Farming hemp has become an increasingly popular practice in the United States since legalization. Although hemp has been harvested for decades for the fibrous plant material, it has more recently been farmed for the oil produced in the hemp flower.
If you’ve ever looked into growing and harvesting hemp for hemp flower, you may have been overwhelmed by the vast array of equipment and hemp harvesting machines advertised your way. While it is true that you won’t need every piece of equipment, the right product can make the harvesting process markedly quicker and easier.
What Equipment Is Necessary To Start Growing Hemp?
This question is a little tricky, as people grow hemp for varying reasons and on different scales. If you are working with a couple of acres, you don’t need every piece of state of the art equipment out there. It is dependent upon your needs, the size of your farm and harvest, and your goals. In this article, rather than telling you what you need, we will simply look at a number of popular products, and why these products may or may not benefit your harvest.
Hemp Tilling Equipment
Raised Bed Shaper
The first step to growing hemp is the tilling process, and for farms that exceed 100 acres, it can be cumbersome to complete this step without a raised bed shaper. Raised beds yield more potent concentrations of hemp product, but they can be cumbersome to manufacture without help. The raised bed shaper produces crops that are alike in size and shape on tightly packed beds.
Plastic Mulch Layer
Mulch layers are tractor attachments that lay down strips of plastic along farm rows. They can help to conserve water, maintain a more consistent soil temperature, and control weeds. Available in single row and multiple row machines, mulch layers are a handy product for any sized farm.
Hemp Harvest Equipment
CBD-specific hemp harvesters
While the tilling equipment is fairly straightforward, there is a greater variety of harvesting equipment, which can make your job as a consumer more difficult. One staple product for farmers interested in harvesting hemp for biomass is the CBD-specific hemp harvester. These hemp harvesting machines are relatively new to the market, but since their arrival, they've become a popular choice of biomass harvesters for their cutting, notching, and loading abilities. Good quality hemp harvest equipment is capable of processing 4-5 acres per day, making quick work of industrial-scale hemp crops. On the other hand, these are not the best products for harvesters of hemp flower, as they don’t protect the floral material of the flower. So, what are harvesters of hemp flower supposed to use?
Yes, that’s right. For many farmers who harvest premium flower for wholesale, hand-harvesting is worth the investment of human labor. Many wholesale growers believe that hand-harvesting is worth the time, effort, and expense because it better preserves the quality of the floral material than machinery. ACS Laboratory explains that, while time consuming, hand-harvesting is the only way to ensure that you “carefully collect and maintain the integrity of each bud.”
Further, without a certain amount of manpower to harvest your crops before they over-mature, you could potentially produce a plant with THC content higher than .3%, at which point you’d have to dispose of the entire harvest.
While human labor is the most important hemp harvest “equipment,” there are hemp harvesting machines that can complement hand-harvesting and boost efficiency. Some include:
The brush cutter is a motorized tool designed to cut through brush, weeds, roots, or any unwanted plant material. There are different kinds of brush cutters with varying degrees of automation; handheld and tow-behind are two popular options.
A combine harvester, also known as a combine, is a versatile machine that works to reap, thresh, gather, and winnow in a single process. Combine harvesters are one of the most labor-saving machines in modern agricultural history, and they will help any hemp farmer with their harvest.
A transplanter is a machine used for transplanting seeds in a field, which drastically reduces the time it takes to plant seedlings manually. They also help to keep plants upright and to maintain their spacing from one another, so they have an ideal space to grow.
The decision to purchase hemp harvest equipment is a big one, and one that is entirely dependent on your own farm. Factors you should consider include how much you intend to grow, the size of your hemp acreage, and your budget. If you have researched the subject thoroughly, it may be in your best interest to contact an agronomist with experience in hemp harvesting.