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Little Rock, AR, Nov. 05, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- When farming hemp, it is important to start the planning process for the next season while the current crop is still growing. This ensures the hemp crop will be successfully planted and harvested when the time arrives. At this time of the year, farmers are harvesting hemp crops that were planted in May and June, and it will not be long before the cycle begins again in 2020.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the growing of industrial hemp in the United States, hemp farmers, many of whom were drawn to the crop with tales of large payouts, have been continuously figuring out the correct methods for planting, growing, and harvesting their crops. It is a learning process that involves discovering what works for crop growth and what is detrimental. Farmers must pay attention to issues that arise during the growing of hemp crops to prevent them from occurring again in future seasons. Here are some major challenges to hemp farming, as well as three tips to have a successful crop year.
Purchasing the right hemp seeds is imperative. The type of seed used for an industrial hemp crop depends on the by-product being produced. Industrial hemp can be broken down into three types of crops: fiber producing, seed-producing and CBD production.
It is important to purchase seeds or clones from a reputable company. Make sure the company has a seed labelers license and are registered with the state plant board or other government agencies in your state or the state you are purchasing the seed from.
With these crops, a mixture of seeds or clones can be planted. “If you are planting clones or seeds,” Brian Madar, COO of Tree of Life Seeds and experienced hemp grower, said, “We urge you to place orders early to secure your genetics. Seeds and cones will be in big demand moving into the 2020 growing season.”
Taking care of hemp crops while they are growing is an integral part of the hemp growing process. Unsatisfactory conditions can hinder the process, resulting in decreased yield.
Weather conditions, such as influxes of rain, wind, hail, or frost, can either prevent crops from being planted on time or damage them while they are growing. Industrial hemp does need heat and adequate moisture while growing, but too much of a good thing has the potential to be destructive. In July of this year, hemp farmers in Plevna, Kansas, experienced heavy storms and an increase in rain that prevented them from planting and ruined existing crops, resulting in major losses.
Weather conditions ultimately depend on the state where crops are grown; therefore, farmers face different weather issues subject to location and should adjust their growing process accordingly. Too much humidity can be just as bad as too much rain or heat. High humidity can cause bud rot, which is devastating to crops before harvest.
Other growing issues include using the wrong nutrients and having poor quality soil. Crops also need to be weeded regularly. It is a labor-intensive job to keep weeds away from crops, but it is important for healthy growth. Moreover, since hemp is an accumulator plant, farmers should not use pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides because these are absorbed by the plant and passed on to consumers. At this time, there are no pesticides approved for use on hemp crops.
Additionally, harvesting crops before they are adequately ready and have reached an ideal level of cannabidiol can drive down their value.
Hemp crops need to be monitored to ensure they have the approved legal level of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant that can have psychoactive effects. Farmers must prepare samples of the crop to be tested. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, THC levels should not be above .3%.
Knowing the many challenges that growing hemp can bring, farmers may be asking what they can do to improve their next season. Madar has three helpful hints to grow hemp successfully.
First, plan your acreage. It is paramount to have a good soil sample and well-drained soil. A good soil sample tells the farmer what kinds of natural fertilizers they need to put on their crops. The soil sample should show a pH level of over 6.0, preferably closer to 7.0 for proper growth. Well-drained soil is key because the plants are sensitive to wet soil and can be affected by different types of root rot, such as Pythium.
Second, secure your genetics. Farmers need to start early to ensure their seeds or clones, and since they can be expensive, it is key to pick the best ones. This means working with dealers licensed through the state agricultural department. “At Tree of Life Seeds, we work with state agriculture departments across the country to get proper licensing to sell genetics. This is an extra hoop we jump through to ensure that our farmers have access to the best material,” Madar commented.
Third, plan your harvest. Many farmers are tempted into the hemp industry with stories of amazing profits, but it is critical to note that harvesting hemp is different from harvesting other crops. Before planting, the farmer must consider the specialty equipment, labor force, and drying and processing when the crop has matured. Madar said, “There are also special processing and drying needs for hemp, and we can help farmers handle these final steps in the growing process. We are able to dry and process so that farmers aren’t stuck worrying about it.”
Farmers should follow these steps to help have a more productive hemp crop in 2020.
Lillee Hill Tree of Life Seeds 501-408-2420 firstname.lastname@example.org