Hand harvesting lavender
The traditional method of harvesting lavender flower is by sickle. Between 2003 and 2010 this was the primary method of harvesting at Snowy River Lavender. While it can be said that approaching a paddock of lavender in full flower, sickle in hand, is somewhat daunting, there is nevertheless a type of romance to it. There is the camaraderie, the sheer sensual pleasure of being up to ones arm pits in lavender flowers, the beauty of the insect world, the excitement of filling a truck with flower and riding high on the load to the distillery. This said, it is also hard work in the summer heat and it requires a lot of good will from family and friends because if there is one truism of harvest time, it is ‘many hands make light work’. As we pressed towards a commercial scale increasing our acreage under cultivation, the romance had to give way to the pragmatics of the higher levels of production. We still do some hand harvesting, but the bulk of flower is now gathered by the machine
Gathering drought effected lavender flower
Drought effected lavenders have short stems and are difficult to harvest efficiently with a sickle. The drought of 2009 saw us devise the hedge trimmer and sling method for hand gathering the flower. The plants shown in these photos are the same shown above being sickle harvested a year before. This highlights the distinct effect on the flower of a dry season, not surprisingly the essential oil of these dry years is intensely sweet and high in esters.