In the third week of May 2019, we set 5,000 of our very first high CBD hemp seeds. This consisted of about 4,000 seeds of Lifter and 1,000 seeds of Suver Haze. Here are a few details from the start of our very first season.
Due to all the wet and cool weather that year in Wisconsin, we decided to delay starting the seeds by about 2 weeks. Although we didn’t particularly like starting the seeds at a time when we were moving into a “waning crescent moon” (toward no/new moon), it was more important that the fields were dry enough to be worked and the seedlings weren’t transplanted into cold wet ground. After weeks of dreary weather, the sun was finally out making the greenhouse bright and toasty for the exciting start of the seedlings.
The seeds were from the highly respected supplier Oregon CBD – see catalog. We were really happy that we were able to get these seeds as it’s so important to start with excellent strains. Not only is this important in terms of resistance to insects and harmful organisms but also in terms of the quantity and quality of the cannabinoids/terpenes/flavonoids. We’ve heard of at least one Wisconsin farmer who planted questionable seed that turned out to be “hot” – above the 0.3% legal limit for psychoactive component THC. He had to burn his entire crop.
Planting Hemp Seeds
To help with germination, the seeds were placed in a plastic container between two dripping wet layers of paper towel the night before. The day of planting, we used 4 parts of an organic potting mix blended with 1 part of Lakeshore VermiCompost. This is an award-winning vermicompost (worm compost) that we’re proud to say comes from our area. The trays were filled within 1/2″ from the top before endomychorrizal fungi spores (glomus intraradices and others) were sprinkled on, the seeds were set, and the trays were topped off with more of the soil blend.
It took four people 3 hours to plant about 4,600 seeds into the 72-cell trays. By the time they were done, the shelves of our 12-foot long greenhouse were packed full along with a few trays ending up on the floor. We had our fingers crossed that the fields would dry out by the time the seedling were ready to transplant in 2-3 weeks. If not, we weren’t sure what we’d do as there clearly wasn’t enough room in the greenhouse to accommodate transplanting into larger 3″ to 4” pots. Bringing back CBD hemp to Wisconsin is a bit of an adventure into the unknown.
So we were really hoping we could transplant directly from the 72-cell trays into the field not only because of the lack of space but also because transplanting stresses CBD hemp. This stress increases the risk that the feminized seeds we were using would revert to male plants. To put this in context, in the world of high CBD hemp, the vast majority of all the plants grown for CBD are female. It’s the un-pollinated and seedless bud/flowers of female plants that produce the best CBD and other cannabinoids. So while there are always a few males even in “feminized” seed, the fewer male plants that need to be hunted down and removed before the flowering stage the better.
Well, the sun was out that day and the seeds got set. We got some basic “day-light” fixtures in place to ensure the seedlings were exposed to 16 hours of daylight every 24 hours (The following season, we looked into the Gavita DE HPS 1000w lamps recommended by Oregon CBD.) At that time of the year, we only get about 14 hours of daylight. The 16 hours is important so the tiny sprouts don’t get confused into thinking it’s already fall and go try to go into flower while they’re still baby seedlings. Everything was looking good and we had our fingers are crossed that the weather would cooperate.