Determining when to harvest and actually harvesting the crop is the point at which processing starts. It is the goal of Vera Research Services Inc. to maximize profit and reduce risk for all growers. Therefore, processing science involves determining when to harvest, the mechanism of the harvest, transport, pre-processing treatments, and processing into intermediary as well as finished products.
Determining timing of the harvest is based on many factors including hemp variety, temperature fluctuation, and solar intensity, to name a few. The mechanism of harvest is usually either by hand, or mechanical. Currently, a reliable mechanical harvester for hemp is still in development, and likely will require modifications for hemp variety, and region. Pre-processing treatments are dependent on the equipment used to produce the finished products, variety of hemp, and the condition of the hemp biomass — is it wet or dried? Or has it been stored in a pile or in vacuum sealed bags? Milled or whole? With or without stems, and leaves? Finally, processing, which is dependent on the processor used, technique employed (ethanol, butane, propane, or super critical carbon dioxide) and the volume of biomass that it can processed in an 8-hour shift or a day.
In the end, items such as capacity, fixed costs, variable costs, and input costs are determined during the planning time prior to planting hemp to the sale of the finished and/or intermediary products. In short, a Techno-Economic analysis needs to be performed to understand all the costs of growing hemp and the impact on changes in processing, as well as changes in growing and handling of hemp biomass and products. Such a study has commenced at the Verax Research Services Inc. Linden, Tennessee growing center and will eventually be published as a white paper from the company, and YouTube episodes for growers to educate themselves.