July 30, 2019
Banking on the Hemp Boom? LEDs Ensure Healthy, Profitable Crops
Hemp is having a moment.
This cultivar of the genus cannabis plant is one of the fastest growing, hardiest plants, offering a high concentration of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), which is widely used for its anti-inflammatory and soothing benefits. It has little to no THC content, eliminating the psychological effects associated with marijuana cannabis. Further, hemp offers a litany of uses beyond the production of CBD, ranging from paper and textiles to biofuel and animal feed.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalizing hemp, agriculturalists everywhere are looking to hop on the hemp train.
Why Oregon Growers Love Hemp
Oregon was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, in 2014. To combat the marijuana black market, the legislature made it comparably easy for anyone to get a cultivation license. However, this led to some unexpected consequences.
The state has seen an impressive surplus of marijuana. In May 2018, Oregon had way more marijuana than its population could possibly use (we’re talking over one million pounds of flower in the state’s inventory – a quarter pound per resident). This caused the price of the crop to plunge by 50%.
It comes as no surprise that many Oregon growers began to look for ways to diversify their crops. That’s where hemp came in to save the day. This hardy crop presents a few key advantages:
- Hemp is easier and cheaper to grow when compared to the high-THC varieties of cannabis. Because hemp is federally legal, there are fewer regulations and bureaucratic hoops to jump through.
- Most grow operations are limited in size according to state law, whereas many industrial hemp growers are allowed several acres of space.
- According to an analysis by Cowan, CBD retail sales could generate $16 billion by 2025.
How to Give Hemp Yields a Boost with LEDs
There’s no question that cannabis cultivators across the country are looking for easy ways to boost profitability. Just as growers in Oregon realized, hemp might represent an easy and on-brand solution.
But before you abandon your day job, first recognize that hemp is simply not going to fetch the same price on the market as high-THC cannabis. Many growers recognize that hemp can provide a supplement to their existing marijuana cannabis crops – not replace it altogether. Further, most hemp is grown outdoors as most indoor grow operations are reserved for marijuana cannabis production where the cost of production is higher.
You can give your hemp a healthy start with LEDs, though:
- Nurturing seedlings in an indoor setting before planting outdoors can lead to improved resiliency and less shock when moved into the new environment.
- Coddle plants at the beginning of their lives to result in larger, more profitable mature plants when it comes time to harvest.
- Healthier plants with fewer shock symptoms typically have higher cannabinoid concentrations, leading to more CBD.
LEDs are used for a multitude of crops, ranging from microgreens to marijuana cannabis to tomatoes. While hemp does best and is the most cost-effective when grown outdoors, cultivators can propagate and ensure a strong start in a controlled environment, with the added benefit of the optimized LED spectrum.