10 Hemp Farming Tips For Increasing Profits
Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill relaxed restrictions against hemp farming, you’ve heard all about the big profit potential of this versatile crop. In fact, a research report by MarketsandMarkets™ found that the industrial hemp market is expected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2019 to $26.6 billion by 2025. Researchers from Brightfield Group have also estimated that farmers could earn up to $40,000 per acre of industrial hemp compared to just $1,000 per acre of corn. While the higher end of that range may be achieved by more experienced growers, if even a tenth of that number sounds good to you, then you may be wondering how you can start growing hemp for profit.
Hemp, like all crops, has its unique growing challenges. One of those challenges is that hemp farming in the U.S. was illegal for decades, meaning that accurate knowledge and experience are in short supply.
Is it profitable to grow hemp? If you are looking to cultivate cannabidiol (CBD) oil or cannabigerol (CBG) oil, the answer can be a resounding yes if you follow best practices. Here are 10 invaluable tips on how to grow hemp for profit.
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
As with any crop, growing hemp requires a big investment in time, money, and effort. Before you put all your resources on the line, make sure you know what you’re jumping into.
- Researching hemp: Learn everything you can about it, including its growing cycle, nutritional needs, cultivation, and the different hemp strains available on the market.
- Get advice: Reach out to farmers in your area who are growing hemp for profit and learn about their experience. You can also find great communities of hemp farmers online who are willing to share advice.
- Create a business plan and budget: Where will you plant your hemp crop? How many seeds will you plant? How much will you spend on seeds? Will you invest in any specialized equipment? You’ll need to answer these questions and many more before you plant your first hemp seed.
- Start small: Instead of risking it all by converting your entire acreage to hemp, consider planting just a few acres your first year. This will give you the time and space to learn about hemp and to see how the crop does on your farm before you invest a significant amount of capital.
2. Choose a Profitable Product
Hemp is a highly versatile crop that can be farmed for a variety of different products. You can farm hemp for fiber, grain, CBD oil, CBG oil, smokable flower, and more. Certain hemp products are more profitable than others. For instance, CBD oil can be very profitable and, on the premium end, can sell for more than $1000 per kilogram.
To make the most profit from your hemp crop, consider farming for the purpose of CBD oil, or even CBG oil. CBG oil is still relatively unknown, but early studies of the substance have shown that the oil may offer positive health benefits. Some industry experts are predicting CBG could be the next big health product, and it currently sells for an even higher price than CBD oil.
3. Choose Hemp Seeds Designed for Your Purpose
Search out hemp seeds designed to enhance the production of the product you’ve chosen to cultivate. For example, some seeds have been intensely crossbred to enhance the production of CBD oil. Planting these specialized seeds will allow you to produce more pounds of CBD extract per acre. That could translate into an increased profit of hundreds, possibly even thousands, of dollars per acre you plant.
At High Grade Hemp Seed, all our hemp seed strains, including industry favorites Berry Blossom and Cherry Wine are designed to produce high quantities of CBD pill. Our newest product, Matterhorn CBG was bred specifically to increase production of CBG oil and can produce up to 15% CBG per trimmed flower.
4. Choose the Right Hemp Seed Strain
Before you spend a lot of money on your first purchase of hemp seeds, consider what strain will be the most profitable for you. Most hemp seed companies provide a variety of hemp seed strains. Each strain offers unique benefits. Some are designed for specific growing conditions, others for particular climates, and some are designed to grow fast or grow in a particular season. Many strains also produce interesting flavors. Some drip in resin for extraction and some are bred for the aromatic flowers to be smoked and appreciated by CBD consumers.
Research all the different strains available, and don’t be afraid to ask seed companies for their recommendation based on the particulars of your farm and your goals.
5. Buy Feminized Seeds for CBD and CBG Production
Here’s a quick lesson in hemp plant biology. Hemp plants can be male, female, or hermaphrodites. CBD oil and CBG oil come from the flowers of female plants, which means the females are your ticket to a profitable hemp crop.
