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.

 

You won’t be able to farm hemp for long if you can’t earn a profit from your crop, but how do you actually sell your hemp biomass? Where do find hemp biomass buyers? Most importantly, how can you get the best price on the crop you spent so much time, effort, and resources growing? When it comes to selling your crop, you’ve got a range of options, from working with a hemp broker, to selling directly to wholesale hemp buyers, or even taking your crop to a tradeshow. Let’s look at the most common ways to sell hemp, and the steps you should take to ensure that you get the best price possible.

A Quick Review of Hemp Biomass

Before we dive into the questions of how and where to sell industrial hemp, it helps to understand the term “hemp biomass.” In the hemp world, “biomass” actually has two distinct meanings, which can be a little confusing. Some people in the industry use the term “hemp biomass” to mean everything other than the flower or buds on the plant that contain the majority of the plant’s resin, terpenes, and cannabinoids. This would include the hemp plant’s stalks and leaves. In most cases, farmers growing hemp for CBD or CBG can sell the leftover hemp biomass to biomass buyers who turn it into a range of products, from paper to textiles and more.

However, the way we will use the term “hemp biomass” in this article is to refer to portions of the hemp plant that includes the flower or bud. This hemp biomass is typically priced by the pound and sold to hemp processing or extraction facilities that specialize in extracting CBD or CBG from the biomass.

Determine the Price of Your Hemp Biomass

You would never sell your truck or a piece of expensive farm equipment without having at least a ballpark idea of how much it was worth, right? The same goes for your hemp crop. Before you start looking for hemp biomass buyers, you need to understand how much your hemp is worth so that you can negotiate the best price for it.

Many factors will affect the value of your hemp biomass, but the major factor is the amount of CBD or CBG your hemp biomass contains. If you grow low-quality hemp plants with, say, less than 10% CBD, then you won’t be able to ask for a high price per pound. On the other hand, hemp biomass with a high percentage of CBD or CBG will be able to garner top dollar.

This is why it is so important to invest in hemp seeds with proven quality genetics. You’ll also want to have your hemp biomass tested, analyzed, and certified so you can show potential biomass buyers what they will be getting.

Pre-Selling Your Hemp Harvest

For many hemp farmers, it’s a good idea to try and pre-sell your hemp harvest before your crop is mature. In fact, it is in your best interest to have a secure contract in place before you ever put seed in the ground. Searching for biomass purchasers early will give you time to do your research on potential buyers, negotiate a fair price, and review the contract before signing. Alternatively, if you wait until your hemp is harvested, you’ll have a short window to unload your crop. You’ll also be competing with other farmers who weren’t able to pre-sell their crop. Biomass buyers will have the upper hand in negotiations.

At the same time, if you decide to pre-sell your crop, make sure you review the contract carefully. Your crop may have to meet certain CBD or CBG percentage standards to qualify for your agreed-upon price. You’ll want to understand what happens if you aren’t able to meet the terms of the contract. Will you get a lower price, or will the buyer be able to walk away?

Hire a Hemp Broker

Perhaps the easiest answer to the question of where to sell hemp is to use a hemp broker. A good hemp broker is someone who is highly knowledgeable of the hemp industry, has many contacts in the field, and is a great communicator. A licensed hemp broker will essentially connect you to a hemp biomass buyer and facilitate the sale of your crop.

In a best-case scenario, a hemp broker will find a buyer for your crop and negotiate a great rate for your hemp. In exchange, the broker will take a commission on the sale, typically around 10% of the sale, though rates can go much higher.

For some farmers, especially first-time hemp farmers without many contacts in the field, a hemp broker can be an excellent option, alleviating the need for a farmer to find and negotiate with a buyer on their own. The broker may also get a higher purchase price than a farmer could achieve on their own, helping to cover their fee.

However, working with a hemp broker might not be all it’s cracked up to be. First, a hemp broker’s commission can take a notable chunk out of your earnings, especially if your profit margins are thin. Next, for every great hemp broker, there are many less experienced and less scrupulous individuals hawking their services. So before signing on with a hemp broker, check their track record. Mediocre hemp brokers may not have good contacts or may cut the first deal they can find in order to earn a quick commission rather than negotiating for the best price possible.

Sell Directly to a Customer

Farmers who have a lot of contacts in the hemp field and want to earn more by cutting out the middleman may prefer to sell their hemp biomass directly to a customer, typically a processor or extractor. This will require more legwork and a willingness to spend time negotiating on your own behalf. It may also be a good idea to retain an attorney to review any contract you and your buyer draw up together.

