Even a small amount of mold is enough to ruin an entire harvest. That’s why storing industrial hemp is just as important as growing it.
1. Protecting Industrial Hemp From Mold
You’ve spent months carefully tending to your hemp crop, and now it’s time to harvest. But are you ready to store it? Since legally growing industrial hemp in Tennessee is still relatively new, you might be trying to find the best method for storing industrial hemp.
You’re not the only one who is struggling. Farmers and commercial growers in the industrial hemp industry cannot rely on previously proven methods like they can with other crops.
Industrial hemp can easily develop mold when it is not stored correctly. Being exposed to things like ultraviolet light, humidity and unsuitable temperatures can cause a perfectly healthy harvest to quickly degrade.
Here are a few ways to prevent mold from taking over your harvest.
2. Dry Your Hemp Thoroughly
Don’t wait around to dry your harvest. Hemp’s dockage moisture level ranges from 10 to 20%, and although 10% is commonly accepted as dry, aiming for a moisture level of around 8% is better. Since Tennessee already has a moist climate with plenty of humidity even in the fall, any unnecessary delays could ultimately lead to mold.
You can dry your hemp using several different approaches. These include:
● Environmentally Controlled Barns
● Heated Air Dryers
The flower will need a curing process to give it shelf life. This burping process takes two to four weeks and often requires a bit of experience – that’s why the Urban Horticulture Supply staff is here to help you. Feel free to give us a call if you do need help with this process.
3. Bale Hemp Straw Correctly
When storing hemp straw, you need to take care with how you choose to bale it. In general, large square or round bales are a good choice, and they can be either solid or hollow in the middle. However, the best choice is usually to go with large round bales that have solid cores. These dense bales help prevent moisture absorption during storage.
Large square bales are easier to handle, stack and store, but they are more susceptible to moisture. Square bales should be covered during storage and should not be set on bare ground. Taking these preventative measures should protect your hemp from molding.
4. Consider Vacuum Sealing
It is not really practical for large-scale industrial hemp farmers to vacuum seal their harvests. However, smaller commercial growers could use this method to more easily protect their hemp.
Vacuum sealing is not a magic solution to storage, though. The environment in which you store your hemp will always be the most important aspect of storage, so you will still need to manage moisture and humidity. Using a climate-controlled storage space is a good option for storing vacuum-sealed hemp.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
You’re not the only farmer who is still trying to figure out the best methods for growing and storing hemp. The industry is still in its early years, so some level of trial and error might be expected. Unfortunately, an “error” in farming can be a much bigger deal than other people realize. You risk losing portions or even all of your crops, and with that a chunk of your livelihood.
You don’t have to take on this process all by yourself. You can always stop in at Urban Horticulture Supply, where our knowledgeable staff can help explain your best options for storing industrial hemp.