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December 17, 2021

Harvest 2021: A Q&A w/ Our Hemp Farmers

BLNCD is a vertically integrated company, which allows us to control our hemp CBD supply chain from seed to bottle. Maintaining a close relationship with our farmers and a vested interest in the entire journey of our hemp is a big part of what we do to ensure quality and consistency.  We sat down with some of our farmers to give more insight into the journey of our hemp from farm to table.

BLNCD: How long have you been farming? What types of crops do you primarily grow?

We’ve been farming for 22 years. We started farming as a Medical Marijuana caregiver in northern California. We transitioned to growing industrial hemp within the last five years. 

BLNCD: When is the growing season? When do you plant and when do you harvest? 

We grow all year round. We produce high quality CBD flower year round indoor. For outdoor crops, we plant our seeds in our greenhouse at the beginning of May, and then they are transplanted to the field at the beginning of June. We grow several different cultivars with different finishing flower times typically ranging from the middle of September to the beginning of October.

BLNCD: What are some of the unique challenges of growing hemp? 

When it comes to growing hemp, there are many different opportunities for problems to arise, especially outdoors.. Hemp is very susceptible to many different environmental challenges such as pests, disease, weather, all of which induce genetic drift. In the spring we deal with pest and disease pressure primarily. During the summer months the midwest is known for high humidity as well, which can induce many different forms of fungal pathogens. Then when harvest time comes during the fall we have large dense flowers in which rain and dramatic temperature fluctuations can induce mold and bud rot. Post-harvest, we’re still dealing with dramatic temperature and humidity fluctuations which can alter the quality of the flower, and compromise the terpene profile pretty easily as well as giving inconsistent dry times. So after looking at all of these different problems that can arise during the year, this is why we’ve developed stringent Standard Operating Procedures and best practices to manage and mitigate these types of problems. These issues mentioned have been a main reason we’ve decided to also grow indoors so we can mitigate these problems as well as maximize the plant’s genetic potential. 

BLNCD: What kind of typography and soil is ideal for hemp production? 

The ideal typography really depends on the cultivar. There is a great deal of genetic diversity in the Hemp space and with this comes a variety of recessive traits inherently built into each strain. In the lineage is where the map to success lies and the recipe to maximize genetic potential unfolds.  In a perfect world you would want high fertility, and good drainage. At our outdoor location, we are essentially an outdoor hydroponic farm since our soil is extremely sandy and does not naturally contain very much organic matter. It’s because of this we use a great deal of organic liquid inputs allowing us to hone in on the metabolic needs of the plants all while building the soil fertility naturally. 

BLNCD: Where do you get your seeds and/or how do you select them?

With many years of experience in the cannabis industry we’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing growers and breeders. Along the way we have been collecting and storing unique cultivars, building our seed bank. We’re always keeping an eye out for any new strains that will be as prolific as possible in our climate here in the midwest. 

BLNCD: How does farming hemp differ from farming marijuana?

Traditionally, when growing medical marijuana we are selecting varieties for high potency and unique terpene profiles, however with cbd crops (hemp) our margin of error is very fine so the plant’s feeding and stress reduction is essential in maintaining quality control and compliance. 

BLNCD: How do you test for THC levels in your crop?

From the 3rd week of flowering we begin to monitor our plant’s THC level until the plants are ready for harvest. We work very closely with a renowned lab, who takes samples of the flower and begins to chart and map the THC spikes.

BLNCD: What is the biggest misconception about farming hemp?

The biggest misconception with growing hemp is that it’s easy, or anyone can do it. There’s a big difference between growing the plant and maximizing genetic potential. Anyone can grow the plant, but not everyone can succeed in the sense that it’s contaminant free, disease free and most importantly a compliant product. 

BLNCD: Why is growing hemp organically important?

Growing organically is a philosophy and standard that should be practiced with all crops. Modern farming techniques involve using inorganic nutrients. These nutrients are rich in heavy metals, salts, and phytochemicals that compromise both the soil’s integrity as well as the nutritional density of the crops coming off that land. There are lots of products that over the years have been given the “green light” to use, and be considered safe (ie Round Up). We now know the damage that occurs from using such products can create major issues for the  soil and health issues in humans and animals alike. 

BLNCD: You are part of a growers co-operative, tell us about that, and how it came about?

Originally we’re from California. In moving to Wisconsin it was necessary for us to find like-minded farmers knowing that the community is much stronger together than apart. Everyone has values and strengths they’ve earned over the years that can compliment our group as a whole. With the ever changing environment in the hemp industry there are still many challenges to face not only from a cultivation perspective but legal as well. The power we have as a coop allows us to face these challenges as a community while we all work together to advance this industry forward. 

BLNCD: As a farmer, what are some of the shared values that are important in your partnership with companies like BLNCD Naturals/Global Organic?

One of the most common terms used in the industry is integrity. However the reality is that is unfortunately not the case.  In working with Global Organic alongside  BLNCD I know from experience that these groups do operate with a level of integrity that is above and beyond normal acceptable standards in the industry. From the ground up they’ve developed and implemented standard operating procedures and best practices that showcase their values as owners and operators. We take great pride in the amount of effort and heart that goes into growing a high end flower. Knowing that our hard work is going to  be processed by state-of-the-art equipment and screened with the highest of standards, we can say without a doubt that the products they produce are unlike anything else in the industry. 

BLNCD: Are there any techniques or production ideologies that set your farm apart from your competitors?

This is a very interesting question. I feel that when the traditional farmers began to try their hand at farming hemp, they brought with them all of the advancements of modern traditional farming. Especially in regards to implementation of equipment, which is what was needed. Typically farming hemp is very labor intensive, difficult and could be called a labor of love. So I’d say if there was one thing that sets us apart from our competitors, it would be  having the opportunity to grow this plant for so many years prior has allowed us to stay ahead of the curve. From mitigating problems, to maximizing genetic potential-these things are only learned with time and hands on experience. With mother nature not always providing the ideals in terms of weather it can be quite difficult to grow here in the Midwest. However, being so close to the plant for so many years, I feel we can still produce a high end crop even with all the curveballs here in the heartland.

BLNCD: What do you love most about this process/industry? 

Speaking as someone who has lived off of this plant my whole life, I can say that if you take care of this plant it will take care of you. There are endless possibilities with this plant! How amazing is it that one plant can provide us with food to clothing or healing to shelter? I love that as our understanding of this plant evolves so too does our ability to decide how to be a part of that evolution

BLNCD: What do you think the future will look like for this industry?

I believe that the future of our industry is bright. With an ever growing need for viable and sustainable materials and energy, we will see industrial hemp take its rightful place at the front of the line when it comes to building materials, carbon sequestration and biofuels. I believe as we continue to move forward more individuals will be able to speak with first hand knowledge of the benefits of CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids. I think this will provide a greater respect for the plant, removing harmful stigmas and more importantly will  pave the way for advancement of holistic remedies that parallel traditional pharmaceutical options. 

BLNCD: Anything else that customers may be interested in knowing about the process of organic hemp farming?

No matter what part of the process they find interesting, we hope they understand that they’re an integral part in supporting a diverse network of hardworking families when they purchase these organic products from BLNCD. 

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