Selling directly to a customer can help you maximize your profit, but it will also require more effort on your part. Certain hemp biomass buyers, especially wholesale hemp buyers, may be hesitant to work with a new and unproven farmer or a farmer without an adequate amount of biomass to sell.

Sign a Profit-Sharing Agreement

Farmers planting hemp for the first time may struggle with all the costs associated with switching to a new crop. High-quality hemp seeds aren’t cheap, and farmers may have to invest in new equipment, a new irrigation system, and more.

One way to mitigate all the startup costs of planting hemp is to sign a profit-sharing agreement with a biomass purchaser. With this agreement, the buyer covers the upfront costs of growing and harvesting the hemp. Those costs are then recouped through the profit of the crop, and the farmer and purchaser share the additional profits. A profit-sharing agreement may also appeal to farmers who want to quickly grow their hemp operation but don’t have the capital to expand at the pace they want.

It may take some work to find a buyer willing to put up the money for your hemp operation, but if you need fast capital, this could be the right option for you.

Hemp Futures Contracts

Farming always carries some degree of risk. One way farmers seek to mitigate that risk is to sign a futures contract with buyers. This contract is typically signed before a hemp crop is planted and specifies the price per pound the buyer agrees to pay for the crop. Usually, the price offered in a futures contract is less than what the farmer could get on the open market, but it offers the farmer both stability and predictability. Also, crop prices can fluctuate. If there is a glut in the market and crop prices fall, the futures contract can protect the farmer from a volatile market.

Just make sure you review the futures contract carefully and work with a company with a proven history in paying for their contracts.

Other Places to Find Hemp Buyers

These days, farmers may need to get creative when it comes to finding the right buyer for their hemp biomass. A younger generation of farmers are setting up social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn where they can connect with buyers and hemp brokers and begin building a valuable network within the industry.

Other farmers are experimenting with selling their hemp biomass through online marketplaces. Finally, some hemp farmers have found luck meeting buyers and brokers at newly emerging hemp tradeshows.

Do Your Homework on Your Buyer

No matter where you find your hemp biomass buyer, make sure to research them, review your contract carefully, and get your money before you put your biomass on a truck and send it off. The hemp biomass market is still new and, like any new market, there are people trying to take advantage of the unwary.

The hemp market is still maturing, but that doesn’t mean that there are not secure and reputable companies supporting the hemp supply chain. Let us help you navigate that path and don’t forget that a profitable hemp crop starts with high-quality seeds. Contact us today to learn more about our different hemp seed strains.

The 2018 Farm Bill finally opened the doors to industrial hemp farming in the United States, but hemp farmers don’t get a free pass. Instead, the Farm Bill instituted strict hemp compliance requirements and also called on states to develop their own hemp testing and certification standards, which means the exact rules a farmer must follow depends on the state in which they grow their crop. Sound confusing? It can be. In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of the federal rules as well as our recommendation on best hemp compliance testing practices.On October 31, 2019 (yep, Halloween; take from that what you will), the USDA released the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program through an interim final rule. The purpose of the interim rule was to further explain federal hemp compliance standards until November 1, 2021, at which point the USDA will release its final rule.

In describing the interim final rule, HempGrower.com explains, “The 161-page document provides guidance on applying for licenses, sampling, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) testing and interstate transit.” (Read the full interim final rule.)

The interim final rule says a lot about… well, a lot, but here’s what you need to know about compliance.

Hemp Compliance Testing Rules

Understanding the 2018 Farm Bill

In December 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill. This was no ordinary bill. Sure, it included a lot of the normal revisions and extensions to the country’s agricultural and nutritional policies, but it also featured a very special amendment that essentially legalized the production of industrial hemp in the United States.

At the same time, the 2018 Farm Bill implemented several important restrictions. The most important restriction is that industrial hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. In order to ensure that hemp crops meet this standard, section 10113 of the bill empowered the department of agriculture in each state to create a hemp testing, compliance, and licensing plan that would then be submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for review and approval.

The Farm Bill specified that states don’t necessarily need to create their own plan. Farmers living in states without a state-specific regulatory program will be able to seek licensing from a federally-run program. By the end of 2019, 22 states and tribes had submitted plans for approval.

The 2018 Farm Bill helped spur the rise of hemp farming in America, but there are still many questions and gray areas related to how testing and compliance will work. To help clarify these questions, the USDA released an interim final hemp rule at the end of 2019.

The Interim Final Hemp Rule

States and tribes must collect samples from every lot of hemp that farmers plan to harvest. This is a stricter standard than some states had previously developed. (In those cases, states had opted for randomized testing rather than testing every lot.)

