It’s no secret that the CBD industry is booming, but exactly how great is the ROI of hemp farming? How much CBD is produced per acre of hemp, or rather, how much CBD is in hemp oil after extraction? According to a 2020 survey, the average CBD yield was approximately 1,520 pounds per acre, but what does that actually me Farmers often ask us how much CBD they can expect per acre of hemp. This is no surprise, of course; growing hemp for CBD has become one of the greatest There is a lot of interest in growing industrial hemp for CBD production, especially since hemp was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Take a look at some of my previous articles regarding the potential risks and rewards in the CBD market as well as agronomic considerations for successful industrial hemp production. Hemp Production – Keeping …
How Much CBD is Produced Per Acre of Hemp?
It’s no secret that the CBD industry is booming, but exactly how great is the ROI of hemp farming? How much CBD is produced per acre of hemp, or rather, how much CBD is in hemp oil after extraction?
According to a 2020 survey, the average CBD yield was approximately 1,520 pounds per acre, but what does that actually mean?
In order to get some final numbers regarding how much CBD you can get from an acre of hemp, we need to break hemp farming down into three numbers: how many hemp plants you can grow on one acre of farmland, how much hemp oil product those plants will produce, and how much CBD is actually in the hemp oil.
- The amount of CBD produced from one acre of hemp varies greatly depending on the CBD concentration in the hemp material, the extraction methods used, farming efficiency, and more.
- In general, you can expect to get one pound of crude CBD oil from each hemp plant, which can then be refined further to create a final product.
- The amount of CBD products you can create from an acre of hemp depends on the potency of each product and the formula needed.
How Much Hemp Can Be Grown Per Acre?
In general, you can grow roughly 1,500 to 3,000 hemp plants per acre depending on the size of the hemp cultivar you choose and the space between each hemp plant. Adequate sunlight is crucial for CBD production, so it’s recommended that hemp plants are spaced between 3 and 5 feet apart.
Hemp is incredibly versatile and can be used to make paper, textiles, building materials, food products, and, of course, CBD products. The type of product you intend to make determines the type of hemp you’ll need to grow and how much hemp you can grow on an acre of land.
To produce CBD, you’ll need to grow female hemp plants because only female plants produce flowers, and the flower is the richest source of cannabinoids like CBD. You’ll also want to grow a strain of hemp designed for CBD production (as opposed to industrial hemp, which is typically farmed for its fiber or oil content).
Flowering hemp plants generally need more space and sunlight than male plants, so you may find your total capacity for hemp to be on the lighter end, around 1,500 plants per acre.
In a 2018 trial run by the Northwest Crops and Soil Program at the University of Vermont, a single hemp plant spaced 5 by 5 feet apart weighed 9.11 pounds on average. That means that one acre of land can yield approximately 13,665 pounds of hemp biomass that can be used to produce hemp CBD oil.
How Much CBD Oil Can Be Produced From One Hemp Plant?
The answer to this one is pretty complicated because the factors regarding CBD content in hemp can vary greatly. On average, one hemp plant will make approximately one pound of crude oil, or a raw oil product that hasn’t been fully refined.
Crude hemp oil contains CBD and many other plant compounds, like other cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as plant materials that may need to be removed to improve the taste and texture of the final oil.
Of course, our “one pound” estimate is just that—an estimate. The actual amount of crude CBD oil you will get from one single hemp plant depends on various factors, including the:
- size and quality of each plant
- soil quality and farming methods used
- original CBD potency in the hemp cultivar you chose
- extraction method used (read more about Hemp and CBD Extraction Techniques to learn more)
- efficiency of extraction (how much product is lost during production)
- type of hemp product used (biomass vs flower-only extractions)
How Much CBD is in Hemp Oil?
As we mentioned, the initial oil produced from hemp is a crude oil, or an unrefined product that contains an array of plant compounds. Crude oil can be sold wholesale to manufacturers, but it needs to be refined if you intend to create a “final product” like a CBD tincture or gummy.
The amount of CBD in the final oil depends on varying factors, like the CBD concentration in the original plant material, the refinement methods used, and the desired resulting product.
For instance, if you aim to produce full spectrum CBD oil, or a CBD product that contains an array of hemp-derived cannabinoids and terpenes, you’ll be able to produce significantly more from the same amount of crude oil than if you were to make CBD isolate, a pure form of CBD.
Some refinement methods are more efficient than others, but the largest discrepancy is in the potency of the original crude oil. Because CBD potency can range from 3-20% in different hemp cultivars, the CBD potency in the crude oil can also range from 20-75%. Because of these huge discrepancies between hemp crops, it’s impossible to say how much CBD you will get from a single hemp plant or an acre of hemp, but we can make general estimates:
Conclusion: How Much CBD is Produced Per Acre of Hemp Plants?
