Many small-scale farms are family operations, but keeping a hemp farm running with only the efforts of a small group of people may not be possible. Hemp can be a labor-intensive crop, especially when harvest time comes around. To make sure you get your harvest in, it might be time to consider bringing on hemp farm labor.

How do you find the right hemp farmworkers? And as you’re hiring and budgeting, you’ll have to ask yourself, “How much do hemp farmworkers get paid?” Many hemp farmers around the country are facing these questions in real-time. The relatively recent legalization of hemp farming in America means these answers are still developing. In this article, we’ll provide our best guidance and tips on how to find and manage hemp farm labor.

Do You Need Hemp Farm Labor?

A few good farmhands can go a long way in managing and harvesting most crops, especially when equipment can perform most of the work. For example, if you plant hemp for seeds, you can harvest your crop with a combine and very little human labor.

However, harvesting hemp flowers for CBD or CBG is different. Hemp buds are delicate and bruise easily. They can also become contaminated if they are not handled gently. While effective hemp specific harvest equipment is evolving, the best way to harvest hemp flowers currently is by hand. In fact, the 2019 Hemp and CBD Factbook put out by Hemp Industry Daily found that 63% of hemp was harvested by hand in 2019. Harvesting hemp by hand isn’t fast or easy. Workers typically cut the flowers using a sharp instrument, such as a machete, shearer, or tobacco knife.

Farmers are also on a punishing clock. Those who live in more volatile climates may need to harvest their mature hemp flower before an early frost or hurricane season hits. Additionally, THC levels rise quickly as a hemp plant matures, and a delay in harvesting can tip the balance, sending plants over the 0.3% THC threshold, which can ruin an entire crop.

Farmers need to be smart about harvesting their hemp flower quickly and effectively, which could require the use of hemp farm labor. If you’ve never hired hemp farmworkers before, you’ll need to plan carefully to make sure you can find enough workers, train them properly, keep them through the harvest, and meet federal and local employment law.

Tip 1: Start Small

Many farmers underestimate how much labor they’ll need to manage and harvest their hemp crop, which can lead to harvesting delays and financial pain. The best way to prevent this from happening is to start small. Consider planting a single acre of hemp your first year so that you can get an idea of how much time and effort your crop will require. This is also a great opportunity for you to test your soil, learn how to cultivate the crop, and get a sense of how well your seeds perform.

Tip 2: Accurately Estimate Your Hemp Labor Needs

The last thing you want to do is realize you have too few hands in the middle of your harvest. If you followed the first tip and started small during your first year of hemp farming, you should be able to estimate how many people you’ll need to help you harvest a larger field. However, if you plan on jumping in with both feet, then consider that Kentucky hemp farmer Joseph Sisk estimated that he needed one laborer for every five acres in an article for Ag Pro Magazine. Sisk also reported that it took his crew five weeks to harvest his 200 acres of hemp. Make sure you continue to test throughout your harvest and grow your labor force if your THC levels begin to rise.

 

Tip 3: Consider Staggering Your Harvest

Want to get more work from a smaller crew? If you live in a climate with a long grow window, consider staggering your planting so you won’t have to harvest your entire hemp crop at the same time. A staggered harvest means you can hire fewer laborers who can harvest over a longer period of time. Choosing autoflowers or early finishing hemp strains, along with full-term hemp seeds to round out the harvest, will help you spread out the maturation time of your crop.

Tip 4: Determine Your Workforce

Once you know how many laborers you’ll need, it’s time to consider what your workforce will look like. If you’re only planting a few acres, you may be able to hire and manage your own laborers. However, as your acreage, and, therefore, your workforce grows, you may need to implement another level of management. This is when it might be time to consider hiring hemp farm labor management, like labor supervisors and foremen. As your operation continues to grow, you may also wish to bring on a hiring manager, a payroll supervisor, and other “back office” staff.

Tip 5: Find Your Workers

Where will you find your farm laborers? Smaller farms may be able to bring in extended family members for the harvest, wrangle up adult children, or hire their neighbors or local kids who need some extra money. As your operation grows, it may become more difficult to cover your labor needs using your informal network, and you may need to formalize your search.

Larger operations may want to consider using the H-2 visa program to bring foreign workers to their farm. This program is meant to allow U.S. employers to fill needed jobs when they can’t find an adequate amount of U.S. workers. Over the past few decades, the H-2 visa program has become increasingly popular in the agricultural sector, but it isn’t for the faint of heart.

As Hemp Industry Daily explains, tapping into the H-2 visa program is neither easy nor cheap. You’ll face a challenging bureaucratic landscape and be expected to pay contract fees and visa costs while also covering your workers’ transportation, housing, and living needs. Unsurprisingly, many farmers hire specialists, including hemp farm labor contractors, to help them manage this process and to recruit workers from over the border.

Tip 6: Budget for Your Laborers

At the time of this writing, farm labor is scarce, which means farmers across the country are fighting for the remaining labor talent. In an article for Successful Farming, Miranda Drive of CalAgJobs wrote that there are two jobs available in agriculture for every new job seeker and four jobs for every applicant in California.

This means you may need to pay more for your laborers to be competitive and attract enough workers for your harvest. If money is tight, think outside the box. The California Institute for Rural Studies found that, even above fair compensation, farmworkers most appreciate respectful treatment and a slower pace of work. The report also suggested farmers could offer year-round employment, health insurance, and personal loans to entice farmworkers.

Tip 7: Follow Labor Laws

Are your workers employees or independent contractors? Do they qualify for certain federal or state-mandated benefits? Labor laws are complex and differ from state to state. It’s a smart idea to consult with a labor attorney before you begin formally hiring anyone to work on your farm. Even if you think you have a “handshake deal” with your workers, it’s always better to follow the laws and cover yourself rather than be blindsided by a lawsuit in the future. By implementing proper labor procedures now, you can lay a good groundwork as your hemp farm and your labor force grows into the future.

Tip 8: Accept Your Role as a Manager and Leader

You may simply want to work your land and focus on your crops, but running a farm means you have to wear many different hats. The moment you hire hemp farmworkers, you become a manager. Even if you hire labor supervisors, the buck stops with you. Accept your role and plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to outline your workers’ job duties, develop training programs, and institute strong channels of communication. This should go without saying, but treat your workers with respect and listen to their concerns. Compensate them fairly. The better you treat your workers, the more likely they’ll work harder for you and either stick with you long term or return for the next harvest season.

The Time to Think About Hemp Farm Labor Is Now

Hemp farm labor management may not be a role some farmers feel comfortable with, but it’s just one more part of running your farm business. As your hemp farm grows, the earlier you can start planning for your labor needs, the better. If the labor shortage continues, you’ll need to be smart about defining your labor needs, developing your compensation plan, and searching for reliable and productive workers. If you think you might want to try the H-2 visa program, you’ll need plenty of time to begin the paperwork and other preparation.

Managing hemp farm labor isn’t easy, but it can be a key ingredient to your hemp farm’s success. Another key ingredient? High-quality hemp seeds, of course! Take a look at all of our hemp seed strains, including our autoflower and early finishers.

Industrial hemp is, generally, a robust and forgiving crop. Hemp can grow in a range of different environments and even survive in less-than-ideal soil. However, there is one part of the growing process that farmers must give special attention to: irrigation. Farmers who grow hemp for CBD or CBG must take special care to maximize the growth potential of every plant so that the hemp flowers produce the highest amount of CBD- or CBG-rich resin. That requires proper irrigation.

Not sure how to irrigate a hemp field? As with most aspects of farming, different approaches to irrigation can work. In this article, we’ll briefly review the more common types of hemp farm irrigation and look at the specific factors farmers must consider when they devise their hemp irrigation system.

Hemp Irrigation Needs

What does hemp actually need when it comes to irrigation? Farmers in dryer states will be pleased to know that hemp is not a water-hungry crop like cotton, avocados, or almonds. Rather, hemp prefers moist soil that is well-drained and well-aerated. (Learn more about the best soil to grow hemp.) Farmers need to take care not to under-water or over-water hemp plants, which could trigger a stress response in their crop and affect the quality and quantity of their CBD and CBG yields.

How much should farmers water hemp plants? That depends on a variety of factors, starting with the irrigation method a farmer chooses to use. Let’s look at three of the more common hemp farm irrigation options.

Flood Irrigation

Flood irrigation is one of the oldest methods of irrigation. It can also be a low-cost irrigation option if farmers have access to cheap or free water. The U.S. Geological Survey describes flood irrigation as “where the entire surface of the soil is covered by ponded water.” Farmers typically pump or pour water into their hemp field, where it flows around the crops.

The benefit of flood irrigation is that it’s a simple system to construct. Just apply water. However, the drawbacks are notable: Flood irrigation can easily lead to over-watering hemp plants. Wet leaves can promote disease. Finally, flood irrigation is a water-intensive irrigation method, which can be prohibitive in areas with high-cost water.

Pivot Irrigation

Pivot irrigation may be a good option for farmers who already own a pivot system and may not wish to invest in an entirely new irrigation system. With the pivot method, a sprinkler pipe or boom pulls water from a water source and delivers it through a row of hanging sprinklers. The automated pipe slowly rotates, delivering water across a field. The pipe itself is supported by towers that allow the sprinklers to hang over the crops.

