Growing Hemp is rapidly becoming popular across the country since the provisions were incorporated into the 2018 Farm Bill making it federally legal to grow on December 20th 2018. It is now an ordinary agricultural commodity.
Hemp plants are grown very closely together in hemp varieties grown for seed or fiber use, while a very dense biomass product is obtained, rich in oil from the seeds and fiber from the stalks and low in THC content. That is very important because the United States federal law requires the THC content in industrial hemp to be 0.3% or less.
Hemp is used to make over 25,000 different products, some examples include:
- biodegradable plastics
- cement blocks
The wide variety, different uses, and being it is environmentally friendlier than other products being used for the same reasons, gives farmers a great reason to get involved in the hemp market.
Although growing hemp can take some time to learn, it definitely can be very rewarding to the producers because the future of this market looks promising. Lets take a look at some of the general information current and new farmers should know before getting started.
Growing Hemp Basics
Finding the right land, environment, and climate before growing hemp is essential. Hemp grows best between 60 and 80 degrees. Which makes it pretty reasonable to grow around the country during certain seasons. Hemp seeds should be planted after the final frost and when the soil temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees. Speaking of soil, hemp prefers a deep aerated soil with a ph between 6 and 7.5. Before planting the hemp seeds prepare a firm shallow bed to keep seeds as uniform in depth as possible. Next, sow the seeds relatively close together depending on the yield and grow space of your desired crop. And you will want to put the seeds at a depth of 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch when planting. After getting the seeds in the dirt it is also recommended to roll and pack the soil. Now, make sure to irrigate the seeds often. Especially during the first 6 weeks of being planted. They tend to be more fragile and sensitive to dryness during this period.
Now you probably should have this well thought out already and growing your hemp seeds accordingly, but you will want to decide on if you will be using any pesticides or if you will be growing hemp organically. Hemp is reasonably pest and disease resistant and doesn’t require a great deal of supplementary nutrition, which makes it a great plant to try to grow organically.
When planting and harvesting hemp, no special machinery is required. Either a grain drill or corn planter will work fine for planting, and a rotary combine will do the job come harvest season.
After you’ve harvested the hemp make sure to clean all foreign material from the grain and prepare it for storage until it’s ready to be processed. Dry hemp grain to approximately 9% moisture and make sure it is properly aerated immediately to avoid spoiling.
Farmers that are interested in entering the industrial hemp market need to understand and choose which hemp variety they should grow and to what use will be made of it. That will help determine and give an outline of how and why we grow different strains the way we do.