Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, where did you go to school, where you live now and are you a Florida Native?
My name is Brandon Boyd, I am co-owner of TBGHemp. I was born and raised in Homestead FL. I attended a small private school that was at the time surrounded by a farming community in South Florida , Princeton. I attended Abraham Baldwin agricultural college in Tifton Georgia Where I realized after about two years that college wasn’t really for me. In my early 20s I spent my time doing everything from being a head grower in the foliage industry to running a produce company that catered to produce delivery companies in the Northeast in the winter time when it was too cold to support local farmers, we found a way to sell Florida produce to them and support regional farmers. I Currently reside in Tallahassee FL.
When did you begin working in Cannabis? And more specifically “Hemp”.
I grew up with a passion for plants as it’s been part of my families history for 5 generations. Cannabis from an early age fit into that as well. Whether growing or consuming, I have always been fascinated by this plant. As you know in Florida, the barrier to entry is costly and difficult, although it looks like that landscape might change here soon, but still costly haha. So when the 2018 farm bill was passed that, allowed for states to start coming up with their own Hemp Programs. We(Tommy Vick V&B Farms) volunteered at UF TREC in Homestead where we learned that it wasn’t just smokeable flower we were trying to grow. It was Hemp for Fiber and Grain production. I’ll be honest, We have have extensive background in row crop farming but we have never grown Cannabis (Hemp for Fiber) I thought you just smoked it haha. So I myself became educated real quick and realized the potential of this industry. It definitely made me excited about continuing to farm in the state of Florida.
What were some of the lessons you learned growing Hemp in it’s first year in Florida? Pros and Cons
The original plan was to grow in the greenhouses as well temperature controlled greenhouses here in New Smyrna. If you know about growing any type of cannabis, the rain and humidity are probably two of your biggest factors in whether or not you are going to have a successful run. Rain and Humidity are something that Florida has a lot of, so it really doesn’t go well with the cannabis plant outside or even covered for that matter.
Our very first Hemp crop was a disaster. Some of the states pilot programs were recognized as having the best genetics as well as stable genetics. Our first crop hermed (I can explain) and the following two crops were fine due to the cooler months but the bud structure and nose were not acceptable for the markets we were targeting.
I think we knew from the start that we were going to have to create genetics in Florida for Florida. We never found genetics that worked for us through the pilot programs, so luckily being in the UF Pilot Program, It allowed for us to start doing our own trials and start creating genetics. Through that process we found “Bubba Kush” by Zoe Therapeutics. These are Florida guys who still operate very successful businesses in Florida as well as a hemp breeding program out in Oregon. Their genetics really saved us.
What type of products do you produce? and where do you see the market going for those products, and how does Florida fit into that?
We grow smokable flower in our temperature controlled greenhouse is as well as regular traditional green houses and outdoor. Our target market has been with the distributors coming from the commercial side of agriculture we were definitely more set up for that model versus creating our own brand that’s where we’ve done the best and that’s where we’ll continue to pursue when we started back in early 2020 the price for smokable flower was significantly higher Dan it is today by some 400% so we are now faced with a situation where the cost of growing the product doesn’t make sense for the price you’re getting for that product. I think if Florida farmers are going to do well in the hemp business whether that be for oil production or the potential for fiber production they’re going to have to figure out #1 genetics that can handle the Florida temperatures humidity in rain. States out West are going to continue to be able to do a better job for a cheaper price because they’re not constantly having to deal with outdoor conditions that are harmful to the product. I believe it’s scale B2 target markets for outdoor Florida farmers with large tracts of land is going to be oil production terpene production or find production. Our experience growing outside for a smokable flower, is doable the amount of work that goes into it just isn’t worth it for us.
You mentioned Fiber, can you speak on what you are currently doing in that area?
Although not as popular and sexy as regular marijuana or even smokeable hemp or CBD cream is your hemp fiber, whether that for making clothes, animal bedding or hemp hearts. no one really knows much about it. I think you hear often how hemp will change everything on the face of this planet but you still have such a new industry that is having to catch up with quite frankly very old genetics. so I think that’s where things need to start so for the past year we have been quietly testing genetics for very specific byproducts of hemp fiber. I can say that the outlook is very promising but the research definitely is still going on and the development of the supply chain and the processing facilities to create these byproducts is still needing to be developed whether that through private funding or through state funding federal funding grants, the only way to scale and kind of follow through on all the talk about him and cannabis changing this state or this country is capital, private or public.
What do you want to see changed at the state level as a farmer in the State of Florida?
I think when you’re dealing with new industry and regulation especially at the state level, you have to learn to be patient. The University of Florida played a pivotal role in where we are today as a hemp company, just by allowing us to trial our own genetics. I really believe if we want to get programs like this and new industries like this off the ground I think it’s important to listen to farmers and then talk to the regulators, what’s happening is decisions are being made by paper farming versus decisions being made in the best interests for the farmer to succeed. Florida is an agriculture state, In every state you have advantages and disadvantages in agriculture, I believe Florida has advantages that no other state has and I also believe that there are disadvantages to farming hemp in Florida I think in the first year we’ve identified those. I think funding at the state level is very important. I think when you see those funds start to trickle down the proper way, You will see this industry scale, you will see the state of Florida compete with other states will be profitable at it.