Farming with honeybush

To cultivate honeybush successfully, farmers need to understand the special requirements of this crop. In addition to having land available, they need access to seedlings and water, and must be within reach of a processing plant. They must know how to test and prepare the soil, when and how to plant and care for the seedlings and harvest the tea correctly, as well as how to process and market their tea.

Cultivation of different honeybush species
  • The main cultivated species are Cyclopia subternata and Cyclopia genistoides. Their commercial cultivation is localised in the area from the Overberg to the Langkloof, with approximately 100 hectares under cultivation. Cyclopia subternata grows mainly on sandy loam soil and requires more water than Cyclopia genistoides. Suitable areas for Cyclopia subternata cultivation are in valleys in the Langkloof, Waboomskraal near George and the Riversdale area. Cyclopia genistoides grows naturally in the coastal, sandy areas from the West Coast up to Mossel Bay. Plantations have been established in the Overberg and Mossel Bay/Albertinia areas.
  • Indications are that Cyclopia intermedia may be difficult to cultivate commercially. This species can only be harvested every second or third year. If the plant is harvested too frequently, it does not build up sufficient energy reserves, resulting in die-back. This will proably make it uneconomical to cultivate, but more research is necessary to verify these preliminary findings. Currently there are about 30 hectares of Cyclopia intermedia planted in the Langkloof and Southern Cape.
The ARC is developing a guide to honeybush farming that will provide step-by-step information and basic illustrations. This guide should equip small-scale farmers with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to grow honeybush, but only once they have attended an ARC training course. The guide will also include a specific section advising farmers in the Genadendal area on cultivation of Cyclopia maculata.

Related links:

- Species: Cyclopia genistoides
- Species: Cyclopia intermedia
- Species: Cyclopia longifolia
- Species: Cyclopia maculata
- Species: Cyclopia sessiliflora
- Species: Cyclopia subternata