Hemp Biomass Proessing
A close examination of the trichomes covering the hemp flowers is the best way to determine peak maturity. When trichomes turn from clear to cloudy the plant is ready to be harvested. Most farmers cut plants by hand in the field, and then transport them to their drying space for further processing. Some farms choose to then buck the material wet, which eliminates all the stems and branches and speeds up the drying process. Wet bucked flowers are then laid out in a shallow layer to dry. A commonly used method is to hang the entire plant upside down to dry. This method does have drawbacks as full plant hanging takes up more space, takes longer to dry, and can lead to issues with mold on the inner portions of the plants. One successful method used for drying is to cut plants down into individual branches, and then hang them on lattice or deer fence inside the drying space. The lattice or deer fence can be run from the ceiling to the floor in long rows, basically creating walls of branches. Leave enough space in between the rows to operate a scissor lift, and you can go all the way up easily. This method helps maximize the available space inside the drying area, and plants dry much more quickly with the large main stem removed. After the hemp flower has dried to 10% moisture or less, the branches are ready to be bucked. Bucking is the stripping of the leaves and flower material from the branches. There are mechanical bucking machines that can be used at this stage or simple bucking plates can be bought or made to assist with manual stripping. Once the flowers and leaves have been stripped the material is ready for milling. A mechanical knife mill can be used or material can be pushed through a screen manually. Processors prefer the material come into their facility milled, but most offer milling for an additional fee. Lined super sacks with a duffel top are ideal for storing and transporting your finished product.