ROBERTI RANCH historically known for its cattle and hay operations in Sierra Valley, announced at a media night held at the ranch on Monday, June 11, 2018 their new farming venture with University of Nevada, Reno:
A24 Farming is set to pioneer the hemp industry in the Sierra Valley. A24 Farming and Roberti Ranch are two different entities due to major insurance companies still considering hemp a drug.
Local media and those involved in the project were invited to the ranch where the new product as well as Sierra Valley were showcased. Folks were bussed and toured the site, walking the areas having been planted.
Speaker for the project, Dave Roberti, said they want the public to understand what hemp is, that it is a different plant than marijuana and the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has to be .3% or less to be considered hemp. Working with University of Nevada, Reno makes the entire project for research with a brand new crop forging new territory.
Roberti introduced major players in this undertaking:
Kevin Moats of Harvest Tek is A24 Farming’s contact and “main guy managing the whole thing,” by supplying the plants and seed, helping Robertis with consulting for the growing and harvesting and contracting with him when the product is sold as Harvest Tek will buy it back. Kevin plans on filling different contracts for creams, oils and isolates and they make different versions of crude oil. He found Sierra Valley ground “amazing; very neutral.”
Dr. Glenn Miller, Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science from UNR will be doing a lot of research. Miller said the whole thing is a
research project and he will be looking at spacing; can you grow it on half the water; how do you control the weeds and pests. Roberti stated they can’t call up many people to see what works because it is so new. The only other farm that is
mechanically harvesting hemp is in Colorado. Roberti said, the harvesting is still iffy. He stated they plan on using a corn head to cut it and thinks it will work just fine. Roberti said they will harvest some by hand and will try using a modified combine, which is what Colorado uses.
Erica Kay, a Ph.D. student from UNR who studied pest management on hemp, will be advising as well. Roberti stated the project had been delayed due to weather, but they finally started planting the last couple of days. They will be planting 160 acres, which is "huge" for a hemp project. Most hemp is grown in 10-50 acres. Roberti said they will be planting some by plant and some with direct seed, to see what performs well, and what doesn’t. A24 Farming plans to have a couple hundred thousand plants growing.
One of the biggest reasons they chose to do this project is the dairy market is starting to collapse which will have a big direct impact on their markets for selling alfalfa.
Roberti said Sierra Valley is very limited in what they can grow and hemp can handle frost, a variety of soil conditions, likes elevation, and Sierra Valley doesn’t have insect or mildew problems like other elevations. He added, hemp uses a half to a third of the water alfalfa uses.
Working with University of Nevada’s research facility for higher eduction makes A24 Farming exempt from most federal laws restricting hemp right now. There’s been discussion with Plumas County Sheriff Hagwood who is said to see no problem with how it’s grown and planted, completely legal.
Taking the leap to grow hemp through A24 Farming, gives the upcoming leaders of the family such as Jay, Ben, and Weston, the chance to be involved with the decision making of planting and exploring a new crop. It also potentially provides a way for the entire family to continue making a living in agriculture.
The late Elmer Roberti was one wise man and his family members are reminded of something he often said, “If you’re not going ahead, you’re falling behind.”