Pivot irrigation uses far less water than flood irrigation, and it can also be automated to save time and effort. However, since pivot irrigation delivers water from above, a portion of the water will land on leaves and foliage and won’t make it to the roots of the plants. This system can also lead to wet foliage, which can promote diseases.

 

Drip Irrigation

By far the most popular and effective method of hemp irrigation is the drip method, also known as micro-irrigation. The beauty of the drip system is that it delivers water directly to the “root zone” of the hemp plants. This can be done in a variety of ways, but typically involves a tube, tape, or flexible pipe that runs along a row of plants and delivers low-pressure water to the base of the plants through numerous holes. Drip irrigation systems can be placed above or below ground.

Drip irrigation offers a variety of benefits, especially when used in combination with plasticulture. It is a highly water-efficient irrigation system because it puts water right where the plants need it. It also keeps leaves dry, which lowers the risk of disease.

Because drip irrigation provides water precisely, there is less of a chance that weeds taking advantage of the water will grow and become a problem. Finally, the drip system can be controlled manually or automatically, depending on the preference of the farmer. The flexibility and efficiency of drip irrigation make it the favorite among hemp farmers.

What to Consider When Building Your Hemp Irrigation Plan

The question of how to irrigate a hemp field is a difficult one to answer, because advice must be tailored to the irrigation method you choose, as well as your climate and soil type. However, as you begin to design your hemp field irrigation plan, here are some important factors to consider.

Know Your Water Source

You can’t water your hemp plants if you don’t have any water! Step one in building your hemp irrigation plan is to establish a reliable water source. That might mean using the municipal water system, drilling wells on your property, or using a nearby natural body of water.

Determine How Much Water You Need

The amount of water you need will depend on the climate of your region, the growth stage of your hemp plants, and your irrigation system. As mentioned, drip irrigation requires the lowest amount of water, but you’ll still need between two to three gallons of water per plant per day during peak growing season.

Just to get an idea of what that means, an acre of 1,500 hemp plants using 2.5 gallons of water per day during peak season on an eight-hour watering cycle will require 78 gallons of water per minute. Before you plant your first hemp seed, make sure you have adequate water for your crops.

Filter Your Water

Your water needs to be filtered even if it comes from a clean source, like a well or from the municipal water supply. If your water comes from a pond, lake, or canal, a good filtering system will be even more crucial. Make sure you install the correct size filter for your irrigation system and check it regularly for functionality.

Determine the Optimal Pressure for Your Water

The right water pressure will allow you to deliver the perfect amount of water to your hemp field. Water pressure is the force of the water’s flow. Measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), water pressure moves water through your irrigation system and onto your plants. Water pressure that is too low won’t have enough force to move through your irrigation equipment. If the water pressure is too high, it could damage your equipment and your crops.

The ideal water pressure for your crop will depend on your irrigation system. Drip irrigation requires relatively low water pressure. For example, a drip tape water system requires a PSI of 8 to 15. Consult your irrigation manufacturer for the ideal water pressure for your system. It may also be a good idea to hire an irrigation installation professional to ensure that your pump, pipes, valves, and water pressure regulator are installed correctly.

Irrigation and Fertilization

Many farmers choose to deliver liquid fertilizer through their irrigation system, including phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. The amount of fertilizer and what type of fertilizer you need will depend on your irrigation system and the quality of your soil. The best way to determine the fertilization needs of your hemp crop is to test your soil and test your plants.

How to Create a Hemp Irrigation Plan

Irrigation can make or break your hemp crop, so it’s important to get this step right. Devising the right irrigation plan can be tricky, as it requires customized calculations based on the size and scope of your hemp fields, the quality of your soil, your budget, and your climate.

Many farmers, especially farmers planting hemp for the first time, should consider hiring a professional to assist with irrigation planning. One option is to hire an irrigation consultant who can draw a hemp field layout, determine soil and water requirements, and recommend an irrigation system. Another option is to bring on an irrigation technician who can actually install your irrigation system for you based on your irrigation plan.

A final option is to hire an agronomist. These farming professionals can help you with every aspect of preparing your hemp crop, from sourcing the highest quality hemp seeds to making irrigation system recommendations. While an agronomist won’t install your irrigation system for you, they can design an irrigation plan and provide soil and water tests throughout the growing season. Farmers who want overall guidance and professional insight to improve the chances of a successful crop will probably do best with an agronomist. Farmers who simply need to install an irrigation system or repurpose an existing irrigation system for a hemp crop may prefer to hire an irrigation technician.

Got More Hemp Questions?

How to irrigate a hemp field is an important subject for hemp farmers to understand, but it’s only one part of planting, growing, and harvesting a successful hemp crop. If you have more questions about growing hemp, take a look at our 2020 Hemp Growing Guide. If you have questions specifically about hemp seeds for CBD or CBG, contact our friendly representatives.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the best hemp flower strains for your farm. To begin, you should assess whether your target market is in hemp biomass or boutique flowers. After that, we recommend you take a look at the outdoor growing season at your chosen locale. Once you have chosen hemp strains that meet the demands of your cultivation environment, you can focus on important factors such as cannabinoids, THC compliance, and terpene profiles.

Commercial hemp cultivation is a complex process that requires careful consideration of many factors. However, if you pay keen attention to the details and make educated choices, you’re sure to yield a great harvest. For added benefit, appropriate planning when choosing types of hemp flower can protect your operation’s bottom line.

A Quick Look at Hemp Flower vs. Hemp Biomass

You probably know that hemp is an incredibly versatile crop that can be used for thousands of different purposes. Farmers looking to grow hemp will first need to choose what, in particular, they want to harvest. Hemp can be grown for fiber, seeds, or resin (from which CBD or CBG can be extracted).

the best hemp flower strainsGrowing hemp for CBD or CBG can offer a high ROI. Farmers who want to operate large, industrial hemp farms typically choose to harvest hemp biomass. This biomass includes the hemp flower, stalk, and leaves, which are processed and refined together to extract CBD- or CBG-rich resin.

The percentage of CBD or CBG your hemp flowers and/or biomass produces will have a large impact on your ROI, but so will the overall amount of flower your hemp crop produces. If you are looking to sell smokable, boutique-quality hemp flowers, for instance, you want a plant that produces a large number of flowers, as opposed to a plant that is known to have many leaves, which could increase the overall biomass percentage. This is another factor to consider as you compare hemp strains and decide which to grow.

Smaller farmers often choose to harvest hemp flower, which is the bud the hemp plant produces. (Hemp flowers and hemp buds are interchangeable terms.) Hemp flowers can be harvested, cured, and sold as a complete flower. Many customers smoke or vape cured hemp flowers in order to enjoy the relaxing effects of CBD or CBG. Alternatively, processors may purchase dried hemp flowers in order to extract CBD or CBG. Hemp flowers provide a higher percentage of CBD or CBG than hemp biomass.

Types of Hemp Flower & the Growing Season

Different hemp flower strains possess characteristics that may be more or less conducive to your farm and growing season. One of the most important attributes of a hemp strain is its maturation cycle. Farmers who live in areas of the country with a short growing season may do better with hemp plants that mature quickly.

Outdoor hemp farmers in colder regions of the United States must pay particularly close attention to strain selection. That being said, if you plan on cultivating in the Midwest or Northeast, we recommend selecting hemp flower strains that finish well before the autumn freezes arrive. If this is the case, High Grade Hemp Seeds recommends you choose an early finish variety or an autoflower strain. Our Autoflower strain, for example, can be ready for harvest in around 75 days after planting.

Fast-growing hemp strains could also be an ideal choice for farmers with a long growing window and who want to get in a second harvest for the year. In fact, farmers with the benefit of a long growing season can experiment with different types of hemp flower strains. For example, our Red Bordeaux is an ideal choice for farmers interested in staggering their harvests.

 

Robustness

One of the most important factors in hemp strain selection is the overall robustness of the genetics. If your hemp farm operates without the protection of a greenhouse, your crop must be able to withstand several environmental stressors. Depending on where you are located, most outdoor hemp crops are exposed to excessive heat, heavy rain, strong wind, and cold nights.

Outdoor hemp crops are also under constant attack from bugs and pathogens. Especially during flower season, be sure to choose a hemp strain that is not easily susceptible to botrytis (“bud rot”). Unfortunately, it’s often the plants with the densest flowers that fall victim to this awful mold.

Certain hemp strains are more robust than others and can better withstand weather, bugs, and pathogens. Our Berry Blossom strain, for example, is well known for its toughness. When choosing your hemp flower seeds, take a look at their history and how well they’ve held up for other farmers who have used them.

Which Cannabinoid is Best in Hemp Flowers: CBD or CBG?

The hemp industry continues to evolve with consumer demand. Today, the little-known cannabinoid CBG is beginning to gain the attention of the masses. Historically, growing hemp for CBG has been very difficult, because hemp flowers simply don’t produce high levels of CBG.

CBG starts out in the hemp plant as CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). CBGA can then be broken down into a variety of different chemical compounds, which then break down into CBD and THC. This doesn’t leave much CBGA left over to convert into CBG, which is why normal hemp plants can have as little as 1% CBG. That is changing, as new hemp strains, including our Matterhorn CBG, have been selectively bred to produce high levels of CBG.

