CCT Interview with Jeff Ward, Project Manager of a High Yielding CBD Hemp Project in Scio, Oregon | CashCropToday
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CCT Interview with Jeff Ward, Project Manager of a High Yielding CBD Hemp Project in Scio, Oregon

November 19, 2018
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Global Hemp Group Inc. (CSE: GHG) (OTC: GBHPF) (FRANKFURT: GHG) is a company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia focused on a multi-phased strategy to build a strong presence in the industrial hemp industry in both Canada and the United States, and Marijuana Company of America, Inc. (OTC: MCOA), a corporation involved in product research and development of legal hemp-based consumer products under the brand name “hempSMART™” targeting general health and well-being, have partnered to create hemp cultivation operations in New Brunswick, Canada and Oregon in the United States.

Earlier this year, Jeff Ward took over as the Project Manager for the Scio, Oregon High Yielding CBD Hemp Project, and we recently had a chance to interview him.

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1) You relocated from Maine to Oregon to manage this hemp project. Why did you make this rather significant change in your life?

I retired April 18th, 2018 on my 60th birthday. Shortly after, I was offered the job as Project Manager, on the hemp cultivation project by the CEO of Global Hemp Group, Charles Larsen. Taking this job has been an adventure. My first impression of Scio, Oregon was that this location is without a doubt the most beautiful place that I have ever been in my life. I absolutely love it here. One of the most important aspects of taking the job was that I knew I would be treated fairly by the Partners. So far, this job has met my wildest expectations.

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2) What sort of experience in your career lead you to this point managing this hemp cultivation project?

I have had many jobs throughout my life, including working project management for nuclear power plants to owning a chain of driving schools. When medical marijuana became a viable career option in Maine, I knew that’s what I wanted to be doing.

I have always possessed a knowledge of growing plants, running large scale projects, and fortunately, have been savvy with numbers. One of the most important things that I bring to the table is that I always try to look at things from a business perspective. This is a farm and the most import thing to keep in mind when being in charge of it, is that mother nature can never be beat.

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3) Tell us about your team on the farm.

Our team consists of a number of crew members that are extremely innovative, who are trained in a variety of skill sets. They are well versed in everything from metal fabrication, to fine carpentry, to large equipment operation, so we set up, build, or operate pretty much everything ourselves on the project. We also have the pleasure to have a number of experienced farm consultants on board, which has helped minimize and manage our mistakes on this project.

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4) Why Scio, Oregon for growing hemp?

Scio is the grass seed capital of the world. The soil here is very conducive for growing industrial hemp with good levels of organics. In the summer, day time temperatures average in the mid 80’s, with very low humidity. Here we use drip irrigation to feed underneath plastic mulch, which is an efficient way to water plants. The season, soil, and air are almost perfect. The farm is centrally located in a valley so the nutrients from the hills are constantly being flushed to the bottom land.

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5) Discuss the extensive amount of preparation that went into this project to get the land in Scio, Oregon ready to cultivate industrial hemp.

When first preparing for this project our crew turned the ground continuously until it the proper consistency was achieved. Our goal was to turn it until it held enough water without it becoming muddy. We then applied organics to our soil to giving our plants plenty of nutrients to live on throughout the growing season. Next, we used a mulching machine to create the mounds of parallel lines that you see running throughout the field. Our crew then applied a piece of plastic mulch to each mound. What this does is keep the plant above ground level. The plastic also retains heat and ground moisture which helps impede evaporation giving you water efficiency. By utilizing mulch in the middle, it allowed the ground to dry out to a point where it sucks oxygen back down to each of the roots.

Irrigation is supplied by a large electrical pump and a constantly flowing brook. Our water rights allow us to pump a few hundred gallons a minute which is more than adequate for all of our needs. Pressurized water is supplied using the drip tape method and we use a moisture meter probe to maintain correct moisture levels at the roots.

Field crews then cut a hole the size of a coffee can where our clones were placed in the ground. This year, we used a strawberry planter to help expedite the planting process even though most of our plants needed to be planted by hand. Next year we are planning to utilize machines to plant all of our clones. This increase in mechanization will a save a lot of time, and significantly decrease labor costs.

