Industrial Hemp Drying Guide: How to Dry Hemp
This industrial hemp buying guide helps farmers learn how to dry hemp. Drying hemp is a crucial step that many people overlook. No matter the quality of your harvest, without the proper drying practices, it’s easy to turn an incredible crop into a mediocre one. Since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, many farmers have been expanding their operations to include hemp crops. Our Denver hemp company is here to assist you through the transition. This guide covers how to dry industrial hemp:
Industrial Hemp Drying
Use this industrial hemp drying guide to help ensure your next harvest crop:
How long does hemp take to dry?
Are you wondering how long hemp takes to dry? This is a common question among the farming community. The standard for drying hemp ranges between 3 to 5 days and 7 to 10 days, depending on your growing conditions. Humidity can play a part in extending the drying process along with other conditions that may be unique to your microclimate. Drying your hemp in a clean drying room and facility is critical. This industrial hemp drying guide explains how to dry hemp following best practices.
How do you know when hemp is ready to harvest?
Before you begin drying your industrial hemp, it is important to be sure it’s ready for harvest. To an untrained eye, knowing when to harvest hemp can be a difficult task. We encourage farmers to monitor and test their crops on a week by week basis to ensure they are not only growing healthy and robust hemp plant but a compliant one as well. Since many strains require different attention, you must familiarize yourself with the specific needs of your current crop.
Compliant hemp means hemp testing under .3 of total THC. To get the total THC of your crop, you use this formula: THCa x .877 + THC = Total THC. If you are approaching the .3 marker, then we recommend harvesting your crop no matter how many weeks it’s been growing for. If your levels are low, then you need to start examining the trichomes of the hemp plant. The trichomes are the little white hairs on the cannabis plant. The deeper and more vibrant the color of the white hairs get, the more likely it’s ready for harvest.
Having a timely harvest is very important to the value of your hemp. If you end up having mildews or molds, it would be degrading the potency of your crop, and that will lower the price immensely.
Industrial Hemp Drying Methods
Industrial hemp drying comes in many different forms. If you’re wondering how to dry hemp, the answer may rely on the tools and resources available to you.
As soon as you are done harvesting your hemp plants, you should transfer them to the drying facility so they are no longer in the sunlight. When they arrive at the facility, you’ll want to hang your plants individually upside down on a drying wire, and depending on how big they are, you may need to hang each branch individually.
The more ventilation in the facility, the better your crop will turn out. Set up numerous fans and keep them blowing non-stop to help keep your facility between the 60 to 70-degree mark. The building needs to be able to stop the elements from coming in, like humidity and other variables that can end up hurting the crop in the long run. The more controlled environment you can create, the more profits your farm can make.
Something to be aware of is while the plants hang upside down, the branches may clump together and not allow very much airflow. If this happens, you will need to implement the individual branch method I mentioned before. This can seem like a lot more work, but it will save the total plant from building up too much moisture and mold on the inside. The lower your levels of moisture, the better. If you can stay around the 8% mark or as high as the 10% mark, then you should feel secure in knowing your plants are dry. If your hemp is testing higher than that, then you should continue to dry and cure your crop.
The Hemp dry method may give your crop protection from all the outside elements that would normally affect the plants while hanging up drying. It will help with the stabilization of your hemp crop as well. This kind of method is preferred when you are growing a large amount of hemp and especially when you’re just growing for biomass. The newer machines have a lower temperature that doesn’t take an abundance of your cannabinoid profile away. You won’t have nearly as much labor when using a hemp dryer, and it means you won’t to have to use the hanging methodology. There are some reported hemp dryers that can run a batch in under three minutes. Once hemp has entered into the drying structure, it won’t stop moving until it has entered the machine. There have been reported complaints about hemp dryers regarding damage to plants, but the pros can outweigh the cons when you think about being able to sell to consumers earlier. The theory behind the hemp dryers is to have a higher-grade product that can sell to consumers sooner as long as it doesn’t accumulate too much damage in the dryer. (I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to say here)
Hand Harvesting/Biomass Harvesting
The more you do by hand when it comes to harvesting and drying your plants, the higher your test results will be for terpenes and cannabinoid profiles. This is a similar method to hemp’s cannabis brother marijuana. This route is not for the faint of heart because it is much more labor-intensive and ends up being more costly at first. This method becomes more difficult when you have to increase your hemp operations. on the larger your crop, the more likely you will need a hemp dryer. Whole plant extraction consists of harvesting biomass and rolling them up like you would see on wheat straw farms. Depending on your size, it might make sense to do a little bit of both. If you had cut the tops off of the plant because the tops will have the majority of the sellable product and use the rest for biomass production.
Tobacco similarities and differences
Industrial hemp drying isn’t much different than the process used with tobacco crops. Drying hemp has both similarities and differences in drying tobacco, depending on what you are growing it for. A lot of farmers are using tobacco barns for the drying process of all types of hemp. To understand both products, you need to know that there are two standard types of drying tobacco: air-cured and flue-cured. Curing is a more in-depth prosses of drying and aging the plants in a dark air-filled environment.
The air-cured process of drying tobacco is the closest to drying hemp as a whole. It is most like the hang-drying process of hemp to be more specific. Both are kept in a well-insulated environment and hanging for weeks at a time. Tobacco can take 4 to 8 weeks to dry and cure with this process and is generally used for high nicotine production. Whereas hemp should only take a month if done correctly and will have a higher cannabinoid and terpene spectrum. This long-term process would be better for growing hemp for high CBD and CBG production and producing for flower.
