Hemp is an exciting crop for farmers across the country right now. From the plant’s resiliency to its high-potential profit yield, farmers are finding more reasons to plant it. Generally speaking, making the transition from more traditional crops like corn or wheat is not that hard. But, the relative newness of the crop does make the process a bit more perplexing to a lot of farmers. If you’re thinking about rotating in a few acres or transitioning all the way, our best tips for growing hemp outdoors are below.
Things to consider before planting
The Department of Agriculture still closely regulates hemp. New growers need to consider the red tape that they’ll unfortunately come across. Any farmers considering planting hemp will have to register with their state’s Agricultural Departments first. Then, according to the 2018 Farm Bill, growers need to have their plants tested for legal levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants. This must happen within 15 days of harvest.
Sourcing your plants
Because of the thin line between legal and illegal hemp plants, sourcing solid seeds or clones is the most important part of growing hemp. The large influx of new hemp farmers in the last two years saw varying degrees of success. A lot of that is due to where they sourced their plants. Having a legitimate source, that gives you the right plants with the right genetics, is the first step to a successful growing season.
Planning your harvest and finding processors
Another thing you’ll want to consider before planting is who will process your crop after it’s harvested. Most farmers don’t think about this until later on in the season. This is fine for most crops with a steady supply and demand. However, due to the newness of the hemp market, and space limitations processes can have, it’s never a bad idea to source a buyer early.
We’ve all heard a lot of talk going around about hemp’s miraculous qualities. Hemp is a very resilient plant. In many cases, it does help rejuvenate fields bled dry by other, more traditional crops. Yet, farming hemp is just that — farming. It’s tough work sometimes, but we don’t have to tell you how rewarding it can be.
Prepping your soil
Although hemp doesn’t need incredible amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to thrive, like any other plant, it’s still important to start with quality soil. Many farmers start prepping their soil in the Fall, especially if they’re growing organically. Tilling the soil is crucial, as hemp is especially sensitive to compacting. When it comes time to plant, you can utilize equipment like tobacco setters to get clones in the ground. Otherwise, planting seed-by-seed ensures proper spacing between plants.
The hemp lifecycle to harvest
In the early stages of the plant’s life, hemp likes a lot of light, heat, nutrients, and water. Hemp grows the most in the first 60 days. After that growth spurt, it’s about closely watching the plant and giving it proper maintenance so it develops right. For CBD, that means making sure to remove any males plants from the field so pollination doesn’t affect the female plant’s CBD levels. Plants should also get defoliated regularly so the flowers can properly develop. Keep in mind, there’s less of this nit picky maintenance in hemp grown for industrial uses.
Harvesting too, depends on why you’re growing your hemp. Most growing for CBD find that cutting down plants stalk-by-stalk is a safer bet. But, for most other uses, equipment used for harvesting wheat does the job. After harvesting the plants, they’ll need to dry out before going off for processing. After that, you’ll have your first season of hemp growing under your belt.
Hemp on the rise
Hemp is going big places, and farmers interested in planting it now are in a good spot. Continued widespread growing makes the process better informed every year and education around the plant expands with every season. We’re passionate about helping that happen here at Arbor Vita8, especially for first-time farmers who might need guidance. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.