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4 Thoughts on Direct Seeding and Transplants in the CBD Hemp Space

With all our 2019 hemp crop safely dried and put up, we’re reflecting on the critical lessons we learned in the year, and how they’re likely to be applied in 2020 and beyond.  We’ve been asked a lot about why we are offering both a transplant capability and a coated seed capability in 2020, and thought we’d share our reasoning.  Please refer back to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our series of posts on direct seeding versus transplanting for additional detail.

“Industry Best Practices.”  First, we think there’s no such thing as established industry-wide best practices, and there won’t be for several years.  The capabilities of each farmer and the team they assemble will have a far greater impact on that farmer’s success than whether that farmer hews to any particular advice about “here’s how it’s done in the hemp industry.”  Of course they should bring in domain-specific knowledge and capabilities, but at the end of the day, they have the first-hand knowledge about how to best-run their operation, and they’ve probably been optimizing that operation around that knowledge for generations.

Equipment.  Second, if that expertise and optimization includes running particular equipment, they should stick with what they know best.  Or what they can access and use with confidence (equipment rentals).  Any conversation that starts “Well in theory…” should be halted immediately!

Long-run equilibrium.  It is not clear to us what the long-term industry equilibrium will be – whether it will ultimately be more profitable on a per-acre basis to plant directly with seed, or to go into the ground with transplants.  Or whether that equilibrium will be the same in all regions.  When we look across American agriculture, of course we see a lot of crops grown from seed, and whole regions of the country that have optimized their farming operations to do that at scale.  But we also see crops that are most cost-effectively started in greenhouses and then transplanted into the field.

Be ready for both.  We currently have considerable expertise in both direct seeding (and the associated coating and equipment issues), and transplanting, and we expect to expand that knowledge in the future.  We want to be able to guide our customers in whichever direction they and the industry ultimately decide is right, not recommend jamming a square peg into a round hole a year after everyone has converted from round holes to square ones.