Outdoor growers have one very difficult problem to deal with, cross-pollination. Farmers are reporting more and more of the problem with their crops, which could cost them thousands of dollars if their plants become fertilized.
Hemp breeds by spreading its pollen through the wind. In the most popular varieties, there are male and female plants. Like marijuana, the flowers of the female plants are the most valuable parts of the plant. In the case of hemp, they are what contain the high levels of CBD that the hemp is grown for. If the female plants get fertilized, they will sprout seeds before their flowers can be harvested.
The same goes for marijuana growers, who can have their entire crop ruined by hemp that is grown too close. In Washington, one of the biggest changes that came with the 2018 farm bill is to allow the cultivation of hemp within four miles of marijuana growers.
For marijuana farmers like Robert Morf of Chesire Creek, this has proved to be a disaster. He will lose up to $40,000 this year because of the change when a hemp grower moved in across the road, according to the press.
He figured that since they were growing for CBD, the farm would be worse off if cross-pollination than him. That may have been the case, with the now-defunct grower just cutting their plants and leaving them in the field after only one season. However the hit for Morf isn’t insignificant. Having seeds mixed into his plants will greatly lower the yield of the plants and the quality of the flowers. He may be forced to sell everything to extractors at a lower price because of this.
Morf thought about taking legal action, but ultimately decided it would be too costly and not worth the effort. He found it would be difficult to prove that it wasn’t his plants that did the cross-pollinating, even though he could prove he only bought female clones for his crop.