Male hemp plants can actually burn away your profit. Not only do they produce only minimal amounts of CBD oil (not even enough worth cultivating), but when they pollinate female plants, the females produce less CBD.
Therefore, it’s critical that you keep male hemp plants out of your fields. Even a few males can pollinate many of your females and dramatically lower your CBD or CBG yield. The best way to get as many female hemp plants as possible is to invest in feminized seeds. Reputable hemp seed sellers can guarantee an extremely high rate of feminized seeds (at High Grade, we’ve achieved a 99.8% rate of feminization), which will result in a high rate of CBD or CBG oil extraction.
6. Invest in Seeds with a High Germination Rate
Every hemp seed that doesn’t germinate represents the loss of potential income. Even if a small percentage of your hemp seeds don’t germinate, that could mean hundreds of dollars of loss per acre.
When you’re ready to invest in hemp seeds, ask for the germination rates for your seeds. A reputable seed company should not only have this information available, but they should also be proud to tell you. At High Grade, our collective germination rate for all our hemp seed strains is over 95%.
7. Diversify Your Products
Farmers understand the value in diversifying their crops. A variety of different crops can help you manage changes in the marketplace, extreme weather events, and even changing consumer sentiments. Even within the hemp industry, you can diversify your hemp crop to balance out risk.
For example, even if your main interest lies in producing CBD extract, you may want to set aside a few acres for a seed like Matterhorn CBG to try out CBG extract. If CBG becomes as hot of a commodity as CBD, then you could be one of the first farmers to market. Plus, the reliably low THC levels, even when left in the field, ensure you have a compliant harvest.
You may also want to experiment with different hemp seed strains. You may find that one strain grows better and produces more CBD extract for you. Additionally, different strains will produce CBD with unique palettes, which may attract different buyers for your crop.
8. Consider Using Hemp Plant Starts
Hemp seeds are best grown initially in a greenhouse for their first few weeks. If you don’t have a greenhouse infrastructure and want to avoid that rather large initial investment, consider buying hemp starts. Hemp starts are already germinated and develop a tap root – unlike clones which do not develop a tap root,, which means you don’t have to worry about seeds that fail to germinate or high wind conditions causing seeds to blow away. Every start is a plant already on its way to flowering in a few short weeks.
9. Hire an Expert
If you’ve never farmed hemp before, you may want to consider hiring an agronomist. Though an experienced and knowledgeable agronomist won’t be cheap, their services will help ensure that your crop is successful. The increase in profits, when all is said and done, should more than pay for their services.
An agronomist can help you:
- Test and prep your soil to make sure it is conducive to hemp growth
- Recommend the right equipment to grow and harvest your crop
- Advise you on the best irrigation methods and systems
- Help you design your rows for maximum cultivation
- Provide localized advice on regulations, certifications, licensing, and testing requirements to keep you legally safe
You may also want to consider working with an attorney experienced with hemp law to ensure you are following all local, state, and federal regulations.
10. Ask Questions
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Starting to farm a new crop is a big investment, no matter the crop, so arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Talk to all the hemp farmers you know. Grab the ear of companies that manufacture specialized hemp farming equipment. Contact the top hemp seed companies and talk to their customer representatives. Tell them about your farm and goals, and ask for recommendations on the right seeds. Seed companies should be happy to answer your questions and to give you advice on how to grow hemp for profit.
Is It Profitable to Grow Hemp?
Yes, it is. We work with many farmers across the country who have been able to make a good living through hemp farming. Growing hemp isn’t easy, and success is far from guaranteed, but now you know some of the best tips on how to grow hemp from profit. If you start with the right principles, perform good planning, order the best seeds, and invest in expert advice, we think you’ll find hemp farming to be a profitable endeavor.
We want to answer your hemp seed questions and help you earn the most from your first hemp harvest. Contact us today.
How profitable can CBD Rich Hemp be per acre?
