NEOGEN®’s Hemp Harvest Analysis

October 26, 2020

The 2020 hemp harvest is nearly complete across the U.S., and the industry is interested to see how things pan out. Due to weather, western states typically get seeds in the ground earlier and start the harvest process around September. As you move east, the harvest timeline goes into mid-October some crops didn’t get planted until July.

2020 projections

Projected 2020 harvested hemp acreage has been more conservative compared to previous years. Licensed acreage fell to approximately 400,000 acres from 500,000 in 2019. Some experts think 2019 saw overproduction and the hemp industry is self-correcting, as this was the first year since 2014 that licensed acreage declined. While licensed acreage is down, the number of growers and harvested acreage is expected to increase. Projected harvested acreage for 2020 was about 160,000 according to The Jacobsen’s 2020 U.S. Hemp Crop Outlook (May), a 36% increase from 2019’s estimates (115,000 acres). However, USDA-FSA has yet to report 2019 harvest data officially.

What makes it a unique crop?

Hemp farmers experience many challenges that influence planted to harvested ratio. Most critical being required compliance testing by each state’s Department of Agriculture. Compliance testing targets %THC by dry weight. Farmers must ensure their crop is truly hemp and not marijuana. Experts estimate that as much as 15–25% of hemp will test above the USDA’s allowed 0.3% total THC (THCA + d9-THC).

Dan Grubb, Product Manager of Diagnostics for NEOGEN®, states, “It can be difficult for farmers to predict the %THC of a hemp crop. Seed supply and interspecies variation are a challenge. Farmers acquire seeds, but until they grow and are tested, the %THC is anyone’s guess. Even in the same field, plants from the same species will vary row-to-row and plant-to-plant in terms of %THC. Climate, weather, and water supply can drive hemp to produce cannabinoids or outright destroy crops — hurricanes in the southeast were perfectly timed this season to make life difficult for hemp producers. The best way to be sure crops are compliant is to monitor %THC regularly throughout the growing season and use that data to optimize the harvest window.”

How we can help

NEOGEN delivers a wide variety of solutions that meet the cannabis industry’s needs, including rapid tests for microbiology tests, mycotoxins, and sanitation monitoring. We provide cannabis genomic testing, including extensive genotyping options utilizing fixed arrays, sequencing, and SNP discovery. NEOGEN also provides on-farm water treatment, PPE, sanitation, biosecurity, and integrated pest management solutions.

Contact Dan Grubb, dgrubb@NEOGEN.com, for a walkthrough of your process and discuss how NEOGEN can enhance your supply chain’s security.

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