At Cedar Valley Farms, our ultimate goal is to establish hemp as a lucrative agricultural commodity. A key component to accomplishing that goal is utilizing science and technology to drive precision farming methods.

That is why Magdalena Pancerz, Cedar Valley’s Director of Research & Development, is currently working on a soil study out at the farm. Recently she shared a few details about the study and how it plays an important part role in understanding hemp cultivation.

“The biggest challenge in hemp production is to find cultivation practices that will allow high quantity and quality yield while keeping THC within regulation standards. Existing commonly grown agricultural crops have a long, continuous research history. Hemp, being part of the cannabis family, was prohibited for decades, thus there is a huge knowledge gap in understanding the needs of this plant,” Magda wrote in an email.  “What makes the research on hemp even more important is the THC content. It must stay below 0.3% , but it can be triggered by many factors resulting in the production of unacceptable levels of THC. That is an outcome that could end in the loss of an entire crop.”

The history of hemp prohibition in the U.S. essentially eliminated any opportunity to study and develop efficient cultivation practices for the plant.  Magda sites how setback creates a foundation of challenges in modern day agriculture.

“The path leading to sufficient information on hemp growing practices just started. There is a variety of ‘pot lore’ circling between growers currently, and very often it express contradictory observations on the same issue. There are numerous stress factors that can spike THC content in the plant, however, most of the time the increase is caused by a few of them acting simultaneously. That’s why research in controlled greenhouse conditions to monitor environmental factors in order to track all growing practices is necessary. It is the only way to learn how to grow this crop without taking the risk of getting “hot”.

And this is where Magda believes that starting with studying the soil is the crucial. She noted that it is the easiest place to start. Her efforts to untangle such a complicated net of interactions begins with consistent environmental factors and modifying other potential influences, like soil fertilization. This is why she is focused on a comparison between commercially available substrates and fertilizers designated for hemp/cannabis production alongside other grower’s “recipes” for her first cycle of research at Cedar Valley Farms. Her timeline of research covers an entire cycle – from repotting plants and starting greenhouse production to harvest. It will provide information that encompasses all the factors that lead to how the plant reacts during both vegetative and flowering stages.

She notes that the study is important to bringing key insights out of clandestine methods of cultivation and into a new era for hemp, based in practical scientific facts.

“My main assumption is that the plant’s growth, as well quality of the yield, will be significantly affected by the substrate type and fertilizer applied in my research. The results from this trial will crucial to implement as a baseline for further experiments and will determine the direction of even more detailed testing as we move forward.”