The cost of one seed: growing in Wisconsin

Growing cannabis outdoors poses different challenges than growing in greenhouses or indoor environments. Climate conditions become a major issue to address, especially considering the high value of each hemp plant. That is why Michael Bindl, cultivation and chief technology officer with Driftless Extracts, built a greenhouse near his open field. The reason is exactly to kick off the season properly and to lower as much as possible any germination-related problems. “Driftless Extracts is a certified organic hemp producing and processing company based in Wisconsin, growing 100 acres of high CBD cannabis plants. Then we extract the oil out of them.” Michael explains. “Currently, we are building a processing facility where we will carry out hemp biomass drying, grinding, and oil extraction operations.”

Driftless Extract building the greenhouse

From the greenhouse to the open field
According to Michael, the weather in Wisconsin can reveal itself to be trickier than expected. “Winters here are extremely cold. On the other hand, summers are very hot. Since we have such a long growing season here, it is crucial to find solutions that allow the harvest to be successful,” Michael explains. One of Michael’s solutions is exactly the greenhouse. “We make use of the greenhouse to start seedlings off,” Michael explains. “In this way, these are stronger and healthier and can better withstand the weather in Wisconsin. For our climate in Wisconsin, we tried to build it to use it year-round. Here it is quite cold, so we needed more heaters. At the same time, summers here are very warm, so we made sure the greenhouse had enough space to allow air to circulate and cool the room down.” However, since seedlings have to transition from the greenhouse to the open field, Michael takes care to explain that “we built big doors in the greenhouse, in order to facilitate the transition between the greenhouse and the open field.”

Photo by Linda Griffith Schwanke. From the left: Michael Bindle and Cody Pulvermacher

The cost of one seed
The hemp plant is extremely valuable. Similarly, hemp seeds are very expensive and need to be handled with extreme care. “That is also one of the main reasons we start in a greenhouse. This allows us to achieve the highest germination rate possible. When seeds are this expensive, we need to lower as much as we can germination-related issues.”

Cody Pulvermacher

“Our open field spans 100 acres. We are growing more than 200,000 hemp plants. If we had to carry out the seeding manually, it would take an insane amount of man hours.” That is why Michael was advised by the seed company itself to purchase a vacuum seeder. Following this lead, Michael ended up choosing the Seed E-Z Seeder solution. “Seed E-Z Seeder is a company not far away from where our open field is,” he recounts. “I visited the company and they showed us their products. The thing that I appreciated the most was that they customized the vacuum seeder specifically for our hemp seeds.”

“Last week, we started the growing season. Our seeders are running at all times. We plant almost 40,000 seeds every day. However, even though such a solution makes seeding way easier, there are other aspects that could make the process slower,” Michael points out. According to him, one of the most important characteristics of hemp seeds is size consistency. “When resorting to this type of technological solution, it is crucial that seeds are of the same size, otherwise the machine cannot function as smoothly. This year, the seeds we bought have a very consistent size.”

The importance of growing organic
The hemp industry in the US has been undergoing major changes recently. With the approval of the Farm Bill, a great number of farmers applied for cultivation and processing licenses so to join such a profitable industry. The CBD market in the US is booming, and the demand for CBD-derived products is growing fast every day. In this rush to bring hemp products to the shelves, Michael remarks that organic hemp will be the future. “Every operation, mixture and facility we use is certified organic,” he explains. “We want to make people healthier through our plants. We grow organic because we believe this will be safe for humans.”

For more information:
Driftless Extracts
34945 WI-130, Lone Rock, WI 53556

Seed E-Z Seeder

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