Hemp 101: What is a Hemp Farm?
What is a Hemp Farm, exactly?
A Hemp Farm is an agricultural farm that grows and processes the fibrous properties of the Industrial Hemp Plant, the female version of the Cannabis Sativa plant specie. Hemp has been cultivated on farms for over 10,000 years to make common products such as paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics biofuel, animal feed and the now-popular Hemp-based CBD Oils!
What is a Hemp Plant, and how is Hemp Grown?
A Hemp Plant, also known as Industrial Hemp, is the non-psychoactive, female version of Cannabis with extensive practical and medical uses.
To see a Hemp Farm for yourself and learn how it’s grown, check out this Youtube video below to get a tour from a licensed Oklahoma Hemp Farmer:
Why Hemp Farms Matter
Hemp farms are located throughout the United States and can be extremely lucrative. “Total sales for Hemp-based products in the U.S. were about $1.1 billion in 2018, and are expected to more than double by 2022″, according to New Frontier Data, a market research firm focused on the cannabis industry.
Amazingly, crops of Hemp still hold the stigma of being all about the drug trade industry. With the rise of states like Colorado and California legalizing Marijuana, Hemp plants may be more culturally acceptable as more people learn they can get the health benefits without getting high.
Although there are many agricultural marijuana farms that provide the hallucinogenic THC products consumed in these states, there are also a large portion of agricultural hemp farmers who grow a plant that is high in fiber and low in the hallucinogenic properties of THC.
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, “Canada and the European Union maintain this distinction by strictly regulating the THC levels of industrial hemp, requiring it to be less than 0.3 percent, compared to THC levels of between 3 to 30 percent in marijuana.”
Why are younger generations investing in Hemp Farms?
Younger Farmers are investing in Hemp Farms as the large U.S. CBD industry is expected to more than double in 2020, making Hemp plants extremely valuable. Many recent college graduates are even betting big on Hemp. According to the Census of Agriculture, the number of hemp farmers younger than 35 years old is significantly growing.
Hemp Farming Logistics
Some knowledge about the machinery, timing of the season, and even what to feed hemp plants can be fairly straightforward. The main fibrous value of the plant is the seed, which needs to be husked or run through a decorticator. A decorticator is a machine that grinds or peels off the husks of the seeds and separates them for further processing. The most current technology of decortication is called ” high-speed kinematic decortication” which allows hemp farmers and processors to separate hemp into three categories: bast fiber, hurd, and green microfiber.
Some of this equipment is expensive, but just to show the true magnitude of the operation, a recent advertisements for “HEMPTRAIN™ ADVANCED PROCESSING PLANT TURNKEY PACKAGE” is supplied as a fully ready and functional package to get hemp processing started with a sale price of “USD$1,550,000 (in 2019)”
Small to Large Scale Hemp Farming
Hemp farms can be a number of different scales with the largest farms using heavy machinery to plant large tracts and flatbed the soil for the plant stalks to grow from. Smaller hemp farms rely on a large amount of physical labor to maintain keeping the hemp plant fields weeded, planted, harvested and made ready for processing.
The life cycle of the hemp plant is fairly reliable, but the seeds are expensive for the best quality plants, After about 90 to 100 days in the ground, the plant is thought to be fully matured and the bulbs on the heads of the plants will grow seeds upwards in a cone shape which, after harvested and dried at nearly 120 days since they were planted, hemp is ready to be processed for its seeds using a standard combine.
The Profitability of Hemp Farms
According to Cornell University, farming hemp tends to yield a profit of approximately $130 to $730 per acre. The most recent rise in the value of hemp fields has come from the increaes and value of CBD oils, tinctures and other products for pain relief.
The profit of a hemp farm comes most recently from selling this fibrous plant for CBD products. Historically, and still, for a majority of the United States, hemp was grown for the use of processing derived products for things like textiles. Also, we would be amiss to say that the history of hemp is inextricably connected to the drug component and market for Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC).
Both textile products and psychoactive elements are known to be found in certain strains of the hemp plant have been grown in the United States for a very long time. Drug laws have been strict since the 1930s and have only recently relaxed regarding growing and processing this fibrous plant vary from country to country and even from the state. This has created a boom for hemp farmers with the very recent rise of using CBD, which comes from hemp plants, which is a major source of revenue for those willing to swap over crops.
Hemp Farming is similar to most Cash-Crop Farming
Hemp farming is like most cash crop farming; the better quality your product, the more it will be worth. The processing of hemp to extract CBD from the plant is expensive and time consuming, but the actual hemp farm and the growing of the plant is remarkably simple. Basic knowledge of soil chemistry and the life cycle of the hemp plant should be foundational for any farmer, but with the high cost of hemp seeds and the need for the plants to be high quality if they are going to fetch a farmer a high enough price tag to make the farming lucrative, it is probably a good idea to have as much knowledge as you can get before you make an investment in hemp farming.
The multitudinous uses of hemp plants make this an ideal crop for growing and processing under one company. However, the legal considerations and high profile of THC from hemp plants makes it a little more difficult to work a hemp farm than other crops.
Checking with your state’s agricultural department is a great first step to understanding what it takes to have a hemp farm. Finally, the hemp industry is booming because of the high price of CBD as a luxury item, mostly in the United States. However, with the 2018 Farm Bill ready to begin fully taking effect on consumer protections and other things, CBD will certainly drop in price for the consumer and squeeze the profit margins of hemp farmers, making growing a quality and efficient hemp farm the priority. Without quality product, the influx of newer farmers trying to get in on the boom of the CBD fad will push out less desirable qualities for Hemp products.
Hemp Farming is predicted to boom by the year 2022
The CBD market is forecast to grow up to $22 billion by the year 2022. With the current high prices of CBD treatments for pain relief and sleeping, there is enough of a margin to make profit from low efficiency Hemp production.
However, hemp farms really looking to cash in on the popularity of CBD will grow and process on their own. The most efficient equipment will be important in the near future as when the 2018 Farm Bill is enacted fully, the price of CBD should decrease. “Ultimately the decrease in CBD market price will erode these margins until only the most efficient producers will see significant profitability”.
A simple Google search can yield several results for turn key hemp processing facilities that are for sale. Hemp is not a secret cash crop anymore, but for those willing to invest the time to learn the crop itself and the capital to invest in a vertically articulated manufacturing and processing company, the profit margins could be high for hemp farms.
The 2 Big Difficulties of Hemp Farms
Even though many young farmers are getting involved in hemp farming for the incredible profits that can be made during this CBD boom, old timers warn that there are some difficulties of hemp farms and that they should temper their enthusiasm.
In a recent interview, Andy Rodosevich who is the cofounder of Hemp Depot in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a hemp farm that grows and distributes its own CBD and hemp products claimed that there were several key difficulties of growing hemp.
- The seeds cost quite a bit of money. Good seeds that “guaranteed to provide high CBD levels and low amounts of THC that fall below the federally mandated 0.3% threshold, can range from $1 to $2 each.”
- The labor is intensive. Planting, harvesting and removing weeds is mostly done by hand, making the growing process particularly difficult and expensive; especially if no large machinery is being used.
7 Things to Consider if you are interested in Farming Hemp
The rise of CBD Wellness Products derived from Hemp plants has made Hemp farming extremely profitable. Many young farmers are becoming interested in this growing cash crop. But without good research and a sense of what they are getting themselves into, hemp farming can be extremely difficult and even a total failure. Here are 7 things to consider if you are interested in farming Hemp:
- There is huge level of interest- People are interested in the ability to grow Hemp locally and experience it’s natural benefits without the fear of a psychotropic effect.
- The learning curve is enormous- You can’t grow healthy plants without healthy soil, but learning how to cultivate the proper soil is an art within itself. You can learn more about planting quality seeds, and efficiently maintaining the plants during the growing and harvesting process by volunteering at your local Hemp farm.
- Make sure your plant is suited for your climate- This tip expresses how farming Hemp is not as simple as putting a seed into dirt and expecting to make money from it. Be diligent with your time and money by investing in Hemp education.
- Consider a college degree- If one were considering becoming a hemp farmer, one might want to get a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in soil and life chemistry.
- The non-degree route is viable- If college is not an option, you can find many helpful articles online that explains the wisdom of hemp farming. Look for blog posts, such as Hemp Farming 101, or take a look at some of the costs for heavy equipment and decide how big of an operation you can dream.
- Sell before you grow- Farmers will admit the most challenging part about farming Hemp is establishing a market that will buy from you once your Hemp is harvested and dried. Do not wait until your hemp is dried to find a buyer, get your ducks in order before you grow.
- If you decide to grow Hemp, grow it exclusively- Whether you are growing Hemp with the end goal of creating CBD Oil or for industrial purposes like paper or clothing, you will not have the time to dabble in growing other crops because Hemp takes an immense of time and effort to ensure manufactures deem your product worthy.
In this article, we outlined what exactly a hemp farm looks like, the environment where hemp is grown, and how it is processed. If you are interested to try a Hemp Wellness Product for yourself, click here to check out my collection of CBD Oils made exclusively from organic Hemp we grow on the Greenlife Hemp Farm in San Diego, Ca.
Discussion question: What is your opinion of Hemp Farming?
Thank you for taking the time to read Hemp 101: What is a Hemp Farm?
To your health,
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