When you search for hemp seed strains, first decide if you might want to stick with growing hemp for CBD or experiment with CBG hemp. If you want to give CBG a try, then look for CBG strains. No matter which cannabinoid you want to harvest, make sure you choose hemp flower strains that can deliver a high percentage of either CBD or CBG. The more CBD or CBG your hemp flowers produce, the greater return you’ll get on your crop. Our Matterhorn CBG flower can typically produce 15% CBG.

THC Compliance & Hemp Flower Strains

As important as it is to choose hemp flower strains that can produce high levels of CBD or CBG, it’s equally important to ensure that your hemp buds stay in compliance with the law. The 2018 Farm Bill mandated that all industrial hemp plants must stay below 0.3% THC. Going above this level is known as “going hot.” Research from Cornell University determined that seed genetics play a large role in how quickly THC content increases as a hemp plant reaches maturity. When searching for the best hemp buds, check the strain’s history of THC compliance. If your hemp plants run hot before you can harvest them, you will lose your entire crop! This is why choosing the best genetics is an essential part of a successful hemp growing season.

Hemp Flower Strains & Terpene Profile

One of the biggest distinguishing factors between hemp strains is their terpene profile. A hemp flower’s “terp profile” refers to its aromatic qualities. A hemp plant’s terp profile is a huge selling point, as hemp bud smokers will often seek out their favorite flavors.

Hemp plants produce terpenes, which are found in trichomes (tiny hair-like structures around the buds, stems, and stalks of the hemp plant). Hemp plants use terpenes to ward off enemy insects while inviting helpful pollinators. Scientists have discovered over 100 unique terpenes, and fascinating research suggests that terpenes, along with other, lesser-known cannabinoids, may create an “entourage effect” that enhances the effects of CBD or CBG.

When reviewing different hemp flower strains, pay attention to the terpene profiles. Some hemp flowers, for example, offer fruity or floral notes. Others are famous for heavy flavors of skunk, cheese, and even gasoline. Certain customers absolutely love the biggest, boldest skunky hemp flowers.

Here’s a quick list of all the different terp profiles our hemp strains offer:

  • Berry Blossom: Extremely floral; smothered in exotic overtones of candied raspberries and acai berries.
  • Red Bordeaux: Strong overtones of fresh-cut strawberries and crushed lavender with hints of cherry and gasoline.
  • Merlot: A sharp and robust frame of freshly opened tennis balls and orange peel underscored with rich tones of chocolate and cherries jubilee.
  • Autoflower: Sweet and spicy.
  • Cherry Wine: Complex cherry floral frame with pine skunk undertones.
  • Trophy Wife: Heavy notes of cheese and skunk complemented by cherry undertones.
  • Matterhorn CBG: Effervescent notes of citrus, lemon, and lime.
  • Chardonnay: Strawberry rhubarb jam and candied raspberries.

How Do You Find the Best Hemp Flower?

As you may have already inferred, commercial hemp cultivation is a complex affair that requires the careful consideration of many factors. While the process of strain selection may seem daunting, it is extremely important. By taking the right steps before you plant your crop, you set yourself up for success when harvest time finally arrives.

When selecting the best hemp strains for your farm, you must consider whether you want to grow boutique flowers or biomass. With this information in hand, you should assess the growing season in your locale to choose the best strain for the job. Finally, you can narrow down your strain selection with the all-important considerations of cannabinoids and terpenes.

How can you balance all these different features to find just the right hemp strain that will thrive on your farm and give you the highest ROI? A great option is to start by looking for the best hemp flower company and reaching out to their customer representatives. A knowledgeable representative will learn more about your goals, your budget, and your farm and then be able to make recommendations.

Once you have a hemp strain in mind, the next step is to test it out. It’s a good idea to start small for your first hemp harvest. You may even want to plant just a single acre so you can see how the hemp takes to your soil, what your labor needs are, and what the harvesting process is like. If the plant thrives and gives you a good return, it’s time to plant more next year. (Start by reading our 2021 Hemp Growing Guide.)

Have more questions about the best hemp flower online? Contact us today. We’ve been in the hemp genetics and seed business for almost ten years and have worked with leading farmers and researchers to develop our hemp flower strains. Our strains are widely respected and considered foundational in the hemp industry. Just as importantly, our seeds are also planted throughout the country. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Every farmer knows that soil can make the difference between a bumper crop and a failed harvest. That’s why it’s so important for farmers to take the time to test, prepare, and manage their soil throughout a crop’s growing season. Though hemp has a reputation for growing easily, that doesn’t mean you can ignore your soil. While hemp can grow in many different regions and climates, soil matters. The right soil for hemp can dramatically increase the health of your hemp plants and your yields of CBD or CBG.

Fortunately, farmers with the right know-how and a reliable soil plan can turn most types of soil into great hemp soil. What kind of soil does hemp grow best in? Let’s find out.

The Best Soil for Industrial Hemp

Before we discuss the best soil to grow hemp, it’s important to recognize that farming industrial hemp in the United States is still a relatively new experience. Only since the passage of the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills have farmers in the modern era been allowed to grow hemp. That means we’re all still working to figure out best practices, including the best soil for growing hemp. We encourage you to take our suggestions as just that: suggestions. Use them as a basis and start experimenting with your own soil and crop.

the best soil for industrial hemp

With that out of the way, here’s what we can tell you about the best hemp soil conditions. Hemp loves to grow in loose, well-drained, and loamy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. It also prefers deep soil that is rich in organic matter.
Don’t have well-aerated, loamy soil? Not a problem. We’ve found that hemp can also grow well in clay soil that is well-drained, and even sandy soil as long as you give extra focus to irrigation and fertilization.

It’s also imperative that your soil doesn’t include heavy metals. Hemp is famous for its “bioaccumulative” properties, meaning that it can absorb many properties from soil, including, according to Hemp Industry Daily, “radioactive elements, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, explosives, and fuel.” This makes hemp an excellent option to clean up abused soil (hemp has even been planted around Chernobyl), but it can be very problematic if your soil contains dangerous substances!
How do you know if your fields have the best soil to grow hemp? More importantly, if your hemp soil conditions are less than ideal, how can you make over your soil to improve your hemp harvest? Fortunately, farmers have a lot of tools and options to improve their soil for hemp.

Test Your Soil

Before you even consider growing your first hemp crop (or really any cash crop), you must perform soil testing for hemp so you can understand what you are working with. A soil test will give you the pH of your soil as well as the nutrient balance of the soil. You’ll see where your soil is deficient and where you may have an overabundance of certain elements that might hurt your crop.
It’s a good idea to test your soil several months before you plan on planting, so you have time to perform your soil prep.

 

Create an Irrigation and Soil Nutrient Plan

Your soil test will give you the information you need to create an irrigation and nutrient plan for your fields. This plan should start with steps to prepare your field before planting, including addressing any nutrient deficiencies before you add your hemp seeds or starts.

Bringing your soil up to health is only the beginning: Your plan should also include steps to maintain the health of your hemp soil throughout your growing season.

The second part of the plan will feature your irrigation strategy. Remember that hemp plants need well-drained soil. Overwatering hemp plants is a common and disastrous mistake. Our research has found that drip irrigation, pivot irrigation, and floor irrigation can all work well with a hemp crop.

Prepare Your Soil for Hemp

Most farmers need to perform some interventions to make their soil more conducive to hemp. If you are starting a brand-new field, you will likely have to do more work than on a field you’ve been working for many years. Your soil test will guide you on how to prepare your soil. Your goal should be to build the health of your entire field ecosystem.
Here are a few quick suggestions on the specific nutrients in your soil:

Nitrogen

Hemp is all about the nitrogen. If your soil testing for hemp shows that your soil is lacking in nitrogen, don’t be stingy in adding plenty of nitrogen to your soil before you plant. The Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension suggests adding 150 pounds of nitrogen for every 1,500 pounds of yield. Again, test, observe, and experiment to find the right amount for you.

Phosphorus

Farmers growing hemp for CBD or CBG will want to give their crop plenty of potassium to support good flower growth. (The majority of a hemp plant’s resin is produced in the flower of the female plant.) However, be careful not to go overboard with the phosphorus; consider adding 50 to 80 pounds per acre.

Boron

Not all soil will need extra boron, but it’s still important to check your soil test to determine if you are boron deficient. It’s also a good idea to perform a leaf analysis at the midpoint in your growing season to check if your plants might need additional boron.

Fertilizer

Hemp does best in soil that contains lots of nutritious organic matter. That could be compost, fish emulsion, kelp extract, or whatever organic matter you prefer. Just make sure to check the nutrients of your fertilizer to make sure you aren’t adding too much of a specific nutrient to your soil. For example, some compost includes high levels of potassium, and too high of a level can make it harder for your hemp plants to absorb much-needed calcium. Most compost suppliers can provide a nutritional analysis of their compost. This article from Cannabis Business Times provides a suggested fertilizer schedule for hemp.

Invest in Hemp Seeds with Good Genetics

No farmer’s hemp soil will ever be perfect, which is why you can increase your chances of a good harvest by investing in hemp seeds with strong, reliable genetics. Many of today’s top hemp seed strains have been bred to be robust and to withstand challenging weather conditions and imperfect soil conditions. Our Berry Blossom strain, for example, is grown in nearly every state in the US and is prized for its toughness. Our Merlot strain is also noteworthy for its robust constitution. (Learn more about how hemp seed strains can make or break your hemp farm.)

