It is essential to understand the required processes and equipment that are needed to bring in a market-viable hemp crop.
Tanking commodity prices have driven farmers who typically focus on grain and fiber-producing crops to look at more profitable opportunities. Ultimately, this search has led many farmers directly to hemp. It is essential to understand the required processes and equipment that are needed to bring in a market-viable hemp crop. This starts with germination facilities, planting equipment, and irrigation infrastructure. The methodology of growing hemp is very similar to farming other raised bed crops, and existing equipment can often be repurposed for hemp. Some processes can be done manually, but equipment (whether owned, rented, or hired) will significantly increase production. Necessary equipment generally includes raised bed shapers, plastic mulch layers with drip applicators, transplanters with tray racks, plastic mulch retrievers, and bed mowers. Farmers experienced with plasticulture farming with drip irrigation are well suited for hemp farming.
Hemp is a very hardy crop that can thrive in a multitude of environments under a wide range of conditions. This resilience, combined with the opportunity to generate more revenue per acre than traditional crops, has fueled a good deal of interest in hemp farming. Hemp is a highly versatile crop that is most popularly cultivated for its CBD production but is also desirable for its oil, seed, and fiber. A well-maintained crop can typically produce between 1,000-3,000 lbs per acre of biomass. Hemp biomass refers to the dried plant material that is processed into CBD and cannabinoid-rich oil and extracts. The price for biomass is typically determined based on the CBD content per pound, which is measured by its dry weight. Depending upon the active cannabinoid content, terpene richness and other quality measures, hemp biomass typically sells between $10-$20/lb. According to Hemp Benchmarks data from January 2020 the US wholesale hemp biomass price ranges between $0.40-$2.50+ per % of CBD per pound. A farmer selling 25,000lbs of biomass testing at 15% CBD at a rate of $1.25 per % of CBD could generate over $460k. In 2019, the going price for hemp grain/seed ranged from $0.60 to $0.65 per pound, with the average yield per acre producing approximately 1,000 pounds of grain. With production costs ranging from $300 to $350, it’s possible to generate up to $350 profit per acre. Compared to traditional grain and fiber producing crops, hemp can be remarkably more profitable. Utilizing trustworthy, stable, and proven genetics is essential in reducing risk, driving performance, and maximizing potential revenue.
Industrial hemp grows and matures very fast, with an entire crop taking approximately 20-weeks from start to finish. This fast maturation rate requires plants to draw large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air while also reconditioning the soil by increasing carbon, nitrate, and potassium content. Hemp’s taproots can reach a depth of six feet or more and can help loosen soil, increase aeration and bring nutrients closer to the surface, making them more readily available to crops with more shallow root systems. Hemp is also a bio-accumulator and, through phytoremediation, can absorb contaminants and harmful heavy metals from the soil. Implementing hemp into your crop rotation can be extremely beneficial for the soil and has the potential to increase performance and mitigate risk for future crops. These unique attributes make hemp well-suited for use in regenerative agriculture and as part of your regular crop rotation.