The team at Green Point Research joined staff from Netafim and American Hemp Ventures for a three-day webinar series for hemp farmers. The videos covered the life of the plant, including seeds, nutrition, and storage options for plants ready for harvest.
Compliance with hemp regulations was also covered. Plant geneticists with American Hemp Ventures and Green Point Research discussed how to keep tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels low in Cannabidiol (CBD) plants to comply with state laws. One presentation was dedicated to federal regulations, as well as statutes specific to Florida.
Here are some highlights of what was covered during each webinar:
Day 1: World Leaders in Seeds, Genetics, and Best Practices
Dr. Miles Ingwers, Director of Genetics at American Hemp Ventures, and Dr. Will Wadlington, Director of Plant Science at Green Point Research, gave a talk on using genetics to ensure that farmers get the best possible crop, and how to properly breed plants. Breeding generations of plants together can help make the plants more uniform, but can also lead to problems.
Different strains of hemp grow better in certain conditions. Both outdoor and indoor field tests are crucial for farmers to help determine what conditions will bring their plant to flower. Tracking the flowering of a crop is important, and field tests will help farmers keep track of how well their strains do in various conditions.
In order to grow CBD plants, the crop needs to have an entirely female population. There are also ways to push a crop to have higher levels of CBD including drought stress and letting the plant grow for a longer amount of time. View the full length Webinar One on Youtube to learn more: https://youtu.be/eS4wJkd7xS4
Day 2: Best Practices
Green Point’s Director of Agricultural Operations, Mike Dukes, covered best practices for planting during the first part of day two of the webinar series. Farmers need to buy seeds approved by hemp regulations to remain compliant with laws.
Test both the soil and water source before planting. Testing will tell you what type of fertilizer mix you will need for plants. Throughout a plant’s life, farmers should continue to test its tissue to make sure it is getting the right nutrition, and to track the plant’s THC levels. This should be done weekly.
Walking through plant rows regularly will also help farmers catch problems such as disease and pests and find any plants that have become males, which can be caused by stress. Stress management is important for the crop. Farmers are paid for their yield which is plant genetic material minus stress. There are a lot of ways to cause stress on the crop, such as too much or too little fertilizer.
Farmers should regularly check their water sources for algae or other issues, said Danny Sosebee, the Agricultural Relations Manager from Netafim. Acting early to prevent problems is better than reacting to them, Sosebee said. Farmers should also know how many plants their water source can handle.
In the last part of the webinar, Light Townsend, the Chief Legal Officer at Green Point, went over some compliance rules in Florida for hemp. The initial 2014 Farm Bill included hemp pilot programs and was extended until September 2020. In 2018, hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) then created regulations for states participating in cultivation which went into effect in October 2019.
Per Florida law, cultivators must have a license issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Further regulations in Florida specify that cultivators need a permit for each plot of land. There are other requirements as well such as environmental and waste plans. State regulations require that the FDACS be notified 15 days prior to harvest in order for THC testing to be done. View the full-length Webinar Day Two on Youtube to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUnNHfSKlJg
Day 3: Post Harvest: Drying and Storage
How farmers harvest and then store hemp will depend on what you are using the crop for. If you are using the trimmed flower, farmers will want to harvest the plant by hand cutting from the base of the stalk. This will keep the plant intact. When harvesting for biomass, it is recommended to use machine methods. If you are harvesting the whole plant, you later need to cut it into smaller pieces for cannabinoid extraction.
Humidity in Florida will cause any harvested crops that are left in the field to grow mold. When drying plants, trimmable flower needs to be hung upside down in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. For biomass crop, it is recommended to use a dryer. At Green Point, staff use a rotary drum drying system because it is efficient and can dry larger amounts of biomass.
When getting ready to store hemp, you want to test for moisture and water activity. A breathable storage bag will prevent mold and mildew in biomass product. Jordan Pace, the Chief Operating Officer at Green Point, said that flower is vacuum sealed to ensure oxygen will not get in. Light will degrade the plant so it is important to store hemp in the dark.
When processing trimmed flower, it needs to be cured, bucked and trimmed before being put in a bag. With biomass, there are different ways to extract cannabinoids from the plant. These will depend on the size of a company and the scale they want to do extractions. The first product from extraction is crude oil, which is then refined to distillate, then isolate, and terpenes.
Green Point offers some of these services with the purchase of genetic acres. Customers who purchase 10 or more acres receive free biomass drying and storage. They will also get nutrition tips, discounted testing, a farm visit from Green Point’s Director of Agricultural Operations, as well as co-marketing of the product at an agreed upon rate. Customers that purchase less than 10 acres receive discounted biomass drying and storage from Green Point, as well as nutrition tips, co-marketing, and discounted testing.
View the full-length Webinar Day Three on Youtube to learn more: