There is no denying that hemp is a miracle plant. Whether you grow hemp for CBD flowers or industrial purposes, there are near endless uses for the crop. To illustrate, today’s hemp-derived CBD market features endless products — for both people and pets. In like fashion, we have discovered amazing applications for industrial hemp. Fiber and seeds from industrial hemp are used to make lumber, rope, textiles, food, fuel, and more.

It seems the more we discover about the hemp species, the more uses we find for it. Amazingly, forward-looking farmers are using hemp to help curb global warming. The primary cause of global warming is the greenhouse effect, which is an atmospheric imbalance intimately tied to excessive carbon emissions. Scientists and farmers are working together in developing a practice known as “carbon farming.” With this practice, farmers plant crops with a strategic intention to remove carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soil.

Hemp is being grown with carbon farming practices. In doing so, hemp farmers are fusing methods of sustainable agriculture with those that help reduce global warming. As people continue to develop procedures for protecting the planet, hemp carbon farming offers an exciting glimpse into new possibilities.

Global Warming, Fossil Fuels, and Carbon

Climate change is one of the primary topics of discussion for many popular political debates. While most people are aware that global warming is a threat, many lack awareness on how to take action against the ever-evolving problem. Even more, most people don’t quite understand how the earth regulates carbon levels in the atmosphere.

Global warming occurs when excess carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. When there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than can be accommodated for in nature, it causes problems. Namely, as the CO2 gets trapped in the atmosphere, it hinders the ability of the sun’s heat to escape efficiently. Within the natural order of the earth, even incremental changes to the atmosphere can have detrimental effects.

Earth regulates its own carbon levels in a process known as the “carbon cycle.” In this dynamic, trees and plants pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and deposit it into the soil. According to National Geographic, “Ideally, the carbon cycle would keep Earth’s carbon concentrations in balance, moving the carbon from place to place and keeping atmospheric carbon dioxide levels steady. However, the carbon cycle is changing because of human activity.”

Eco-conscious farmers and scientists have developed new methods of farming that can help support the natural world in removing excess carbon from the atmosphere.

What is Carbon Farming?

Scientists, farmers, and climatologists are working together to create the carbon farming industry. Carbon farming is the application of agricultural methods that seek to reduce the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere. Not only is this practice helpful for global warming, but is also great for growing crops.

Many traditional agricultural practices are not conscious of the earth’s carbon cycle. To this end, activities like driving tractors and plowing fields release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. They do this by stirring up soil and allowing carbon to oxidize. The burning of fossil fuels in the diesel engines of farm equipment also contributes to this process.

Carbon farmers take very specific steps to reduce the amount of carbon that their farms release into the atmosphere. These methods include no-till soil growing, livestock rotation, and the use of ground coverings such as mulch and plastic. Interestingly, by eliminating emissions in their own operations, carbon farmers help reduce the overall ambient CO2 in the atmosphere. In turn, they help lessen the impact of global warming. This is a very exciting prospect for hemp carbon farming.

What is a Carbon Sink?

In nature, carbon sinks are ecosystems that “absorb more carbon than they release.” Needless to say, carbon sinks are a key component in the carbon cycle. It is precisely these areas that carbon farmers seek to mimic in their operations.

Plant and tree species are the most important element in carbon sinks. As such, plants are perhaps the most critical element in the entire carbon cycle. Hemp crops fit nicely into current carbon sink models. Plants like hemp remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. In essence, they help tip the scales of the carbon cycle to a place where land removes carbon from the atmosphere, instead of contributing to excess CO2.

It’s worth noting that the ocean is also a massive carbon sink. The seas function as carbon sinks as they trap and store large amounts of carbon that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere.

Hemp as a Carbon Sink

Hemp carbon farms are some of the most efficient carbon sinks on earth. Amazingly, hemp carbon dioxide absorption is more efficient per acre than any other plant or tree species known to man. When combined with modern carbon farming techniques, hemp is one of the most effective weapons we have against global warming.

One of the more interesting things about hemp has to do with how the plants retain carbon after it is sequestered from the atmosphere. Interestingly, when hemp conducts photosynthesis, the carbon that plants pull from the atmosphere permanently bonds to the fibers within the plants. Unless the hemp is burned or composted, the sequestered carbon remains in the hemp fibers permanently. In this way, hemp carbon sequestration helps keep excess CO2 out of the atmosphere.

With so many environmental benefits in hemp carbon farming, experts hope that it will help lead the charge against climate change. Hemp is revolutionizing our understanding of regenerative farming, while also lessening our dependency on limited natural resources, such as trees. Interestingly, this once illegal plant shows great promise in helping save the planet.

Contact High Grade Hemp Seed

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are honored to spread the message about the role of hemp in carbon farming. If you have questions about industrial hemp or CBD hemp, please Contact Us today.

Looking at the hemp industry, it’s incredible to see the amount of development that has occurred since legalization. Excitingly, we have reached a point where cutting-edge plant science is being applied to commercial hemp production. These advancements have opened new doors of understanding on breeding premium CBD hemp strains.

As pioneers of the CBD space, High Grade Hemp Seed has developed an extensive knowledge-base on hemp genetics. To this end, our goal is to help you better understand the technical nuances of choosing hemp seeds. A particularly pressing issue for modern hemp farmers is understanding the F1 and F2 generation definition.

The abbreviations “F1” and “F2” refer to the genetic lineage of a particular hemp plant. More specifically, they describe how many generations of breeding have occurred from the original in-bred genetics from which the hemp plant was derived. This is important because F1 and F2 hemp plants of the same strain can have dramatically different characteristics.

In order to make the best hemp seed purchases possible, it’s critical to educate yourself on the differences between F1 and F2 genetics. Every growing season, countless hemp farmers go broke because they used the wrong genetics. To help ensure your success next growing season, High Grade Hemp Seed put together this brief exploration into F1 and F2 strains.

What do F1 and F2 Mean in Hemp Seeds?

In the world of plant genetics, the acronyms F1 and F2 refer to the genetic heritage of a particular hemp plant.
The term F1 means “first filial generation, or the genetic cross between two genetically distinct plants.” F2 refers to the next generation of hemp plants that results from breeding two F1 plants.

F1 hemp plants are cross-bred from two distinct in-bred lines (IBL) of plants. In hemp cultivation circles, IBL strains are also referred to as “homozygous plants.” These strains are in-bred for uniformity for several generations with the goal of controlling dominant genetic traits. In essence, the hybrid offspring of IBL strains comprise the entire catalog of hemp genetics available today.

F1 genetics are sought after by hemp farmers because these hybrids produce robust and consistent offspring. This predictability in crop performance is a huge asset in commercial hemp production. As such, by purchasing verified F1 strains, you give yourself the best chance of having a good harvest.

Why are F1 Hemp Seeds Better than F2?

The reasons why F1 hemp seeds are better than F2 seeds can be explained by how genes express themselves in different generations of cross-bred plants. Importantly, F2 hemp plants often display stunted and abnormal growth due to the expression of recessive alleles.

The encyclopedia definition of allele is as such, “also called allelomorph, [alleles are] any one of two or more genes that may occur alternatively as a given site (locus) on a chromosome. Alleles may occur in pairs, or there may be multiple alleles affecting the expression (phenotype) of a particular trait.”

