Borage (Borago officinalis)


Borage is a plant native to Europe. It grows to a height of approximately 0.5m. It produces many star shaped blue or purple flowers. The crop is grown for seed and oil. About 95% of the oil is used in dietary health products and the remainder in cosmetics. Borage contains an important fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a fatty acid, essential for the body.

As the areas taken up by traditional cropping in Southland reduce, crops such as this have the potential to become more important.  A lot of Borage was grown in this area in the past but competition from other markets has made production uneconomic at this time. Like most production cycles this will no doubt change.

Growing Borage

Propagation: From seed.
Yields/ha: 100–400kg/ha.
Time of harvest: February.
Soil type: Fertile weed-free soils are needed.
Fertilisers: Unknown at this stage. Dependent on nutrient status of soil.
Pest/Diseases: Wheat bug, Springtails, Stemphyllium, Sclerotinia.
Harvesting: Borage is harvested in February. The crop is cut and left to dry. Harvesting of the seed is carried out 7–10 days later, depending on conditions. The seed crop should be dried immediately after harvesting to a moisture content no greater than 10%. A problem with harvesting borage is that it doesn’t flower evenly and mature seeds shed very easily.
Marketing: There is not a free market for borage and most of the crops are grown under contract. This is sold to buyers in Europe where it is used in the health food and cosmetic industry.

Further Information

Wikipedia article