Industrial hemp is an amazing, ancient crop that requires no pesticides, it is one of the fastest growing biomasses on the planet, and it even chokes out weeds. Since hemp is grown for various different purposes, it stands to reason a hemp crop might need to be harvested in different ways. For the purposes of this article, we will discuss how hemp is harvested specifically for CBD oil.
How is hemp harvested to ensure the plants have the highest possible CBD levels available?
Hemp is harvested at the end of the flowering season, when the flower heads are fully mature and even beginning to dry out. The process requires weekly testing of the CBD levels in the plants. This gives the farmer a reliable idea of when to start the harvesting process, but they must still make the correct decision on when to harvest. The difference between, for example, a crop with a current level of 6% CBD versus waiting until it might have 7% CBD could mean a huge financial difference when the crop is sold, as much as $20,000 for a one-acre crop.
Once the farmer decides the time is right to harvest, the weather must also be taken into consideration. Harvesting before any forecasted rain storms is highly desirable, since the plants will need to be stored and dried after harvesting. Plants that are already dry will give the farmer the advantage.
To harvest a hemp crop, farmers may require outside labor, with laborers cutting the stalks close to the ground with a machete, loading them into a vehicle, and unloading them into the drying facility. For a successful and lucrative crop, a farmer must also be able to gauge the amount of labor needed, or use the proper machinery that gives them the most return on their labor. Many farmers prefer to automate the harvest with machines for safety’s sake. If there’s not enough manpower present to cut down the crop in the window of time required by USDA regulations, the remains of the crop might be lost.
The drying facility can be as simple as a barn, but needs to be out of direct sunlight, with significant air flow that is usually provided by fans that run day and night until the crop is fully dried. At this point, the buds need to be removed from the rest of the plant. CBD oil is actually pressed from the stems, stalks, and leaves of the hemp plant.
Take a look at one farmer’s hemp crop from seedling to harvest here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUrc51axCAQ