Knowing when to harvest hemp for optimal CBD potency could be the difference of a few thousand dollars per pound of biomass. According to North Carolina State University’s Agricultural Extension program, a one percent difference in CBD content among 1,000 pounds of biomass equals a crop value difference of roughly $20,000 on the open market. Therefore, to reap the most return on your hemp seed investment, it’s essential to harvest hemp for optimal CBD potency on an exact schedule.
When to Harvest Hemp for Optimal CBD Potency
There are some visual cues to indicate when a hemp CBD crop is nearing harvest time. Most notably, the trichomes, or tiny mushroom-like resin glands that coat hemp flowers, will change from crystal clear to a milky white color. Though this method to determine harvest time may be sufficient for small-scale grow operations, extensive, commercial cultivation facilities will find better results by testing their crops for potency.
To be clear, test facilities look for more than cannabinoid levels including pests, mildew, and other contaminants – but it is the cannabinoid content that determines if a crop is ready for harvest (or the garbage can if its THC content is too high). Some states require lab tests before harvest anyway; check local legislation for proper hemp harvesting practices. Generally, most outdoor hemp CBD crops are ready to harvest in mid- to late-August through some strains won’t reach full potency until mid-September.
Harvest Schedule Limits
Regardless of what tests indicate, if an outdoor growing season approaches its end, it may be time to harvest. Though hemp plants are resilient, they cannot withstand harsh weather conditions. A hard frost will surely kill the crop and make it nearly impossible to collect CBD from its buds. Likewise, hemp CBD should be harvested before hurricane season to avoid damaging or washing away valuable terpenes and prevent the plant from becoming too saturated to cure correctly.
Finally, consider labor time when determining when to harvest hemp for optimal CBD potency. Remember that CBD content drops drastically after reaching its peak. This includes the time it takes for the product to cure before selling or extracting from it. Also, note that CBD hemp is usually harvested by hand to reduce contaminants and potency loss. There are no machines available to collect CBD hemp efficiently yet. Therefore, the more abundant the staff, the more timely the harvest. Small-scale operations should maintain crops of 2 acres or less. Alternatively, they can stagger crop planting schedules to allow for an extended harvest season.
Curing for Continued Cannabinoid Production
Whether the intention is to sell hemp flower or CBD extracts, the hemp curing process is vital for optimal product quality and potency. If plants are not adequately cured, they may turn moldy or trap harsh or unnecessary plant matter within the buds. Inadequate cures lower product quality and thus, the crop’s overall market value.
Hemp CBD requires more precise cultivation practices than industrial hemp. Indeed, when growing hemp for CBD, timing is everything.
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