Based near Endeavor, Wis., brothers Richard (left) and Roderick Gumz grow mint, corn, soybeans, carrots, red potatoes and onions on 5,700 acres spread over four counties.
From late July through August, mint is cut into windrows, like alfalfa, at Gumz Muck Farms.
CHECKING THE CROP
Richard checks the mint prior to windrowing it. He is in charge of land maintenance and the corn, soybean and mint crops. Roderick handles the carrots, onions and potatoes.
READY TO CHOP
After two to three days of drying time, a forage chopper blows the mint into steam wagons designed by the Gumz family.
After steam distilling, the mint oil goes into 55-gallon drums and is sold for further refining, ultimately ending up in toothpaste or gum.
The brothers strive for 70 to 75 pounds of peppermint oil per acre, which translates to 10 gallons from each acre of mint. Wisconsin ranks fifth in the U.S. in mint production, with about 3,000 acres spread across a dozen farms.