Don’t be afraid to grow hemp from dioecious seed!

— Primordia Team

Learn how to reduce your seed cost over 90% with these dioecious rogueing tactics and planting strategies. These are the dirty secrets feminized seed breeders don't want you to know!

The Truth about Hemp Seed

We have all seen how hemp and its derivatives have commoditized rapidly over the last year with one exception, seed!  Breeders have managed to maintain an extremely high price for feminized hemp seed by scaring farmers into thinking you cannot successfully manage the emergence of males and their pollen from dioecious seed. 

We are here to inform you that not only is it possible, it’s actually not that difficult either!  With the right planning and proper oversight, roguing males from your field is a simple and effective way to produce premium flower, free from seed and at a fraction of the cost of buying feminized seed.  How do we know all this?  We have several seasons of production under our belt and currently have over 2700 acres that were planted with dioecious seed, as you’ll see we’ve managed to rogue nearly 100% of our males, allowing our females to produce glorious seed-free buds.

Dispelling the Myths

We have heard and seen some crazy things during our time in this industry and unfortunately, rumors become truth for some. This is no different when it comes to seed, here are a few claims that need correction.

  • CLAIM: Feminized seed has so few males that even if you don’t catch them it won’t have an effect.
    • Not true.  We have seen one or two males pollinate acres of our crop.  In fact, there are studies that have shown pollen drift as far as 20 miles.
  • CLAIM: Feminized seed has almost no males!
    • Well, I guess this comes down to how you define “almost”. At a plant population of 6500 per acre (this is the density we plant at) a 99% feminization rate would still have roughly 65 males spread across the field, if these males are not rogued successfully, they can and will pollinate your entire field.

Pro Tips

Below we breakdown several strategies to increase your revenue and decrease your costs when planting seed for your 2020 crop.

  • Direct Seeding
    • Direct seeding is the most cost-efficient way to plant your hemp as it can be done mechanically and quickly.  This service can be done for $75 per acre on average.
    • Many growers have been convinced into spending $3+ to produce clones or starts for planting.  While this helps guarantee female plants are being planted, the cost can be extremely prohibitive!  Under a best-case scenario where your plant produces one pound of biomass and you’re able to successfully harvest that pound, buyers are currently paying between $2-5 per pound which may barely get you over your cost of production. 
  • Plant Population
    • In the Imperial Valley and with our IVKross genetic, we plant our seeds at a 13” spacing on 40” beds, this puts us at a 13,000 plant population per acre that is then rogued down to roughly 6500 plants per acre.
    • We do this because at the end of the day your output yield is what will make or break your season so why not plant a few more plants per acre?  We have seen plants that pop up right next to each other grow out in either direction, forming a massive “double” plant that yields much more than a single on its own.
    • Depending on the genetic, plant population varies so please always discuss with your breeder prior to making a final decision.
  • Scouting and Roguing
    • Scouting and roguing your field is one of the most important tasks when cultivating a large-scale hemp crop. Here is a quick breakdown of the methodology and strategy required to successfully remove males from your field planted with dioecious seed.
      • Hire a scout that is hardworking and responsible!
      • Two weeks after planting instruct your lead scout to begin checking the plants for emergence of sex.
      • Male pollen sacs look like little bulbs that emerge from the node of the plants stalk and stems.  Females, on the other hand, produce thin pistils that look like little hairs protruding from the nodes.
      • Once you hit 14 days in, scouts should be checking regularly for sex emergence in the plants and once identified, your initial crew should be scheduled for the next day.
      • On scouting day, train the workers to identify the male sex emergence, then, send crews through your field and have them pull the plants out leaving them in the furrows. At this point the males are not actively making pollen so leaving them there will not cause pollination.
      • Repeat this process every 2-3 days until all males are removed.  Your scout will need to check fields in between runs to verify roguing efforts.  This can be done by diligently walking rows and checking each plant.
      • Finally, your scout will need to remain vigilant like they would with a feminized seed crop throughout the season, as you will inevitably have hermaphrodites and random males squeak by.
  • Review this cost analysis!
    • Let’s break down the difference between purchasing dioecious seed from Primordia and feminized seed from another breeder.
      • Per acre costs
        • Cost of Seed
          • Primordia’s IVKross – $0.02/seed @ 13,000 seeds (rogued to 6500) – $260/acre
          • Feminized Seed – $0.50/seed @ 6500 seeds – $3250/acre – that’s 12.5x the cost!!
        • Cost of Roguing
          • Dioecious Seed – $100-150/acre per round of roguing = $850 per acre (average)
          • Feminized Seed – $100/acre – cost for fuel and rogue’s time over season
        • Production costs
          • These will vary per region and per farmer but let’s estimate $10K/acre for this analysis
      • Total Costs
        • Primordia’s IVKross dioecious seed production – $11,100/acre
        • Feminized seed production – $13,350/acre
        • Dioecious seed savings – $2,250 per acre!

Final Thoughts

While many of the premiere genetics are now only provided as feminized seed, there are still breeders like Primordia trying to provide quality seed to farmers at reasonable prices, we hope this article has helped to dispel some rumors and educate you on the merits of growing dioecious seed.  In this time of incredible uncertainty, we believe that saving as much money on your summer hemp production is the best way to insulate yourself from continued market fluctuations and commoditization.  If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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