What’s critical to note here is that recessive alleles can remain hidden in F2 hemp strains for generations. However, when the F2 is bred with the wrong plant, the recessive alleles can surface and wreak havoc on a crop. The worst part being, you won’t have any idea when these recessive traits will surface.
Due to the fact that the genetic expression of F2 hemp plants is so difficult to predict, we also recommend that you don’t attempt to breed them. To illustrate, experts feel “once you get past F1, it becomes really advanced breeding. F2’s can be a big mess if they aren’t done right.”

F1 hemp seeds are better than F2s because they offer more predictable crops. Even more, studies have proven that F1 cross genetics grow more vigorously than more F2 strains. As commercial hemp farming already faces great challenges with weather and bugs, why not eliminate as much risk as possible by using F1 genetics?

What are the Best F1 Hemp Strains?

At High Grade Hemp Seed, all of our hemp strains are F1 hybrids. That being said, you can trust that our hemp seeds and starts will set you up for success next growing season. Even more, you can rest easy knowing you are circumventing the extra problems that come with growing F2 hemp strains.

Here are a few of our most highly sought-after hemp strains:

Cherry Wine

Cherry Wine is one of our most popular CBD strains at High Grade Hemp Seed. This F1 hybrid features uniform hemp plants that consistently produce quality flowers. Even more, Cherry Wine maximizes CBD production while keeping THC levels below 0.03%.

Merlot

Merlot was carefully bred to maximize CBD production as well as robust plant growth. These F1 hemp seeds are a sure bet for a reliable crop of top-shelf flowers. Even more, their strong terpene profile will leave a lasting impression – in both flowers and concentrates.

Trophy Wife

High Grade Hemp Seed puts serious energy into breeding Trophy Wife. This high CBD strain is the result of breeding a homozygous Cherry Wine male with a Wife S1 phenotype. The end result is a vigorous hemp strain that consistently produces CBD-rich flowers.

ArkRyder

ArkRyder is one of the crowning achievements of our breeding program at High Grade Hemp Seed. With robust growth and high CBD ratios, this F1 strain represents the very best in current hemp genetics.

EliRae

Our breeders went above-and-beyond with EliRae, as they fused our foundational feminized hybrids in a single strain. EliRae plants regularly put up 600 gram harvests with an amazing CBD ratio of 20:1.

Contact High Grade Hemp Seed

High Grade Hemp Seed is at the forefront of plant breeding in the hemp industry. Contact Us to discuss our award-winning hemp genetics in more detail.

Commercially cultivated hemp is skyrocketing in the U.S., thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the list of controlled substances and legalized its growth. Hemp production can be broken down into three distinct categories: grain, fiber, and the compound cannabidiol (CBD) for consumer usage. Regardless of the hemp you are producing, one thing remains true: you need to manage and minimize the economic impact of hemp insect pests on your crop.

Since hemp has not been cultivated broadly in so long, the crop is considered new again, as is the research into what pests and insects may cause economic harm to the crop and hemp pest management. Hemp, while certainly not invincible, is considered resistant, or at least tolerant, to many diseases and pests. Whether you have an existing hemp farm or are considering stepping into this lucrative industry, having tips and ideas for how best to manage hemp insect pests is important.

1. Knowledge is (Hemp Pest Management) Power

While much is still unknown about hemp and how it resists or is affected by pests, some hemp pests have been identified. But not every pest is an economically impacting pest. The first step in the fight for control of hemp insect pests is understanding if it’s a battle worth fighting.

Another reason to closely monitor and understand pests’ impact on hemp plants is the possible effect on the ability to wholesale cannabis grown for its CBD. While it is not yet fully known or understood, there is a query as to whether hemp insect feeding will increase the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

This could create a potential issue, as the THC levels must remain below the set threshold of 0.3 percent in dry-weight CBD, as ruled in the 2018 Farm Bill. Elevated THC because of pests could render the harvest unsellable. And if the THC level is above 0.5 percent, not only is the entire crop subject to being destroyed, but a violation will be issued by the USA. Three violations in the course of five years could bar you from growing commercial hemp for five years.

Don’t let hemp insect pests interfere with your options of crops. And while there is a lot not yet fully known, a few pests have been identified as dangerous to a successful hemp crop. Know your enemy.

The corn earworm, Eurasian hemp borer, hemp mite, cannabis aphid, and Japanese beetle have all been deemed an economic threat, damaging to hemp, that should be mitigated.

2. Understand How Pests Cause Damage

Not all hemp insect pests are created equal— and depending on the hemp production you are growing, you should fully understand the risks each pest presents, as well as the necessary pest management approach to use against them.

The Japanese beetle, for example, readily feeds on the hemp flowers and is a potentially significant defoliator. Other beetles, such as flea beetles, seem to present a minor threat to the plants. As such, Japanese beetles are more costly to hemp raised for CBD or CBG yield as opposed to ones raised for their fiber.

It’s also important to fight the battle within your geographic area. While southern corn rootworms have the largest geographic territory, they are predominantly found east of the Rockies. Japanese beetles tend to stay east of the Mississippi.

Grasshoppers, particularly in eastern Colorado, have damaged hemp crops differently from other defoliators by causing extensive damage to the twigs and weakening the stems.

Different pests can also damage the hemp at various stages of its development. For instance, spider mites attack plants in an indoor/greenhouse environment but tend to dissipate when transplanted to the field. The hemp russet mite, on the other hand, can cause widespread damage, regardless of the plants being cultivated indoors or outdoors.

3. Integrated Pest Management (IMP)

Once you have an understanding of the potential pest threats to your crop, based on geography, the kind of hemp you’re growing, and the risks of certain pests’ ability to cause economic harm, you can develop a multi-pronged approach to hemp pest management. Because this is such a new-again industry, integrated pest management for hemp is also new, an ongoing work in progress. But from what we currently know, the following steps will help in your goal of a successful hemp crop.

Prevention: Preventing hemp pests like mites, aphids, borers, and corn earworm is the best and first line of defense. And while you may not be able to prevent all hemp insect pests, there are certainly some tactics you can employ to reduce the likelihood:

Quarantine and inspect new plants before introducing them to the larger crop population.

  • Reduce the desirable habitat of pests by ensuring good drainage.
  • Reduce standing water.
  • Do not plant your hemp field beside a cornfield.
  • Control weeds and overgrown vegetation.

Monitor: Keeping a close eye on your hemp crop and regularly inspecting it will allow you to minimize the impact of pests by voluntarily removing affected plants or treating them quickly to prevent spread.

Natural Predators: Introducing or attracting natural predators such as soldier bugs or lady beetles into your crop can keep hemp pests like aphids in check. Introducing plants like lavender among your hemp plants will attract these “good guys.”

Intervention: If additional help is needed to ward off damaging hemp insect pests, there is good news! The EPA has recently approved ten pesticides for commercial use in cultivating hemp. Nine of these are biopesticides, meaning they are either:

  • Biochemical — Naturally occurring or synthetic versions of naturally occurring substances to control pests.
  • Microbial — Microorganisms that control pests.
  • Plant-incorporated protectants — Pesticides naturally produced by plants, with added genetic material.
  • Biopesticides are derived from natural materials and are considered lower risk than traditional chemical pesticides.

