WHAT CAN I DO TO KEEP MY CROP IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE THC RULES?
Many varieties will produce more THC than is legal if they are not monitored carefully. Testing THC levels on your crop beginning 4 weeks before harvest at a local testing lab is the key to knowing when is the right time to harvest to maximize your CBD levels, yet still remain complaint under the USDA rules.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH VARIETIES WILL PERFORM BEST FOR MY AREA?
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD or CBG are secondary metabolites. These are produced by the plant as a response to environmental stress factors like temperature, weather, water availability, insect and disease pressure and wind. The key in choosing varieties for your region is more about finding the variety that works best in your system of cultivation. For instance, a variety that has large leaves and an open habit will be more likely to be damaged by wind and weather than a variety with thinner leaves and a more compact habit. We endeavor to work with farmers and breeders to select a wide range of varieties that will work best in a variety of climates and conditions. An attentive and observant farmer with sub-optimal varieties will often produce a better crop than a farmer who doesn’t monitor his crops carefully regardless of variety.
WHEN DOES HEMP START TO PRODUCE CANNABINOIDS?
All cannabis varieties of both THC and CBD/CBG types only produce the active ingredients that make them valuable during their flowering period during the final 6-10 weeks of the growing cycle. This is the period where careful monitoring by taking flower samples for analysis of THC content is critically important in order to avoid your plants going “hot” or too high in THC to remain complaint.
WHAT PESTS AND DISEASES CAN AFFECT HEMP?
Aphids, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Russet Mites, Western Flower Thrips, Powdery Mildew, Fusarium, Pythium, Botrytis, Erywinia and a host of virus and viroid diseases
WHAT DAMAGE CAN VIRUS AND VIROIDS CAUSE IN HEMP PRODUCTION?
As we learn more about the susceptibility of Cannabis to the vast range of diseases that can infect it, virus diseases are a substantial concern. Several virus and viroid diseases are causing severe crop loss to Hemp growers. Among those are: hop latent viroid (HpLVd,) hemp streak virus, cannabis cryptic virus (CanCV), tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) and arabis mosaic virus (ArMV). Of these, cucumber mosaic, arabis mosaic and tobacco mosaic have very broad host ranges, are easily transmitted and could potentially decimate a cannabis crop. Transmission can be mechanical (TMV), by insects such as aphids (CMV) or nematodes (ArMV). Once a production crop or mother-stock range is infected, it can prove extremely difficult to eliminate, and the risk of re-infection is great. Hence, subsequent crops are at extreme risk without proper management and hygiene measures. The key to avoiding the damage that virus and viroid diseases can cause is to start with clean stock every year. Starter plants that are pathogen-free have been screened for diseases mean that the plants, even if infected during the growing season, will not be damaged by the virus before harvest.
WHY IS CLEAN STOCK IMPORTANT?
Clean stock gives farmers peace of mind that their crop will not be devastated by a virus or viroid infection. Clean Stock propagation systems were developed by the ornamental plant industry and include strict hygiene protocols to reduce the risk of infection by virus and viroid. Plant material that is held over for use as motherstock if often infected with at least a few virus and viroid diseases. The clean stock model means that plants that the farmers receive were propagated exclusively from plants that went through a high level biotech testing process that incorporates qPCR tests to look for the presence of viral particles. This is important because a plant growing in the field, even if infected by virus, will not show symptoms before plants are harvested. However it plants are held over the winter, the virus/viroid multiply and when the plant is stressed, the virus can begin to show symptoms and start to decline.
HOW IS HEMP DIFFERENT FROM MARIJUANA?
Though the plants are closely related, hemp plants have been hybridized and selected for the production of CBD, CBG and other useful but non-intoxicating Cannabinoids. Marijuana growers have been breeding for high levels of THC for many years and those varieties have lost many of the more interesting Cannabinoids due to the focus on THC. Much like the difference between Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples, breeders have worked hard to create hemp hybrids that will produce high levels of valuable CBD or CBG and minimal levels of THC.
WHEN SHOULD I PLANT MY HEMP FIELDS?
While traditional farming seeks to get plants into the ground as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Many farmers have found that later planting results in a superior product. Typically the planting season starts mid-late May and runs through Mid July. We recommend planting sometime from the end of May to Mid July depending on latitude.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEED-GROWN AND CUTTING-GROWN (CLONE) HEMP?
Food and Fiber Hemp is always grown from seed. High CBD/CBG hemp can be grown from both seed and cuttings. However, the issue with any seed crop is the ability to have consistent and uniform plants. Much hemp from seed is highly variable because the breeders have not had sufficient time to create true parent lines that are necessary for the plants to breed true from seed. Cutting-grown hemp gives the farmer more assurance of consistency and uniformity in both the growth habit and the analysis of THC vs CBD/CBG. High-quality cutting-grown plants are the safer bet at this time.
HOW DOES DAYLENGTH AFFECT A HEMP PLANT?
Hemp flowers only under shorter days. The plant typically puts on vegetative growth during the long days of summer when daylength is longer than 12 hours. When days start to shorten in the late summer, this triggers the plant to initiate flowering and the flowering period can last between 6 and 15 weeks with most all hemp varieties having a flowering period of 6-12 weeks. The majority of cannabinoids (THC/CBG/CBD) are produced by the plant only during the flowering period so this is the time to watch your plants carefully for pest and disease issues which cause stress to the plant resulting in a higher THC level.