Thinking About Becoming a CBD Hemp Farmer? Read This Article First!
Have you ever considered growing CBD hemp as a cash crop? If you have, you’re not alone. With CBD hemp potentially fetching prices per acre more than 100 times greater than the prices of traditional cash crops like corn and soybeans, it’s not surprising that farmers and would-be farmers everywhere are latching on to hemp as a potential goldmine.
Before you start plowing under your corn and oats to make room for a $50,000 per acre hemp crop, though, you should know that the extreme potential profits of hemp farming go hand-in-hand with some extreme risks – risks that can potentially result in your entire harvest being nearly worthless.
So, do you have what it takes to enter the insane – and, for some, insanely profitable – world of hemp farming and grow a plant that’ll one day end up on the shelves of retailers like Pittsburgh CBD seller Vapor Connection? These are just a few of the major challenges that you’ll face as a CBD hemp farmer.
Hemp Seeds Require a Major Investment
One of the fun aspects of gardening is the fact that most seeds are extremely inexpensive. If you’re a commercial farmer who can buy in bulk, the seeds for most crops are practically free. When you’re growing CBD hemp, however, you’ll be making major investments at every stage – and even the seeds aren’t cheap. Hemp is an extremely complex plant, and geneticists work hard to create breeds with the cannabinoid and terpene profiles that farmers and consumers want. Hemp seeds guaranteed to grow into cannabinoid-rich female plants that have high concentrations of CBD while remaining below the federal THC limit frequently cost well over $1.00 each. You can have up to about 1,600 CBD hemp plants per acre of land, making the seeds a very sizeable investment that you’ll need to pay up front before you can even begin planting your crop.
Planting feminized hemp seeds doesn’t mean that you can just walk away from your crop and assume that everything will be fine. Even feminized seeds can occasionally produce male plants, and the pollen from one male plant is sufficient to ruin an entire CBD hemp crop. No matter what a seed seller tells you, it’s imperative that you remain vigilant in sexing your plants and pulling the males.
Hemp Breeders Present an Equally Risky Alternative
Don’t want to go through the trouble of finding a reliable seed seller, planting the seeds and sexing your hemp plants as they mature? No problem; you can simply buy seedlings from a hemp breeder and transplant the seedlings in your field. You’ll increase your initial investment by doing that, though; cloned hemp seedlings typically cost anywhere from $4-8 each. The benefit of buying clones, though, is that they’re made from female plants and will have identical genetics. No need to worry about male plants ruining the crop, right? Not so fast – what do you really know about the breeder’s cloning process? If you spend some time reading forums, you’ll find reports from people who purchased “cloned” female hemp plant seedlings only to discover that half of them were male. If you want to be safe, you’ll still need to sex your plants even if you’re buying clones.
Hemp Is an Extremely Labor-Intensive Crop
As we’ve just described, sexing hemp plants and pulling the male ones requires a great deal of physical labor – and that’s not the only labor-intensive part of the farming process. People don’t want to buy hemp with pesticide and herbicide residues, so you can’t use the same chemicals on a hemp crop that you would use on, for example, corn. Managing a hemp crop usually requires extensive monitoring, and you’ll probably need to pull weeds by hand.
When it’s time to harvest your hemp crop, you may need to take on additional help because hemp resists mechanized harvesting; the fibers in the plant’s stem are simply too strong for that. In addition, mechanized harvesting would damage the plant’s CBD-rich flowers – and that’s the part of the plant that you really want. Harvesting a CBD hemp crop requires sharp blades and plenty of elbow grease.
Mold Can Contaminate Stored Hemp
After you’ve harvested your hemp, you’ll need to dry the flowers to ready them for processing. The hemp curing process removes excess moisture from the flowers while concentrating the cannabinoid content. Curing is most often done indoors, and in that environment, mold contamination becomes a serious concern. A hemp processor will test your crop for mold before buying it. No one wants to buy moldy hemp, so you’ll need to control moisture during the drying process. Monitor the humidity levels in your drying room and consider buying a dehumidifier to keep the hemp as dry as possible.
There Aren’t Enough Hemp Extraction Companies
One of the biggest problems currently facing the CBD industry – and the reason why CBD prices are still so high for consumers – is a severe lack of hemp processors available to extract the CBD oil from all of the hemp that’s currently being grown. That’s created two problems. The first issue is that many hemp processors aren’t even interested in buying more biomass; their existing relationships with hemp farmers already provide all the hemp they can handle. The second issue is that the hemp processors who can use more biomass aren’t exactly paying top dollar for it. You may, in other words, find yourself without a buyer once you have a crop that’s ready to sell – and good luck arranging a relationship with a hemp processor if you don’t have a crop to sell yet.
Some hemp farmers, faced with a lack of ready buyers, have elected to store their crops for the future rather than selling them for below-market rates. Although it’s likely that more hemp processing companies will appear in the near future, the lack of processors at the present time harms farmers who desperately need to recoup their investments. In addition, management of the environment becomes a concern during the long-term storage of hemp because mold contamination remains a possibility even after the plants have been fully cured.