Anybody that has farmed long knows that sometimes your game plan needs a new perspective if you’re going to survive the year. If you’re one of those desperate hemp farmers stuck in the 2019 ‘hemp harvest crisis’ consider shifting your harvest plan from hemp biomass and start thinking ‘hemp flower.’
The exploding U.S. demand for smokable hemp flower — the dried CBD-rich flower of the hemp plant — is tracking similar trends out of Europe. Consumers who enjoy the ‘smoking’ experience and tradition are turning to hemp flower as a way to enjoy the relaxing effects of smoking and CBD without the ‘THC’ high of marijuana. Or the negative health effects associated with tobacco.
According to the Brightfield Group, the smokable hemp market was one of the fastest-growing segments in the CBD market from 2017 to 2018. Sales jumped 250 percent to an estimated $11.5 million in 2018. . And a survey of 5000 CBD users pointed out what smoke shops have already been capitalizing on – consumers are turning to smokable hemp flower to help quit smoking and replacing cigarettes with either smokable hemp or vaping.
What remains to be seen is will the recent outcry over the safety of vaping and e-cigarettes, and the Trump administrations move to ban flavored e-cigarettes, skyrocket even more consumer demand for the non-intoxicating, non-tobacco and ‘safe’ smokable hemp flower?.
So, what does this all boil down to for the industrial hemp farmer? Opportunity!
Probably the best part of growing for smokable hemp flower is you don’t have to worry about the lab side of things! There is no ‘extraction’ part of the process when you’re growing for smokable hemp flower.
That means you can skip the swathing, the combining, the drying, the tolling — all that complicated, and expensive, stuff! This year, with the bottleneck in available harvesting equipment, finding a way out of the field that doesn’t require machinery you can’t find anyways may suddenly become a much more attractive option.
If your cultivation game was lacking this year — it’s okay, we’ve all been there — and your fields are a weedy mess but you’ve got flower buds, you still have a harvest option. You can get in there and take out ‘just’ the most profitable part of your field – the flower – and leave all the rest of the field to disc in and try again next year. You literally will pick your profit from the weeds!
Of course, there is never a perfect solution and if you are considering smokable hemp flower the big issue will be labor, labor, labor. Plus drying. And then more labor!
There is no commercially available mechanized way to harvest for smokable hemp flower (though this presents an opportunity for ingenuity!). It’s currently a job for hand labor. And depending on the size of your field, potentially a LOT of it.
The hemp flower is very fragile and must be handled carefully. Laborers must not pack bins too tight or risk crushing the flowers flat. They must be immediately transported to a drying area where they are either hung to dry or laid out on screens.
Humidity will be an issue, experienced hemp flower growers recommend dehumidifiers and fans for air movement. Getting down below 15 percent moisture content is key. One dry, you will need to shuck flowers off the stem and then cure again for a final product. After curing, the flowers need to be trimmed and either stored for later sale or packaged.
When it comes right down to it, farming hemp for smokable hemp flower is suited for farmers willing to take the extra mile to ensure a premium crop and with the ability, time and mind-set to do that. That will mean an investment into hand-labor and the extra drying and curing time. As well as potentially holding onto the product until the right buyer comes along.
If you’d rather get into your field, get harvested and send the product off and out of mind – best to stick with a hemp biomass plan. Assuming you can find the equipment to do it!
Either way, take the time to consider all your options for the crop you’ve got now. And take the lessons learned this year as you plan your hemp ‘niche’ for next year! This year’s ‘harvest fiasco’ may be the lead-in to a profitable ‘smokable hemp flower’ business in your future!
Struggling with your 2019 hemp harvest options? Contact HempLogic TODAY and inquire about our Hemp Harvest Rescue Plan! Our farmer relations team is here to help evaluate your hemp situation and come up with the best plan to get you out of the field in 2019 and into 2020!