All is well that ends well. After planting your hemp crop and managing it successfully, now you have to think about harvesting and processing. Harvesting at the right time ensures you get the highest quality hemp crop but also maximizes storage life.
Farmer’s plant hemp for either CBD oil, seeds, or fiber. As such, you will harvest the crop depending on various factors, some of which is; the purpose of the crop, the cultivation style, and the variety of hemp seeds grown. There are also multipurpose hemp plants that farmers plant for CBD oil, seeds, and fiber. Besides that, the harvesting method you choose (hand or hemp harvesting equipment) depends on how much crop you planted. Worth noting, the hemp industry is entirely new in many parts of the world, and different farmers and regions are developing unique systems on how to approach various challenges. Therefore, different farmers use different harvesting methods.
Harvesting Hemp Fiber
You should grow crops close together, which results in long straight stems and bumper fiber production. The preferred spacing of the plants is about 10 cm or less. When harvesting hemp fiber, ensure that the stalks are in good condition. You should harvest hemp fiber between when the plant is blooming to seed-setting. Harvesting hemp by hand using sickles is ideal if the crop acreage is small. For commercial hemp harvesting, you can use modified equipment for other grain harvesters. Immediately after harvesting hemp, separate the fiber from the rest of the plant. There is a machine which can separate the valuable fiber from the rest of the stalk for retting.
Harvesting Hemp Seeds
It is advisable to start harvesting when the seeds are ripe; that is approximately six weeks after flowering. You can use a hemp harvester. When harvesting, you should monitor the process carefully because the machine jams due to sticks and resins getting stuck in the moving parts. After harvesting, set the seeds apart from the rest of the plant- the flower heads. Ensure that the seeds are dried appropriately. Then, examine the moisture content of the seeds before storage.
Harvesting Hemp Buds for CBD Oil
Medicinal hemp is the name given to hemp for CBD oil extraction. Hemp grown for CBD oil extraction should maximize the production of flowers and resin. Farmers growing medicinal hemp need high CBD hemp strains which contain high CBD amounts and low THC. The crop is an all-female which should be widely spaced. When medicinal hemp is growing, it exhibits large crops with large flower heads.
Medicinal hemp is labor-intensive. Usually, a farmer has to manage each crop individual, including irrigating each plant. You can support the plants by staking. You should start harvesting when the flower heads are mature and about to ripen and dry. Usually, the hemp flowers and leaves undergo two tests; tests for moisture levels and THC and CBD content to determine the harvesting date. To keep the flower heads clean and intact, harvest medicinal hemp by hand because harvesting equipment is rough.
Medicinal hemp regulations require THC levels to be within the legal limits of 0.3%. Typically, to prevent the THC levels from exceeding the statutory amounts, harvesting of the plant should be before full-plant maturity. If the THC amounts exceed the legal THC levels, the whole crop is subject to destruction.
Post-Harvesting Of Hemp
Many hemp farmers improvise harvesting equipment of other crops like tobacco or grains for drying hemp. The facility should be clean and meet production standards of food or medical products. In this regard, the facilities should be free from potential contaminants like bird droppings or animal waste.
How you dry the hemp crop after harvesting will determine its final quality. You need to dry hemp harvests immediately after harvesting. If the crop is too wet or the ventilation is not adequate when drying, it gets adulterated by bacteria and fungi and may not be suitable for processing.
Therefore, you should prepare your hemp drying facilities and hemp drying equipment in advance. After harvesting the produce, you can pelletize the rest of the plant for other uses.
Hemp Storage Before Shipping
After harvesting and processing your hemp crops, store them in harvesting facilities that with controlled hygiene standards, light, humidity, and temperature. Last but not least, label the batches properly as the crop awaits testing and shipping.