Hemp Harvesting: The Drying Process and Rack Selection

The hemp market has gone for virtually nothing to a multi-billion dollar industry in a few years. Commercial hemp operations have sprung up throughout the United States, creating new markets for agricultural equipment, shelving systems providers, and other support businesses.

One of the critical steps in growing hemp is the drying process.

Growers must carefully follow a multi-step process to properly dry their crop to maintain potency.

The right drying rack can make a difference in the quality of the crop.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp comes from a plant called the cannabis sativa plant. Americans have been growing hemp since the 1700s. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on his farm.

Growers use particular varieties of the sativa plant for rope, clothing, plastics, and fuel.

Another name for this type of hemp is industrial hemp.

What about Marijuana?

Marijuana comes from a species of the sativa plant that has higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in the resin.

When you ingest THC by smoking or inhaling, the THC stimulates the dopamine or pleasure receptors in the brain, which gives you the “high” or feeling of euphoria.

CBD, another compound in the resin, is used in products like creams and oils with effects, according to some studies, like products such as tiger balm.

The cannabis indica plant has more CBD compounds than other varieties such as the cannabis sativa.

CBD produces no psychotropic effects, unlike THC.

Drying Hemp

There are many methods for drying hemp, but all require adequate air flow and plenty of room.

Once the grower harvests the hemp, the moisture must be removed, or the plant will develop mold or mildew.

Some hang the plants upside down attached by clamps to the drying racks. Fans and dehumidifiers may be used to help the drying process.

Others spread the plants out on a wire mesh or open rack, leaving room between each plant to encourage air flow.

The grower needs large racks to reduce the chance of retaining moisture too long and developing mold.

Why Racks?

Using racks will streamline and improve the drying process, saving time, money, and is more efficient than hanging the plants up by hooks in a barn or greenhouse.

Open wire designs help maintain steady air flow around the stalks with an even temperature and humidity. The symmetrical flow of air around the plants also helps provide more predictable yields.

Using the open wire shelving also helps with access for trimming. Adjustable shelves and drying arms help speed up the field-to-manufacturer timeline.

Shelving Types

Shelving is typically made of wire mesh or polycarbonate or PVC.

Modular shelving, along with bins and trays for later storage, works well for hemp processing.

Some Advantages of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel works well in wet, cold, and humid climates. The food industry uses 304 grade stainless steel, which has excellent resistance to corrosion and oxidation.

Stainless steel is very durable and easy to clean.

The 304 steel has no chemicals that can migrate to any plant products.

Polymer and Epoxy

Racks made from polymers and epoxy also have excellent corrosion and resistant properties, like stainless steel wire shelving.

Like steel, polymer and epoxy clean easily and don’t have a lot of cracks and crevices for molds, mildew, or harmful microbes to hide in and propagate.

Hanging

Wire shelving adapts easily for growers who want to hang their plants.

If the hemp farmer uses modular or removable shelves, it is easy to adapt to changing production and harvesting requirements.

Some types of shelving allow you to adjust them in one-inch increments, providing a more cost-effective way to get the most out of your drying shelves. The harvester can continually add or remove shelving and adjust for plant and stalk size.

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