If you add all of the above factors up, you’ll find that one acre of hemp can produce roughly 1,500 hemp plants, or roughly 1,500 pounds of crude oil. The amount of CBD available depends on the total potency in the original material, but crude oil may contain around 50-65% CBD. On the higher end, this means that you can produce around 975 pounds of CBD oil from one acre of hemp.
Keep in mind that there are numerous factors that affect the CBD yield from an acre of hemp, and it is ultimately impossible to predict how much CBD you can produce from hemp. In perfect conditions, farmers have reported much higher yields than suggested above, while others have suggested that they pulled nearly half that amount from a full acre of hemp.
The answer to “how much CBD is produced per acre of hemp” truly depends on the details, starting with the potency of the hemp cultivar and the soil quality and ending with the particular refinement methods used during production. Over time, hemp producers can gain a better understanding of their CBD yields and improve production rates, allowing them to make better predictions about their CBD yields from crop to crop.
How Much CBD Per Acre of Hemp?
Farmers often ask us how much CBD they can expect per acre of hemp. This is no surprise, of course; growing hemp for CBD has become one of the greatest draws of the hemp farming industry. Indeed, CBD is the sweetheart of the hemp industry.
But there is still a lot of guesswork for farmers surrounding the proper way to grow hemp for CBD. There aren’t any industry standards or procedures yet because the industry is still evolving. Moreover, it’s challenging to weigh the cost/benefit of CBD hemp cultivation without understanding how much CBD per acre of hemp one can expect from an average harvest. Today, we hope to settle some confusion regarding the matter.
When Growing Hemp for CBD, Plant Spacing Matters
Planting a successful CBD hemp crop largely depends on plant spacing. CBD hemp plants need plenty of room to grow for multiple reasons (this is in stark contrast to industrial hemp that often grows only a few inches apart).
In the first 60 days of growth, hemp plants nearly double in size. A small 3′ tall x 3′ wide plant can grow up into a 6′ tall x 5′ wide plant in just a couple of months. If there isn’t enough space between the plants when planted, the plants will be too crowded to produce bountiful CBD flowers.
Crowded CBD plants can cause more detrimental problems, as well. For example, hemp is a very labor-intensive crop that requires a lot of hands-on care. Weeding can be a particular problem with hemp because it has to be taken care of by row cultivation or by hoe, which requires ample room to move.
So how much space should you have in between your hemp plants? This answer will vary depending on the strain, but usually, 4-6 feet between plants is sufficient.
Having a good understanding of your plant’s genetics will help you decide how much space you should provide to each of your CBD hemp seeds. And if you are still unsure, you can always contact us regarding our hemp consulting service. After all, we want you to succeed in hemp farming as much as you do!
Calculating CBD Per Acre of Hemp
The hemp flower contains the highest concentrations of CBD and other cannabinoids. Unfertilized female plants produce the highest cannabinoid concentrations. The average CBD concentration in the flowers of high-quality hemp strains is usually around 10% of the hemp flower’s total dry weight and typically sells for about $300-$450/pound. The remainder of the plant (the stems, leaves, seeds, etc.) is biomass and sells for around $30-$75/pound.
There is a good equation you can use to determine how much CBD per acre of hemp you can expect from your next harvest. First, determine how much CBD is in the flower mass of one plant by taking the weight of the flower mass and dividing it by 10%, the percentage of CBD found in the flowers.
For example, if someone cultivated 3 lbs of flower mass from each plant:
3 lbs of flower mass x .1 = .3 lbs of CBD per flower
Once you have this number, you take the amount of CBD per flower and multiply it by the number of plants per acre. So if someone cultivated 2,500 plants per acre, the equation would look like this:
.3 lbs of CBD per flower x 2,500 plants per acre = 750 pounds of CBD per acre of hemp
This equation should provide accurate results given that the crop is raised ideally to ensure maximum CBD production.
Tips for Maintaining a Compliant Hemp Crop
While the federal regulations surrounding compliant hemp crops can be daunting, there are some ways that you can work to control THC spikes in your hemp crop while keeping CBD levels high.
First, make sure to test your hemp plants early and frequently. A great way to catch variations in your cannabinoid levels is by checking them early and often so you can correct and adjust as needed. This process can also show you the things that you are doing right if the CBD levels are thriving and high.
Providing a low-stress environment for hemp is a crucial step in keeping CBD levels high and THC levels low. When hemp plants grow in stressful environments — extreme temperatures and excessive exposure to UV rays, for example — they might produce THC as a way to protect themselves from the stressful situation. But when hemp grows in mild, favorable environments, THC levels should remain low, and the amount of CBD per acre of hemp should stay high.
Ensuring that you have quality, feminized hemp seeds from the beginning also helps ensure that your end crop is high in CBD. Find a reputable dealer who provides high-quality, feminized hemp seeds, and you can have much more assurance going into your growing season that your crop will succeed.
Hemp farmers rejoice! You can still maintain high levels of CBD per acre of hemp without high THC levels. Just practice best hemp cultivation practices like well-spaced plants and a stress-free growing environment. We promise, your hemp plants will gift you with their gratitude if you do.
What tips do you have for growing a high CBD crop? We would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
How to Harvest and Dry Hemp for CBD Production
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Estoy de Acuerdo / I agree
There is a lot of interest in growing industrial hemp for CBD production, especially since hemp was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Take a look at some of my previous articles regarding the potential risks and rewards in the CBD market as well as agronomic considerations for successful industrial hemp production.
Fresh cut hemp drying. Whole plants hung in this fashion during the drying phase may have humidity trapped in the center due to the ‘closed umbrella’ shape that an entire plant takes on. Breaking off and hanging individual branches is recommended. Photo by George Place.
CBD oil extraction process. Photo by George Place
Harvesting hemp is a critical stage for CBD production. The presence of molds and mildews will lower the value of hemp floral biomass so a timely harvest is essential. There are visual clues on the hemp bud that growers should monitor. When trichomes on the hemp bud shift from white to milky white it may be time to harvest.
Weekly testing of CBD content can inform the grower of when harvest should be initiated. This is in addition to the required THC test with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. While some of the tests for CBD, cannabinoids, terpenes, pesticide residue, mold, and heavy metals can cost as much as $300 the return on investment can be significant. For example, if 1000 lbs of biomass will be harvested on one acre the difference between harvesting when the crop is at 6% CBD versus when the crop is at 7%CBD is equivalent to 10 pounds of CBD oil. Current prices for CBD oil are $5 per gram. With 454 grams per pound, a 1% discrepancy in CBD content on one acre can be a $20,000 crop value difference. Growers need to test frequently to make the right decision regarding harvest timing.
Weather will also be a key factor in determining when to pull the harvest trigger. Harvest time for hemp coincides with the hurricane season. Growers will have an easier time drying and curing their hemp floral biomass if they can bring it in before the arrival of a storm. This is the time when adequate labor is crucial. The vast majority of hemp growers for the CBD market are relying on labor to cut the stalk (the machete is the current tool of choice) and load the biomass. This takes a lot of time and physical exertion. I have heard reports of growers that had an excellent crop of hemp floral biomass but suffered massive losses because they could not harvest it in time (their two-person harvest team was not adequate). The importance of measuring the labor requirement is a big reason why we recommend that first-year hemp growers for the CBD market start with 1 acre or less. Growers need to keep track of the amount of man and woman hours that it takes to bring in the harvest. Maintaining sharp tools during the harvest process will also save time and effort.
Drying and Curing Hemp
Hemp biomass made from chipping the entire hemp plant. This biomass is low quality and will receive a reduced price. Photo by George Place
Once hemp is harvested growers should immediately move the floral biomass to the drying facility. This could be a simple structure like a barn. The facility should be under roof, out of direct sunlight, and well ventilated. Growers need to set up several fans and have them blowing continuously. Significant ventilation is crucial! Ideal temperatures for drying and curing are 60 to 70 degrees F at 60% humidity. Some processors say that hemp growers should not dry their floral biomass at the same temperatures as flu-cured tobacco. Those temps are too high and dry the hemp too quickly. A slow drying with high airflow will cure the hemp, produce a higher quality end product (better cannabinoid and terpene spectrum), and fetch a higher price.
It is difficult to estimate the square footage of drying space needed per plant. Using a flu-cured tobacco with 800 square feet a grower was able to dry 1 acre worth of plants (approximately 1350 plants) in 3 days. Another grower was able to dry approximately 1.5 acres worth of hemp (plant number not stated) in a 2500 square foot barn.
Hanging entire plants upside down on wires in the drying barn is a common practice. Unfortunately, as those plants dry the branches droop down in the formation of a closing umbrella. That closing umbrella shape results in less airflow to the center of that entire hemp plant. Thus more mold and mildew will grow in that center portion. We advise growers to break off the individual branches from the hemp plant and hang branches on the drying wire, not whole plants. This step is more labor intensive but will help minimize mold and mildew.
Dry and shucked (stem removed) hemp flower biomass. Photo by George Place
Dry hemp biomass still on the stem, referred to as unshucked. Photo by George Place