With revisions to the 2018 Farm Bill solidifying Hemp as a crop and the popularity of CBD continuing to rise. Many farmers are looking to Hemp and asking themselves a common question: How profitable is hemp? Or, How much could I profit on each acre of CBD hemp? This is a very good question, the answer is not as straight forward as with many other crops. Hemp may very well be the most useful and versatile plant on our planet and the opportunities for end use are broad. Depending on the method used, quality and the amount of CBD produced; Hemp grown for CBD could be worth anywhere from $2,000 to upwards of $30,000 per acre.
Allow me to elaborate.
A big reason farmers have become interested in hemp farming is the rise in popularity of cannabinoids and specifically CBD. CBD is short for Cannabidiol, and it has been making headlines since the early 2000’s. Today we have evolved, to a place where CBD is being put into practically every type of consumable on the shelf and being praised in the headlines for its role as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Since the discovery of CBDs anti-inflammatory and pain relieving attributes, it has become one of the fastest-growing product enhancements, and one of the most profitable new crops for United States farmers. Figuring out how profitable CBD hemp could be for your farm will take some research and assessment.
Agronomics & Horticultural
There are two primary methods you can use to farm hemp for CBD – agronomic or horticultural. The agronomic method is essentially farming hemp as it has been done for centuries in an open field of rows and comes with the lowest risk and input costs. Horticultural utilizes methods to grow hemp that maximize the environmental conditions for the cannabis plants to thrive and requires more intensive management and equipment than agronomic crops. Horticultural growing is also difficult to scale and should be approached in smaller steps. Greenhouse horticulture is typically the pathway towards the highest and most profitable terpene rich hemp flower which can be sold for upwards of $300 per pound for the highest quality, but growing it successfully is no easy feat. Hemp grown at this level is treated more like dispensary grade recreational cannabis, than an industrial crop.
The two basic pathways for CBD Rich Hemp
Terpene Rich Hemp Flower (Smokable market)
Growing hemp specifically for the smokable hemp market is the most complicated but also the most profitable. Male plants do not produce flowers rich in resins, and seeded plants are undesirable. Requiring that all plants in the field be female when growing for CBD and every cycle new seeds or clones be obtained for propagation. Sowing and sprouting all female plants is achieved through feminized seed. Securing the right genetics is one of the most important parts of growing hemp. Not only to assure you maintain compliance with the 0.3% THC regulations, but that the plants are sizable, cannabinoid rich, and able to fully mature in the field.
Selling “hemp biomass” for extraction is the most popular bulk or wholesale pathway to revenue for field crops. The term causes a little confusion as its commonly used with two separate meanings. Some use the term biomass to mean everything left over after the CBD flower or buds on the plant have been harvested. Those are the parts that contain the majority of the plant’s resin, terpenes, and cannabinoids. The reason is that these other parts of the plant, like the stems and leaves, still have many uses and value. However, what extractors are looking for is also referred to as ‘hemp biomass’ and includes the flower or bud portions of the hemp plant. Having a much higher value to the extractors. The latter is typically priced by the pound to be sold to hemp extraction facilities who specialize in extracting cannabinoids from the biomass.
Extractors create various extractables which we’ll go into below. Terpenes are another big contributor here. Having plants with strong odors and flavors will directly relate to a more valuable product. CBD numbers might draw a consumer interested in smoking hemp to your product, but the truth is that flavor is ultimately what the consumer is looking for to create the experience considered to be a high quality smoke.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full spectrum CBD oil is extract of the full or whole profile of beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. Also referred to as whole plant CBD, this product will contain trace amounts of THC, but not enough to be considered intoxicating.
The middle ground option between isolate and full spectrum CBD. It begins as a full spectrum oil, with the full range of beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes, but it then goes through a refinement or distillation process to remove as many of the compounds outside of the CBD as possible. It contains all of the same beneficial chemical compounds except for many of the terpenes and flavonoids, removing some of the beneficial impact from the entourage effect but making it safer and more consistent for value added products.
Isolate refers to hemp oil refined so that the CBD has been isolated from the rest of the compounds in the cannabis plant.
