After assembling a complete genome from a new breed of cannabis, University of Minnesota and Sunrise Genetics researchers found that high-CBD “hemp” plants have a mostly marijuana genome. 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 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
Research shows that, genetically, high-CBD “hemp” plants are mostly marijuana
After assembling a complete genome from a new breed of cannabis, University of Minnesota and Sunrise Genetics researchers found that high-CBD “hemp” plants have a mostly marijuana genome.
Published in the journal New Phytologist, the researchers found that high-CBD plants inherit about 90% of their genes from drug-type cannabis and the rest from hemp. Traditionally, cannabis plants are split into two varieties: a drug-type grown for psychoactive or intoxicating properties (i.e., marijuana) and a hemp-type used to make industrial products like fiber.
“Over the past decade, we’ve seen a surge in demand for CBD and we wanted to better understand how plant breeders created high-CBD plants to meet rising demand,” said study co-author George Weiblen, who is a professor in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and the science director at the Bell Museum.
The researchers examined different types of cannabis, including drug-type varieties that produce large amounts of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Plant breeding has increased the THC level to the point where it can account for up to a quarter of a plant’s total weight. The scientists found that breeding high-THC plants with hemp-type plants can swap a few genes and make a new plant that produces high levels of CBD instead.
“This poses a challenge, though,” said study co-author and CBS graduate CJ Schwartz of Sunrise Genetics. “The genes that allow for the production of CBD are also a bit ‘leaky.’ This can result in about 5% of the product ending up as THC instead of 100% CBD.”
Researchers say this means that when high-CBD plants are grown to full maturity, farmers interested in producing hemp for CBD run the risk of their crop crossing over the federal, legal limit of 0.3% THC.
“These high-CBD plants are genetically marijuana for the most part and they can’t be expected to meet the legal definition of industrial hemp in every situation,” said Weiblen. “This means that CBD products — such as flowers, extracts and edibles — that are labeled ‘hemp’ could be incorrectly labeled and falsely branded. Fiber hemp and products made from hemp seeds, however, are drug-free.”
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 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.