With promises they could make exponentially more an acre than with hemp when compared to traditional crops, many farmers looking for an alternative to low crop prices blindly rushed into planting and growing hemp in 2019.
But the farmers sometimes did not anticipate the incredible investment and costs of harvesting…and what all that entails, including drying and processing their hemp to get it ready for this new market.
As we gear up for harvest season at Cedar Valley, we thought we would share a few basic principles that we abide by.
Harvesting is hard work – and expensive
Harvesting hemp requires a completely different approach to most other agribusiness commodities, even for farmers with years of know-how with other crops.
Hard lessons were learned by many in 2019 including:
- The higher cost of crop production inputs – including seed or clones, labor and equipment – the cost of harvesting, drying and processing a hemp crop is often where farmers can end up coming up short, especially if they don’t have a plan.
- Cutting the crop down and drying it in the field like hay for several days effects the CBD content and ultimately can reduce the value of your yield. The plants can also blow away in the wind.
- Wet baling can cause mold and fermentation, potentially running the crop completely.
- All of this becomes even more complicated when ambiguous, federal regulations are factored into the timing of your harvest.
Quality over quantity
Not everyone is going to grow good flower, so it’s important for farmers to know the difference between a crop that has the potential to fetch higher prices as smokable flower and when to sell for extract.
At Cedar Valley we anticipate an influx of high-quality, smokable hemp to hit the market this year. If your crop doesn’t stand up against competitors of smokable flower in terms of appearance and scent, you’re better off using it as extract. Aesthetics are critical in the smokable flower market. This is our goal at Cedar Valley.
This is where farmers can get in trouble financially. If you come up with a buyer that’s going to give you a good price per finished pound, you’d better have a pound that’s going to stand up to the market median.
If not, you may end up selling your yields for much less than you projected, or even worse be left with a crop no one will buy.
Implement strategies for postharvest
Crop quality can quickly deteriorate without shipping and handling strategies that include good airflow to prevent composting and fermentation, which starts immediately postharvest. This is why we process immediately into crude oil that has a long-term shelf life.
Even the weight of the wet crop will no doubt crush flower meant for the smokable market. And that wet material that will immediately begin to degrade. We will separate the smokable from the biomass to prevent this from happening.
Transporting hemp from the field to the drying or processing facility should provide as much airflow as possible. Packing hemp flower in shallow bins is a good strategy. Give your hemp room to breathe.
Our aim at Cedar Valley Farms is to utilize technology in order to help take the guess work out of this new agricultural commodity. “Cedar Valley will truthfully pave the way for this new industry”. notes Greg Averill, CVF’s Director of Cultivation Technology. “We want everyone to benefit from the myriad of ways that hemp can change the face of farming. We wish everyone a fruitful and worry-free 2020 harvest and look forward to seeing what 2021 will bring.”