Flat River Hemp Oil Farming with Experience: Cover Crops

Cover crops are a great tool to use when practicing organic, sustainable agriculture. There are a multitude of uses from pest control to weed mitigation. Although there are many published articles on the subject, as a farmer, it is always fun to experiment yourself with different species of cover crops to see which ones or what combination works best for you. 

The full list of uses that the NRCS gives is as follows:

  • Conservation Tillage
  • Erosion Control
  • Forage/Grazing Lands
  • Wildlife
  • Organic Gardening
  • Conservation Buffers
  • Green Manure
  • To improve soil health
  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Highway beautification and erosion control
  • Ground Cover in Citrus Groves
  • Increase Soil Organic Matter
  • Conserves Soil Moisture
  • Provides Food and Shelter for Livestock

Things to consider when choosing a cover crop:

1. What region are you planting in?

2. What use will my cover crop be used for?

3. What time of year would I like to plant my cover crop?

There are four classifications:

  • Legumes
  • Grasses
  • Brassicas
  • Non-Legume Broad Leaves
Three planting categories:
  • perennials
  • summer annuals
  • winter annuals
Types of cover crops:
Legumes = most popular, commonly combined with grass
Good for:
– fix atmospheric nitrogen
– prevent erosion
– add organic matter to soil
Bad for:
– removing excess nitrogen 
-suppressing weeds
Grasses = high in carbon, this makes soil breakdown and weed suppression easier
Good for:
– adding organic matter to the soil
– erosion control
– cattle grazing
Bad for:
– limit other crops from accessing nitrogen
Brassicas = fast growing with strong biomass
Good for:
– fall erosion
– absorbing excess nutrients in the soil
– pest control (they release toxin into the soil to ward some pests off)
Non-Legume Broad Leaves = higher in carbon than legumes, include spinach, radishes, flax and others
– break up compact soils like clay
Cover Crops by Region:
  • Southeast 
    • winter = hairy vetch, Caley pea
    • summer = perennial peanuts, sunn hemp
  • Northeast
    • winter = ryegrass, barley
  • Midwest
    • alfalfa, red and white clovers
  • Southern Plains
    • hairy vetch
  • West Coast
    • grasses tolerant to both dry and wet conditions


Flat River Hemp Oil Farming with Experience – Getting Started

I. Purchasing Seeds

Purchasing hemp seeds is a tricky endeavour. It seems as if seed companies pop up by the hour. Here are some things you can look for to pick the best seeds for high CBD or CBG production.-Do some research about the company. Here are some questions you can ask.

1. How long have they been around? 

2. Are they certified through any state programs? (Not all states require certification to sell so if they are not certified itdoes not necessarily mean they are no good.) 

3. Do they give any references? 

4. Do they provide any general production models? 

II. Feminized Seeds

-For high CBD or CBG production feminized seeds are recommended. You need to make sure the feminized seeds are stable and that they have been feminized over several seasons not just one. This will save money in the long run. I remember in 2017-2018 companies would boast 99% feminized and in reality it was closer to 75%. Feminization rates are calculated by the germination of at least 100 seeds at a time. There are two ways they can observe and record the feminization rate after germination 1. In lab tissue culture sample test. 2. In field trials.  The number of true females, hermaphrodites and males are recorded through observation to calculate the feminization rates. 

III. THC Regulations

-With current regulations strictly restricting THC to 0.3%, it is extremely important to buy from trusted sources that have multiple years of COA’s to prove the THC expression of the cultivar you are interested in is within legal limits. This may mean you have to turn down your good buddy Bubba who has been “collecting and storing” seeds for years for brands that have proven track records of providing genetics that meet federal and state regulations. If the THC goes over the limit, you will have to destroy the plant which could be a financial setback. Stay up to date with your states regulations by contacting your states’ department of agriculture. Here is the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.

IV. Spacing

-Another important component to consider when picking the right genetics for you, is field space. Varieties of high CBD plants can vary in size significantly. Some cherry varieties grow around 4×4 and are shorter in height whereas a variety like boax can grow 8x8ft. I have seen over and over again plants nearly ruined because they are huge and were planted way too close together. This attracts more pests, makes cultivating and harvesting extremely difficult, greatly reduces air flow increasing risks for the destructive nature of mold and mildew to run wild.

