Organic Entourage
1. Growing Premium CBD Hemp
2. Nurturing Our Living Soils
3. Transparency and Education
Preserving cannabinoids and terpenes in 5-gallon mylar bags using 2,000cc oxygen absorbers and 67 gram Boveda packs.
We’ve been smoking our cannabis in a $3 glass pipe for the last few weeks. While I find the smoke to be smooth enough, I personally don’t really like smoke. I really wanted to be able to taste and appreciate the flavors more. In researching on the different uses of flower, I came across “dry herb vaporizers”.

Dry herb vaporizers heat the flower enough to vaporize the trichome and terpenes without actually burning the bud. Following the advice of Troy in his article, The 9 Best Cheap Dry Herb Vaporizers, we purchased a Flowermate V5 Nano. We decided on the Nano as other reviews suggested that convection gives cleaner vapor. The Nano uses both convection and conduction compared to the less expensive Flowermate V5s.

Vaporizer Article

We’re still learning to appreciate all the flavor but there is no comparison between the clean and clear flavors in vapor to those masked by smoke. After doing this video, I’m really looking forward to being able to develop a palette for all the flavors through vaping. By the way, I didn’t want to say too much about the experience as I don’t have a developed palette and besides, I’m sure the FDA would frown on my making any health claims. We do have some product going out to cannabis connoisseurs and will post links to their reviews.

In researching about the difference between outdoor and indoor grown cannabis, studies show that sun-grown (outdoor) hemp can be just as potent as indoor and often has a much fuller “terrior” – as in the term used in the wine industry to describe all the environmental factors that influence flavor. These factors range from the minerals and nutrients in the soil, earthworms, insects, the micro-biome, weather, and air quality. They all work to produce a bouquet of tastes.

The Propagation, Characterization And Optimization Of Cannabis Sativa As A Phytopharmaceutical

And yeah, I know. Our $100 video camera sucks.
Here’s a better video showing trimming of our premium bud for sale to dispensaries and online customers. This bud was hang dried and then cured in totes for a month. The product is now double bagged with a Boveda pack to control humidity in our cool shop and away from light.

Given the $50/lb price we received for the other flower we dried in bulk and sold to an oil processor, selling our premium bud for a better price is critical to making a living. Right now we're "in the red". Only large-scale growers can make a living at those prices.

Besides the challenge of building an online shopping cart that works well, it was very difficult to find an online merchant account provider and bank that allows CBD hemp sales. All the larger banks and merchant account providers, like PayPal and Stripe, don't allow CBD product sales. They offer various reasons but none of them make much sense to us given that hemp is now legal across all 50 states.

We trim our bud very tightly to ensure our trimmed product easily meets the posted Cannabinoid labs - we didn't trim the flower sent in for analysis nearly as closely. Folks that purchase untrimmed bud can get more "bang for their buck" by not trimming as closely. The smaller "sugar leaves" have lots of resin on them and leaving them on will increase the total amount of cannabinoids.
Before the snow arrived, we got the dryer moved into the barn.
We use thins strips of plastic to prevent weed growth, heat the soil, and minimize the risk of mold. Faced with the care of thousands of plants, choices need to be made. Methods that use machinery to cover weeds have greater environmental impact. And for indoor grows, the costs are astronomical - energy for lighting is enough to power 2 million homes!

It was essentially impossible keep the leading discs set at a shallow depth in order to uncover the edges of the plastic. Nonetheless, with all the wet weather, the soil was soft enough that the plastic pulled up with just the reel. We had one person walking behind and using a shovel when necessary. We'll see how it goes in the other field where the edges got buried deeper.

Minimizing Environmental Impact with Plastic Mulch
We ground out the center of a circular saw blade to fit onto a weed trimmer. It worked well except at times, the plant would pinch the blade causing it to bind. It was easy enough to finish the cut from the other side.
Weeks after harvest, we noticed the onset of what we believe is some type of leaf blight on the remaining and previously healthy plant stock. Starting with the fan leaves, the leaves turned brown and dried up. This withering often started mid-plant, consumed all of the fan leaves and finally the sugar leaves. Small bud left in the field did not appear to be affected.