After the hemp oil concentrate is extracted and separated from the rest of the compounds in the plant, it then goes through a second solvent extraction or a chromatography process, which extracts any remaining waxes, terpenes, or cannabinoids creating a CBD product that tests as high as 99% pure CBD.
The last piece of the puzzle is quality over quantity.
There are many factors that add up to a quality hemp product and here are some things to consider.
– Is your biomass below 0.3% THC? ( Delta 9 + (THCa x 0.877) )
Even if considered legal in your state under Delta9 testing. Hemp biomass above .34%THC may not be legal to cross many state lines and this may limit who can lawfully purchase your biomass.
– How terpene rich is your hemp?
Without terpenes the options for hemp biomass narrows significantly. Whereas the more terpene rich the biomass is, the more options become available.
– How much CBD does your hemp contain, and does it contain minor cannabinoids other than CBD?
The higher percentage of cannabinoids, the more can be earned because pricing is somewhat dependent on the amount of CBD/CBG/CBC per pound (measured by dry weight).
– What shape and density are the flowers? Were they fully developed?
This is a big factor, many fly by night hemp seed sellers popularized the general idea that harvesting plants early is a way to maintain 0.3% THC compliance. Cannabis is a plant that only properly ripens in the later stages of its life. This means harvesting hemp early is not only sacrificing weight in the field and overall yield but also costing you critical compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids which make your crop more desirable. Having the proper genetics to increase yield in both cannabinoids and flower structure or density, will make a significant difference in the profit a farmer can make per acre.
– What is your average weight per plant?
A commonly overlooked detail where genetics can make a big difference. CBD percentages are directly related to biomass sales. But plants that require early harvest can dramatically lower your overall yield per acre.
– How was it harvested?
Harvesting method is often an overlooked attribute that can influence the quality and price of your product. A study found that hand-harvested plants may retain as much as 20% more of their total CBD content than mechanically harvested plants, which destroy the fragile CBD rich trichomes. The trichomes encapsulate the cannabinoids and protect them from the elements in fats and waxes. These outer casings of the trichomes are easily broken when harvesting. The less disturbed the trichomes, the more intact and higher the CBD and terpene percentage retained in your biomass.
– Is it free of contaminants?
Biomass containing any mold, fungus, harmful toxins, or residual pesticides may decrease the value or possibly make the product unmarketable. Buyers may want proof that the biomass is 100% safe and clean. The more testing you do to qualify this, the more the biomass will be worth.
– How much moisture does it contain?
Improperly drying or trying to speed up the curing process will come at a cost to the quality. Maintaining a proper ‘cure’ is a skill on its own. Depending on your local environment this can be a real challenge. When the biomass dries terpenes volatilize and your product can lose value if you aren’t careful.
Quality is one of the most important aspect of a profitable hemp farm. Creating a high-quality product that passes any scrutiny by regulators or consumers can help a farm stand out from the crowd. Qualifying your products with accredited lab tests and validating their potency and cannabinoid content is key. You will want to be transparent with your buyers to help them understand the value and quality of your product.
Creating a strategy to maximize your profits is the only real path towards cashing out on a hemp crop. Arguably the best way to accomplish this is to create your own end products or brands. Hemp can be a pathway to wealth but if it’s the larger profit margins you desire. It will require more than just growing a hemp crop. Creating a brand or an end product can even be a path towards profiting from your crop all year round. Having a strategy is another big contributor when trying to assess how much hemp could profit you. The sky is limit as they say and the more work you put into advertising what you do. The higher demand you can develop for your products. Having a strong social media presence is a great way to add desire to your product and associate with those interested in hemp. An easy way to tell your story that doubles as a tool to point people toward when learning about you. LinkedIn, is quickly becoming a great resource for hemp farmers. From learning to farming, sourcing extractors or biomass, to even teaming up with others under contracts or profit sharing agreements. The more involved you become in the outcome of your crop, the more potential you have to profit from it.
Moving at a comfortable pace is important, each step comes with its own nuances that add up to maximizing profit.