How Is Hemp Harvested?

Farmer with Hemp Seeds on a Hemp Plant Field | Veritas Farms

When and how hemp is harvested is crucial to the success of your crop. The entire process is like a carefully choreographed dance, where all of the pieces of the puzzle need to work efficiently together to ensure the harvest is done on time at the right time. The highest quality hemp requires proper harvesting care, and Veritas Farms is dedicated to providing only the best hemp by utilizing proper hemp farming techniques and harvesting best-practices.

Let’s break down the process for harvesting hemp.

What Does the Hemp Harvesting Process Look Like?

Harvesting hemp really breaks down into three different stages: choosing the harvest time, harvesting the hemp, and drying and curing the hemp. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three stages.

1. Choosing the Best Time to Harvest Hemp

Hemp typically requires between 100 and 120 days to fully mature, but this can change based on geography. Harvest time can significantly impact ROI. For example, if you wait too long to harvest hemp plants, they can lose CBD and other cannabinoid potency.

Losing just 1% of CBD potency within your crop could cost you $20,000 per 1,000 pounds of hemp biomass. For this reason, harvest timing is crucial in ensuring that you are maximizing your yield and profits.

Additionally, while CBD degenerates after maturity, THC levels start to rise. Hemp farmers need to keep the THC levels in their crops under 0.3%. Should a crop’s THC potency exceed the legal level, the crop is rendered useless.

Weather’s Impact

Late harvests in colder climates could put the entire crop at risk for early frosts or hurricanes that can cause catastrophic damage to the hemp plants. Even excessive rain can lead to problems. Too much moisture can lead to mold and bud rot, and storms can cause breakage on the plants.

Hemp growers need to closely monitor the weather to prevent problems with their plants. This may mean harvesting earlier or later than expected based on both the maturity of the plants and the weather conditions.

Deciding When to Harvest

For most of North America, harvest time for hemp is between mid-August and early October. Growers in northern areas may need to harvest at the beginning of this range to prevent weather damage. However, harvesting needs to be done after testing has confirmed that THC levels have entered the legal range.

Hemp Harvesting and Processing Barn | Veritas Farms

2. How to Harvest the Hemp

Harvesting hemp starts with determining how you are going to use the hemp. For example, if you are growing hemp for smoking, you need to cut down plants individually; however, if you are growing hemp for biomass, you can use farming equipment to harvest the crops. Both methods of hemp harvesting can be labor-intensive, as large crops that are harvested for biomass can take days or weeks to fully harvest. Let’s briefly breakdown each method of harvest.

Harvesting Hemp Biomass with Machinery

Harvesting hemp biomass tends to be easier for growers, because flowers don’t need to be treated delicately. Done on an industrial scale, large agricultural equipment, such as combines, are used to cut and harvest acres of hemp at a time.

Hand-Harvesting Hemp Flowers

Hand-harvesting hemp flowers is labor intensive, but it protects the integrity of the flowers. Since CBD flowers can be sold as smokable products, it is critical to keep the flowers intact. The trichomes, terpenes, and pistils can’t be damaged during the process. Even minor damage can greatly reduce the value of hemp flowers when it comes time to sell.

Hand harvesting hemp requires harvesters to use shears, tobacco knives, or machetes to cut the stalks of hemp. The hemp stalks are then transported to wherever growers will dry them. Drying is usually done by hanging or lying the hemp on screens.

3. Drying Hemp

Not all hemp producers dry their plants themselves. Some farmers choose to send their hemp directly to a processor. However, for those who dry their own plants, this is a critical process that can make or break the hemp’s quality or ruin the product altogether. Properly drying and curing hemp locks in the CBD potency and helps hemp maintain its quality.

While there are different methods for drying hemp, a few things are key regardless of the exact method chosen. First, you need a large area to serve as a drying facility. This facility needs to have the space to hold your crop yield, as well as a roof and good ventilation.

As we just mentioned, ventilation is a critical component of drying hemp. Trapped moisture won’t allow the hemp to dry out the way it needs to, and it could even lead to mold or mildew formation, ruining the yield. To get good ventilation in your drying facility, you may need to use fans and blowers.

A couple of the most common ways to dry hemp involve using either racks or screens to separate the plants and allow proper airflow for drying. With racks, hemp plants are often hung upside down to dry. Growers who use screens will lay the plants flat where they can dry out thoroughly.

Hemp isn’t considered dry until its moisture is below 15% but getting the moisture level below 12% is even better. At this point, the hemp is ready for curing or processing.

Some growers choose to cure their plants as well. The curing process helps remove even more moisture from the plants, but it does add a lot of time to the total drying process. When hemp is cured, the smell and taste of the flowers is better preserved.

How Does Veritas Farms Harvest Our Hemp?

Our hemp harvesting operation starts with carefully watching our hemp plants. We know when our hemp is ready because the color of the trichomes, which are small, mushroom-like glands, on the flowers and leaves will turn from clear to milky white. When this occurs, we have our plants lab-tested to see the exact levels of CBD and THC. We don’t harvest our hemp plants until the high levels of THC dip below 0.3%, making the hemp legal per the 2018 Farm Bill .

Since we have a large-scale CBD farming operating, we don’t hand-harvest hemp from our outdoor fields. Instead, we use machinery that allows us to work more efficiently. In our indoor climate-controlled greenhouses, we do hand-pick the hemp as it is ready for harvest.

When it is just the right time, we get out and harvest our plants to ensure that they don’t lose potency, bringing you the best-possible CBD products. Check out our selection of full-spectrum CBD oil products that are made with quality and safety in mind. Learn more about how to take our products and all about CBD and hemp in our blog.

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