I’m super excited as planting season begins! I know we are still a bit chilly here in the upper midwest but are stoked to begin planting soon. Since I work in the industry daily my main concern is hearing people plan to plant with no plans on harvesting.
Coming from the MidWest we have large industrial farming locally and the farmers here are trying to jump into the hemp game. As I speak to them they are not worried about the space, labor and planning that goes into the crops they are about to grow. I think most will combine and just go the route of tractors. I will be doing machine and hand hand harvesting together, and have specifically planned, the best I can, for the harvest. What are your tips and tricks to space and labor, and harvesting methods?
Harvest is the most overlooked and challenging part of the entire crop cycle. Preparing fields, managing, etc. is considered extremely easy when compared to the logistics of harvesting. We’ve seen many farmers lose their entire crop because they underestimated what it actually takes to harvest this crop.
The biggest issue comes from the lack of automated equipment for this crop.
If hang drying, it takes roughly 4,000 sqft per acre.
Most dryers on the industry make false claims. The average we’ve seen is around 100-500 lbs of dry material per hour.
Forage harvesters will almost eliminate in-field harvesting labor but then you’ll have stalk mixed in with your biomass and potency will decrease drastically. In addition, the material must still be dried afterwards which is more challenging when including stalks.
Some farmers are bailing the material wet but we would not recommend that route. The material will still need to be dried afterwards and the products will smell like ammonia and look black. Although there still is CBD in it and would make decent isolate material.
Combines will not separate the material wet, it needs to be between 8-15% moisture. In addition, there are modifications that’s required for a combine to successfully separate this plant. A stock unit will not yield good results and not all combines are the same.
How do you plan to harvest this year?
Thanks for the feedback. We were planning on a 40 acre harvest this year but with the rain damages we will only recoup about 10 full acres. We plan on harvesting for smokable flower so that task is a serious undertaking of labor. Right now we plan on an auto crop to bifurcate the time. In the auto direction we have established a 70k ft warehouse to start a stack grated no heat dry. Then we will process that lot as we have time before the longer harvest is ready. I think we have plan A,B,C and D! I refused to put a single seed in the ground until harvest was planned. My thought was no reason to waste a crop if the end result is not viable. Do you plan a heat or high ventilation dry?
Make sure to have proper airflow otherwise mold will spread in a matter of hours when in a warehouse environment
We utilize multiple harvest methods. Sun drying, hang drying in climate controlled warehouses, and hemp dryer (forced air and heat). It all depends on the location of the plot and the desired application for the finished material.
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