Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the crazy wild west stories of the hemp industry. In fact, I’ve got a few of my own. A lot of folks get into growing hemp for various reasons.
… Perhaps a family member took CBD and got themselves off opioids.
… Or possibly they already grow other crops and are looking to diversify their farm
… Or maybe they just want to unleash their entrepreneurial energy and own a hemp business.
We all have different reasons for wanting to grow this plant, but sometimes we get blinded from what it actually takes to get a successful hemp growing business off the ground.
From being growers ourselves and working with hundreds of growers across the nation, here are the five biggest mistakes we have seen that cause growers to fail:
- Poor Soil and Field Prep: Planting hemp in the ground without understanding the soil and necessary amendments will quickly lead to crop failure. Just like any crop, hemp needs fertilizer and healthy, suitable soil for cultivation. If the field is not properly disced and amended, this can lead to compacted soil with not enough available nutrients for hemp plants to thrive.
- Unrealistic Expectations and Scope: Sometimes it’s best to start off small and do it right, and then scale the hemp growing operation. Making even a small mistake on a large operation can lead to catastrophic consequences that may be irrevocable. Starting with a manageable farm size sets farmers up for success by ensuring that they don’t overextend themselves and go too big their first year.
- Poor Genetics: Unstable, poorly performing hemp genetics will quickly sink a hemp growing business. A grower can do everything correctly to pull off a great crop, but if the genetics are unstable, have notable phenotypical variation, have a larger number of males, or are inconsistent in cannabinoid potency, a farmer can quickly lose their valuable harvest. Junk in, junk out—plants are the foundation of a successful hemp farmer’s field. To maximize success, growers should not only source stable hemp genetics but also ensure that they are working with hemp varieties that have the correct photoperiod sensitivity and growth habit for their region.
- Compliance: Understanding genetics and how cannabinoids develop is very important, especially with the new USDA Interim Final Ruling. This point also ties into the previous statement about stable genetics. Growing unstable varieties can quickly lead to compliance issues because plants may develop differently and run hot faster. It’s important to work with reputable hemp genetics that have a known track record of how the plants develop and when harvest should be scheduled.
- Harvest, Drying, and Processing: The home stretch of hemp farming is getting the plants out of the ground, dried, and ready for processing. In the spring, these steps may seem far into the distant future and something that will eventually be sorted out. However, before plants go into the ground, growers should have a complete understanding of just how much work it takes to harvest hemp, as well as the necessary drying space for their field. This is a large bottleneck, and if not addressed well in advance, can force farmers to leave their harvest in the field when inclement weather rolls in and they don’t have the labor and/or drying space needed for their entire harvest.
So there you have it! Take these points to heart and incorporate these points into your business plan to ensure maximum success. If you are looking to check avoid reason #3 as to why hemp growers fail, check out the Alterra Variety Quiz to determine which hemp genetics are best for you and your business!