This issue was very prevalent on the second field. The plants were healthy through harvest but to ensure this issue never takes hold prior to harvest, our plan for the following years is to strengthen the plants even more, trim fan leaves more aggressively, and possibly use an certified organic fungicide like baking soda toward the end of the season.
This was day 1 of harvesting hemp to be sent to an oil processor. We foolishly thought we could run enough product through the electric bucker to fill our dryer. Not. This quickly morphed into trimming the bulk of the fan leaves with a leaf trimmer and hand bucking into food-grade barrels.
This being our first time harvesting, we are seeing a lot of inefficiency. We've got some ideas for next year that'll hopefully help. At the same time, we were really overwhelmed by the outpouring of help from all our friends and neighbors. Having grossly underestimated the amount of work harvest would take, we simply could not have brought in the plants without their help.
We decided to leaf trim our product being sent to an oil processor not only because it maximized the CBD content of the limited amount of product they're taking, but also to remove dead and dying leaves. This extra step meant a lot more work. At a point, we decided it wasn't worth the effort to take the smaller bud still out in the field.

We believe the spots seen on the leaves of some plants is a fungal disease called Yellow Leaf Spot (Septoria). This leaf mold, caused by all the wet weather, only showed up after we'd taken our premium flower and had harvested nearly all of the field.

Minimizing Environmental Impact with Plastic Mulch
We're leaving the flower and leaves on the stems to create air space and lining our totes with food grade liners.
We really like the TrimPro leaf trimmer. We found that one fast trimmer (two handed) could keep one fast hand bucker (or two average hand buckers) supplied with material. All of this product will be sent to a CBD oil processor.

Although trimming the bulk of the leaves easily doubled the time to process product for kiln drying, we decided to trim for two reasons. First, some of the leaves were really showing signs of it being at the end of the season - turning brown and spotted. We did not want this in with our good bud. Second, we're limited on how much product the oil processor we're selling to will buy. As such, we didn't want to include fan leaves with little dollar value included. We estimated that the fan leaves alone made up about 20% of the wet weight.
It takes time to prep single stem branches with a bare end for the machine bucker. So even though these trimmed stems can be run more quickly through the machine bucker, the fact that bucking by hand requires much less stem preparation means that the net-net is that hand bucking take less overall time. We did not see that folks slowed down much hand-bucking through out the day.
We purchased this TrimPro bucker for $3,400. The prices on hemp machinery are insane. We refuse to pay $20,000 for a Mother Bucker even if it can handle larger branches. Talk about price gouging growers.

Having said this, the TrimPro could not handle branches with heavy buds especially when they were over 1/4" in diameter. We found the machine was best used to quickly buck all the smaller branches. It was easy enough to sort these smaller branches into a separate bin. The operator could then take a handful of them and quickly zip them through the machine.
Using a 1.5"x1.5"x1/8" angle with different sized slots bolted to the top of food grade barrels worked great. People preferred hand-bucking over machine bucking in part because the action of the machine grabbing the product out of your hand just moments before zipping off the bud is a bit jarring to a person's nerves. By the way, we tried a plastic DeBudder that is similar to the steel plates, no one liked the DeBudder.
We found that prepping stems for machine bucking and then running them through the TrimPro bucker took more time than doing less trimming (larger stems with side branches) and hand bucking them. It's a lot of fussing getting a single stem with a bare end long enough to fit into the machine bucker plate so the rollers can grab it.
What we're finding is that when the temperature is cooler and the relative humidity (RH) lower, we don't need to heat more than about 85F to get product to dry. When the temperature or outdoor RH is higher, we have to increase the kiln temperature into the low-to-mid 90'sF to get a good dry.
We're hang drying our premium CBD hemp for sale on the website in a clean space within the barn. It's been drying for about 2 weeks and is ready for curing - stems snap when bent. However, we're still frantically harvesting the rest of our product off the field for sale to an oil processor. Given that the barn space is dimly lit, is cool (around 70F), and dehumidified to 55% RH, we figure this clean space acts the same as a plastic tote with a Boveda humidity pack in the interim until we get the product into totes for curing in the next few days.
It wasn't easy, but we got the dryer built that we'll use to dry product that will be sold in bulk to an oil processor. Hops Harvester has changed the design dramatically from last year based upon the input from hemp growers. The bridging issue is resolved but there were a few "bugs" in the mechanism that operates the panels. Overall, it works well but the panel mechanism need sto be revamped in future designs. We installed the blower/heater on a modified trailer and the entire box comes apart in sections too. That way we can store it in the barn at the end of the season.
We're trying to decide to if we should start to harvest based upon the color of the trichomes. Any advice?
We've got our clean drying space set up in the barn and are working on assembling the kiln.
When we initially installed our drip tape, we worried when we saw kinks in the tape due to elongation under the hot summer sun. Would the water get through at the 10psi design pressure? Here I show what the tape looks like under pressure. Note: It turns out that the lower pressure and variability wasn't due to the well pump. It was actually Linda working on a major leak on another line further down the field. D'oh.

