4 Key Lessons Learned in Hemp Transplanting
We’ll be certain to follow this post up at the end of the crop year with any other factors we can attribute to our transplanting effort. But now that the dust has settled and our customers’ fields are planted, we thought it important to share what we learned in the hemp transplanting step:
Control. Our approach to transplant propagation was scientific and under control. It took us a little bit to get the dials turned correctly to maximize our propagation percentage (the percent of seeds that start and become viable transplants). Of course this conversion rate matters a lot, because the lower the rate, the greater the number of hemp seeds that have been purchased but won’t find their way into the field. Some of that % may be attributable to the quality of the seed you start with, but a lot of it can be attributed to the details of how the seeds are propagated. Even when our numbers weren’t great, we were confident that the process was under control. So when we made changes to the process, we were certain they’d be fully implemented. They were, and we got to propagation %s that we were satisfied with.
Compatibility between transplants and transplant equipment. “Start with the end in mind” – that has become a bit of a mantra for us and our customers and partners this spring. When trying to figure out the right path forward, we’re choosing the one that sets us up with the best chance for ultimate success, even if it results in some discomfort in the short-term. In this case, our farmers were using relatively robust transplanters, so we decided to hold our transplants an extra week so that they were somewhat larger and hardier when they were finally transplanted. This meant that they were well sized to the equipment, and passed through the equipment and into the ground relatively smoothly. We heard horror stories (and saw with our own eyes) everything from 12-day old transplants getting chewn up by equipment, to plants that were too large to pass smoothly through the equipment. We saw new, exciting uses for Red Solo Cups. We don’t want to encourage our industrial scale farming partners to build a new line of business on Red Solo Cups – we can think of far better uses!
Logistics, logistics, logistics. It proved to be no small thing getting 100,000 transplants at a time from the greenhouse to the field with minimal shock to the plants. We were very glad to have access to tractors and trailers, racking systems for storing and shipping plants, and talented drivers and other employees who were accustomed to pulling together complicated projects on last-minute schedules. The difference between “everything went pretty smoothly” and “it didn’t” was obvious in comparing our farmers’ fields to some of the others in the area.
Get in earlier. Our farmers should have gone into the field a month earlier. We didn’t have that luxury this year, but we will in 2020.