 Hemp Plant Height and Spacing


V. Climate/Temperate Zone

-Your climate is a huge consideration when choosing which varieties to grow. It is highly recommended to grow varieties that have been proven to perform optimally in your area. Something to consider along with this is the cola or bud size formation. For example: If you farm in an area with a lot of rainfall, varieties that produce large, dense buds may be counterproductive and the rain could cause uncontrollable mold and mildew issues. Instead a variety that is large, branchy and produces smaller colas may be a better option. This variety will allow air flow and reduce risks of mold and mildew. This is also something to be aware of when harvesting.  US plant hardiness zone map

VI. Grow Cycle

-Inquire about the growing season or cycle. Some varieties are known as early varieties and are typically planted sometime in May or June, harvested in October whereas some late varieties will be planted in July or August, harvested in November. This will also give  you a good idea on how to budget for nutrients and when you will need to have drying space available.

Growth Cycle is Important for Production Planning


VI. Starting Mothers Indoors

-Most of the time we will start our mothers indoor in November or December. This requires a humidity and temperature controlled area with grow lights. Read our Integrated Pest Management post for ideas on how to keep an indoor space pest free. In march you will then take cuttings or clones from the mothers and root them before transplanting in the field for a couple of weeks. This is a common horticulture practice.

VI. Natural and Organic Rooting Stimulants for Cloning 

-Using an organic rooting mixture will take a bit longer than non-organic rooting hormone. Our recipe for organic rooting mixture includes; willowbark, honey and aloe. 

Willowbark: The two main compounds in the bark of a willow tree are salicin and indolebutyric acid. Salicin’s chemical structure matches aspirin. Indolebutyric acid is a plant hormone that stimulates root growth. You can make willow tea by taking cuttings of growing tips of willow branches and soaking them in hot/warm water, you can obtain IBA hormone in high concentrations this way.

Honey: A natural antiseptic and anti fungal that will keep your cuttings healthy while growing roots. The honey will also thicken the solution and allow it to stick on the cutting. 1tsp/2 cups of solution, more may attract insects.

Aloe Vera Gel: You can get the gel directly from the leaves of an aloe plant. Aloe contains salicylic acid as well as many other helpful enzymes, minerals and amino acids that will aid in root formation. 

-After dipping cutting in the organic rooting stimulant you can place directly in soil or utilise an aeroponic cloning machine. For outdoor production we have not noticed a difference in methods effecting the overall viability of the crop.  


Flat River Hemp Oil Farming with Experience – Integrated Pest Management

There are many ways you can learn the ins and outs of farming these days; university, youtube, books, the internet, from friends, etc. Experience is what separates the good farmers from great farmers. Simply put all the resources in the world will not give you the experience of multiple seasons of getting your hands in the dirt. If you think about it a farmer typically has less than 100 seasons in a lifetime. That’s not a lot of chances to get things right! Flat River Infusions is a standout because it combines over 20 years of farming experience with proven scientific methods. Founder and operator Nick Sagan earned his degree in Horticulture Science from North Carolina State University and has applied that knowledge along with years of real world farming experiences to produce the finest hemp in the United States.

Nick Sagan B.Sc. Horticulture Science from NCSU

In this series titled “Farming with Experience”, Nick is going to share some of his proven farming know how. We hope you subscribe to our newsletter and enjoy increasing your understanding of organic agronomic practices.

IPM (Integrated Pest Management)

Hemp unlike other crops has no formally listed pesticides, fungicides or herbicides that can be used on the crop. Most conventional farmers squirm when they hear this because the agricultural industry in America has been crutched up my the use of approved substances on plants. Organic farmers and naturalists rejoice in knowing that finally, maybe America is starting to change its views on pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Unfortunately, it looks like there will come a day once research is conducted that certain substances may be approved. However, until that day, all hemp in America (unless someone is breaking the rules) is being grown using organic practices. Meaning the pesticides, fungicides and herbicides being used are all natural or OMRI certified. More than likely they are made using a mix of all natural essential oils (aka terpenes).

Growing organic on a large scale can be especially challenging and that is partly why conventional farming uses listed pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Organic farming is most commonly done on a smaller more manageable scale.

At Flat River Infusions we do just that. We grow using organic practices and are working towards organic soil certification. Because we use organic practices and do not use pesticides or herbicides we have to be extremely proactive in the prevention of pests and weeds. We have an integrated pest management system for our greenhouse production and outdoor production. With each production model it is important to take preventative measures in order to mitigate and reduce the prevalence of pests and weeds. Mostly because they threaten the nutrient intake of your plants and nutrient deficient plants do not optimally produce phytochemicals.