The Flue-Cured process for drying tobacco is the least like drying hemp, but it would be the most similar to using a hemp dryer. Both are shorter time frames than their predecessor. Flue-cured can take a week or less, whereas using a hemp dryer can take under a day. Flue-cured is a process exposing the tobacco to smoke and fire and slowly increasing the temperature throughout the week. The temperature reached is far higher and greater than anything hemp will be exposed to in the hemp dryers. The flue-cure is generally used for cigarette production. This process would be the best for hemp biomass.
Order Your Seeds Today
Now that you have a better understanding of the industrial hemp drying process, it’s time to ensure planting season is in order. You can buy hemp seeds online right here from AgriHemp Seeds. If you weren’t curing your hemp and only drying it, the process is less work because of the differences between tobacco leaves and hemp flower. Manipulating or extracting from the plan is far easier once the hemp is dried. Reserve your Colorado hemp seeds today!
While drying hemp can be challenging, this industrial hemp drying guide helps farmers learn how to dry hemp. Read the guide now.
Equipment Used in High Production Hemp Drying
Hemp is now benefiting from a resurgence in popularity thanks to high demand for CBD oil, and commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. It’s interesting to note that hemp oil is selling for approximately $1000 per liter. Expectations of the global industrial hemp market is projected to balloon to over $10 billion dollars by 2025.
Legalized as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Bill changed hemp from a controlled substance to an agricultural commodity. Hemp cultivation is attractive to farmers who have been impacted by the increases in tariffs on certain crops. Consumer demand, along with higher profits for farmers, are causing explosive growth. Hemp can be grown for its seed, fiber, or floral biomass.
Harvesting and drying of hemp is critical for CBD production. The presence of molds and mildews will lower the value of hemp floral biomass, so the harvest needs to be stabilized before mold, mildew, or decomposing can occur. Once hemp is harvested, it should be immediately moved to the drying facility to eliminate the moisture content in the harvested hemp.
On a small scale, historically hemp has hung in a barn to air dry, an inefficient process – and a slow one. To keep up with consumer demand, a more modern and systematic approach for efficient harvest and drying is necessary, relying on industrial hemp dryers.
Optimally, drying should begin within hours of the harvest. The wetter the hemp, the more urgent the drying process should be. The hemp industry has accepted 10% moisture as dry. For higher product quality, and safety for long term storage, a preferred level is 8-9%. Most of the moisture in hemp comes from broken plant material, immature seeds, and seeds encased in bracts.
New industrial dryers, some capable of processing 1000-4000 pounds of biomass an hour, and total drying control are being introduced to keep up with the consumer demand.
Batch dryers include drying chambers that usually are made up of a dehumidifier, an aerator, and a heat source. This product removes moisture out of a drying facility or a container. The energy efficient dehydration systems, designed to dry hemp, is a closed system that operates independently from ambient conditions. The combination of the heat driven dehumidification unit with a programmable controller that can be accessed remotely, plus airflow equipment creates consistent drying conditions inside the chamber.
The belt dryer has a conveyor into a large drying chamber. As dehydration is necessary to preserve the hemp biomass, mesh-belt hemp dryers continuously dry large quantities of plan materials in a short period of time, and without requiring much production footprint. These technologies allow the operator to adjust the thermal energy in the hemp dryer to evenly evaporate water without over drying or over heating the hemp. The fuel for belt dryers is via propane or natural gas. Designed for high output, the hemp dries as it advances through a collection of mesh layers. The use of electronic controls sets the stage for precise and optimum biomass drying conditions.
Rotary Dryers, the workhorse of industrial dryers, have been in use for many years. They also work well for drying hemp, typically via natural gas. Here’s how they work: the biomass is situated in a heated cylinder which rotates and tumbles the material, in the presence of drying air. The inside of the cylinder, or drum, includes plates to move the hemp. The electronic controls can be quite advanced, and these dryers can be very large. Again, they are designed to move large amounts of production throughput.
The Importance of Temperature Control
Irrespective of dryer type, temperature control is critical for maximum yield. Too much heat bakes the oil out of the hemp, wasting fuel and losing yield in the process. It is a delicate balance of maintaining temperature within a couple of degrees of setpoint, while moving green hemp through the dryer at the fastest rate possible. Goal is two fold – reduce moisture to 8-10% by weight without driving off the oil.
Keys to Precise Temperature Control
- Wide turndown burners with precise temperature control.
- Modulating gas control valves with .1 of a degree positioning accuracy.
- Process controllers and indicators accurate to .25% of span.
- 508A listed electrical panels, NFPA 86 compliant
- Secure digital recording of temperature and other key variables for contract drying.
- Access Combustion
- Air Monitor Corporation
- Eclipse Thermal Solutions
- Honeywell Kromschröder
- Honeywell Maxon
- Dungs Combustion Controls
- Siemens Combustion Control
- Fox Thermal Instruments
- Selas Heat Technology
- Itron Metering Systems
- Pyromation, Inc.
- Azbil North America
- Earthquake Safety Systems
- Lenox Instrument Company
- UL 508 Control Panels and Control Systems
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Vancouver, WA 98682
Equipment Used in High Production Hemp Drying – Providing industrial process heating & combustion equipment in Washington, Oregon and the Northwestern USA.