Hemp is a new crop in the US, which means that many of our methods and materials are still in experimental stages. Next, add in the fact that our “newbie” uncertainties are compounded by the dynamic biological, meteorological, geological, and geographical factors that hold sway over all things agricultural. All of our effort and trials culminate in the harvest season, when our level of success is revealed in the mature plants, making this a time of hope and heartbreak across the farming community.
Staying on the positive side of that equation, there are still things we can do in the final days before we
gather up the rows to ensure that our hopes prevail and we are able to successfully monetize each and
Know Your Grow
There is quite a spectrum of hemp strains out there right now. The best are produced under rigorous
cultivation standards by reputable companies. The rest …. well, let’s just say that bargain brands can be
cheap on the front end, but that price point is often achieved with speedy and unprofessional processes
for which you’ll pay a higher price in the end when months of inputs and labor deliver a disappointing
yield. Long before fall colors begin to show, your first step toward a successful harvest is your seed
selection. This is one of the reason we offer all our strains in economical sampler packs. This enables
farmers to do indoor testing during the winter months, trying out different strains to see which ones
they like best.
That said, once you’ve got the seed in the ground and the plants have emerged, it’s important to realize
that strain characteristics can vary widely depending on local conditions. Understand that it’s possible
for a strain to perform differently in your field than what’s described on the seed packaging description
– and that’s true of all strains. Seeds are produced indoors in meticulously controlled environments. In
the field, of course, variables like moisture, pests, nutrients, weeds, wind, and temperature are our daily
skirmishes with Mother Nature. We like to think it’s similar to baking: you read the recipe and follow it,
but you also use your senses to make adjustments along the way to get the best results. All this to say,
don’t take for granted the important role your powers of observation are as your plants come to
maturity. Your daily vigilance at this time can really impact your margin.
If you read my August 2021 blog you know that the USDA final rule has loosened up some of the rigidity
around testing THC levels. We remain at a 0.3 percent threshold (until a law is passed that will change
that) and we still have the total THC test requirement. However, we have added flexibility with a new
30-day sample collection window and a higher threshold for negligent violation (now 1 percent). Our
best advice remains the same, however: keep a close watch on your plants. Harvesting a little early is
better than risking the destruction of any noncompliant portion of your crop.
Take Care of Your Team
The most effective harvest teams are those that are able to work in the best possible conditions,
understanding of course that it’s impossible to shield ourselves completely from the elements. Still,
protection from blistering sun and precipitation is an important offering to provide your team during the
harvesting process. Also, help them stay hydrated with a water station. This is hard work, obviously, and
we know from experience we work better and faster when we don’t have to battle extreme conditions
and dehydration any more than necessary.
That same level of attention should be applied to every piece of equipment you use is in optimum
condition and to the safety processes and gear you provide. Before you need them, make sure that all of
your harvesting tools are properly sharpened, tightened, oiled, and tested – organized and ready to go
when you need them. Work gloves and eye protection are a must for reducing your risk, too.
Make the Most of Good Weather
Weather is a wild card – whether good or bad, it won’t last. Take advantage of every favorable day you
get to bring those plants in. Even a couple of extra hours here and there with your crew can add up and
make the difference. We are wish the entire hemp farming community of North America a great harvest
season this year. Stay safe and be well, friends.