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6) What is the typical amount of time to complete a hemp harvest? How long did the harvest of the 2018 crop to take to be completed?

For the 2018 growing season, there were 33 acres of hemp cultivated, which we started to harvest on October 1, 2018. Generally, the harvesting process takes a few weeks. Once our crops are harvested, they were hung and dried in our large gas fired hoop houses that were specifically set up for drying. This process takes 24-48 hours, to dry the hemp out properly.

After the plants have been dried, they are stripped and bagged leaving only the main stalk behind. CBD is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and small stems. Typically, the harvest is processed through a hammer mill prior to storage while it awaits processing.

You have to grow, dry, and then process your material. How you choose to process your material will depend on what you are ultimately going to be using the material for.

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7) Are there different cultivation techniques that are utilized when producing industrial hemp for CBD, as opposed to cultivating hemp for food or natural fibers?

Yes, on the farm in Scio we are using an orchard style model, with plants and rows five feet apart, while our sister farms in New Brunswick are utilizing a traditional dense cropping model. Our goal is to determine which method, or variation thereof, will ultimately produce the greatest yield of biomass per acre.

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8) What are the advantages of using clones as opposed to growing the hemp from seed?

The only thing that a seed has over a clone is a tap root. A tap root is the center root, it is at the center of the bottom of the plant and adds to its stability. With clones you can be assured that you are receiving an identical copy of its mother. Once cut from the mother plant, the material is then inserted into a cloning machine which helps produce new roots.

During this year’s growing season, we dedicated some of our most remarkable hemp plant to the development of clones for the 2019 growing season. The cloning process takes a few weeks. The upside of a cloning is that you will produce all females from the mother. Even with using feminized seeds, there is still a small genetic probability of it becoming a male.

If cultivated correctly, clones generally produce the same amount and percentage of CBD oil as their mother. If you are testing your plant at 15% this year, then you can expect the same potential from the plants next year.

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9) How many different types of hemp cultivars are you growing? Is it important to grow a variety of different cultivars for this harvest?

This season we experimented with six different varieties of hemp here in Scio. This gave us the opportunity to utilize the finest cultivars from the forty thousand plants we grew this year and use them for clones for next year’s growing season. In this case, our hemp was being grown to have cannabinoids extracted from it, so here are a variety of different variables going into deciding which strain is best for CBD oil extraction. Everything from how quickly the hemp grows, how many branches they have, how stable the plant variety is, to how resistant the plant is going to be to pests. All plant strains have different types of resistance to these factors. The objective is to take a variety of different proven hemp strains to find out which of them is the most resistant to local issues.

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10) What kind of processing will you be doing to get the hemp ready to go to market?

After being shredded by the hammer mill our hemp will get packaged and sealed in containers. From there it will be delivered to a facility where our strategic partners will extract CBD utilizing CO2 extraction. CO2 is one of the purist forms of extraction available today. It doesn’t leave any residual solvent or chemicals behind in your product.

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11) Now that this harvest is completed, when do you expect to get started on the next hemp crop?

Logistics for our next crop started 3 weeks before our harvest was completed. We have started to strategize the implementation of a more efficient watering system, ordering more greenhouses, extra storage facilities, and the possibility of us buying our own hammer mill. We had to start laying out our budget early on. There are misconceptions about the amount of work that farmers need to complete in the winter time. This is a year-round 80-hour, 7 day a week job. Figuring out the logistics of a project on this scope never ends.

This year, after a very late start, and a lot of hard work and very long hours, our team was able to produce a successful hemp crop. The Partners are 100% behind this project, both in their financial commitment, and their willingness to be involved on a daily basis.  The project is very fortunate to have Global Hemp’s forward-thinking CEO and CFO involved, as they continue to be willing to put up the necessary capital in order to get the job done correctly.  Having that kind of support for a farm of this scale is an important aspect of its success.

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Cash Crop Today would like to extend a special thanks to Jeff Ward and the entire farm team in Scio, Oregon!

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