Hire an Agronomist

How do you interpret your soil test, and how do you use it to develop an irrigation and nutrient plan for your fields? You don’t have to! One of the best decisions you can make as you begin planning your future hemp crop is to hire an agronomist. These “crop doctors” can guide you through every step of preparing your field for planting hemp, including developing the best soil for industrial hemp. For example, an agronomist can suggest the right soil test, then use those results to build an irrigation and nutrient plan for you. They can offer specific instructions on what nutrients to add to your soil as well as other interventions to improve the quality of your soil. Agronomists also keep track of the latest and greatest research and can give you the most up-to-date advice on improving your hemp yield.

Growing hemp is complex, and the margins between financial success and failure are thin. Give yourself an extra edge by working with an agronomist. (You can also help yourself by reviewing our Hemp Farming 101 infographic.)

Be Patient

You cannot change your soil overnight even if you use the best-practices suggested in this article or the recommendations of your agronomist. Accept the fact that it can take years to shift the structure and nutrient composition of your fields, especially if you are working with a new field. Your agronomist can provide you with a multi-year strategy that will gradually shift your soil over time. Put in the work, and it will pay off.

Another aspect of being patient is to recognize that even the best soil to grow hemp won’t stay that way if you ignore it. Your soil constantly changes, especially as you rotate your fields and plant different crops. Test your soil regularly and continually revise your soil management strategy based on the results. Your soil is just like your crops—it needs regular care and attention!

Keep Experimenting

Your soil is different in ways big and small from the soil of other hemp farmers, which is why your results will vary from theirs. Only through experience and experimentation will you learn how to create the best hemp soil conditions for your fields. Don’t be afraid to test different levels of nutrients as well as different CBD hemp strains or CBG hemp strains to see how you can get the largest and highest quality yield. Your agronomist can help you evaluate your results and suggest other factors to test in the future.

Have More Hemp Soil Questions?

We could only scratch the surface on the topic of soil for hemp in this article. If you have more questions on soil testing for hemp or which hemp strains do best in which kinds of soil, we’d love to answer them! Contact us today.

The success of your hemp CBD or CBG crop will depend on the efficiency of your harvest processes. Harvesting a commercial hemp crop is a carefully choreographed process where scheduling, labor, equipment, and facilities must be accounted for. As the hemp industry continues to mature, hemp farmers and equipment manufacturers have been working together to develop effective harvest techniques.

Today, hemp harvest practices borrow from both commercial agriculture and cannabis cultivation. To illustrate, farmers who grow hemp for bulk biomass get many of their harvest methods from industrial farming. Conversely, hemp producers who grow boutique flowers follow many of the careful harvest parameters of craft cannabis production. In this article, we’ll look specifically at how to harvest both hemp biomass and hemp flowers.

The harvesting process can be broken up into three broad phases:

  • Choosing the right harvest time
  • Harvesting your hemp
  • Drying and curing your hemp

Part 1: Choosing the Right Time to Harvest Your Hemp

As a rule of thumb, full-term hemp requires 100 to 120 days to mature. Nonetheless, different geographies present both opportunities and challenges when it comes to timing a hemp harvest. In colder climates, you will want to choose hemp strains that finish by late September.

Choosing the right time to harvest your hemp will impact your ROI. If you harvest too early, your plants may not reach their full resin potential. Harvest too late, and your flowers could lose their potency. (Yes, CBD and CBG potency drops quickly after hemp plants reach maturity.) Even more, harvesting late in certain regions of the country like Colorado will put your crop at risk with early season frost and snow.

To hammer home how important good timing is, consider that harvesting 1,000 pounds of hemp biomass with 7% CBD instead of 8% CBD will mean a loss of approximately 10 pounds of CBD oil. With CBD oil selling at roughly $5 per gram, losing just 1% of CBD potency will result in a loss of $20,000 per 1,000 pounds of biomass.

As if finding this balance wasn’t difficult enough, farmers must also keep in mind that THC rates rise quickly as hemp plants reach maturation. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp farmers must keep their hemp crop below a 0.3% THC threshold. If you wait too long to harvest and your crop’s THC potency rises above 0.3%, you’ll have to throw away your entire crop.

How to Decide When to Harvest

In most regions of North America, hemp crops are ready for harvest between mid-August and early October. Farmers with a small hemp crop used to be able to use visual cues to determine the ideal time to harvest their crop. Looking closely, farmers could spot a plant’s trichomes (small, mushroom-like glands on hemp flowers). When the trichomes turn from clear to a milky white color, the plants are ready for harvest. Nowadays, even small farmers need to test to stay in compliance with regulations so going on visual clues is not recommended for beginners.

Industrial hemp farmers are better off determining the right harvest time by regularly testing their plants with a laboratory. While testing hemp crops might be expensive, it offers a great way to get exact readings on cannabinoid levels in your plants. By taking the guesswork out of harvesting, you will ensure your hemp crop remains compliant according to state and federal guidelines. As some states require testing before harvest, you might have to undertake this step at your hemp farm anyway.

Weather May Dictate Your Harvest

Farmers also need to keep an eye on the sky when choosing the right time to harvest their hemp crop. Farmers in the north of the country or at high altitudes must watch for an early cold snap. Hemp is a robust plant, but it can’t survive a hard frost. Additionally, harvest season also coincides with hurricane season, so farmers on the East Coast and Gulf Coast need to track hurricanes and tropical storms.

Rain can cause serious issues for hemp growers. Not only will excessive rain during harvest season contribute to broken branches on plants, but excessive moisture can help propagate mold. Large flowers are particularly susceptible to botrytis or “bud rot” in wet conditions.

 

Part 2: How to Harvest Hemp at Your Farm

Your harvest processes will be dictated by the type of CBD or CBG hemp you are growing. If you are growing hemp for CBD or CBG biomass, you can use industrial hemp farming equipment to harvest your crop. However, if you are growing hemp for smokable flowers, you will have to cut down plants individually by hand.

How to Harvest Hemp Flowers by Hand

Harvesting hemp by hand protects the integrity of the flower. As CBD and CBG flowers are sold as smokable products, you must ensure that trichomes, terpenes, and pistils are not damaged during the harvest process. Mishandling these delicate flowers can greatly reduce their value on the open market.

Harvesting hemp by hand is labor-intensive. Workers typically use machetes, shears, or tobacco knives to cut the stalks and bring the hemp to a waiting wagon or trailer. Where to cut the hemp depends on how the farmer intends to dry it. If you plan on screen-drying your hemp, you’ll want to cut smaller sections, so it is easier to lay them on the screens. If you are going to hang dry, you can afford to cut larger sections of the hemp.

How to Harvest Hemp Biomass with Machines

Hemp biomass requires different harvest processes than hemp flowers. As hemp biomass is grown on an industrial scale for CBD and CBG extracts, it doesn’t require as much care as hemp flowers. As such, farmers use industrial agriculture equipment like combines to harvest hemp biomass. By using combines, you can harvest acres of hemp in quick order.

Understanding Your Labor Needs

One of the most common mistakes new farmers make is underestimating the labor requirements of the hemp harvesting process. Farmers who don’t bring on enough labor could face dire financial consequences if their harvest falls behind schedule and their mature hemp plants run hot.

Farmers need to hire enough workers to efficiently harvest their hemp. They also need to build the harvesting time into their overall hemp schedule to make sure their plants don’t over-mature while the laborers work. It’s a good idea for workers to start harvesting hemp with the largest and densest flowers. Workers may also want to start by cutting top flowers first, leaving lower flowers to mature a little more before a second pass. The ACS Laboratory suggests that 15 experienced workers can harvest five to six acres of hemp per day.

New Farmers Should Start Small

We strongly recommend that farmers plant only a few acres of hemp for their first season, or even just a single acre. Planting a small amount of acreage will help farmers understand how much labor they need per acre of hemp, so they can scale up appropriately when they plant more next year. Also, planting a single acre of hemp lets farmers experiment with growing techniques and helps them understand how hemp performs on their farm before making a large investment in the crop.

Part 3: Drying Your Hemp

Some farmers send their hemp biomass directly to a processor after harvesting, but many choose to dry and cure the hemp on their property before this step. Again, your choice for drying and curing hemp will largely be dictated by whether you are growing flowers or biomass. Drying the hemp helps lock in the hemp’s quality and potency. If a hemp plant isn’t cured properly, it could grow mold or lower the quality (and overall market value) of the product.

Drying is another part of the hemp harvesting process where farmers use different methods and are actively experimenting to improve their outcomes. All farmers will agree that drying requires a drying facility. This should be a roofed structure with good ventilation. Many farmers use a barn, shed, or warehouse to serve as their drying facility.

Ventilation Is Key

One of the most important factors in the drying and curing process is good ventilation. To achieve proper airflow, you should use wall fans, inline fans, and industrial blowers.

How to Dry Hemp

When it comes to drying hemp, methods vary. Some farmers use racks or screens. A common method is to hang hemp plants upside down from wires. If you plan to use this method, we recommend that you break off the branches of your hemp plants and hang them individually.

When Is Your Hemp Dry?

How dry does hemp need to be before a farmer can send it off to the processor? Typically, farmers will want to get below 15% moisture (below 12% is even better.)

