Our process: Growing and Harvesting Hemp

February 15, 2024
Our process: Growing and Harvesting Hemp
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From the time our plants go into the ground in April and May until they’re harvested, there’s a lot of work to be done. We focus our efforts on growing hemp as efficiently, sustainably, and consistently as possible — which is no small feat given some of the variables mother nature throws our way.


Over the course of the summer our team’s efforts are focused on providing adequate water and nutrients to the plants throughout the summer. We haul tons of local cow manure onto our fields. Literally, in fact we haul 3.3 tons per acre, each spring so that by the time we put the plants in the soil our fields are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Not unlike farming any other crop, preventing weeds from overtaking our young seedlings is a big focus of the plants’ first few months in the field. Often, that means pulling weeds by hand.

Our other efforts are focused on a task that’s a bit more unique to hemp farming — culling male plants. Male plants produce pollen, which can pollinate female plants. A pollinated female hemp plant diverts roughly half of its energy from producing beautiful flowers to producing flowers that are laden with seeds.  This reduces the overall cannabinoid content and potency, and adds bulk weight to our biomass which cannot be extracted. It’s a time consuming, painstaking process — but it’s an important one to make sure that we’re keeping our harvest as potent as possible.


It’s our goal to produce as much USDA-certified organic CBD as possible each year. But we’ll let you in on a little secret - all of our hemp is farmed under organic practices! It takes three years and a lot of legal hurdles to get a plot of land certified as USDA organic, so there are some plots that economically, we just can’t afford to let sit for multiple years in order to get the accreditation. 

But we don’t let that stand in the way of adhering to the practices we know are best for the soil, so we all of our land is farmed the same way. We prioritize sustainability over USDA organic, which sometimes, the two don’t align. For instance, we use biodegradable plastic mulch on some of our fields to help reduce weeds and the amount of water we need to use. Biodegradable mulch isn’t USDA organic, so that disqualifies those plots from qualifying. We also reuse as much ethanol as possible in the extraction process. In order to clean out our extraction tanks and systems for a batch of organic hemp crude oil we use organic ethanol. But this process then renders that ethanol as no longer organic (don’t worry, we still reuse it, just for our conventional crude oil).

Our growing and harvesting methods are ultimately built on the idea that organic practices make for better soil, more conservation of resources, and ultimately, a better planet. It benefits us too —  aligning with natural ecosystems helps to keep our fields healthy as much as our surroundings. Birds, wasps, and ladybugs eat insects that can damage plants, Eagles, bobcats, and coyotes keep rodents from eating and damaging plants, and the plant’s natural terpene defenses do the rest.


Our farm is located on the 45th parallel — equidistant between the equator and poles — which means that we’re blessed with long summers filled with lots of light. On the longest day of the year - we get nearly 16 hours of daylight. When fall rolls around each year and the days begin to cool and shorten, our plants reach the height of their cannabinoid production and we prepare for the most exciting time of year in Powell Butte — harvest.

Our harvest methods depend heavily on temperature, humidity, and weather. Timing is crucial. We monitor our plants closely in the fall. When the trichomes begin to change from milky white to golden amber, we know our plants are nearing their most potent A cool, early snow or cold snap — known to happen in the high desert east of the Cascades — is one scenario that kick starts our harvest process. This flash freezes the plants, preventing further degradation of cannabinoids and terpenes. The plants stop growing, and begin to dry out while standing. This process makes our harvest relatively simple. Once the standing plants have dried significantly (15% moisture is the magic number),  we can come through with our combines and cut and scoop the plants in one fell swoop.

A mild fall with rain means that we swath our plants and let them dry in the fields until they’re ready to harvest. We have to wait to swath until our final potency test comes in from Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), ensuring that our plants are under .3% THC by dry weight. This process takes a couple of days, but once we get results back, we add that info to the log attached to each harvest lot - and that potency will stay with that material all the way through to extraction. Harvest lots are generally separated by field, but if we’ve planted multiple strains in the same field, we’ll separate it by strain.

With the approval from the ODA, we’re ready to swath. Swathing is the process of cutting down the plants. We don’t use a commercial dryer, we allow the sun and wind to do that work for us — carefully monitoring moisture to ensure that the plants don’t mold while they dry. 

We’ll flip the plants by hand to make sure they dry out evenly, and patiently await for the moisture to drop below 15%. Once the fields have been swathed and that moisture level drops down, it's time to harvest the plants out of the field.

That’s when we comb through our fields with our big combines which lifts up the plants, strips the flowers and cannabinoid-rich leaves off the stalks and spit out the woody stalks, known as hurd. We’ll come back for these stocks later to process them in our fiber plant.

The smell is the most noticeable part of the harvest process. This potent plant matter gives off rich, earthy odors filled with lemon and pine. The tough, fibrous stalks that are left behind have a few different uses — insulation, hempcrete, animal bedding, and a number of other commercial applications. Developing sustainable uses for the byproduct of our CBD Oil is one of our long term goals towards a better future with hemp.


After so many months of painstakingly caring for our plants, the drying process is an essential step before the plants are taken next door to extraction. From the field - we carefully bag, and tag every box with Harvest lot, noting which ones are CBD-rich (both organic and conventional) and which strains are CBG-rich (also organic and conventional). Over the next few months, we monitor each bin of hemp to ensure that the hemp doesn’t break down any further before it enters the extraction process at the lab next door. Seeing all of our hemp stacked neatly in the barn while it awaits the next step is a satisfying finish to the lengthy and crucial process of growing and harvesting our hemp. 

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