Minimizing Environmental Impact with Plastic Mulch
As I was driving down the field noticing the differences from plant to plant, I noticed three Lifter plants with purple leaves near the tops. Is this a phosphorus deficiency or simply genetics - higher levels of anthocyanin flavonoids in part due to the cooler weather? After researching, this is simply genetics. Wow, what a vibrant purple. Note: We're currently feeding about 10 gallons per acre of Dramm E at 2-5-0.2 N-P-K on a weekly basis.

Colorful Cannabis Revealed: Here’s Why Some Strains Turn Purple

Dramm Drammatic
We had a few dozen buds that turned brown that we immediately removed. In addition, we're seeing isolated insect damage and some sort of disease process on the leaves of a handful of plants that was likewise removed. In our estimation, this degree of duress is to be expected when growing outdoors using little to no fungicides and pesticides.


Created 8 months ago.

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CategoryDIY & Gardening

We care deeply about our land, about our planet, about the CBD hemp we grow. Practices that nurture soil biology in turn heal the land and produce robust plants with the fullest of entourage effects. We take great pride in our efforts to nurture the land under our care. Unlike so many other operations that make hollow claims of using “sustainable, ethical and organic farming practices” in a paragraph on their websites, we invite in everyone to see our operation first hand, to see we are more than just words on a page.

Soil biology is key to vibrant soils and robust plants. The starting point for Organic Entourage is our certified organic land. In addition, we continually work to improve our soils with the use of composted cow manure, compost teas, cover crops, benign pest/disease controls, and other restorative practices. Our goal is to go well beyond organic in our efforts to revitalize the soil micro-biology and rebuild organic matter.

For example, we use composted cow manure, from our organic dairy partners, on our hemp fields and pastures. This is unlike other organic operations that truck in manure tainted with the chemicals and drugs from conventional dairies, feed lots, and the like – a practice that is technically "organic" but clearly less than ideal. Likewise, we do not bring in specialty soil that is placed in large pots and is regularly discarded and replaced. Nor do we grow our plants on barren fields devoid of microbe sustaining vegetative growth. Similarly, we do not grow our plants indoors under artificial light in soilless mediums (hydroponics). While all of these practices technically qualify as being "organic", we believe it’s an imperative to do better.

We have also taken on the work of sharing what we learn and know with others. We do this as a way of educating potential consumers about what to look for in quality CBD hemp. We also do this to hopefully help and challenge other smaller scale growers. It is our conviction that a robust farming community is built from a network of smaller farms, not a handful of mega-farms.

Join us in brewing excellent compost tea proven out with microscopy, turning organic manure piles into excellent compost by monitoring pile temperatures, employing rotational grazing to keep cows healthy, and all the other works we do to heal the land by rejuvenating soil biology and growing CBD hemp with the fullest of entourage effects. Join us as responsible stewards of the land.

Thank you.