As a plant, hemp is more complex than anyone had ever suspected. It’s so different from other crops for a variety of reasons, but most important is that you can harvest the entire plant and use it.
Unlike with a crop like corn, where only the corn itself goes to market, hemp farmers have the choice of utilizing their crop in one, two, or even three ways.
To help you decide the best route to go, here’s what you’ll get from hemp as a single crop, dual crop, or tri-crop.
When you grow hemp to extract cannabinoids from it, or just use a portion of the plant for something like fiber or grain, you’ve got a single crop. You’re only growing the plant for one purpose, focusing on getting the maximum yield toward that purpose.
For a single crop, you base genetic selection on the plant’s performance as it relates to one purpose. If you want to grow hemp for CBD oil, you’ll look for strains high in the popular cannabinoid. If you’re growing for fiber, you’ll want a strain with long, strong stalks.
While harvesting hemp for a single purpose can yield strong profits, the strategy is also susceptible to market trends. If a dip in demand for what you’re growing your hemp for takes place mid-grow, you’re left with a crop that’s not going to perform as well financially as it would if it had a back-up purpose.
The same issue is true if you anticipate a market trend, grow your crop for that specific product, and your guess doesn’t pan out. Then, you’re left with a crop that’s prime to produce a hemp extract or product nobody’s really looking for.
Although there are risks with growing hemp for one purpose, a knowledgeable farmer can do it right.
The perk of planting hemp as a dual crop is you’ve always got a back-up product to bring in the dollars should one fall a little short.
Common dual crop combinations include:
- Fiber and grain
- Grain and a specific cannabinoid extract (like CBD)
- Fiber and a specific cannabinoid extract
Since each product utilizes a different part of the plant, you’ll need strains that excel in two (or more) areas for a profitable crop. The cannabinoids come from the flower, grain comes from seeds, and fiber uses the stems. You may get into a little conflict harvesting a dual crop of grain and cannabinoid though since when a plant goes to seed, its cannabinoid yield dips significantly.
There’s also the conflict between when to harvest a dual crop since grain, fiber, and most cannabinoids are ready at different times during the plant’s life cycle. You’ll have to decide early on which product is going to be more profitable and grow primarily for that. The second product then becomes an added bonus to the harvest.
Hitting all the high notes, a tri-crop of hemp means you’re using the whole plant to grow grain, fiber, and an extract. It’s the ultimate no-waste strategy that could be where all hemp farmers are heading.
Producing all the key areas of hemp from a single crop gives farmers amazing optionality. Whichever market segment is strongest, that’s where the bulk of the crop can go, yet there’s still additional income from the other two at the ready. This flexibility is ideal for coming into a market that continues to change and evolve.
Developing hemp strains that can do it all
For now, as farmers explore their options with single, dual, and tri-crops, the best thing experiences are leading to is the development of a better hemp plant. As farmers provide feedback on how certain genetics did producing more than one hemp product, researchers and scientists are building better plants. They’re removing the inconsistencies visible in the different varieties currently available.
Eventually, we may see plant varieties genetically engineered for trip-crop yields. Even though there will always be some loss when diversifying crop yields, having a strain specifically geared toward doing more than one thing at time would be all-around beneficial.
Deciding what kind of crop to plant
If you’re unsure of how to best utilize your hemp crop, get advice from the experts. The knowledgeable team at Arbor Vita8 knows hemp inside and out. They can share resources breaking down the benefits of each crop strategy and suggest strains that will perform well for your purpose.
As expert processors, Arbor Vita8 can also help you manage your crop after harvest, connecting you to manufacturers who want what you’re growing. Let’s start the conversation today. Contact us for more information.