As Oregon cannabis prices continue to sink to new lows amid a product glut, outdoor growers are applying what they know about marijuana and cultivating hemp for both smokable CBD flower and biomass that can be extracted into CBD oil.
Under a Tier 2 license in Oregon, most MJ farmers are limited to – at most – a 40,000-square-foot (just under 1-acre) grow.
But hemp doesn’t face the same restrictions, so many growers have planted 3 or more acres of the plant.
“If you have a farm this year that’s designed to grow cannabis and you can’t sell any of the cannabis you grew last year, or very little of it, hemp is a decent pivot,” said Mason Walker, CEO of East Fork Cultivars in Takilma, Oregon.
“Even if you’re going to make a quarter or a tenth of what you were going to make if you sold all of your cannabis, if you can’t sell any of your cannabis it doesn’t matter,” Walker said. “You already have the infrastructure, you already have the expertise.
On the current market, hemp-grown flower is selling for about $50-$60 a pound – or about $5-$6 per percent of CBD – and a good benchmark for hemp is roughly 10% CBD, said Amy Parscal, co-founder of Ebb & Flow Farm in Ashland, Oregon.
A hemp farmer can conservatively plant 2,000 plants per acre. In other words, one can enjoy a yield of about $100,000-$120,000 per acre.
Her company built several greenhouses for MJ cultivation “before the market crashed” last year, she said. The greenhouses were then converted to grow feminized hemp seedlings for farmers coming online.
2. Hemp production costs are lower.
With 3 acres, Parscal is able to grow about 8,000 hemp plants. She estimates her production costs at about $10,000 per acre. At 2,000 pounds per acre, that’s about $5 a pound in costs.
Walker at East Fork Cultivars pointed out, as an example, that his marijuana operation is required to have 35 cameras, along with a 90-day backup of recorded video as well as steel doors on all buildings.
For hemp, Walker said, he needed only a permit that cost $1,300. Walker could then start growing.
3. Hemp is a national market.
His company started adding hemp to its operation in 2016 with 20 acres, and it now grows about 100 acres.
While he gets 50% less from hemp-derived oil versus marijuana-derived oil, Shaughnessy has 300-liter CO2 extraction machines for hemp and only 20-liter machines for marijuana. He can produce 3 kilograms an hour of hemp-derived oil versus 15 grams an hour for marijuana-derived oil.
4. Start low … and go slow.
For example, they try to grow their plants too large by spacing them out, which leads to an abundance of weeds.
There’s also a tendency to take on too much land.
One complaint Sharp has heard from growers: “What have I done? How am I going to get harvested?”
“It overwhelms them,” he said. “People say, ‘I’m going to do 200 acres.’ I tell them, ‘You need to start with 2.’”
Read more from the source: MJBizDaily.com