Start Strong, Stay Strong

As the hemp industry continues to grow, more data will be gleaned as to what pests are potentially harmful to which kinds of hemp and in what environments. This ongoing collection of knowledge will lend itself to better hemp pest control and how to maximize hemp profitability.

One of the best things you can do to grow a hearty, robust crop of hemp is to start with a hearty, robust strain of hemp seeds. Want to know more about the right hemp strain for you? Reach out to High Grade Hemp Seed today.

Ask a dozen farmers whether or not hemp requires fertilizer, and you’re likely to get a dozen different answers. Some farmers swear that hemp doesn’t need a drop of fertilizer. Most farmers, however, believe at least some hemp fertilizer is necessary. While certain farmers may think less is more, many successful farmers treat hemp like any other crop, meaning they educate themselves on hemp fertilizer requirements, test their soil, and regularly fertilize their crop.

The Case for Using Hemp Plant Fertilizer

While hemp has a well-deserved reputation as a robust crop that can grow in a variety of soils and climates, that doesn’t mean it does best when planted and left alone. Like most other crops, hemp requires the big NPK, or nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A hemp crop can also benefit from receiving the right combination of micronutrients and even some beneficial fungus.
Farmers who are serious about making the best return on investment from their hemp crop need to give their plants every possible advantage. That includes providing the right nutrients to help every plant grow strong and healthy. For many farmers, profitability can increase dramatically on the margins. Healthy hemp plants that provide a 1% increase in CBD or CBG content could an increased profit of thousands of dollars per acre. That can more than make up for the extra time and cost it takes to build and implement a custom fertilization plan.

Start with a Soil Test

Set your hemp crop up for success by prepping your soil before you begin planting. Hemp has specialized nutritional needs, and if you can make your soil as welcoming as possible to hemp seeds or hemp starts, your plants have a higher chance of thriving.
This starts with a soil test. After all, you can’t fix your soil if you don’t know what the deficiencies are. Work with an agronomist or with your existing fertilization company to take soil samples of your field. Make sure the person or company you’re working with has experience with hemp.

Your soil specialist will be able to interpret your soil results and provide you with a fertilization plan to get your soil ready for planting season.

Hemp Fertilizer Components

What are the fertilizer requirements for hemp? While the exact products and ratios will vary based on your soil, goals, and personal preferences, the basic chemical components of hemp plant fertilizer are the same.

Nitrogen

Like many crops, hemp is hungry for nitrogen. In an interview with the website Growing for Market, Zach Menchini, a representative for fertilizing company Concentrates, Inc., suggests adding 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre, increasing to 120 pounds per acre if the soil is particularly nitrogen deficient. Fish emulsion is a popular product farmers use to add nitrogen to their fields.

Phosphorus

Some farmers make the mistake of assuming hemp fields need a large amount of phosphorus to support big, healthy hemp buds, but the truth is that hemp does well with a standard amount of phosphorus. Menchini suggests applying 50 pounds of phosphorus per acre.

Potassium

Hemp is a big consumer of potassium compared with most other crops, so farmers should make sure they add enough to their field. Menchini recommends 80 pounds of potassium per acre. One of the best ways to add potassium to your field is through the use of kelp extract. Kelp extract is relatively expensive, so not every farmer will have the budget for this particular soil amendment. (This is a good reason to create a robust crop plan, including a conservative budget, before planting hemp.)

Calcium

Calcium is another ingredient in industrial hemp fertilizer requirements. Menchini mentions that a common mistake farmers make is to apply their phosphorus at the same time as their calcium. Phosphorus is not a very mobile chemical, and when it comes in contact with calcium, it can bond with the calcium, turning in unhelpful calcium phosphate. This is a good reason to start fertilizing your fields early so you have the time to allow the soil to absorb nutrients in the right order.

Sulfate

Adding a relatively small amount of sulfate to your fields, roughly 20 pounds per acre according to Menchini, can help your hemp thrive.

Boron

Not every hemp field will require boron. Unfortunately, soil tests aren’t very good at measuring boron. It’s a smarter idea to have your testing company perform a leaf analysis of your crop about mid-way through the season to see if you need to add boron.

Fungus

Don’t mistake fungus for mold (which is part of the fungus family and can be a major problem for your hemp crop). In his Growing for Market interview, Menchini mentions that mycorrhizal fungi can act as a symbiotic partner to hemp plants. Inoculating seedlings with mycorrhizal fungi can greatly increase the absorptive abilities of the plants by basically acting as an extended root system.

Lime

Hemp does best in slightly acidic soil. If your soil test shows that your soil is too acidic, one way to push the acidity down (toward a more alkaline soil) is to apply lime. Menchini suggests a maximum limit of two tons of lime per acre.

Compost

Compost can be a great way to build up a strong soil structure and bring more organic life into your soil, but take care in the compost you use. Some compost contains a high amount of salt, while other compost may push your potassium levels too high. Only work with a compost supplier who regularly tests their compost and reviews the potassium and salt levels of your compost before applying it to your field.

Frontloading Hemp Fertilizer vs. Fertigation

Some farmers love using slow-release fertilizers to “frontload” their soil before planting. The idea is that the slow-release fertilizers will consistently provide hemp plants with just the right amount of fertilizer in the right ratio throughout the growing season.

While frontloading offers a significant amount of convenience and can help limit labor needs throughout the growing season, it may not give farmers the best crop possible. Farmers who want to boost their margin as much as possible often choose to continually fertilize their crops throughout the growing season.

One of the most popular new ways to fertilize in this manner is through fertigation. As you may have determined from the name, fertigation is a combination of fertilization and irrigation, and it means adding liquid fertilizer to an irrigation system. Fertigation allows farmers to address nutritional deficiencies at any point in the growing season, and it can also reduce soil erosion and water consumption. One drawback, however, is that fertigation applies the same amount of nutrients to your entire crop. If only certain plants or clusters need a fertilizer boost, it may be smarter to apply nutrients in smaller batches.

Watch Out for Nutrient Burn

While ignoring your hemp fertilizer requirements could lead to a less-than-impressive yield, adding too much fertilizer can also harm your plants. Overfertilizing your hemp can lead to “nutrient burn.” Even the most experienced farmers may face nutrient burn (or “nute burn”), but it’s more common in the fields of new hemp farmers.

According to Grow Link, “Plants don’t have a mechanism to deal with ‘overfeeding,’ and so plants taking in more nutrients than they can handle get sick.” Fortunately, nutrient burn is relatively easy to spot, and it can even be reversed in some cases if recognized and addressed quickly.

Some of the early warning signs of nutrient burn, according to Grow Link include:

  • Bending leaf tips
  • Deep green coloration
  • Slight yellowing or browning at the edges of the leaves

Keep your eyes on the tips of your leaves. If nutrient burn is happening, this is where you’ll see the first signs. As the nutrient burn worsens, you’ll notice more yellowing and browning in the leaves as well as leaves curling and twisting more noticeably.
The best way to address nutrient burn is to cut off all the infected parts of the hemp plant, including any browning or yellowing buds, followed by flushing your soil with heavy irrigation using pH-balanced water.

