Listed a French patrimony, symbol of Provence, lavender is the principal force of agricultural ecosystem, economic and touristique for the region of the Provence Alps Cote d’Azur. It is today in great danger. As beautiful and fragrant as it seems, little do we know that the plants are facing a serious problem.
For twenty years, the cultivation of lavender in Provence faces two problems:
° Phytoplasma withering, a micro bacteria transmitted by a leafhopper
Carried by a mini-cicada, leafhoppers, stolbur phytoplasma represents a serious health problem for the lavender growers. This micro-bacteria agglutinate in the vessels of the plant and eventually atrophy in two or three years. Farmers are forced to pull out a part of their production. The use of pesticides is not possible due to surrounding beekeeping activities.
Global warming led to frequent droughts that have particularly marked the year 2000. In 2003, 2006 and especially 2007, Provence has suffered from the weather, and despite a rainfall rising in recent years, the lavender fields will not last more than 10 years under current conditions.
In fact, France used to be the world’s largest producer of the lavender essential oil. However, since 2010-2011, Bulgaria had taken over the title. On a worldwide level, there’s a substantive shortfall of lavender essential oil production by half in the last 10 years. In France, the production of 85 tons of lavender essential oil has dropped to 30 tons.
Researchers and scientists and farmers are working hand in hand to overcome this major problem.
Nevertheless, in Provence, there are still plenty of lavender fields of us to visit, see, smell …