Curing Your Hemp

Some processors will expect farmers to go beyond drying their hemp and cure the hemp as well, which means taking out even more moisture. Curing adds a lot of time to the drying process, but it also locks in the smell and taste the flowers.

Final Testing

During the drying and curing process, farmers will also want to test hemp plants one more time. The final test will let farmers know the CBD or CBG content of their crop and ensure the crop is under the THC limit. The test can also show any contamination that could affect the quality of the crop.

What’s Next?

The last step in the curing and drying process will depend on what the processor asks for. Some farmers send their dried hemp directly to the processors while others shuck the hemp and remove the stalk. Still, others will trim the hemp, cutting away the leaves and sending only the flowers. Trimming can be performed by hand or, for larger operations, with the help of a mechanical trimmer.

Have More Questions on How to Harvest Hemp?

Here at High Grade Hemp Seed, we get the question “how do you harvest hemp?” all the time. The answer really depends on your goals, budget, and personal preferences. If you still want to know how to harvest CBD strains or harvest industrial hemp, contact our representatives today and we would be glad to lend you our expertise.

A new crop is showing up on farms across the country. In August of 2018, U.S. farmers planted 27,424 acres of hemp. Just a year later, that number skyrocketed to 128,320 acres across the country and 2020 numbers are now at a whopping 465,762 acres. What is behind this jaw-dropping increase in hemp farming? The answer is that hemp offers farmers a variety of great benefits. This versatile and sustainable crop can be a great addition to most farms. Here are 10 useful benefits of hemp farming.

1. Hemp Can Grow Almost Anywhere in the United States

Many farmers are limited by the crops that will grow in their planting region. This may mean certain lucrative cash crops are out of reach. Not so with hemp (at least for most farmers). Hemp is a highly robust crop that can grow nearly anywhere, except for very dry deserts or high, mountainous areas where large-scale agriculture doesn’t happen anyway.

Chances are that you can successfully grow industrial hemp at your farm. Note, however, that hemp does grow best in well-drained soil, so you may need to do a little extra work if your soil doesn’t offer ideal drainage.

Want to get started growing hemp? Download our 2021 Hemp Growing Guide

2. Hemp Is an Endlessly Versatile Crop

From paper to biodiesel fuel to wellness-promoting oil, hemp can be turned into an almost endless supply of different products. In fact, there are over 25,000 different uses for hemp, including food, building supplies, textiles, skincare products, oils, and more. Every part of a hemp plant can be used in some way, shape, or fashion.

This versatility gives farmers growing hemp many different options when it comes to making a profit on their hemp crop. They may even be able to harvest different parts of the hemp plant to earn even more from each harvest.

3. Hemp Can Offer a Great ROI

Let’s get down to business: Farmers need to earn a living, and hemp is a great way to do it. Many farmers are making a strong profit by growing hemp for CBD and/or CBG. CBD is extremely popular in the health and wellness industry, and interest in CBG is quickly rising. According to a 2019 article in The Fresh Toast, while farmers typically earn $1,000 per acre of corn, some hemp farmers have reported earning as much as $30,000 to $40,000 per acre growing hemp for CBD. These results are not typical of all hemp farmers, especially new farmers, but it does speak to the earnings potential that CBD and CBG can offer.

Interested in making a greater profit on your hemp crop? Take a look at our 10 tips for increasing hemp farm profits

4. Hemp Is a Highly Robust Crop

Risk comes with the territory for farmers. There’s always the chance that a crop can be damaged by rough weather, pests, or disease. While hemp is not impervious to these harms, it is a highly robust plant. Hemp is known for being resistant to common pests and diseases that can take down other, more vulnerable cash crops. Additionally, because hemp tends to grow so quickly, it usually outpaces weeds that could compete with it for resources.

That doesn’t mean farmers growing hemp can afford to take their hands off the wheel and assume their crop will grow without any problems. Farmers need to always keep an eye on their hemp crop for any signs of disease or pest issues.

 

5. Autoflower Hemp Can Grow in 75 Days

Farmers in colder climates need to work within a short growing season. On the flip side of the coin, farmers in warmer climates may have the ability to plant more than one harvest in the same field. In both cases, autoflower hemp seeds can give farmers the fast grow time they need. Autoflowers typically mature in 70 to 75 days, which cuts weeks off the time of full-term hemp (which may take 100 to 120 days to mature). Autoflowers are a great option for a short growing season or can give farmers more flexibility in planning their crops and getting the most use out of their field.

Here’s what you need to know about growing autoflower hemp

6. Hemp Nourishes Your Soil

Most cash crops leach nutrients from the soil in order to grow, forcing farmers to continually add chemical fertilizers into their fields. Some farmers are adopting the old tradition of rotating their fields to give their soil time to recover. Hemp can speed up this process by actively revitalizing the soil.

Hemp roots reach deep into the soil to hold it together and prevent erosion. The roots also loosen up the soil, making it more welcoming to the next crop. While a hemp crop is planted, it naturally aerates the soil and adds helpful deposits of carbon dioxide into the soil.

Lastly, hemp creates a lot of healthy biomass after it is finished growing. Farmers who grow hemp for CBD or CBG only need to remove the plant’s leaves and buds, and can turn the rest into biomass that can decompose and feed nutrients back into the soil. All these factors can revitalize soil.

7. Hemp Doesn’t Need Lots of Water

Water isn’t cheap no matter where you live. Farmers in dryer areas of the country, like in the southwest, have to pay even more for water, which may make thirsty crops, like avocados and almonds, expensive crops to grow. While hemp is not technically a low-water crop, it does require less water than many water-hungry crops.

Farmers who want (or need) to keep their water bill low can do so by growing hemp.

8. Hemp Doesn’t Require as Much Pesticide and Herbicide

The EPA has a number of approved pesticides and herbicides that can be applied to hemp crops. Each state also has its own rules and regulations so the state Agriculture Department should be contacted. Despite the EPA’s approval, many, if not most, CBD hemp farmers prefer to maintain the chemical purity of their crop. They prefer to use biologics and Integrated Pest Management to maintain the purity of their product in order to maximize downstream product value.

9. Hemp Is a Great Way to Diversify Your Crop

One of the ways farmers balance out risk is to diversify their crops. Hemp is a great option for farmers who want to lower their risk by adding a new crop to their portfolio. All of the benefits of hemp farming we’ve already pointed out help make a great case for diversifying with hemp.

Hemp grows fast, nourishes the soil, doesn’t require a lot of water or chemicals, and can be turned into lots of different products—and it can offer a great ROI. If you want to switch things up on your farm, it’s time to start thinking about hemp farming.

Here’s how to start a hemp farm

10. Hemp Is Good for the Environment

Farmers understand that combating climate change is synonymous with protecting the future of farming. Hemp can help with that battle. Aside from requiring fewer chemicals and less water than most cash crops, and helping to prevent soil erosion, hemp does one other great thing for the environment: it loves to gobble up carbon dioxide, which it then feeds right into your soil. According to the Hemp Foundation, “Experts say that every ton of hemp can sequester 1.62 tons of CO2.”

Hemp is also actively being used as a sustainable alternative to many different materials. An acre of hemp can produce as much paper as four to 10 acres of trees, and hemp grows to maturity in four months, whereas trees require in 20 years or more to reach maturity. Companies have also started experimenting with hemp plastic and “hempcrete”, a building material that is actively being used in Europe and is starting to appear on U.S. building projects. Researchers have also found that hemp biodiesel is a viable and renewable fuel alternative.

Why Plant Hemp?

You’ve now got 10 reasons to seriously consider hemp farming. Hemp is hardy and robust. You can grow it nearly anywhere, including places with a short growing window or areas of the country with limited water. Hemp can be turned into nearly anything, giving you lots of options to make money by meeting market demand. Achieving a high ROI with hemp is possible, especially if you grow hemp for CBD or CBG. Hemp can also keep your soil healthy, limit your use of pesticides and herbicides, and help you fight climate change.

Want to know even more benefits of hemp growing? Contact High Grade Hemp Seed today. We’d love to tell you about the unique benefits of our CBD hemp strains and our Matterhorn CBG strain.

There are a number of benefits to growing autoflower hemp crops. In an increasingly competitive industry where efficiency is directly tied to profitability, you need every edge you can get. To this end, being able to control your harvest windows and dictate the speed of your crops are great advantages. Autoflowering CBD strains from High Grade Hemp Seed allow you to do just this.

Not only do autoflowering plants give you precision control over your hemp harvests, but they also allow you to grow multiple crops in a year. As such, you can stagger your hemp flower harvests, so you can keep a revenue stream coming in all year. Finally, several autoflower harvests per year allow you to sell your flowers for better prices during non-peak seasons.

For those farmers curious about autoflower grow techniques, High Grade Hemp Seed put together this definitive autoflower grow guide.

What are Autoflower Hemp Strains?

Let’s start with the basics: What is autoflower hemp and how is it different from other types of hemp strains?