Create a Hemp Feeding Chart

Unless you plan on frontloading hemp fertilizer, you’ll need to set up a schedule for fertilizing your hemp crop before and during the growing season. Experienced farmers may be able to set up their own feeding charts after receiving their soil tests. New farmers, however, should strongly consider working with an agronomist or reputable fertilization company to develop a personalized feeding chart for their soil, crop, and goals.

Choosing the right hemp fertilization plan can go a long way toward keeping your crop healthy and happy all the way through to harvest. To give yourself another leg up, make sure to choose high-quality hemp seeds and starts. At High Grade, our hemp strains have all been proven through rigorous breeding and testing protocols. We only sell hemp strains that meet our exacting expectations for the best genetics. Contact us today to learn more about our CBD and CBG hemp strains.

The 2020 fire season started early, with multiple fires raging throughout Washington, Oregon, and California, three states where hemp farming has proliferated. Hemp Industry Daily profiled the damage, highlighting California farmers who lost their entire crop to the flames as well as Oregon farmers who doubted the retail value of hemp flowers damaged by wildfire smoke. These unfortunate stories highlight how important it is for farmers to invest in hemp crop insurance. There are no guarantees when it comes to farming, and the best way for farmers to manage their risk is through hemp insurance.

However, with industrial hemp still newly legalized, what hemp insurance coverage is available for farmers? How much does it cost, and what do the available plans cover? In this article, we review the current state of industrial hemp crop insurance, including new insurance programs announced by the USDA.

Why Farmers Need Hemp Crop Insurance

Imagine what would happen if a wildfire ripped through your farm, destroying your entire crop. Don’t have wildfires in your area? What about hurricanes, floods, tornados, droughts, early frosts, diseases, or infestations? Even farmers who grow their crops in greenhouses are at risk of an equipment failure that can demolish their crops overnight.

Every farmer faces the risk that their yields will disappoint, or they won’t get their crop to market due to an unforeseen disaster. For this reason, crop insurance can be a literal financial lifesaver, compensating farmers if the worst should happen. Crop insurance isn’t cheap, which is why some farmers continue to roll the dice and plant without insurance. However, with the threat of ever-increasing extreme weather patterns, more farmers are investing in crop insurance—that includes hemp farmers.

The 2018 Hemp Farm Bill paved the way for hemp farmers to qualify for government-supported insurance. Currently, the federal government allows 15 private insurance providers to offer crop insurance to farmers, ranchers, and growers against certain types of crop loss. The government also helps subsidize premiums for many of these policies.

Hemp Crop Insurance Options

Today’s hemp farmers have a variety of insurance options to consider. In February 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture announced two insurance programs for hemp producers as well as two future programs to roll out in 2021. These USDA hemp crop insurance programs come with other certain caveats, but they represent a growing effort to offer insurance to hemp farmers.

It’s important for farmers to do their homework to understand what insurance options they qualify for, the value vs. the cost of each option, and how much insurance they need. The current range of hemp insurance includes:

  • Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI)
  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
  • Nursery Crop Insurance and Nursery Value Select Crop Insurance
  • Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP)
  • Private hemp insurance

Multi-Peril Crop Insurance

In early 2020, the USDA announced a pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance program. As New Frontier Data explains, this USDA crop insurance “offers protection against various natural causes, including drought, excessive moisture, freeze, and disease.” The site also mentions that “MPCI often includes yield protection and price protection against market fluctuations.”

This particular program provides 50/55 coverage, which means that if a farmer loses more than half of their average yield, losses are paid out at 55% of the average market price for that crop. Farmers can also seek additional coverage of up to 75/100 for an additional cost. One thing to note is that the MPCI does not cover prevented plant or replant payments.

Not every farmer can take advantage of this USDA crop insurance. Currently, the pilot program is only available in select counties in the following 21 states:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

To determine if your county is eligible, use this tool from the USDA.

If you do live in a county where the USDA’s MPCI insurance is available, you’ll need to meet additional standards to qualify for the insurance. You’ll need to provide proof that:

  • You have a license to grow hemp in your state
  • You’ve been growing hemp for at least one year
  • You have a contract with a buyer for your crop
  • You are growing at least five acres of hemp for CBD and at least 25 acres for grain and fiber
  • You are not growing a prohibited variety of CBD hemp
  • Your hemp meets the strict compliance guidelines set out in the 2018 Farm Bill, meaning it must test below 0.3% THC.

Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

What if you aren’t located in one of the participating counties covered by the USDA’s MPCI program? Then consider signing up for the second hemp insurance program announced by the USDA called the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). As described in a press release by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), NAP “…provides coverage against loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain, seed, or CBD for the 2020 crop year where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available.”

Like the MPCI program, the NAP offers 50/55 coverage as well as buy-up coverage in some cases. This particular RMA hemp insurance also covers prevented planting in certain situations. Also, like the MPCI, farmers who wish to gain NAP coverage must have a license to grow hemp, show proof of a contract to sell their product, and test below 0.3% THC. Learn more about the NAP.

Nursery Crop Insurance

Farmers who grow hemp indoors don’t have to worry about extreme weather destroying their crop, but what if the electrical system short circuits or their thermostat malfunctions? In 2021, the USDA plans to roll out two programs to support nursery farmers. According to the agency’s press release, both the Nursery Crop Insurance Program and the Nursery Value Selection pilot program will insure hemp grown in containers. Specific qualifications or requirements for this program have yet to be released.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection

Many farmers plant more than one crop throughout the year. Rather than taking out an insurance policy on each individual crop, you can instead choose Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) through the USDA. As the name implies, WFRP insures against the total income of your farm. WFRP can provide protection up to $8.5 million as long as you meet the program’s eligibility requirements, which includes having two or more commodities on your farm.

Take a look at this helpful fact sheet to learn more about WFRP.

Private Hemp Farm Insurance

The USDA supports a large number of farming and agricultural insurance policies, but they aren’t the only insurers around. A private hemp insurance policy may be the right choice for you if you:

  • Don’t qualify for USDA hemp crop insurance
  • Would like a more customized hemp farm insurance plan
  • Want ancillary coverage beyond what the USDA offers
  • Want to compare costs and features
  • Want a policy that will offer protection in the event that your crop runs hot (above 0.3% THC) and must be destroyed
  • Want more coverage than what the USDA offers

You might need to do more legwork to find an insurance company willing to develop a customized policy for you. Be ready to provide a wide range of information on your farming operation. According to an article on hemp insurance by PennState Extension, one private insurance company took location, end-use, and quality of the crop into consideration when pricing its policy. It also provided a policy cost ballpark of $200 to $500 per acre.

What Hemp Crop Insurance Is Right for You?

If you want to protect your future hemp profits from the unknown with hemp insurance, you have several different options to choose from. Whether you decide to enroll in MPCI, NAP, WFRP, or seek out private insurance options, do your homework. Look closely at the fine print of every policy and the history of the company you are working with, especially if you are solicited by an insurance agent.

Another great way to lower the risk of an unsuccessful harvest is to invest in the highest quality hemp seeds. Our hemp strains are known for their robustness, and all of our seeds are strenuously bred to stay in compliance so you can easily qualify for and retain your hemp crop insurance.