Greenhouse Production 2020

-Keep the space as clean as possible. Do not leave any fallen leaves on the ground or in pots as they attract pests.

-Pick dead leaves off plants daily and before they fall if possible.

-Trim low hanging branches, keep plants from touching ground. Some greenhouses will elevate plants off the ground, this also saves your back!

-Airflow is huge. You don’t want to cause a windstorm but a nice breeze is best where the plants appear to be gently shaking or dancing.

-Use beneficials as needed. Some that we have used before are lady bugs, wasps larvae and praying mantis.

-If you have a way of controlling the temp and humidity that can also detract pests.

-Hang sticky traps above plants. This is simple and extremely effective.

-If you notice any pests at all on plants, it is good practice to separate (quarantine) them from the others. Trim any leaves that appear to have pest issues. As you can see in the photo below that is indeed russet mites, the untrained eye may mistake these mites for trichomes!

Russet Mites on a plant.

-Some growers will automatically start spraying all natural pest deterrents like neem oil as a preventative in the vegetation stage, before flowering. Its important to note a couple of things: 1. Once flowering occurs, its best to stop spraying or at least stop within 7-14 days of harvest. Avoid spraying colas if you must spray during flowering.  2. Some all natural sprays you must spray at night. 3. Wear a mask if possible. 4. Plants can build up a tolerance to natural sprays so it is best to alternate between sprays weekly.


-Plant cover crops the season before to mitigate weeds and add nutrients back to the soil.

-Plant trap crops around the perimeter of your crop. Crops that attract corn ear worms are advisable. This will also help keep animals from tramping through your beloved crop.

-Lay plastic if you know you have a weed problem. This can also mitigate pests because it creates a layer between the ground and your plants. Cardboard could be another option if plastic is out of your budget. It also helps keep moisture in reducing the amount of water the plants require.

-We can’t say enough about prepping your land in the off season. This will boost your soils nutrients while cutting down on pests. weeds and fungi.

-If you have the man power, trimming low hanging branches and picking dead or infected leaves off plants are beneficial.

-Fungal spores that cause root rot and spotted leaves need to be dealt with in a timely manner. If you notice a root issue caused by fungus, it may be best to take extra measures to insure that fungus is not transmitted to other plants. Tools used to dig up infected plants and any farm equipment used on infected soil should be cleaned with a disinfectant such as peroxide.

-Nutrient deficiency, lack of water or transplant shock can all attract pests so make sure your plants levels are topped up.

-Planning out plant and row spacing is important. You want to maximize the amount of air that can travel throughout your crop while planning for any implements you may use to get through.

-All natural sprays can be used but same principals apply to outdoors as indoors.

-Depending on rain in your area, mildew may occur. There are all natural, organic ways to treat mildew by making your own concoctions of apple cider vinegar, milk or baking soda or using solutions of potassium bicarbonate which are used on grapes. You can also mitigate the occurrence of mold or mildew at harvest by picking a dry harvest day. A day that has been proceeded by many other dry days is especially advantageous.

*It is important to know that even the most experienced farmers will have pest, fungi and weed pressure so don’t be discouraged! Having a system in place when you do experience these problems will speed up decision making. Preventative approaches are a cornerstone in organic farming.

Flat River Hemp Oil Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate

This week we launched our first THC-free 1000mg Broad Spectrum product. Broad Spectrum is a bit different from Full Spectrum in that it typically does not contain THC. The reason in creating a THC-free product is for a couple of reasons:

1. For some that are subject to routine drug tests by their employer it allows them to still continue taking a CBD product without fear of failure. 

2. The other reason is because of stigma, some people no matter how much you tell them 0.3% THC will not get you high, still run from it. So this is a simple way for them to break the barrier and finally try CBD for the first time.

3. The FDA could rule at some point (they haven’t yet) that any THC even 0.3% or under, in a product is considered an adulterated substance. Having a THC-free option available is a way for us to still bring a quality CBD oil product within those guidelines to the market and keep doing what we love to do! 

4. Some countries have a strict no THC policy, so if you happen to travel to any of those countries with the THC-free product there is nothing to worry about. 

