By Andy the Farmer
It all starts with the right genetics.
Choosing the best hemp strain for your climate and selling needs is the most pivotal decision you’ll make in preparing for a profitable farming season.
There’ve been some dodgy seed sellers out there, so it’s important to know your source.
Start with good, strong hemp seeds that are provided by sellers who can prove to you that their genetics are sound.
Credible seed breeders will gladly supply a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that shows essential points like total THC and CBD percentages, terpene profiles, and micro-cannabinoids (like CBG and CBN).
Knowing what you can expect from a hemp strain right off the bat means that your crop will have the best chance at thriving and being valuable to buyers.
You’ll want to know that your genetics are stable, that germination rates are good, and sexing ratios are what you want.
High CBD Content or Hemp Fiber? Pinpoint Your End Product First
It’s also critical to have a good idea what you’re growing for. Knowing your desired end product early on in the process will provide a roadmap for the season.
Are you growing flower for the cannabidiol (CBD/CBN/CBG) market?
Are you growing for grain or fiber?
It’s important to nail down your plans from the very start, and plan accordingly.
Planning way ahead will also tell you the kind of plant genetics you need.
If you’re looking to grow hemp containing high levels of the popular compounds CBD or CBG, it’s important to look for seeds from a trusted breeder with a proven track record of delivering genetics rich in those cannabinoids.
Remember, any reputable seller will happily supply you with documentation showing prior success and testimonials. The good ones will also stand behind their numbers.
More than a few hemp farmers in 2019 reported that their product was rejected by buyers late in the game when preliminary tests during flowering revealed inferior levels of CBD.
They learned a lesson.
If it’s fiber or grain you’re after, there are specific hemp strains available for those particular purposes that can dependably deliver plants with traits that give the best results for your end products.
Good Hemp Seed Banks Can Guarantee Stable Genetics
Because most American hemp farmers have only experienced one full legal growing season since the 2018 US Farm Bill made growing hemp legal, the majority of hemp farmers have been struggling to find footing with the new crop.
Hemp can sometimes be a bear to manage.
Many of the issues in 2019 happened when farmers purchased seeds that had a poor chance of growing well under certain conditions.
Farmers growing in greenhouses, for instance, would find it best to hunt down hemp strains that have more immunity against mold. Some hemp seed is specifically better for growing outdoors, with traits that make them less likely to attract pests like corn earworms or mites.
You see, hemp is unlike conventional crops — like soybean or wheat — that have long-standing reputations for stable genetics with predictable outcomes. Instead, the hemp plant enjoys way less of that seed-breeding history.
And because the market is still in the process of maturing, hemp seed breeders are working out how best to stabilize new genetics.
Still, there are some very capable seed breeders out there. Good breeders will show you paperwork that backs up their claims.
The Best Hemp Strains Will Match Your Regional Climate
Consideration should also be given to the prevailing weather in your region, as well as any harsh climate conditions that can suddenly arise. Some hemp strains are better equipped than others to handle swings in the environment. Short and squatty strains, for example, will naturally be better prepared to withstand winds.
Some plants are better in dry climates, while some are better in humid conditions.
The strain you choose should match your region.
Consider Sexing Rates When Farming Hemp for CBD
You should also be thinking about sexing rates. If you’re growing for fiber, males don’t present as much of a problem. But if you’re growing for CBD flower, you’ll want to minimize males as much as possible.
This becomes an even bigger issue as acreage grows. You might pay more per hemp seed for a feminized strain (typically averaging 90 percent females) but you’ll save a lot of labor costs by not having to cull all those males.
As mentioned, a lot of farmers got stung last year when purchasing CBD hemp strains they thought were brimming with the valuable compound. Oregon farmer Gary was one of them.
Gary did his homework and charted a course for his season early in 2019, intending to grow a high-CBD flower strain. He found a cultivar that he’d heard grew exceptionally well in his climate; it was reported to be a good CBD producer.
Shortly after planting, Gary met a party interested in buying CBD-rich hemp flower, and he negotiated what he considered to be a good price for his future crop. He thought he was off to the races.
Little did he know that his plan would fall apart come harvest time.
He didn’t give the deal a whole lot of thought until late in the summer when he started testing his hemp for CBD levels.
At the time of the negotiation (a handshake agreement), the buyer had not specified a minimum percentage threshold he required for his CBD content. Gary had no way of knowing his product might prove lacking come harvest time.
The seed breeder he purchased from told Gary that the cultivar was high-CBD, so Gary took that pledge at face value.
Not getting the offer in writing would prove to be a fatal misstep.
But an even bigger mistake — one that more than a few new hemp farmers made in 2019 — was not buying his seed from a reputable source that could absolutely guarantee satisfactory CBD percentages.
Seed breeder claims of “hemp for CBD” are often ambiguous, and at times downright deceptive. Gary unfortunately found that out the hard way. His deal fell through and he was left holding the bag.
We’re in a Wild West period in American hemp farming. It’s Deadwood out there, with some bad actors taking advantage of trusting farmers and looking merely to make a quick buck.
But there are also mountains of opportunity for industrious, hard workers looking to stake a claim. All that’s needed is a little guidance and a lot of sweat. No one knows that better than farmers.
At Advanced Hemp, we’re here to help steer you in the right direction with not only hemp fertilizer, but genetics as well.
Because it all starts with the right genetics.