Behind the Scenes of the Vermont Hemp Harvest

by Will

Dry, Buck, Extract: Welcome to Hemp Harvest Season in Vermont

Coinciding deliciously with peak foliage season, hemp harvest season will reach its end by early November. If you’ve spent any time driving around Vermont’s state highways you have likely cruised past a hemp field. Those stunted and lumpy-looking Christmas trees? Those were probably hemp. One farm even offered “pick your own hemp” for those looking for a truly field-fresh experience.

Approximately 900 registered farms harvested hemp this year in Vermont. If this post gets you curious, or you’re a cannabis-nerd like us, or you’re just dying to consume more local CBD and Hemp products, the state government has a public list of all hemp processors that are sourcing from Vermont hemp growers.

To understand harvest time on the grower’s side, we caught up with Erin & Colin, co-founders of VT Farmacy, and small-scale hemp growers to learn about the harvest step by step. 

How do you know when the plants are ready for harvest?
It is important to pay close attention to trichome color and development. When trichomes begin to turn amber, the CBD plant is ready for harvest, this is an indication that it is switching gears to THC production. Growers want to stay compliant and should send a test of their crop 28 days before harvest, and again once the crop has dried. Another factor in deciding when to harvest is the weather. It is important to be aware of dropping temperatures and frosts to avoid damage to flower.

How long does the harvest typically last?
The hemp harvest typically lasts a few weeks, beginning in late September and lasting through mid October. Most years it is a race against the weather as snow and hard frosts can lead to crop damage.

Do you hire on extra help for harvest? If not, do you know much about the labor forces harvesting hemp in VT?
Our friends and family are kind enough to volunteer during harvest. We are fortunate to have a very supportive network in VT. We’ve heard of farmers in the NEK paying $20+ an hour for temporary labor to help with the harvest. Having worked extensively in the VT hospitality industry, we know that it is hard to find help here in the North Country.

What happens to the plant during harvest?
We only extract whole flower for our premium CBD products. This involves a few extra steps during harvest.

  1. We defoliate (take off leaves) as much as possible in the field. 
  2. We take the branches off of the plant in the field.
  3. We dry the branches of flowers in our family’s barn.
  4. Then we buck the branches (remove the flower from the stem).
  5. The flower is stored in silage bags before being transported to our extraction partners.

What is the curing process like?
Our biomass cures in the silage bags prior to extraction. Our premium smokeable CBD flower is hand-trimmed prior to drying in our climate controlled drying room and then sealed in air-tight containers. We “burp” the containers every day to allow them to off gas.

What do you love, and what is difficult about harvest time?
It’s amazing to see an entire summer’s hard work come to fruition. The smell of the hemp in the fields is divine, and seeing the leaves change beside the ripe crop brings an overwhelming sense of joy. The hardest part about harvest is being on mother nature’s deadline. No matter the weather, the job has to get done before the cold sets in.

What tools are useful during harvest?
A truck, good company, sharp pair of trimming scissors, and a positive attitude.

Are there any specific requirements when harvesting organic?
When harvesting organic, it is imperative to keep good records of activities, and only use drying spaces that have been inspected by VOF.

Make sure to check out the totally awesome website we build for Colin and Erin, and buy yourself some of their amazing products (which we also helped design!).  If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your canna-co be sure to fill out the form below, and someone from our team will get back you soon!