Whatever your reason might be for choosing to consume a THC-free product vs. a full spectrum product, we did not want you to miss out on the empowering benefits of the entourage effect. Because of this we have specifically developed scientific methods that optimize the amount of cannabinoids preserved during the process. The method we use is reverse phase chromatography. Chromatography is scientific approach to separating molecules based on their size. It is much more effective at removing THC than distillation. You start by dissolving the extract in a solvent. Then you place that solution in a cylindrical column under pressure. This allows the molecules to separate out by molecular size. At one end of the column is a reader. As the delta-9 cannabinoids pass the reader, they are diverted out of the column. Any delta-9 molecules that are not diverted, cycle back through the column and reader. The process continues until none are left. This method allows us to pull out just the delta-9 THC with much more precision than distillation. Ultimately we are able to preserve various phytochemicals that could otherwise we be destroyed using other processes. This ensures that the consumer still experiences the entourage effect. 

So what’s the difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate?

full spectrum = Contains all phytochemicals including polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenes and all cannabinoids including THC. 

broad spectrum = Contains all phytochemicals including polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenes and all cannabinoids excluding THC.

isolate = Isolated cannabidiol (CBD) does not contain any other beneficial phytochemicals therefore does not facilitate entourage effect.

Flat River Hemp Oil Farm Harvest and Product Launch Update

Hey Everyone,

The last few weeks have been exciting times on the Flat River Infusions farm.

  • We harvested our 2020 crop! New products including a CBG tincture will be the fruits of this bountiful harvest. We have been sharing some of our harvest adventures on facebook instagram and youtube

  • We launched two new products!
    • 1000mg Full Spectrum Lemonade Tincture including organic hemp seed oil as our carrier oil, 1000mg of Full Spectrum CBD Oil and lemon & lime essential oil for all natural flavor. This tincture is perfect for an uplifting morning to give you the support to face anything your day may bring. Buy Now
    • 1000mg THC Free Broad Spectrum Tincture including organic hemp seed oil as our carrier oil and 1000mg of THC free Broad Spectrum CBD Oil. This tincture was important for us to produce in order to offer a completely THC free option for those that may be increasingly worried of drug testing but still want the benefits of the entourage effect. That’s right since we only isolated the THC out in our proprietary distillation process, we were able to preserve a lot of the other beneficial phytochemicals in the plant including cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. So you still get some of the same benefits as a Full Spectrum product (although a touch milder) without THC. Buy Now

Flat River Hemp Oil How CBD works in the body.

Scientists first found out how CBD and endogenous cannabinoids work in the body by researching the metabolic pathways of THC. With DNA sequencing technology the National Institute of Mental Health was able to map the encoding process of cannabinoids in the brain. This profound discovery then led to CB1 and CB2 receptors being located throughout the body. These components were then referred to as the Endocannabinoid System.

So what biological processes is the Endocannabinoid System responsible for? The Endocannabinoid System can also be referred to as a homeostatic modulator. Homeostatic modulation is your body’s built in “default” setting so to speak. Homeostasis is when your body is completely balanced; mentally, physically and emotionally. This has also been referred to as your body’s state of flow. That means your ability to have a good nights sleep, handle a stressful work week and remember your kids busy schedule are all activities related to you Endocannabinoid System functioning optimally.

Most people produce inadequate amounts of endogenous cannabinoids, hence the need for CBD supplementation. If you take a CBD supplement this helps your Endocannabinoid System function optimally, making you the best YOU. For daily supplementation, Flat River Infusions recommends our 300mg Full Spectrum Tincture.





Flat River Hemp Oil Transplanting/Field Prep

This year has been a year of uncertainty with the chaos that has been caused by the pandemic, however nothing lifts your spirits more and calms your nerves than walking through a field of hemp. Nick has a degree in horticulture science and is not afraid to use it. Most people think that the growth cycle starts in the field, however lots of preparation is needed before hemp is ready to make its grand appearance outdoors. Flat River Infusions starts with premium seeds that have been cultivated from the best genetics in the world that express the most desirable phenotypic traits. Each seed is started and put under special grow lights in our greenhouses for a couple of weeks until ready for transplanting.

The field also receives a considerable amount of preparation in order to produce the best growing conditions for hemp. This preparation starts as soon as we harvest the previous season’s crop in the fall, we immediately start replenishing the soils natural microbiome. During the winter and spring other field preparations are made.

It is important that we wait to put our transplants outside until the time of year when daylight is maximal. Once the field is prepped and transplants are on deck ready for planting, tobacco transplant implements are used to put the plants in the ground. Someone walks behind each machine as it goes through the field making sure each plant is perfectly placed. After transplanting, we pray that transplant shock is minimum and apply water and nutrients as needed.

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