On the Western Slope of Colorado, a producer of aspen trees has transitioned to grow hemp for cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) flower. Company leadership at Rifle Creek Nursery anticipate they will grow about 15 acres of hemp this year, after growing 9.5 acres in 2018, 22 acres in 2019 and 11 acres in 2020.
The Rifle, Colo., business grows with 6 feet between its hemp plants, which it irrigates using a plastic and drip line system. It uses a tumbling process to take flower biomass with 10% to 12% cannabinoids and produce kief with a nearly 25% cannabinoid concentration. After the team processes the biomass with a combine, they tumble and collect the flower material using screens. The entire process is mechanical and chemical-free.
Rifle Creek coats CBD flower with the kief to produce “moon rocks.” Its customers in Colorado produce products such as cannabinoid distillate and isolate.
Owner Scott Fields says the WinField United fertilizer products Gravity S Micro Surge, Gravity L AMP and Harvestgrow 4.0 allow him to grow larger, healthier plants with more biomass. With the help of these products, alongside quality genetics, Rifle Creek has increased its yield per acre during the past few years.
“I ended up with just under 32,000 pounds of biomass in 11 acres,” Fields says of the 2020 harvest. Even with plants so large and healthy, he says, there also appeared to be fewer insects.
When Rifle Creek changed its variety selection to produce more CBG, the team had to heed caution to avoid allowing nitrogen levels to rise too much, which would then allow tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels to rise above the legal threshold of 0.3%.
To the company’s benefit, WinField United’s Micro Surge fertilizer consists of a proprietary, complex and chelated micronutrient pack that has provided high-quality flower for Fields and his team and has allowed them to keep nitrogen levels down and control those THC levels.
In addition, WinField United offered Gravity L AMP to the greenhouse industry and has since begun promoting it as a solution in hemp. The product utilizes phosphorus, micronutrients and humic acid to help plants better establish themselves in the soil.
And Harvestgrow 4.0, which consists of humic acid and kelp and has a pH level of about 3.6, helps solubilize micronutrients from Micro Surge and Gravity L AMP. Harvestgrow allows the crop’s root system to hold onto phosphorus and micronutrients that are bound up in the alkaline soils. As a result, Fields’ plants grew consistently and with no nutrient deficiencies.
But the benefits of working with WinField United aren’t just in the products. WinField United has provided exceptional customer service, says Fields, who met Robert Garcia, WinField United’s western U.S. technical adviser, and Scott Gault, director of WinField United Professional Products, in 1995.
“Rob has always been there, even on weekends,” Fields says of Garcia, with whom he works closely. “He might be on a ski slope, mountain bike trail, helicopter skiing in Canada, or pedaling around Europe, [but] he has always returned my call. My nursery business and hemp venture would not be where they are today without WinField [United] and Rob Garcia.”