St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum, shown above) is an interesting herb crop growing in the SFA New Crops Herb Plot. As a medicinal crop, St. John’s Wort proponents claim antidepressant activity and potent anti-inflammatory properties. It is often considered to be an invasive weed in the U.S. Care should be taken in production, as in pastures, St John’s wort acts as both a toxic and invasive weed. It replaces native plant communities and forage vegetation to the extent of making productive land nonviable or becoming an invasive species in natural habitats and ecosystems. Ingestion in large doses by livestock such as horses, sheep, and cattle can cause photosensitization, central nervous system depression, spontaneous abortion, and death (Wikipedia).
So, is it worth considering for commercial production? The answer isn’t a simple one. Clearly, producing SJW is not for the faint of heart. It’s invasive properties are enough to scare away most potential producers. Still, there is a demand for SJW products, and it can grow in MN. There is much commercial production in Canada. One of the keys to establishing a niche crop or new crop for revenue on a farm is to understand the importance of being early to the market. While SJW doesn’t appear to have a significant fit for many growers, demand may increase as more and more consumers turn to herbal and biological solutions.