Have questions about the right CBD hemp seed strain for you? Contact us today.

Industrial hemp is traditionally more resistant to diseases and pests than many other cash crops; however, hemp can be susceptible to mold. This is especially true for hemp grown for CBD or CBG. Hemp flower tends to absorb moisture, making it a tempting target for mold. If mold does appear in your hemp crop, it can grow quickly, damaging your plants, lowering your yield, or even ruining your harvest. If you plan on growing industrial hemp, then you need to know how to prevent and treat mold on hemp plants.

A Quick Introduction to Mold

Mold may be an enemy to farmers, but it actually serves a useful purpose in the greater ecosystem. This fungus is made up of countless tiny spores that drift through the air and land on surfaces. Mold is everywhere and can be virtually impossible to completely eliminate. (It even started growing aboard the International Space Station!) Mold spores feed by releasing enzymes that break down organic material, such as plants.

In the wild, mold serves as an important decomposer, breaking down dead plants, animals, and waste and returning those particles back to the soil. In order to grow and thrive, mold needs the right type of environment. The key ingredients that mold loves are:

  • Moisture
  • Humidity
  • Stagnant air
  • Darkness

The best hemp mold prevention strategies focus on depriving mold of the ingredients it needs to thrive.

The Most Common Types of Hemp Mold

So far, scientists and researchers have discovered over 100,000 different types of mold, but you don’t need to be on the lookout for all of them. In fact, many types of mold are harmless or can even be helpful. Instead, farmers should focus on just a handful of mold that can damage hemp plants, including:

Gray Mold

Gray mold often attacks plants through openings or wounds in the plant, though it can also infect healthy plants. The calling card of gray mold is brown or gray-brown spots on wet hemp buds. Also, look for yellow discoloration on stems. Gray mold will destroy hemp flowers, making it unhealthy to smoke.

Powdery Mildew

If you notice that your plants look like they were dusted in white flour, you may have a case of powdery mildew. This type of mold loves hot, humid conditions with little airflow. Look for powdery mildew on the foliage of hemp plants. Aside from powder-like spots on the leaves of plants, also look for yellow-to-brown ascomata.

White Mold

White mold can be distinguished by dark brown lesions on the stems of the hemp plant. Stems with lesions break and shred easily, revealing an unappealing cloud of mycelial growth.

Sooty Mold

As its name implies, sooty mold appears like a fine layer of soot scattered across the leaves of your hemp plant. Sooty mold doesn’t directly feed on a hemp plant. Instead, it eats the leavings of common plant insects, like aphids, leafhoppers, and whiteflies. While sooty mold won’t directly harm hemp plants, it can cover the surface of hemp leaves, disrupting photosynthesis and damaging the overall growth and health of the plant.

Fusarium

Perhaps the scariest hemp mold for any farmer to face, fusarium can strike lightning-quick and destroy an entire hemp crop. Fusarium attacks from below, damaging the root systems of a plant. By the time a farmer notices that their hemp plants are beginning to wilt, it’s often too late. The roots of the plants are already destroyed beyond repair. If a full-blown fusarium infection occurs, there is little a farmer can do to save the crop (which is one reason why hemp crop insurance can be so valuable!).

How to Prevent Mold on Hemp

The best way to prevent hemp mold is to remove the elements that help mold thrive. The easiest way to do this is to grow hemp inside of a greenhouse where you have much more control over the growing environment. Greenhouses can be costly, and not every farmer has the budget or infrastructure to grow their hemp crop indoors. If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can still lower your chances of finding moldy hemp in your field one day.

Here are several hemp mold prevention techniques for greenhouse growers and outdoor crops.

Indoor Hemp Mold Prevention Recommendations

  • Install a hygrometer in your greenhouse to monitor the temperature and humidity of your grow room.
  • Set up an efficient exhaust system within your grow house to keep humidity under control.
  • Install fans in the room to blow above the plants and under them. Good airflow can help prevent mold from getting a foothold onto your plants.
  • Add a dehumidifier to your grow house to eliminate humidity. As your plants reach maturity, they will require more water, where their leaves will release into the air, creating more humid conditions inside the grow house.
  • Replace your HVAC filters on a monthly basis.
  • Install high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to catch as many mold spores as possible.
  • Use UV lights in your HVAC system to kill off mold spores.
  • If you have the budget, consider installing antimicrobial flooring.
  • Consider defoliating your plants as they reach maturity. Cutting off some of the bottom leaves will increase airflow to your plants and lower humidity levels. Cutting off bottom buds will also allow your plants to redirect their energy to growing larger top buds.
  • Carefully inspect your plants every day and be on the lookout for the most common types of hemp mold.

Outdoor Hemp Mold Prevention Techniques

  • Plant your hemp in a field with the most direct sunlight possible.
  • Give your seeds or starts some space to promote airflow and make it more difficult for mold to infect multiple plants.
  • If you live in an area that gets cold temperatures and rain in the fall, consider purchasing early finishing varietals or autoflower hemp seeds.
  • If a long and heavy rain is predicted, cover your crop with tarps to help prevent water-soaked buds.
  • Set up fans in your field after a rain to dry your plants and create more airflow.
  • Install a drip irrigation system if you have the budget. Drip irrigation feeds water directly to the root systems of the plant, unlike pivot irrigation, which can result in wet leaves and lead to hemp leaf mold.
  • Inspect your fields each day and be on the lookout for moldy hemp.

What to Do If You Spot Mold on Hemp Plants

Mold can attack your hemp plants at any stage of growth or even after the harvest as you dry and cure your hemp, so you must always be vigilant. If you do spot moldy hemp, first identify the scope of the problem. If you notice just a few spots on the leaf of a single plant, you may be able to defoliate that plant and save it. However, if the plant is already deeply infected, then excise the plant and carefully monitor the plants in close proximity to the infected plant. If your plants are wet, use fans to dry them.

If you notice a larger infestation in your crop, your best option might be to eliminate the infected plants and immediately harvest the rest of your crop. This is especially true if your hemp flower is wet and you don’t have the means to dry them.

Be sure to toss any infected hemp buds. Moldy hemp buds aren’t just unpleasant to smoke, they can endanger the health of smokers, especially someone who is immunocompromised. Don’t take that risk!

Choose Hemp Seeds That Are Resistant to Mold

One of the best ways to prevent moldy hemp is to choose hemp seeds strains that are genetically bred to resist mold and other diseases. At High Grade Hemp Seed, we have spent years developing some of the most robust hemp strains available on the market. Contact us today to learn how our seeds can protect your future hemp harvest from mold.

At High Grade, we wanted to know how hemp farmers were faring in the midst of a rapidly changing industry wrapped up in one of the most unpredictable years on record. We also touched base with non-hemp farmers to learn about their struggles and triumphs. After surveying over 125 farmers, here’s what we found.