Additionally, states must conduct sampling 15 days before the anticipated harvest. This is an extremely important fact for farmers to keep in mind. This—15 days before harvest—is when your crop must be below 0.3% THC.
All samples must be collected by a USDA-approved sampling agent or a federal, state, or law enforcement agent. Samples will be taken from the top one-third flower portion of the plant, which, experienced hemp farmers will note, contains the highest levels of cannabinoids in the plant. Farmers will be expected to pay the sampling fees.

One of the most controversial aspects of the interim final rule has to do with the testing facilities. The rule specifies that hemp compliance testing must be completed by a DEA-registered lab. Farmers who were previously using third-party labs will need to switch over to compliant labs. These DEA-registered labs must test THC using post-decarboxylation (or a test that is similarly reliable) and must include the total amount of delta-9 THC and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).

What Happens If Your Sample Exceeds Allowable THC Levels?

No farmer ever wants to consider the possibility that the THC level of their sample comes back too high. If this happens, the first line of defense is that a farmer can request a second round of testing if they believe the original result was made in error.

If that option doesn’t work and the sampling still comes back with too much THC, the entire hemp lot will be treated as marijuana, and the farmer will need to dispose of the crop according to the standards of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

If that weren’t bad enough, a hemp crop sample that tests above 0.5% THC will earn the farmer a Notice of Violation from the USDA, which will include a corrective action plan that the farmer will be required to follow. If a farmer racks up more than three violations over five years, they won’t be able to legally grow industrial hemp for the following five years. (Note, if a hemp crop is over 0.3% THC but below 0.5%, no violation will be assessed.)

Don’t let that happen! The best way to ensure that your hemp crop doesn’t run hot is to develop the right hemp testing protocols.

When to Perform Hemp Potency Testing

If you watch enough football, you’ll invariably hear the announcers proclaim, “The best offense is a good defense.” That same logic applies when it comes to hemp potency testing. Our suggestion is to test for THC early and often, starting when the plants are in the juvenile stage.

Ideally, after the first few weeks of flowering, you’ll want to begin testing your crop every week. This will help you monitor how quickly your THC levels are rising so you can take action if your crop starts to run hot. Be prepared for THC levels to rise quickly in the last few weeks before harvest. Also, remember that the new interim final rule requires samples to be taken 15 days before harvest. Don’t wait one day longer to test, as a few days could mean the difference between being in compliance or losing your entire crop!

How to Test Hemp

While the interim final rule requires that your samples be tested by a DEA-registered laboratory, you don’t have to choose the same lab for all of your hemp tests. If you plan to test your hemp crop throughout the flowering process, you may wish to use a third-party lab of your own choosing. Larger scale industrial hemp farmers may also choose to perform their own testing on site if they have the right equipment and materials.

Keep in mind that cannabinoid testing is only one of several tests you should consider performing on your crop to increase your chances of a successful harvest. It’s also a good idea to test your soil for pesticides and heavy metals before you plant your first hemp seeds. You’ll also want to consider testing your plants for contaminants, flavonoids, and terpenes after harvest so you can accurately represent your product to processors or customers.

Choosing the Right Hemp Seeds

One of the best ways to create a “good defense” when it comes to hemp compliance is to choose the right hemp seeds. You’ll want to look for seeds with strong, well-documented genetics that have a solid history of remaining in compliance. There are a lot of new seed companies coming onto the market, and all of them will claim to offer the best seeds. Search for seed companies that have been around for a while, that have worked with lots of farmers, and that have a good reputation within the industry.

Any hemp seed company worth their salt (or their seeds) should be happy to tell you about the testing they’ve done on their hemp seed strains to ensure their seeds stay in compliance.

Know Your State Rules

Last, but not least, we want to reiterate that it is imperative for farmers to look up the hemp testing and compliance rules within their own state. While all state programs must follow the federal rules, the state rules can be even stricter. Several states have drafted their own regulatory plans, and Florida officially launched its hemp program in January 2020. Check with your state’s department of agriculture to determine the specific rules of your state.

In the meantime, if you want hemp seed strains with a proven history of compliance, contact High Grade Hemp Seed today.

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.

This incredibly versatile plant has thousands of uses, from hemp building materials and hemp paper to hemp clothing and CBD cosmetics.

This incredibly versatile plant has thousands of uses, from hemp building materials and hemp paper to hemp clothing and CBD cosmetics.

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.
  • Bueno: Aromatic notes of strawberry.
  • 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!