BUSINESS PROFILE: R Bottled Gold, Parkers Prairie
R Bottled Gold offers natural products for treatment of pain, anxiety, inflammation, and more
BY CAROL STENDER
There is a lot of the Ruckheim family in each of their CBD products, R Bottled Gold. That’s because the family has given each of their hemp plants a great deal of care on their Parkers Prairie farm.
The process starts with hemp seeds, which are planted in trays, then transplanted and hand weeded. Later, each plant is individually harvested.
“It takes an unbelievable amount of labor and a little bit of luck to take this plant from seed to a finished product,” said Matt and Casey Ruckheim, who own and operate R Bottled Gold.
And they help educate people on CBD, also known as cannabidiol. The products - ranging from tinctures to roll-ons and body balms to edible gummies and chocolates - can ease anxiety and pain.
“You can’t get high off of CBD,” Matt said. “The THC level (tetrahydrocannabinol - a cannabinoid compound) in the hemp plants has to be under 0.3 percent. It’s 12 to 13 percent in marijuana.”
That’s the biggest hurdle - overcoming the misconceptions about CBD, he said. But they’ve seen the long-term benefit in its use for pain, arthritis, and inflammation.
Their journey with CBD and hemp production started three years ago when Matt was searching for a high tonnage forage crop for his cattle. Then, while doing the search on his phone, he saw a picture of a 12-foot hemp plant.
“It was intriguing,” he said. “I needed to do more research into it.”
The plant, he discovered, had a lot to offer. First, it was legal to grow, thanks to a classification change from the 2018 Farm Bill.
He learned that hemp can be made into many products including paper, clothing, rope, textiles, shoes, food, insulation, bioplastics, and biofuel.
Matt needed to learn more and, with his wife, Casey, traveled to a hemp conference in Rochester. The two wanted to get more information and to network with other growers. The more they learned, the more the two were impressed with the crop, and they decided to grow it.
After getting licensed by the State of Minnesota, Matt ordered the seed, but he didn’t tell Casey how much he planned to purchase, and how many acres he would plant. He had been farming for 20 years, and had farmed hundreds of acres. He had farming experience. But, after he started growing it, he admits the first year that they bit off a bit more than they could chew. It was definitely a different production model.
In 2019, they planted 20,000 seeds over 10 acres. And, with the seed expense, Matt knew they would be out a lot of money if something wasn’t right. He scrapped his idea of planting it with the corn planter and started the seeds in trays.
Each seed was started in trays and, after about 30 days, was transplanted into the field using a cousin’s turn-of-the-century cabbage planter. While one person pulled the planter through the field, another sat on the planter with trays of the plants. The planter would create a hole in the earth, and a plant was taken from the tray and placed in the hole.
It took a week to complete the 10 acres of hemp planting that first year.
There was definitely a learning curve with this crop. The hemp involved more hands-on activity than they were accustomed to growing any other crop. There was constant weeding and, in August, they started walking the rows checking for “male” plants. If those plants pollinated the female plants, the CBD oil content would decrease because the plant would put its energy into seed production.
“We don’t want seeds,” Matt said.
Once they saw a male plant, they put a garbage bag over it, cut the base with a pruner, and took the bagged plant out of the field.
They also had to be on the lookout for female plants that can mimic the male plant.
They harvested in October, but no combine was used. A combine seemed like such a simple method, but it would’ve crushed the flower buds. The flower buds are where the Ruckheim’s CBD oil is extracted from, and they are very delicate. Instead, each plant was hand cut with pruning shears. The plants were then dried by hanging on baler twine. The twine was strung across the rafters in old round-roof dairy barns which were no longer being used for cattle.
The few barns they had lined up to use only held a small fraction of their total crop, so they called other farmers for help. At the end of their harvest, they had filled about 14 dairy barns in a 20-mile radius of their farm.
In a shed near their home, the Ruckheim family processed the plants further to remove the flower buds. The flower buds were taken to Fergus Falls, where the oil was extracted using a CO2 extraction process. The CBD oil is then refined and ready to use in products.
The couple contacted companies to formulate their oil into CBD products. One company makes the tinctures, another the body balm and roll-on, and a third makes the edible products.
“I often said, ‘Never again’ to doing things the way we did that first year,” Casey said. “We learned a lot - mostly what not to do.”
Despite all the work, they continue to grow hemp. While there are other hemp varieties, they will keep growing the one they started with, Casey said. Keeping with the same variety will maintain the quality product they have developed.
They now plant the hemp into a plastic covering and use a drip tape line for irrigation. The irrigation was crucial last year with the droughty conditions.
There is a learning curve to growing hemp, and more growers are showing an interest in it. When they went to the hemp conference in 2019, there were 43 people licensed to grow the previous year, Casey said. When they planted in 2019, there were 300 to 400 individuals licensed to grow it.
“We were right in the first wave of getting in on the ground floor,” she said.
Matt has been farming since he was 11. After college, including an AA degree from North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND, and a fluid power and automation degree from Alexandria Technical College, he returned to farming. His father sold the dairy cattle, and they turned to beef production and crops until Matt and Casey’s foray into hemp.
They have sold all but two beef cows, Matt said. He wants to devote more time to the crop and CBD business.
The couple’s three children help with the hemp crop’s care.
“Our CBD products have changed the lives of so many people,” Matt said. “From relief from pain and inflammation, to a better night’s sleep with more energy, to reduced anxiety, and even customers with reduced blood pressure - the great feedback we get from a first-time customer is what really drives me. We really encourage you to contact us so we can discuss the right product for your body’s specific situation.”
To learn more about R Bottled Gold CBD, check out their Facebook page, visit their website (www.rbottledgold.com) or call 218-639-8542 (Matt) or 320-815-0986 (Casey). Their Facebook page has videos and pictures which detail the growing and processing of the products. All products can be purchased by going to their webpage, www.rbottledgold.com.
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