Key Takeaways:

  • 59% of hemp farmers are between the ages of 31 and 50 years old.
  • 61% of hemp farmers have been farming hemp for five years or less.
  • 41% of hemp farmers consider themselves “subsistence farmers,” while an identical 41% of hemp farmers categorize themselves as “commercial farmers.”
  • 39% of farmers (hemp farmers and non-hemp farmers) with over 10 years of experience claim finding labor is the most challenging part of managing a farm.
  • 54% of farmers (hemp and non-hemp farmers) claim they do not use modern technologies on their farm.
  • Just under 30% of hemp farmers were able to earn over $5,000 per acre.
  • Only 17% of non-hemp farmers claimed to make over $5,000 per acre.
  • Hemp farmers, on average, dedicate just over half of their acreage to planting hemp.

About the Survey

We used Survey Monkey to survey over 125 farmers (ranging in age, experience, income, and acreage) across the country. Of the farmers we surveyed, just over 35% of respondents farmed hemp, while more than 57% of respondents claimed they were considering farming hemp. The majority of total respondents were between 41 and 60, though 24% were between the ages of 31 and 40. Over half of the respondents had been farming for five years or less; just over 60% of respondents considered themselves subsistence farmers.

Overall, the responses we received were fascinating and have provided us with an important glimpse into the state of both hemp farming and non-hemp farming. Here is a deeper dive into some of the results that really caught our eye.

Profitability of Hemp vs. Other Crops

Hemp is one of the hottest cash crops in the country, especially hemp grown for CBD or CBG. Some reports claim that farmers can earn $30,000 or more per acre by farming hemp for CBD or CBG. Our survey results don’t exactly bear out these Pollyanna claims, but they do seem to indicate that hemp can be more profitable than many other crops.
Our survey found that nearly 30% of hemp farmers were able to earn more than $5,000 per acre. Compare that with just 17% of non-hemp farmers who could make the same claim. Please note that our survey did not distinguish between hemp farmers who grew hemp for fiber, seed, or cannabinoids, so the earnings per acre may be affected by which crop hemp farmers harvest.
The bottom line is that while more farmers are earning over $5,000 per acre farming hemp than other crops, the majority of hemp farmers (over 70%) are earning less than $5,000 per acre. New farmers dreaming of raking in $30,000 per acre need to re-evaluate their expectations.
With that said, hemp profitability is possible. Here are 10 hemp farming tips for increasing profits.

The Biggest Challenges in Farming

Farmers face all sorts of challenges, from uncertain weather to expensive equipment, government regulations, and more. But what are the biggest challenges farmers face? We set this question to our survey respondents, and they told us that the two most difficult things to manage on the farm were selling the harvest (21%) and finding/managing labor (21%).

What is the most difficult thing to manage on your farm?Though these responses included farmers of every stripe, selling the harvest and managing labor are two challenges we hear about a lot in the hemp community. Hemp was only broadly legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill, so the selling infrastructure is being built while farmers are learning how to grow hemp in their fields. Currently, there are no hemp silos where farmers can drop off their crops. Take a look at one of our latest blog posts about how to sell hemp biomass.

Likewise, farmers looking to grow hemp flower must harvest the buds by hand. This often requires a high level of labor, which can be difficult when workers are few and far between.

Is Farming Becoming More Competitive?

For the most part, answers to our survey ran the gamut. After all, farmers are not a monolithic population. They’ve got all sorts of opinions. One question, however, seemed to unite nearly all of our respondents. We asked whether farming was becoming more competitive or less competitive. A whopping 88% of respondents told us that farming was becoming more competitive.

hemp farming is becoming more competitive

In a world where margins are pinched and profits are harder to come by, farmers need to focus on using best practices. For hemp farming, however, we’re often figuring out the best practices as we go along. Learn what we’ve figured out in our 2020 hemp growing guide.

Using Modern Farm Technology

One of the best ways to improve efficiency and productivity on the farm is to invest in modern equipment. Despite common stereotypes of farmers working the fields with a shovel and horse-pulled plow, many farmers are excited to embrace modern technology to improve farm performance. In fact, 46% of our respondents told us that they already use modern technology on the farm, while 37% of respondents were considering adding more tech to their business.

Do you use modern technologies for farming?

One of the challenges that may be holding farmers back from investing in new technologies, however, is a lack of capital.

Farming Revenue vs. Expenses

Farming is a risky business, and according to our survey, profits are tighter than ever. Over 80% of our respondents earn less than $350,000 on their farm, while just over 7% earn half a million dollars or more per year. Unsurprisingly, many of these same respondents are working to keep their expenses low. Around 84% of survey respondents claimed expenses of less than $200,000 per year.

Farmers thinking of switching to hemp may be able to increase their earnings per acre, but they’ll have to overcome a variety of expenses first. It costs money to invest in a new crop. Farmers must think about things such as new equipment needs, irrigation, soil management, and even the cost of high-quality hemp seeds. We always recommend that farmers take the time to build out a complete hemp farming plan before making the plunge into growing hemp. It’s also a good idea to plant only a few acres or even just a single acre for your first harvest.

How Are Farmers Faring During COVID-19?

Farmers are used to a little unpredictability in each season, but the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic challenges are about as unpredictable as they come. With just about every aspect of normal life turned upside-down, including consumer behavior, how are farmers absorbing all of the coronavirus fallout?

For the most part, it turns out they’re absorbing it pretty well! The majority of our respondents (54%) claimed that the pandemic and economic upheaval haven’t affected their farming business much at all. A surprising 27% of respondents even told us that their business was doing better this year, while 19% of respondents are struggling more this year than last.

What Is Holding Farmers Back from Growing Hemp?

Almost every non-hemp farmer we surveyed told us they might consider farming hemp (or already were considering it). We can understand their hesitation. The hemp industry is still finding its footing; after all, it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States for decades!

would you consider hemp farming?

We learned that farmers have a wide range of concerns surrounding growing hemp. The most common concern was the market uncertainty surrounding hemp. The intense interest in CBD and its fellow cannabinoid, CBG, is still relatively new, but as scientific research on CBD and CBG continues to come out, we believe this interest will only grow.

 

biggest concerns over switching to hemp farmingTwo other major concerns our survey respondents noted was a lack of equipment and expertise. Many hemp farmers are still learning how to adapt their farming equipment to use on hemp (for reference, we actually wrote an entire article on hemp farming equipment). Farm equipment companies have been slow to develop equipment specifically for hemp farming, but we are seeing more and more CBD-specific hemp harvesters.

The lack of expertise in growing hemp is also a challenge that will ease over time. Even now, more and more agricultural organizations and hemp farmers are sharing their experiences and the results of their tests and experiments. Before planting hemp, it’s a good idea to seek information from the agricultural department in your state, reach out to fellow hemp farmers in your area, and consider hiring an agronomist with experience in hemp farming.

If you have any questions about which hemp seed strains to use on your farm, we hope you’ll contact us. Our friendly and knowledgeable representatives are happy to answer your questions and to find the best hemp seeds for your goals, budget, and climate.

Hemp and climate change: What’s the connection? Farmers are keen observers of the climate. Everything from changing weather patterns to water availability and soil quality directly impacts their ability to make a living. For this reason, climate change is already beginning to directly affect farmers. In 2020 alone, hemp farmers on the West Coast have dealt with an early and ferocious fire season. East Coast and Southern farmers are facing so many hurricanes, the normal naming convention ran through the complete alphabet by September. Even Midwest farmers aren’t safe, facing off against a fierce derecho in August. All this is to say that the climate is changing rapidly and farmers are on the front lines. Fortunately, hemp farmers may be able to step up and help fight climate change. How? By simply doing what they’re already doing: planting hemp.

