Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Spring has sprung and Sustainable CBD kicks off its second year of growing organic hemp at its farm in Salem, Alabama.
As a vertically integrated farm-to-shelf company, Sustainable CBD has on-premise growing, farming, and extracting. For our Operations Manager, Ben Bramlett, and Farm Supervisor, Jared Morgan, spring is a time of growth and hard work to prepare the plants for a summer of prosperity and harvest in the fall. From Ben’s education experience in horticulture to his community service, Ben is deeply passionate about hemp farming and the CBD industry.
“Spring season at the farm is a time of new life, growth and excitement with a touch of anxiety and a whole lot of hard work! Throughout the winter, we have been planning and preparing for this season,” said Ben. “That preparation and hard work will culminate in a healthy crop, which is used to improve people’s everyday lives. This thought is what drives us and there nothing better than seeing that manifestation right in front of our eyes.”
In late April, the farm staff started the growing process by planting feminized seeds into propagation trays. From there, the plants spend 30 days growing to become strong enough for transplantation into the ground. Then, the plants enter the vegetative stage, focusing on growing wider and taller with more leaves and stems.
The Summer Solstice on June 21st marks the longest day of summer. Each day thereafter will see a reduction in sunlight and increased periods of uninterrupted darkness. This causes the plant to begin its flowering stage. From mid-July to September, the hemp plant will stay relatively the same size as it focuses the majority of its energy on flower production. Once a week, Ben and his team will sample and test the flower to be sure the THC levels remain under the legal limit of .3%. Once the flower is close to .3%, the plant is ready for harvesting.
To harvest the hemp, the farm team removes the stem and the majority of leaves. Then, the team collects the flowers and places them on dryers on-site. The plant dries for 3 days before going into cold storage. Once dried, the plant is ready for processing and turned into oil in Sustainable CBD’s lab.
From seed to shelf, the Sustainable CBD team closely monitors the production of our premium CBD oil. Learn more about how CBD is extracted from our organically grown hemp here.
Update: June 1st
Farm Operations Manager, Ben Bramlett finished transplanting our organic hemp into the ground last week and it was a great success!
Our farm staff recorded ZERO transplant loss, which is an exceptional achievement. During transplant, plants are subject to more intense conditions such as more sunlight, less water availability, and more heat which generally results in plant loss between 5-10%. Since the plants are transitioning from small plug trays to the ground, the plants can also experience root damage during the switch.
One piece of equipment that greatly helped to protect plants was our water wheel transplanter. This device creates a planting hole in the group and then apples a water solution to the plants. The water wheel was filled with out farm made organic components to promote healthy plant growth, jump start the plant’s immune system, and inhibit pathogenic fungus from attacking the roots.
Update: August 1st
Since transplanting our seedlings into the diverse soil at our farm, they have absolutely thrived!
We use biological, ecological and cultural controls to keep pest populations under the economic threat threshold. Integrated pest management is the best alternative to using harsh pesticides on crops. Our focus has been on preventing, monitoring, and controlling pest populations from becoming a threat to the health and wellbeing of our hemp plants.
ASU etymology students and faculty have been a huge help in identifying what pests in Alabama most greatly affect hemp plants. In addition to the natural beneficial insects that help us control our pest populations, we have been using ecologically sustainable practices to mitigate pest issues.
Adding cover crops like the buckwheat in the video below helps to attract insects such as lady beetles, braconid wasps and hover flies. These are beneficial insects that help naturally control pests.
The hemp plants are over seven feet tall and are now in the flowering stage. The plants have been in flower for about 2 weeks now. This is the most critical point in the growing process because this is what will be harvested in early September. It is also a stressful time for the plant because there is a high nutrient and water demand to continue growing the flowers.
This upcoming week, we will begin taking our weekly cannabinoid potency test. This will let us know the cannabinoid levels and will help determine when to harvest the hemp plants. We want to ensure we harvest the maximum amount of CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids while still staying under the legal limit .3% THC levels. State inspectors will visit the farm to ensure these levels are maintained.
In about a month, the hemp will be ready to harvest. Check back around the first week of September for our final update!