Hemp plants thrive in the Southeast region of the US. It’s something to do with the notoriously high humidity and decent rainfall. The mild falls and hot summers don’t hurt either. Alabama, sitting smack in the middle of the Southeast, is a great state for hemp farmers. Hemp plants thrive in Alabama’s gorgeous, balmy summers. They also have plenty of time to grow during the temperate fall before harvesting. Growing hemp here is ideal, but there are a few steps farmers need to take before planting hemp in Alabama.
Getting a hemp license
Because hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana, there is some red tape surrounding hemp farming. All Alabama hemp farmers need to register with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) before the growing season. Without a license, you can’t legally grow hemp. Applying for a hemp license is a yearly thing. You’ll have to pay some fees and submit a growing plan.
Application and fees
The 2020 license period in Alabama for hemp farmers falls between October 5 and November 20th. Within that window, farmers submit their applications for a license to grow hemp the following growing season. You can submit applications online, either by email or via ADAI’s website, or by mail. These licenses must get renewed annually. Alabama farmers should account for the time and costs of applying every season. It’s a $200 fee to apply, and, once approved, a $1,000 fee per growing area.
A lot of states, Alabama included, require hemp farmers to present a growing plant before the planting season. These include actionable steps hemp farmers plan to take during the growing season. Farmers need to source where they plan to buy seeds or seedlings, establish a growing and harvesting time frame, and set up potential buyers for after harvest. Alabama farmers must hold off on buying hemp materials (plants or seeds) until after you get their license. It’s illegal to own hemp materials without one.
Growing conditions in Alabama are pretty darn ideal, but there are a few things to know ahead of time. There’s a bit more rainfall here than hemp generally needs. It’s something to take into consideration when sourcing genetics. A hemp strain that shows resistance to mildew growth is most likely the way to go.
The crop soil is pretty healthy and nutritious due to the environment. Especially if you’ve rotated your crops and replaced depleted nutrients when needed. Even better, hemp doesn’t need huge amounts of nutrient supplementation. After the first few weeks it’s pretty good to go. To prepare, get your soil tested for any imbalances, and adjust before you begin planting.
Planting and Harvesting
Planting hemp is generally the easy part. Farmers transitioning from traditional Alabama crops like cotton or tobacco can usually use some of the same tools, equipment, and know-how for hemp. There’s no real specific planting dates for hemp, it all depends on the season’s weather. When the soil warms to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s generally time to plant. Hemp grow times depend on what you are harvesting for. Hemp grown for fiber is generally cut at around 60 days and hemp grain at around 115. You can harvest hemp for CBD whenever the buds look mature enough.
Like tobacco, hemp has to go through a drying and curing process, especially for fiber and CBD harvests. This is when that Alabaman humidity might hinder you a bit, but provided you have a nice indoor space with proper fans and ventilation, the harvested hemp will do just fine.
Farm hemp in Alabama with Arbor Vita8
The possibilities for hemp farmers in Alabama are really exciting. If a state was ever predisposed to hemp cultivation, it’s this one. At Arbor Vita8, we specialize in helping local, Alabama farmers successfully grow and process hemp. From sourcing seeds to securing final buyers, we want growing hemp to be a seamless and enjoyable process for any farmers out there looking into it. Contact us today to get started.