Coming To a Close For Our First Year Harvest.
Best Cali Hemp’s first growing season is rapidly coming to a close as we wind up the last of harvest and move into marketing and prepping for next season.
Ask our team, and we’d say commercial hemp farming was not something we planned for our futures. Mine and Best Cali Hemp COO Katrina Shockley’s families have a combined more than 140-year farming history in the United States, with centuries prior in the old country. I’ve always said that farming is a heart thing, simply because it is a sun-up to sundown endeavor, with very little time away doing nothing. You’ve got to love it.
We’ve greeted every day with coffee in hand - happy to stand in the present of the present. Before the first plant went into the ground, there was a lot of preparation including opening up a second well, building the water and electrical infrastructure and erecting buildings to house our grow machines, used in early propagation and ongoing production demands. This process was undertaken during snowstorms and other less than perfect conditions, but was finally accomplished.
Beginning in very early spring, the team began popping thousands of feminized seeds, meaning each seed was placed in a surrounding of rock wool cubes (made from spun, molten rock) in growing trays and once established transferred our various strains - Gold Hill, First Lady and Shasta Candy - into Solo cups, each strain designated by differing cup colors. We joke the UPS driver must have wondered what kind of party we were hosting that would require that many cups.
Once the weather was moderately stable, all our girls were transferred outside and into the hoop house to continue growing while we prepared the fields. This process included hours of tilling and amending to ensure proper soil balance to ensure the best product outcomes. Of course, preparation also meant working closely with the county and our ag commissioner to have all proper licensing and documentation in place, an arduous and labor intensive process that fell to Katrina. Even though hemp has been approved at both the federal and state levels in California, how hemp cultivation is handled falls to each county to determine.
Our New Jersey team members flew out to lend a hand getting in the drip system, and then planting commenced. As happens with best laid plans, our original plan that included a custom built planting machine changed, as we had more plants to accommodate rendering the machine ineffective. As a result, each plant was placed in the ground the old school way - on our knees, spades in hand.
The greater part of the next months focused primarily on plant health, proper watering and eradicating any male plants that popped up. There weren’t many, and those were fed to the chickens. Once we were close to harvest, our ag commissioner came out and pulled samples which were sent for testing, a process that by law must be completed within a certain time frame before harvest in order to be in compliance.
Harvest is a multi-step process, with each plant being cut and hung to dry until the stems “pop”. Once the material is suitably dry, it is pulled down from the drying curtains and placed in containers for additional curing. The containers are flipped daily to ensure the flower isn’t crushed, and once a suitable amount of time has passed, the bucking (cutting the buds off the stems) and trimming, begins. This process of bucking and trimming will continue until all the material is processed and depending on what our buyers require. The stems are run through a wood chipper and this, combined with the material that comes off the trim process will be sold as
The beauty of hemp is that every part can be used and it is a readily renewable resource whose broader use can potentially save precious resources, including our forests and the Rain Forest.
There’s great beauty in a field of hemp and the wildlife that comes to visit. There’s a simplicity in the day-to-day that is appreciated by us all. And yes, growing and all it entails is labor intensive. But at the end of the day, knowing what we have accomplished is satisfying, and I don’t believe any of us would trade a minute of the experience.
Check this space for upcoming developments for next season as well as updates on Best Cali Hemp products, coming soon!