HNP decided to get into hemp production late this spring, which was both a problem and an opportunity.
The problem, of course, was that many of the best-known sources for high quality hemp seed were sold out and on back order, so we were left scrambling to vet some of the less well-known names. This added an extra layer of complexity to what was already a pretty complicated process!
The opportunity, however, was to establish a methodology we plan to use in future years. This will ensure our clients end up with high quality hemp seed as an input. Having boiled the ocean this year, we want our clients to benefit from that knowledge in years to come!
5 Lessons Learned
Here’s what we learned:
Seed Certification. “Certified seed” doesn’t mean much in the context of growing hemp for CBD production. Since CBD is produced largely in the flower, the farmer is trying to maximize flower size by – for instance – avoiding pollination. The existing certification process is focused on pollination, germination and reproduction. As a result hemp seed that has been “certified” is almost certainly going to be less effective at producing CBD than non-certified alternatives. Having reviewed state and national certification processes, we expect it will remain that way for a few years.
WOM ain’t enough. In the absence of certification, positive word of mouth is helpful, but not enough. Of course if you’re hearing good things about a seed variety, or a seed source, that is a step in the right direction. But we discovered that wasn’t enough. Believing in “Variety X” from “Seed grower Y” does not mean that you should buy from the website that purports to stock that. There is too much possibility for misrepresentation / misunderstanding in the supply chain.
First-hand experience. First-hand experience with the variety and seed source was ultimately the key to our due diligence. When we got recommendations from growers we trusted who had first-hand experience with a seed source, and even better, with a particular variety from that source, we felt a lot of confidence.
Systematic approach. In turn, we wanted the source of our seed to have the same approach to their business as we do to ours. Fact based and systematic in their efforts to get smarter, clear about what they know and don’t know, showing empathy for their customers and therefore willing and able to help as we ran into questions. We hope to provide those same capabilities to our clients!
Going direct. What worked best for us was buying directly from the seed grower. That enabled us to get the information we were seeking on the strains we chose, and maximized our confidence in the performance of the seed we were acquiring.
We’ll report back on our experience with our seed, as well as the performance of our overall trial, so be sure to check back in.