Why We Started at The Soil: From Our Fields To Your Fingertips
In the first part of our series: Why We Started at the Soil, we discussed a brief history of hemp, common misconceptions, and the effect that historical racism has had in the industry.
For this reason, Meristem Farms’ products always reflect the interconnectedness of healthy landscapes, resilient economies and prosperous communities fueled by the ancient legacy of an extraordinary plant.
- Hemp is akin to traditional farming practices while still presenting a substantial host of challenges as farmers learn to pair genetics with environmental conditions.
- Clean stock clones are a reliable method of farming with consistency of plant performance.
- Our farming practices reflect the integrity behind each of our hemp-derived CBD products.
Challenges in Farming Hemp
Each season, Meristem Farms plants at least six of our proprietary, Vermont-bred, cannabinoid and terpene-rich varieties. Farming hemp is a relatively straightforward agricultural endeavor akin to traditional farming practices and a great entry point to sustainable, climate smart agriculture.
Yet, hemp is still new enough that farmers face a host of basic challenges from a lack of reliable seeds that deliver consistent crop yields, plant calendars that battle unexpected climate conditions and tried and true growing techniques.
Each year, we monitor and record plant performance based on each varieties’ response to soil types, climate variations, water use and pest management practices also reflected in the final medicinal profile verified by third-party tests.
While all farming is subject to the uncertainty of climate, there are a few hurdles unique to hemp farming. One tricky step is culling for male plants, since a male plant can pollinate an entire crop of female plants which will cause the female plant to cease her cannabinoid production, thus rendering a crop useless.
Did you know? Hermaphrodite plants, which develop both male and female flowers, self-pollinate and also need to be removed.
Marrying The Right Genetics
Another much more nuanced step is marrying the right genetics (plant varieties) with the right growing conditions; i.e. air flow, soil, sun. A whole host of destructive conditions can be triggered due to climate conditions or genetics not suitable for a particular geographic condition. A single cold snap can weaken the plant’s cell walls allowing for mold or pest infestations (depending on the genetic makeup of the plant.).
Plants can also grow “hot,” meaning THC levels exceed the legal limit of 0.3% THC. Keen observation of your plants allows for finding that harvest sweet spot ensuring your plants have reached a perfect level of maturation to produce a rich combination of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Meristem Farms’ typically harvests its plants later in the fall where the crisp night air pushes the plants trichomes (appendages along the plant’s surface acting as a first line of defense and the site of cannabinoid production) to accumulate a richer expression of cannabinoids and terpenes.
As you can see, farming hemp has its twists and turns due to its many complexities.
Hemp Farming for Meristem
At Meristem Farms we choose to begin with clean stock clones for consistency of plant performance. We work with a young-plant producer to propagate our plant varieties using non-GMO methods perfected through decades of experience in ornamental plant horticulture. This helps us remove nearly all viruses and pathogens from the mother stock, yielding clones of unparalleled consistency and disease resistance.
Whether farms choose to go through the USDA organic certification process or choose another certification, there is a fundamental approach to the land that Meristem Farms — and many other farms in Vermont and across the country — subscribe to, because it is proven that healthy soils and a robust and sustainable agricultural economy is critical to our planet’s survival.
Stay tuned for next week’s part three on our latest blog series: Why We Started at The Soil.