Drought in the Vosges: Arnica Picking Cancelled Again this Summer

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For the second year in a row, the arnica from the Vosges will not be harvested. Blame it on the hot weather and the lack of rain for over a month

For the second year in a row, the arnica from the Vosges will not be harvested. Blame it on the hot weather and the lack of rain for over a month

A sore? Quick, some arnica! But not the Vosges.  The county council of the department has decided to give up picking arnica this summer because of the drought affecting the massif and affecting this plant which is widely used by pharmaceutical laboratories. This is the second year in a row that the harvest has had to be cancelled.

“On the proposals of the Ballons des Vosges Regional Natural Park, the representative of the pickers and the Vosges department, and following an in-depth visit to the stubble between Breitfirst and Markstein, the steering committee decided to suspend all picking of arnica for this new year,” the county council said in a statement.

“There will therefore be no harvest for the second consecutive year. And this after three years of low performance,” the statement added. “In 2023, the low flowering is a priori linked to the high temperatures and the absence of precipitation for more than a month. No area is favorable for picking according to the current picking rules which provide for sufficient flowering density. »

The Vosges massif normally provides three-quarters of the wild resource harvested in France of this flower prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, then transformed into capsules, oil, gel or cream.

The largest harvest site in Europe

Until recently, the plant covered 120 hectares at the Markstein making it the largest harvesting site in Europe. In good times, about fifty pickers collect between eight and 10 tons of whole arnica plants and up to 500 kg of flower heads (flowers without peduncles).

“Despite the efforts made by all parties, the flower is therefore unfortunately not there,” continues the department. “Its collection provided a valuable economic resource to many actors: pickers, local processors, laboratories, etc. In the same spirit, and beyond arnica, the low growth of grass also puts breeders in a worrying situation.”

Since 2018, the county council has launched a relocation experiment on six sites in the Hautes Vosges chosen to replant cultivated plants from Markstein. “The experiment continues”, indicates the departmental council.

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