Traditionally, all cannabis sativa plants are known as “photoperiodic” plant species. This means, hemp experiences different growth phases as dictated by periods of available sunlight. The amount of sunlight changes throughout the year, from spring planting until autumn harvest. Importantly, hemp plants transition from vegetative growth to flowering phase when there is an even 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

As the name implies, autoflower plants automatically grow flowers. Importantly, they don’t require a change in the light or the season. Autoflower hemp strains are the descendants of cannabis plants grown in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. In these cold countries, the cannabis plants had to learn to grow quickly to make the most of short growing seasons. They shed their reliance on the light cycle, allowing them to grow and flower in record time.

Today’s farmers can now use seeds from autoflowering plants to grow precision CBD hemp crops.

Why Choose Autoflower Hemp Seeds?

Before we jump into our tips for growing autoflower plants, let’s look at why you might want to consider choosing autoflower seeds instead of photoperiod seeds.

Speedy Growing Cycle

Most hemp strains require over 100 days (sometimes up to 120 days) to complete a grow cycle. Autoflower strains, on the other hand, are speed demons when it comes to growing. Most strains reach maturation in 7 to 10 weeks, allowing farmers to grow multiple harvests per year in warmer climates. This fast growth rate also makes autoflower strains a great option for farmers who live in colder climates with short outdoor growing seasons.

High Resiliency

The great ancestors of today’s autoflower hemp seeds had to survive in some of the world’s toughest climates, which makes autoflowers some of the most resilient hemp strains around. As such, if you live in an area where cold weather and frost come early, autoflowers genetics are likely a great choice.

Resistance to Pests

Pests and insect infestations are a threat to any crop, but autoflowers grow so quickly, insects often don’t have enough time to do the plants much harm. This makes autoflower crops more pest-resistant than most other hemp strains.

Cannabinoid and Terpene Production

In the past, autoflower plants have been criticized for producing lower-than-average amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. These days, however, hemp seed companies like High Grade Hemp Seed have been hard at work breeding autoflower strains that boost CBD yields and provide tantalizing terpene profiles your customers want.

 

How to Grow Autoflowers in Soil

Growing autoflower hemp seeds in soil isn’t so different from planting other strains of hemp. The primary difference is you have more options on when to plant autoflower seeds.

Step 1: Revise Your Operation

Growing autoflower hemp is a different ballgame than traditional photoperiodic cultivation. The speed at which autoflower plants reach maturation affects nearly every facet of a farm operation.

There are several factors you must consider if you plan on growing autoflower hemp:

  • Plant size: Because autoflower plants mature so quickly, they do not grow nearly as large as photoperiod hemp strains.
  • Plant count: To keep your harvests profitable, you must grow more plants to compensate for the smaller size of autoflower plants.
  • Harvest schedule: Whether you are staggering multiple harvests in a season, or just growing a quick crop, harvest times will be much different than seen with traditional hemp crops.
  • Labor: If you are staggering crops, be sure you have available labor on hand during atypical harvest times.

Step 2: Schedule Your Planting

The beauty of autoflower hemp seeds is that they can grow throughout most of the year as long as they don’t experience frost or too much rain. That gives you a lot more flexibility in when to plant. In some parts of the country, planting can start in early spring all the way through to late fall.

Figure out your planting goals: Do you want to focus only on autoflowers and cycle as many harvests as you can? Or do you want to get an autoflower harvest at the beginning and end of the year around your other, longer-growing hemp strains?

Step 3: Germinate Your Plants in a Greenhouse

At High Grade, we often recommend germinating your seeds in a greenhouse infrastructure to give your seeds the best chance for survival. Autoflower plants don’t have as much time to recover after they are transplanted outdoors, so you may want to experiment with greenhouse propagation techniques. If you decide to germinate your seeds in a greenhouse, it’s a good idea to give your new seedlings a few weeks to grow in the greenhouse before transplanting.

Because autoflower plants are smaller than normal, you must also plan for a larger plant count during germination. This means you will need more propagation materials and greenhouse space if you are growing autoflower crops.

Step 4: Prepare Your Soil

Your robust autoflower hemp seeds don’t need as much nutrition as other hemp strains, but they still appreciate a little nourishment. Test your soil before planting and double-check that your soil doesn’t contain high levels of sulfur, potassium sulfate, or rock phosphate.

Step 5: Keep Your Soil Well-Drained

Hemp plants, including autoflowers, grow best in loose, well-drained soil. Adjust watering to your particular climate. Autoflowers do well with surface drip irrigation, subsurface drip irrigation, pivot irrigation, and flood irrigation.

Step 6: Harvest Your Plants Sequentially

Your autoflower hemp plants will be ready for harvest between 7 to 10 weeks. Consider harvesting the colas on the tops of the plants first in order to give the lower buds a little more time to mature before harvesting them.

Step 7: Germinate Your Next Crop

To create the fastest cycle between harvests, begin germinating your next crop of non-autoflower hemp seeds in your greenhouse as you are harvesting your autoflower crop in the field. Once your harvest is complete, you should have a whole new batch of germinated hemp plants ready for another round of growing and harvesting.

Growing Autoflowers Indoors

Thinking of growing autoflower seeds indoors? You’ll need to set up a well-designed grow space. Make sure to set up proper lighting and irrigation and that you have the ability (and the right equipment) to maintain the right temperature and humidity levels.

Step 1: Plant Seeds in a Single Pot to Avoid Replanting

Autoflowers grow so quickly that they don’t have the time to recover from a big stressor like replanting from one pot to another. Instead, plant your seeds and grow them to maturation in a single pot. If you want to attempt to create a strong canopy in your grow space, plant the seeds in smaller pots so you can keep your plants together.

Step 2: Prepare Your Soil Properly

Autoflower hemp plants prefer light and airy soil. They don’t need the same amount of nutrients as other strains of hemp. Be careful about using pre-made soil mixes with too many nutrients. Plant your seeds in only lightly fertilized soil.

Step 3: Limit Watering

Be careful about overwatering your autoflower hemp plants. As we mentioned, autoflowers don’t recover well from major stresses like a deluge of water. Give the soil enough time to dry between waterings. A lighter watering schedule will also help you prevent mold.

Step 4: Determine Your Light Scheme

The beauty of autoflower hemp plants is that you don’t have to commit to a rigid light schedule like you would with photoperiod plants. However, you still need to give your autoflowers plenty of nurturing light to help them grow strong.

There is a lot of debate on how much light to give industrial hemp plants. Farmers who want the highest resin yields and have a little more money to invest upfront may want to use a 24-hour light cycle. Farmers who want to save on energy costs can still get good results using an 18/6 schedule, which refers to 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness.

Step 5: Control for Airflow and Humidity

Autoflower hemp plants do best in moderately warm temperatures, so try to keep your grow space at a cozy 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Good airflow is also an important component of keeping your plants happy and healthy, so use a ventilator to keep humidity low.

Step 6: Harvest Sequentially

When your indoor autoflower hemp plants are ready for harvest, take the colas and the buds from the top first in order to give the lower buds a little more time to mature. This will help you get even more resin from your harvest.

Step 7: Rinse and Repeat

You know the drill by now. If you have space in your grow room, consider germinating your next crop of seeds while harvesting your current crop. Take advantage of the fast-growing speeds of your autoflowers to achieve multiple harvests in a year.

Talk to High Grade Hemp Seed about Autoflower Strains

To give your autoflower hemp crop the best chance for success, look for the seeds with proven genetics. At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are proud to offer our feminized autoflower seeds, which are known for uniform growth, as well as great cannabinoid and terpene production.

High Grade Hemp Seed takes great pride in helping our clients achieve success in the hemp industry. This guide on how to grow autoflower hemp only scratches the surface of this complex topic. If you want more tips for growing autoflower, contact us today.

So, you want to start an industrial hemp farm—good choice! The 2018 Farm Bill finally made industrial hemp farming legal in the United States. The passage of the bill set off a bonanza of hemp farming, fed by the rabid popularity of CBD oil and the recent, growing interest in CBG oil. According to a market research report, the industrial hemp market could be worth up to $26.6 billion in the United States by 2025. That’s all to say that hemp may be a highly lucrative crop for farmers.

If you’re wondering how to start a hemp farm, you have a lot to learn before you plant your first seed. While tales of huge hemp profits are certainly alluring, farmers must make sure they fully understand the hemp market, the regulatory landscape of hemp, and the agricultural requirements of this unique crop before starting a hemp farm. Fortunately, we are here to help. We’ve been working with farmers for years to help them earn the most from their hemp crop. Consider this your guide to hemp farming 101.

Step 1: Do Your Homework

Planting a new crop is exciting, and you may be itching to start buying seeds, especially if the planting window is quickly closing for the season. Resist the urge to rush into a new endeavor, especially one as complicated as growing hemp. Instead, be patient and do your homework.
Learn everything you can about growing hemp and your state and local hemp regulations: Perform research online and speak with local farmers in your state who own hemp farms. Here are some of our favorite online resources for hemp farmers:

Additionally, check to see if your state has a hemp grower’s association you can join. This could be an excellent avenue to network with other local hemp farmers.

Step 2: Clarify Your Industrial Hemp Goals

It’s best to start out with your goal in mind, then work your way backwards. Begin thinking about which hemp products you want to grow. For most hemp farmers, their hemp crop of choice is CBD oil, but some farmers choose to grow hemp for seeds or fiber.

 

Step 3: Begin Identifying Potential Customers

Ideally, you’ll want to have customers lined up before you harvest your hemp crop so you have a fast and easy way to unload your harvest. Unlike with corn and grain, there are no hemp silos where you can drop off your hemp after harvest.