Hemp is one of the most eco-friendly crops on the planet. It can absorb huge amounts of CO2, nourish the soil, and be used to create biodegradable and eco-friendly products. Why is hemp so good for the environment? Here are ten ways hemp will help save the world.

1. Hemp Absorbs Large Amounts of CO2

One of the most common greenhouse gasses driving climate change is carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is emitted by fossil fuels, livestock, and many industrial processes. Plants absorb CO2, which is why planting trees is one of the most popular ways to offset carbon emissions.

However, hemp can absorb carbon much more efficiently than trees. While it can take decades for newly planted trees to reach maturity, hemp can shoot up 13 feet in 100 days. Unsurprisingly, hemp can absorb more carbon per hectare than trees, making it an ideal carbon sink. Hemp can also grow just about anywhere, dramatically increasing the potential land that can be used to sequester carbon.

2. Hemp Nourishes the Soil

Many farmers have discovered that hemp can be a significant ally in nourishing and revitalizing their soil. The stalks and leaves of hemp plants are full of nutrients, which can be mixed back into the soil to bring overworked soil back to life. Planting hemp can also lower the need for farmers to add chemical fertilizers into their soil. Many farmers have added hemp into their crop rotation as a way to naturally nourish their fields between planting other cash crops. (It doesn’t hurt that hemp seed, fiber, and especially CBD flowers are cash crops in their own right.)

3. Hemp Prevents Erosion

Erosion is a natural process, where wind and water capture soil, often bringing it to nearby waterways. When large trees and plants are cleared and turned into fields, erosion can happen at a much faster rate. Erosion not only strips away topsoil, damaging fields and hurting crop yields, but it can also send chemical fertilizers and pesticides into waterways, hurting local wildlife and affecting drinking water.

Hemp can help prevent field erosion. Hemp roots grow deep and fast, helping to hold soil together and protecting it from the erosive effects of the elements. Hemp roots transfer nitrogen into the soil, which is a major component in chlorophyll.

4. Hemp Detoxifies Soil

Chemical leaks and nuclear disasters can turn soil toxic for generations, making that land unusable for planting, grazing, or anything else. A special class of plants is known as hyperaccumulators. According to the EcoSciences blog, hyperaccumulators “…have the capacity to absorb metals and other toxins from the soil by metabolizing it through their roots, where it is then transferred and stored in their stems and leaves.”

Hemp happens to be one of the best hyperaccumulators in the world. Hemp bioremediation is a popular technique of planting hemp in order to draw toxins out of the soil. Farmers have used hemp soil remediation to clean up fields after chemical leaks from nearby factories, but perhaps the most famous example is of farmers planting hemp (among other hyperaccumulators) around the blast zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to begin rehabilitating the soil.

5. No Pesticides Needed

Hemp is naturally resistant to many of the diseases and pests that threaten other cash crops. Hemp farmers, therefore, don’t need to use pesticides or herbicides on their hemp fields. Chemical pesticides and herbicides can harm insect populations beyond what the chemical is meant to destroy. They also often make their way into local water sources, where they can affect the local wildlife or contaminate drinking water.

6. Less Water Needed to Make Fabric

Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, especially as more regions across the country and the world face record-setting droughts. At the same time, some of the most popular cash crops require high amounts of water, which puts a strain on communities. To put some perspective on this, one of the most water-hungry plants is cotton.

Hemp, while not officially a drought-tolerant plant, does not require nearly as much water as many other high-water crops. In fact, according to the Hemp Foundation, while every pound of cotton requires 1,440 gallons of water, hemp typically needs half that much. Hemp can also produce double the fiber of cotton per acre. Switching to hemp cloth from cotton can help farmers better manage their water supply and save money on a resource that’s only going to become more expensive. (Learn more about hemp field irrigation to see which irrigation systems are the most efficient.)

7. Hemp Paper Can Eliminate Polluting Paper Processes

Cutting down trees for paper can eliminate forests, disrupting ecosystems and putting more carbon into the air. Even as more paper companies switch to regenerative forest management, the process of making paper from wood pulp is extremely dirty. Wood pulp must be bleached with chlorine (which releases a toxic substance called dioxin) and is often mixed with binders that release formaldehyde. In contrast, hemp pulp doesn’t need to be bleached and can be made with soy-based binders, according to HempBenefits.org.

Hemp paper is also of higher quality than paper made from trees. It’s stronger, thicker, and more durable. No wonder the vast majority of paper was made from hemp in America’s early history. (Why did we switch to tree-made paper? It’s a long story.)

8. Hemp Can Help Reduce Plastic Waste

We are beginning to recognize more and more that single-use plastic is choking our world. Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean, killing seabirds and ending up in the stomachs of the fish that eventually land on our dinner plates. Hemp bioplastic is an alternative to plastics derived from petrochemicals. Hemp bioplastics not only eliminate the need to create more plastics from oil, but it is also fully biodegradable, unlike traditional plastic, which can take 450 years or more to break down.

9. Hemp Can Be Used in Building Materials

The building sector (buildings and construction) is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, contributing to 36% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp-derived building materials can cut down on the carbon emissions of the construction industry as well as promote more energy efficiency within homes.

Hemp can be used to make fiberboards that are stronger and lighter than wood, as well as soundproofing and insulating materials. It can replace wood and concrete and offer better thermal insulation, which will allow homeowners to use less energy to heat and cool their homes. The insulating power of hemp-derived materials will only become more important as summers become hotter and winters become colder in the future.

10. Hemp Biofuels

The world is hungry for energy, using an estimated 575 quadrillion Btu of energy in 2015. (that’s a lot.) However, many of our top energy sources, including petroleum and coal, contribute to climate change and degrade the environment.

Hemp offers a clean energy alternative. Oils and fats extracted from hemp seeds can be used to make biodiesel. After a few more processing steps, the hemp biodiesel can actually go into a car engine to fuel a car. In fact, according to the site Hemp Benefits, one acre of hemp yields 1,000 gallons or 3,785 liters of fuel.

According to the Ministry of Hemp, hemp can also be turned into ethanol, which is traditionally derived from food crops, like corn and barley. Given that hemp can grow quickly in nearly any environment and requires less water than many other crops, hemp-derived ethanol can also be a sustainable alternative to traditional ethanol.

Considering that California’s governor recently announced that all new gasoline-powered cars would be banned in California by 2035, car manufacturers may want to start looking to hemp to fuel America’s next vehicle fleet.

Is Hemp the Solution to Climate Change?

Now that you’ve learned about hemp and climate change, do you believe hemp will help save the world? Hemp can certainly help provide more eco-friendly materials in a variety of industries, nourish and protect the soil, and sequester a lot of carbon, but hemp can’t save the world alone. Hemp is only one of many tools we can deploy to transition away from fossil fuels and other pollutants. Farmers have a strong role to play in the battle against climate change, as they are some of the most affected people when temperatures rise and the storms come. Hemp can be a highly lucrative crop, which is why many farmers initially decide to give it a try, but perhaps its climate-combatting credentials will also be a decisive factor in farmers choosing to grow hemp.

