, a species typically over-collected from the wild in Lebanon.

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Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Ibsar, Nature Conservation Center for Sustainable Futures, American University of Beirut, PO Box 11-0236, Beirut 1107 2020, Lebanon.



The potential of Origanum syriacum L. to become a cultivated crop in Lebanon rather than being harvested from the wild was investigated at the production, postharvest and economic levels. Three irrigation schemes were tested on growth parameters of cultivated oregano plants. In order to identify the most quality-preserving drying technique, air-, oven (30 °C)- and freeze-dried oregano samples were assessed through sensory analysis. Cost/benefit analysis was used to compare the economic potential of O. syriacum in four production scenarios.


An irrigation scheme of 16 L per plant administered every 2 weeks (medium irrigation) during the dry period resulted in a doubling of the horticultural (56.34%) and hydro-distilled essential oil (55.22%) yields. Descriptive sensory analysis showed that air-dried material had the desired flavour, aroma and colour attributes. Net present values ranged from - 677 406.02 to 562 301.5 US$ and benefit/cost ratios from 0.5341 to 5.1993 for a 1 ha, 5 year life-cycle oregano farm.


Irrigating plants once every 2 weeks during the dry season optimised herbage and essential oil yields of oregano, while air drying of plant material preserved its organoleptic attributes as a spice. Three of the four production scenarios, namely Zaatar production, herbal tea and Zaatar production and essential oil production, were economically feasible, with the last of these having the highest economic feasibility.

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