Under the Farm Bill law which was passed in 2018, it’s now legal to grow hemp in the US. With the Farm Bill law, hemp has been removed from the Schedule I controlled substances list and farmers will be eligible to receive federal agricultural grants to grow their crops. With the price of hemp crops starting at $30,000 per acre, let’s see how you can get in on this lucrative venture.
What is Hemp?
Hemp comes from the Cannabis sativa L. plant family just like marijuana; however, this is where all similarities between the two stop. First of all, hemp is a thin and long plant that doesn’t have any buds. However, the biggest difference between hemp and marijuana are the THC levels. Hemp contains 0.3% or less of THC, while marijuana can have between 5% and 30% of THC.
What Can You Use Hemp For?
Hemp has many healing and nutritional properties. In the US, farmers first started growing it for industrial purposes. Hemp seeds are also extremely nutritious and they are used in the production of hemp seed oil. However, possibly the biggest reason for its popularity in recent years is for making CBD products.
Before you start growing hemp, you should decide which part of the plant you want to cultivate. Also, consider that the CBD industry has exploded in recent years and by 2022 it will be a $22 billion industry.
As we’ve mentioned, farmers in the US have first started growing hemp for its fiber. Hemp fibers are used to make paper, fuel, and building materials. It also has numerous uses in the textile industry. Most of the hemp production in the US is done on a large, industrial scale. The industrial process includes cultivating, harvesting, processing, and transporting.
Hemp Seeds and Grain
Hemp seeds are a true power-food. They are chock-full of proteins, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. They can be sold on their own or made into hemp seed oil. However, hemp seeds are extremely delicate and need to be handled with a lot of care. You need to be particularly cautious when harvesting and transporting them.
Hemp plants with a high concentration of cannabinoids are the most popular type of hemp crop. You can use them to make CBD oil or various CBD-related products. Cultivating CBD hemp strains requires a lot of dedication and knowledge in order to produce a rich CBD crop which has less than 0.3% of THC. Only products grown under these stringent regulations can be used in consumer-facing CBD products for sale online and in store shelves, like these gummies, capsules, and CBD oils, says Justin Hamilton of Royal CBD.
Keep in mind that most farmers only grow female hemp plants for CBD production. Combining the male and female plant will decrease the CBD levels and increase hemp seed production.
The Best Conditions for Growing Hemp
Now, there’s a good reason people say hemp grows like a weed. It can easily thrive in most weather conditions, as well as on most types of soil. However, there are a few things you need to do if you want to make sure your hemp crops to do well.
While it will grow almost anywhere, there are certain types of soil where your hemp crops will grow much better. First, hemp crops prefer soil which has 6–7.5 pH levels. You can buy a soil tester online or at your local agriculture center. Next, hemp crops prefer loamy, well-aerated soils. As with any other crop, you will get better results if the soil is rich with organic matters and minerals.
If you want your hemp crops to grow in abundance, make sure they get a lot of sunlight. While they can grow with only six hours of sunlight a day, giving them 12 or more hours will yield the best results. Also, make sure you plant your crops after winter, once any danger of frost has passed.
During its growth cycle, hemp needs at least 20–30 inches of rainfall to grow. If you don’t get this much rain in your state, you might want to employ an irrigation system. Also, during germination, the crops will need ample amounts of water and moisture. Keep in mind that the soil moisture should not go below 80% during hemp ontogenesis.
Disease and Pest Control
The most dangerous diseases that can attack your hemp crops are white and grey mold. Also, be on the lookout for bacterial and fungal infections, as well as blight and root rot. As of this moment, there aren’t any pesticides in the US that have been registered for use on hemp crops.
If you want to grow organic hemp, all of the pesticides you’re using for disease and pest control need to comply with the USDA National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Moreover, if you want to avoid disease build-up on your crops, you should consider a 4-year crop rotation.
If you’re growing hemp for CBD production, keep in mind that cannabinoid levels usually peak around the fall. In most cases, hemp harvesting can start after about four months (16 weeks) since they were first planted. After you’ve harvested and cured your crops, depending on their purpose, you can send them off to be extracted for CBD oil or to be sold.