Buying industrial hemp seeds in 2020 is like trying to find legitimate coronavirus masks – there are a lot of dealers, but you do not know who to trust.
“I have heard that a lot of bad things happened to people,” said Ted Carder, of Carder Pharms in Sterling. “I was told to only do business with people I know and that others can vouch for.”
Last year, Carder did his homework. He examined his options, and he was lucky. The Colorado dealer he chose for his first crop of feminized industrial hemp seeds was legitimate.
“Some people will try to take advantage of people who don’t know about hemp,” Carder said. “They might cut corners.”
John Bolton, who last year moved to Kansas from California, wanted to grow hemp. But because of the wet weather and the scare of bad seed distributors, he waited until this season to plant.
“Last year, there was a lot of people not being truthful,” Bolton said. “It put a sour feeling in our mouths.”
Many dealers are reputable. But because this is a new and growing industry, some farmers reported some seeds neither sprout nor flower. Also, when growing CBD, cannabidiol, only feminized seeds can be used. Growers have run into difficulty when their batch of seeds contain a large amount of males.
“I’ve researched a bunch of places,” said Tom Wann, who owns The Vintage Leaf CBD in McPherson. He is planning to grow CBG, cannabigerol, another nonhallucinogenic cannabinoid, on his farm in McPherson County.
Wann was told he had to meet the seed dealer and make sure he checked his references. After several interviews, he found a company just one town away – in Newton – to buy seeds from.
“The way he (Christian Coleman) responded to our questions and gave us answers was great,” Wann said. “He made us feel like we were a part of the family before we started.”
Coleman, who is the president of Sunnyland Kansas, has worked with industrial hemp for several years on his farm in Oregon. Last year, he grew his first crop in Kansas. His company also dries, educates and sells both CBD and CBG seeds.
Most of Sunnyland’s 1 million seeds are spoken for. Bolton purchased 10,000 seeds from Coleman, enough to plant on his 5 acres in Butler County.
“We built a relationship with them. We trust their product,” Bolton said. “We know Christian and his family have been doing this for years.”
Bolton had his soil tested and placed fertilizer down. He plans to have his greenhouse up before he plants.
Carder plans to buy his CBD seeds from a producer in Colorado, for whom he has checked several references.
Most hemp farmers agree, they enjoy the work, but they say the crop is labor-intensive – and expensive.
Wann is trying to save on some input. He refurbished an old tractor and made his own mulch layer. In addition, he designed a drip system for his crop. Bolton put in his own irrigation, as well.
Carder and Coleman will plant each seed by hand, one at a time. Bolton, an electronics engineer, has designed an automated system to plant the seeds. Having worked for decades designing technology, he is excited to investigate ways to make hemp farming easier.
Starting this week, seeds go into the ground in Kansas. According to Coleman, the most reliable way to grow your seeds is in a greenhouse. Once the plant reaches half a foot, it can be transplanted outdoors.
“These seeds are grown in the perfect condition for Kansas,” Coleman said.