The hemp market is scheduled to reach $26.6 billion by 2025. With such a fast-growing industry, producers are prone to maintain efficient and cost-effective solutions for hemp storage. The fresh harvest is very sensitive to ultraviolet, humidity, or temperature change. Today, as crops multiply to meet high global demand — especially for CBD, which will be almost $10 billion by 2025 according to some experts — cannabis growers should lookout for the most innovative hemp storage options. Let’s review what current solutions are available to producers today.
Issues Faced by Hemp Growers
Hemp is called a high-risk crop, as said by Matt Cyrus, president of Deschutes County Farm Bureau in Oregon. Unlike corn or grain, hemp requires more complex storage equipment and processes. When harvesting and storing hemp, growers face issues such as:
Unexpected and unscalable costs: profitable hemp requires specialized processing facilities and equipment. Cannabis farmers may lose $50,000 per acre due to inadequate harvesting.
More intensive labor and growing work compared to other crops: from seed to harvest, growing hemp is tedious. There are also uncertainties over how long storage should be, as pointed by Scott Propheter, VP at Criticality. This North Carolina CBD company stated, “This industry is so new that I don’t think anybody really knows how long this stuff will store yet.
Choice of storage facilities: finding the right storage techniques alongside the best moisture levels is paramount to achieving the best product and not to damage the terpenes or the cannabinoids, post-harvest.
Harvesting and Storing Hemp for CBD
Heat, humidity, and light causes degradation of terpenes and cannabinoids. Whitfield, Director of Operations at FlexMod Solutions in Denver, shares tips on hemp growing and storing:
“The best way I’ve found to retain the cannabinoids and terpenes that I’m spending all year growing and all this energy to produce is using cooler temperatures, dehumidification, and (low-velocity, consistent) air movement.”
There are two schools of thought in growing and storing hemp. If the producer seeks to maintain high terpene profile and high-quality buds, he may go for hand harvesting similar to marijuana production; however, the process is long and time-consuming. On the other hand, for growers who are after a quick harvest of hemp, biomass harvesting for whole-plant extraction can be ideal. Ultimately, harvesters can combine both options, as explained by John Cummings, president of Hemptown, which grows hemp both indoor and outdoor in Oregon — with biomass and hand harvesting.
Storage is Key to Product Quality
Harvesting hemp flower can cost up to $5,000 per acre, and storage expenses add on top of it. So how can farmers lower the cost and harvest and store their productions to obtain the best product quality?
Here are the most efficient storage solutions for harvesters and hemp growers:
Hopper bins: are seen as the best solution for storage. Hopper bins with aeration can store harvest and preserve them against heat, humidity, or light. However, a smaller grower may not be able to choose this solution, which is more industrial and suited for larger productions.
Mini-bulk bags or tobacco bags: tobacco offers a similar guide on how to dry and store hemp. Tobacco barns store the hemp at a cool temperature, enabling the moisture to evaporate slowly. Barns often feature air units for aeration. Twenty barns can hold up a full acre of harvesting plant, Criticality, a hemp expert grower solutions company, reveals. This solution can fit smaller productions.
More Tips for Hemp Growers
On top of being aware of the storage solutions, growers, especially if they are new to harvesting hemp, should be familiar with hemp biomass. Hemp biomass is the remaining materials (stalks and leaves of the harvested plant), which is regarded as waste but should be collected for healthy hemp harvesting. Hemp biomass storage should be precise, too, with low moisture facilities. Lastly, keeping track of temperature and humidity levels in storage rooms is critical for product quality. Hemp growers should target temperature levels of roughly 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and seek 50%-60% humidity.
Hemp processing and storage are critical for growers to achieve a scalable production. Quality should be considered when choosing a storage solution for hemp growers. Failing at storing hemp and biomass according to standards may result in losing value or quality on the harvest. Growers should choose a storage solution according to the size of their productions, too.