Ready to try growing hemp? Contact us today.

Thinking of growing hemp on your farm? The popular crop can be highly lucrative, but only if farmers do their homework. Part of the planning process will require you to determine your hemp equipment needs. While buying new hemp farming equipment can represent a significant investment, the right equipment can also save you loads of time and effort and help you harvest a better quality crop.

In this article, we’ll take a look at all the industrial hemp equipment you’ll need during the tilling, planting, irrigation, harvesting, and processing phases of CBD and CBG hemp cultivation.

What Equipment Do You Need to Grow Hemp?

The answer to this question is a little more complicated than it might seem on the surface. Firstly, the legalization of hemp in the United States is still a relatively new situation. While the crop has shown a lot of promise regarding profitability, most farm equipment companies have yet to bring hemp farming equipment to market. That seems to be changing. Kennco, in particular, is actively marketing some of its existing equipment models to hemp farmers, and farmers may have more hemp-specific equipment to choose from in the near future.

Secondly, the best equipment for your farm will depend on what crop you intend to pursue. Hemp is typically grown for fiber, seed, or cannabinoids, like CBD or CBG. The equipment you need to grow and harvest hemp for fiber differs from the equipment you need for CBD or CBG hemp (and again, we’re focusing on what you need for the latter).

Finally, many farmers may be wondering if they can repurpose their current equipment to use on hemp. Happily, the answer is yes in many instances. Farmers who previously grew wheat, corn, tomatoes, or many other cash crops should be able to use or customize some of their existing equipment to assist with their new hemp crop.

Hemp Tilling Equipment

The way you prepare your soil will play a big role in the ultimate success of your hemp crop. Farmers looking to grow hemp for CBD need to give their plants a good amount of space, so that they have enough nutrients and energy to produce potent buds. This means broadcasting seeds is off the menu. Instead, farmers should prepare raised beds and plan for roughly 1,600 plants per acre.

Hemp farmers planting a large number of acres would do well to invest in an industrial raised bed shaper, a piece of equipment that can efficiently produce tight and even beds. Farmers who grow tomatoes are likely to already have an industrial raised bed shaper and can repurpose this equipment for hemp.

The next piece of industrial hemp equipment farmers should consider is a plastic mulch layer, which puts down strips of stretched plastic along farm rows. (It can also remove previous sheets of plastic.) This handy tractor attachment helps farmers conserve water, maintain a more consistent soil temperature, and control for weeds.

Hemp Planting Equipment

The equipment you use for planting your hemp will depend on whether you plant seeds directly into the soil or use starts or clones instead. Based on our experience, we usually recommend that our clients begin seeds in a greenhouse or purchase starts instead of planting seeds directly in the field. Seeds are more likely to germinate in a greenhouse and grow a strong taproot, which will give them a better shot of survival in the field.

However, if you choose to directly seed your fields, then a seed drill will make the process quicker and more efficient. Seed drills will place seeds at the correct depth in the soil and cover the seeds, protecting them from weather and hungry critters.

For farmers interested in using starts or clones into the field, the best hemp planting machine is a transplanter. A good transplanter will plant your starts nice and straight and maintain the proper distance between plantings to give your shoots the space they need to grow. The right transplanter will also handle your young plants delicately so as not to cause trauma during the planting.

Hemp Irrigation Equipment

Hemp is known for being a less thirsty plant than cotton and many other cash crops, but it still needs around 30 inches of rainfall during its growing season. That means most farmers will need to install an irrigation system. Fortunately, hemp does well with many of the most popular irrigation systems that farmers already use, including pivot irrigation, micro sprinklers, and drip irrigation.

Many farmers who plan on transitioning to hemp from another crop will already own a pivot irrigation system. This type of irrigation can certainly be used on hemp, though the exact water levels will depend on the farmer’s region and climate.

However, we encourage new farmers with no existing irrigation structure to consider investing in a drip irrigation system. Also known as “micro irrigation,” drip irrigation applies water directly to the root zones of plants using applicators placed on or below the surface of the ground. These applicators are often porous tubing, perforated pipes, or lines of drip tape connected through a PVC main pipe.

Drip irrigation requires far less water than more traditional irrigation methods, which can be helpful to farmers in parts of the country where water is both scarce and expensive. Drip irrigation also ensures that water gets right to the roots of the hemp plant, reducing the chance of weeds or mildew on leaves.

Hemp Harvesting Equipment

Perhaps more than any other stage of the hemp growing process, finding the right hemp harvesting equipment has been a puzzle for many farmers. Hemp is a tough, fibrous plant that is becoming infamous for defeating many traditional harvest machines. It can become wrapped in machines with rotation or ball up under a disc mower.

Additionally, farmers need to decide whether they want to harvest hemp for biomass or harvest for hemp flower before determining which equipment is ideal. Hemp biomass will result in less concentrated CBD or CBG, but it is far easier and less labor-intensive to harvest than hemp flowers. Large-scale hemp farms tend to harvest hemp biomass, while many smaller-scale boutique farms focus on hemp flowers.

Farmers looking to harvest hemp biomass would do best to invest in a CBD-specific hemp harvester. These machines are newly on the market and are designed to carefully cut each hemp plant and place them on a trailer. The gentleness is key, because a traditional harvester or combine can easily damage the delicate flowers of the plant where the majority of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and resins reside.

For smaller-scale farms looking to harvest hemp flowers, there is only one piece of equipment currently available to help with the harvest: human hands. That’s right, hemp bud farmers typically recruit labor to hand-cut buds from the hemp plant in order not to damage or contaminate the flower.

Hemp Processing Equipment

After the hemp biomass is harvested, it must be processed in order to extract the cannabinoids and other chemical compounds clients want. This can be done through three different methods: solvent extraction, CO2 extraction, or steam distillation.

CO2 extraction is the safest and most efficient processing method, but it also requires expensive and specialized equipment. Steam distillation is more cost-effective but much less efficient than CO2 extraction, meaning farmers won’t get the most from their hemp biomass. Solvent extraction is an interesting middle ground, cheaper than CO2 extraction but more efficient than steam extraction. However, it has drawbacks of its own, particularly the risk of leaving behind residual solvents, which can affect the purity of the end product.

Many hemp farmers choose to ship their hemp biomass to a processing facility rather than invest in expensive and complicated equipment. Some larger-scale farmers prefer to rent equipment from processers, while some of the largest farms do buy their own equipment and process their own hemp biomass.

Want to Know More About Farm Equipment Needed to Grow Hemp?

Determining the right equipment needed to farm hemp isn’t a black and white issue. If you are just starting to grow hemp on a couple of acres, you probably don’t need to invest in state-of-the-art equipment. If you are transitioning your fields, you can likely repurpose or retrofit some of your existing equipment to use on your hemp.

A lot comes down to your goals, the size of your hemp acreage, the equipment you already have, and your budget for new equipment. If you still aren’t sure what industrial hemp equipment is right for you, then it’s a good idea to consult with an agronomist with experience in the CBD or CBG hemp space. You may also want to consider working with a farm equipment consultant.

Finally, hemp farming equipment can only take you so far. Make sure you start your hemp operation right with the best quality hemp seeds.