“For and By” the Hemp Farmer — the 411
The hemp farmer is becoming more and more in demand as the consumer’s demand is skyrocketing for this valuable commodity. CBD is what most people think of when discussing hemp but there are so many other parts of hemp that are invaluable for use in a variety of ways.
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The Hemp Farmer — The 2018 Farm Bill
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers across the country are looking to start growing hemp even to the point of forsaking other crops. Tobacco farmers, because of the nature of the crop, are dually set up with barns and equipment for growing hemp. That, along with the falling price of many other crops, farmers saw a chance to salvage their farms by cultivating hemp.
The Hemp Farmer — Starting a New Crop
There are many things which the hemp farmer will need to unlearn from previous crop cultivation to what hemp plants need to grow the best. Let’s look at some of the methods of hemp farming which the farmer needs to know.
The Hemp Farmer — Expect Low 1st Year Crop Yields
Planting schedules when are delayed because of cold weather or heavy rains will affect how the crop does through the season. In the end, the initial harvest is less profitable. It will be in this first year that the new hemp farmer will discover just how many hiccups there are in learning new farming skills. There is enough trial and error in any new endeavor in order to find that particular sweet spot.
The Hemp Farmer — More Labor Is Required
All farmers know that their business is labor-intensive. However, hemp requires more manpower compared to other crops. When the hemp farmer starts his or her crop with putting seedlings in the ground then more than usual amount of the work is done by hand.
The Hemp Farmer – Unexpected Start-up Expenses
When switching from one crop to hemp has its own extra expenses which vary according to which crop your expertise has been in. As we said before, if you have been growing tobacco your adjustments will be less challenging and less expensive. The tobacco farmer, more than likely, will already have much of the machinery needed for working with hemp as well. But, since hemp plant growing is labor intensive, you will need to expend money on new hires, particularly for the harvest season.
The Hemp Farmer — Plant Diseases
Septoria cannabis is a species of plant-pathogen which is serious fungus known as Septoria leaf spot. This fungus spore will even survive in old plant debris and it can spread by way of wind and splashing water from rain. Septoria requires moisture and high humidity to germinate turning into yellow spots then a browning and finally chlorosis. It can even attack the foliage of the whole hemp plant which is a serious problem.
When removing leaves and foliage infected with Septoria, do not put them in a compost pile because this fungus can survive through the winter and taunt future hemp plantings. Using mulch as a layer to prevent spores on the ground from splashing up onto the lower leaves of the hemp plant is a preventative strategy.
The Hemp Farmer – Considering Theft
Marijuana plants and hemp plants resemble one another. For this reason, hemp farmers have reported multiple thefts as people thought this was an easy way to score some marijuana. This is frustrating to the farmer and can be financially damaging. Some farmers have been hiring guards for their fields at night to installing motion sensors and security equipment.
The Hemp Farmer – Market Challenges
A recent report shows that 285,000 acres of hemp were grown in the U.S. in 2019. Showing a 72% increase from 2018. In the beginning, it may be difficult for the hemp farmer to find established exchanges to sell their product to. Bank loans and crop insurance have their challenges but are becoming more acceptable as time passes.
The Hemp Farmer – Considering 2020 Rules for Testing
Industrial hemp farmers have another learning curve to do with rules of the trade. One of the big ones is in regard to testing. These can change from year to year. The new USDA laws in 2020 refer mostly to the new regulations and requirements for the timing of hemp testing to make sure the crop has the legal limit of 0.3%. USDA laws of 2020 put forth that hemp testing be done 15 days prior to harvest by a DEA approved hemp testing lab.
If a hemp crop goes “hot”, it will have to be destroyed and the farmer cannot sell it. This is the reason for the importance of testing.
Harvesting usually takes place between the 4th and 8th week of flower and the Department of Agriculture needs a two-week lead time to schedule sampling. There will be another three days to two weeks for test results back from the State lab. Testing a month before harvest will ensuring compliance and planning for inspection and harvest.
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