Finding customers early can also help you decide which strains of hemp seeds you should purchase. For example, if you find a CBD manufacturer who wants smokable hemp flowers (also called buds) with a specific terpene profile (the aromatic quality of the flower), you can search out hemp seeds to meet that need. You may also find customers who want a CBG oil supplier—that could easily be you.

 

Step 4: Create Your Hemp Farm Business Plan

Yes, you knew this one was coming. Drafting a business plan is challenging, but to help inspire yourself, think of your business plan as a “proof of concept” test. It’s far better to discover problems while in the planning stage of your hemp farm than out in the field when you’ve already laid down a big investment.

Make sure your business plan includes important sections like:

  • A SWOT ( Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis
  • Local hemp market overview
  • Your sales strategy
  • Your operating plan
  • Your farm’s organizational structure
  • Your financial plan, including a funding analysis and profit & loss forecast

We strongly suggest that you keep your profit estimates modest. Many online articles like to tell stories of farmers clearing $40,000 or more per acre of hemp. While these profits may be attainable by some, it is unlikely that first-time hemp farmers will see this level of return. By keeping your profit estimates reasonable, you can ensure that you’ll be able to meet your expenses. And if you beat expectations? Icing on the cake.

If you are having trouble developing your hemp farm business plan, reach out to your local hemp farmer’s association if one exists. You may also want to work with an agronomist who has experience in hemp farming.

Step 5: Develop a Plan for Testing and Compliance

One of the unique challenges of starting a hemp farm is that farmers must abide by the USDA’s strict guidelines regarding the THC content of their crop. According to these guidelines, your hemp plants must stay below a 0.3% THC threshold. You will be responsible for frequently testing your plants to ensure compliance, which is regulated by your state.

We recommend that you begin testing your plants a month after germination and test every two weeks. You may want to test even more frequently as you get closer to harvest. Search for a reputable testing facility now so that you can ensure that you’ll be able to consistently and accurately test your plants.

Step 6: Create an Irrigation Plan

Hemp can thrive with a variety of irrigation systems, including surface drip irrigation, subsurface irrigation, pivot irrigation, and flood irrigation. Now is the time to decide what type of irrigation system you want to use, as it will affect your overall costs, especially if you need to purchase a new system.

Step 7: Get Your License/Permit/Registration

The 2018 Farm Bill requires that every state create and submit a “state hemp plan,” which includes information on how the state will actively track industrial hemp farming within its borders. That means each state has its own regulations regarding hemp farming.

You will almost certainly need to request some form of license or permit in order to farm hemp in your state. You may also need to register with your local city or county. Reach out to your state’s agricultural department to determine what type of permissions you need. You may also want to hire an attorney with industrial hemp experience to make sure all of your paperwork is above reproach.

Step 8: Invest in Equipment and Labor

What new equipment will you need to ensure the best outcome for your hemp crop? For example, if you plan on buying hemp seeds, we strongly recommend that you start them in a greenhouse. (Don’t have a greenhouse? Try hemp starts instead of seeds.)

Hemp is also a labor-intensive crop, so it’s a good idea to recruit a crew of experienced workers who can help you cull male plants, watch out for pests, and maintain ideal field conditions. We recommend checking your fields daily.

 

 

Step 9: Prep Your Fields

As the day to plant your first hemp crop grows closer, you’ll want to make sure your soil is in ideal condition to help your plants grow fast and strong. The best way to prep your field will depend on your farm’s soil conditions and your regional environment.

It’s a good idea to test your soil for elemental sulfur, potassium sulfate, and rock phosphate to make sure the levels aren’t too high. You’ll also want to make sure your soil is well-drained before planting.

Step 10: Buy Your Hemp Seeds

With everything in place and planned out, it’s time to purchase your seeds. If you’ve performed steps two and three, then you should know exactly what type of hemp crop you want to cultivate. For example, perhaps you want to grow hemp specifically for CBG production or maybe you want to grow hemp with a fruity terpene profile.

Decide whether you want to invest in hemp seeds or hemp starts. (We don’t recommend using hemp clones since they will never grow a taproot, which make the plants more fragile.) You may also want to consider purchasing early finishing seeds, which will allow you to stagger your harvest and use your labor more efficiently.

Look for a hemp seed company that has been around for at least a few years and is passionate about the genetics of their seeds. We strongly recommend that hemp farmers invest a little more upfront and purchase feminized seeds to ensure the highest resin yields possible. When male hemp plants pollinate females, resin yields are substantially lower. (Here’s everything you need to know about feminized hemp seeds.)

Finally, if you find a hemp seed strain you want to try, purchase your seeds from the original company that created that hemp strain, not a seed reseller. The original company will be able to provide you with much more information and personal guidance during the planting, cultivating, and harvesting process.

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are here to help you as you prepare to start farming hemp. We would be glad to tell you more about our many tried and proven hemp seed strains, including industry favorite Berry Blossom, Cherry Wine, fast-growing Auto Flower, and one of our newest strains, Matterhorn CBG, bred specifically to increase CBG production.

Contact us today—we’ll be happy to help you learn more about how to start a hemp farm.

Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill relaxed restrictions against hemp farming, you’ve heard all about the big profit potential of this versatile crop. In fact, a research report by MarketsandMarkets™ found that the industrial hemp market is expected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2019 to $26.6 billion by 2025. Researchers from Brightfield Group have also estimated that farmers could earn up to $40,000 per acre of industrial hemp compared to just $1,000 per acre of corn. While the higher end of that range may be achieved by more experienced growers, if even a tenth of that number sounds good to you, then you may be wondering how you can start growing hemp for profit.

Hemp, like all crops, has its unique growing challenges. One of those challenges is that hemp farming in the U.S. was illegal for decades, meaning that accurate knowledge and experience are in short supply.

Is it profitable to grow hemp? If you are looking to cultivate cannabidiol (CBD) oil or cannabigerol (CBG) oil, the answer can be a resounding yes if you follow best practices. Here are 10 invaluable tips on how to grow hemp for profit.

1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

As with any crop, growing hemp requires a big investment in time, money, and effort. Before you put all your resources on the line, make sure you know what you’re jumping into.

Start by:

  • Researching hemp: Learn everything you can about it, including its growing cycle, nutritional needs, cultivation, and the different hemp strains available on the market.
  • Get advice: Reach out to farmers in your area who are growing hemp for profit and learn about their experience. You can also find great communities of hemp farmers online who are willing to share advice.
  • Create a business plan and budget: Where will you plant your hemp crop? How many seeds will you plant? How much will you spend on seeds? Will you invest in any specialized equipment? You’ll need to answer these questions and many more before you plant your first hemp seed.
  • Start small: Instead of risking it all by converting your entire acreage to hemp, consider planting just a few acres your first year. This will give you the time and space to learn about hemp and to see how the crop does on your farm before you invest a significant amount of capital.

2. Choose a Profitable Product

Hemp is a highly versatile crop that can be farmed for a variety of different products. You can farm hemp for fiber, grain, CBD oil, CBG oil, smokable flower, and more. Certain hemp products are more profitable than others. For instance, CBD oil can be very profitable and, on the premium end, can sell for more than $1000 per kilogram.

To make the most profit from your hemp crop, consider farming for the purpose of CBD oil, or even CBG oil. CBG oil is still relatively unknown, but early studies of the substance have shown that the oil may offer positive health benefits. Some industry experts are predicting CBG could be the next big health product, and it currently sells for an even higher price than CBD oil.

 

3. Choose Hemp Seeds Designed for Your Purpose

Search out hemp seeds designed to enhance the production of the product you’ve chosen to cultivate. For example, some seeds have been intensely crossbred to enhance the production of CBD oil. Planting these specialized seeds will allow you to produce more pounds of CBD extract per acre. That could translate into an increased profit of hundreds, possibly even thousands, of dollars per acre you plant.

At High Grade Hemp Seed, all our hemp seed strains, including industry favorites Berry Blossom and Cherry Wine are designed to produce high quantities of CBD pill. Our newest product, Matterhorn CBG was bred specifically to increase production of CBG oil and can produce up to 15% CBG per trimmed flower.

4. Choose the Right Hemp Seed Strain

Before you spend a lot of money on your first purchase of hemp seeds, consider what strain will be the most profitable for you. Most hemp seed companies provide a variety of hemp seed strains. Each strain offers unique benefits. Some are designed for specific growing conditions, others for particular climates, and some are designed to grow fast or grow in a particular season. Many strains also produce interesting flavors. Some drip in resin for extraction and some are bred for the aromatic flowers to be smoked and appreciated by CBD consumers.

Research all the different strains available, and don’t be afraid to ask seed companies for their recommendation based on the particulars of your farm and your goals.

5. Buy Feminized Seeds for CBD and CBG Production

Here’s a quick lesson in hemp plant biology. Hemp plants can be male, female, or hermaphrodites. CBD oil and CBG oil come from the flowers of female plants, which means the females are your ticket to a profitable hemp crop.

Male hemp plants can actually burn away your profit. Not only do they produce only minimal amounts of CBD oil (not even enough worth cultivating), but when they pollinate female plants, the females produce less CBD.

Therefore, it’s critical that you keep male hemp plants out of your fields. Even a few males can pollinate many of your females and dramatically lower your CBD or CBG yield. The best way to get as many female hemp plants as possible is to invest in feminized seeds. Reputable hemp seed sellers can guarantee an extremely high rate of feminized seeds (at High Grade, we’ve achieved a 99.8% rate of feminization), which will result in a high rate of CBD or CBG oil extraction.

6. Invest in Seeds with a High Germination Rate

Every hemp seed that doesn’t germinate represents the loss of potential income. Even if a small percentage of your hemp seeds don’t germinate, that could mean hundreds of dollars of loss per acre.

When you’re ready to invest in hemp seeds, ask for the germination rates for your seeds. A reputable seed company should not only have this information available, but they should also be proud to tell you. At High Grade, our collective germination rate for all our hemp seed strains is over 95%.

7. Diversify Your Products

Farmers understand the value in diversifying their crops. A variety of different crops can help you manage changes in the marketplace, extreme weather events, and even changing consumer sentiments. Even within the hemp industry, you can diversify your hemp crop to balance out risk.

For example, even if your main interest lies in producing CBD extract, you may want to set aside a few acres for a seed like Matterhorn CBG to try out CBG extract. If CBG becomes as hot of a commodity as CBD, then you could be one of the first farmers to market. Plus, the reliably low THC levels, even when left in the field, ensure you have a compliant harvest.

You may also want to experiment with different hemp seed strains. You may find that one strain grows better and produces more CBD extract for you. Additionally, different strains will produce CBD with unique palettes, which may attract different buyers for your crop.

8. Consider Using Hemp Plant Starts

Hemp seeds are best grown initially in a greenhouse for their first few weeks. If you don’t have a greenhouse infrastructure and want to avoid that rather large initial investment, consider buying hemp starts. Hemp starts are already germinated and develop a tap root – unlike clones which do not develop a tap root,, which means you don’t have to worry about seeds that fail to germinate or high wind conditions causing seeds to blow away. Every start is a plant already on its way to flowering in a few short weeks.

9. Hire an Expert

If you’ve never farmed hemp before, you may want to consider hiring an agronomist. Though an experienced and knowledgeable agronomist won’t be cheap, their services will help ensure that your crop is successful. The increase in profits, when all is said and done, should more than pay for their services.

An agronomist can help you:

  • Test and prep your soil to make sure it is conducive to hemp growth
  • Recommend the right equipment to grow and harvest your crop
  • Advise you on the best irrigation methods and systems
  • Help you design your rows for maximum cultivation
  • Provide localized advice on regulations, certifications, licensing, and testing requirements to keep you legally safe

You may also want to consider working with an attorney experienced with hemp law to ensure you are following all local, state, and federal regulations.

10. Ask Questions

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Starting to farm a new crop is a big investment, no matter the crop, so arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Talk to all the hemp farmers you know. Grab the ear of companies that manufacture specialized hemp farming equipment. Contact the top hemp seed companies and talk to their customer representatives. Tell them about your farm and goals, and ask for recommendations on the right seeds. Seed companies should be happy to answer your questions and to give you advice on how to grow hemp for profit.

Is It Profitable to Grow Hemp?

Yes, it is. We work with many farmers across the country who have been able to make a good living through hemp farming. Growing hemp isn’t easy, and success is far from guaranteed, but now you know some of the best tips on how to grow hemp from profit. If you start with the right principles, perform good planning, order the best seeds, and invest in expert advice, we think you’ll find hemp farming to be a profitable endeavor.

We want to answer your hemp seed questions and help you earn the most from your first hemp harvest. Contact us today.

Since the U.S. government relaxed restrictions on hemp farming in the Farm Bills of 2014 and 2018, many farmers have started planting this lucrative crop. If you are interested in adding hemp to your farm, you might be wondering how to get started. The answer is simple. Start with the right hemp seeds. Every farmer knows that the key to a successful crop begins with quality seeds. But how do you find hemp seeds for growing, and how can you evaluate the quality of the seeds?

Here are the six tips to buying hemp seeds to grow, straight from the mouths of experienced and successful hemp farmers:

1. Decide What You Want to Achieve

Hemp is an extremely versatile plant that can be farmed for a variety of different purposes, including fiber, grain, cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, cannabigerol (CBG) extracts, or smokable flowers. Different hemp seeds are cultivated to enhance the production of one or another of these features.

Therefore, it’s crucial that before you invest in hemp seeds for growing, you determine what results you want.

Are you interested in harvesting fiber or grain? What about CBD or CBG oil? Currently, CBD oil is the most profitable hemp crop to plant. Some sources estimate that farmers can see a profit of up to $40,000 per acre of hemp cultivated for CBD oil. While there is a large range in final profitability, interest in CBG oil is also beginning to increase, selling at an even higher price than CBD oil, yielding as high as 3 times the value of CBD.

2. Focus on Good Genetics

Once you’ve decided what hemp product you want to harvest, search for seed companies that offer hemp strains designed for that purpose. Often, these companies have spent years crossbreeding strains to enhance the seed’s output. For example, a hemp seed that can increase CBD production by just 2% in each plant can result in thousands of extra dollars in your pocket for every acre planted.

As you dive into your hemp seed research, you’ll likely discover that farmers and hemp experts mention the same strains again and again as the best in the industry. Choose the company that originated those strains rather than seed resellers.

Finally, good seed genes are about more than just increasing output. You also want to search out seeds that will grow into resilient plants that can survive and thrive in different environments and through a variety of weather conditions. Look for hemp seed strains adapted to your growing season and local environmental conditions.

3. Buy Feminized Seeds

If, like many hemp farmers, you want to focus on producing CBD or CBG oil, then the feminization rate in your seed selection matters. Hemp plants can be either male or female. Both CBD and CBG oil are dominantly derived from the flowers of the female plant. If a male plant pollinates a female plant, it will dramatically lower the amount of CBD and CBG oil female plants produce. Even a few male plants in a field can noticeably cut the CBD and CBG oil production of your crop and your profits along with it.

It’s incredibly important to work with a seed company that provides feminized seeds. No company can guarantee 100% feminized seeds, but the best seed companies can get very close (and they will teach you how to quickly identify male plants).

In the farming business, a few percentage points here or there can make the difference between a profitable crop and dipping into the red after all your hard work. When it comes to where to buy hemp seeds, invest in companies that can offer the very highest feminization rates.

 

4. Look at a Hemp Seed Company’s History and Reputation

The recent relaxation of laws against hemp farming has led to a rush of new players in the industry looking to “cash in” on the hottest new crop to hit the market. Suddenly everyone and their brother has hemp seeds and other related products to sell to unwary farmers.

Look before you buy hemp seeds for growing! Take the time to do your due diligence and research a company’s history and reputation before you invest your hard-earned money. Because hemp farming was essentially outlawed up until 2014, hemp seed companies are still relatively new. However, the top companies have been around for years and have invested a lot of time and effort into creating high-producing strains of hemp seeds. These companies also make a point of working directly with hemp farmers and agricultural scientists to ensure the quality of their seeds.

5. Work with Seed Companies that Understand Compliance

Industrial hemp farmers need to be extremely careful to ensure that their hemp product stays in compliance with federal law. That means their hemp crop must have a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) below 0.3%.

Compliance starts with the seed company. You’ll want to choose hemp seeds for growing for sale that are genetically designed to produce low amounts of THC. If your seed company doesn’t provide low-THC seeds, it will be nearly impossible to stay in compliance.

Of course, each farmer must test their plants through every stage in the growing process to ensure THC rates are below the limit. Starting out with the right seeds, however, can make this process much easier and help ensure you get to harvest without any compliance issues.

6. Invest with a Seed Company That Provides Excellent Customer Service

No crop is guaranteed, which is why knowledge is power for farmers. Choosing the seeds for your hemp crop is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, so it helps to get the right kind of guidance. The best hemp seed companies care deeply about helping their clients make educated and confident decisions when they buy hemp seeds to grow.

For example, a hemp seed company should be happy to take the time to explain the features and benefits of their different hemp seed strains. They should be eager to learn about your farm, your budget, and your goals so they can make hemp strain suggestions that will give you the best chance of success. They should also be able to answer questions about what equipment you need and whether hemp seed starts would be a better option for your farming setup.

Before you buy hemp seeds from a company, give them a call and talk to a representative. Make sure they’ll take the time to help you make the best choice for your farm.

It All Starts with the Seed

A good hemp crop comes from good hemp seeds. A lot of new farmers wonder where to buy hemp seeds, but the answer is easy: choose High Grade Hemp Seed. We were founded in 2011 and became one of America’s first certified hemp farms. We’ve spent years building up a team of expert farmers and scientists and crossbreeding hemp seeds to develop the very best strains.

Our results speak for themselves. We offer seeds with a 99.9% feminization rate and a 98% germination rate. Our Berry Blossom hemp strain is considered an industry standard for high CBD production, and we’ve developed five additional CBD-oriented strains that are quickly becoming farmer favorites in their own right. Our Matterhorn CBG strain is one of the very best for producing CBG.

Of course, don’t just take it from us—let us show you what we’re all about. Give us a call and tell us your story. We would love to hear about your goals and to help you find the right hemp strain and seed type for hemp success. Contact us today or take a look at our highly praised hemp seed strains.