One of the first things to think about when deciding to grow hemp is how you’ll start your crop. While selecting the right genetics is essential, you’ll also need to pick whether to start your crop from seeds or seedlings. Most retailers offer their most popular strains in both formats. While there’s a little more work involved in starting from seeds, it’s often a less expensive option if you’re worried about your budget. There are pros and cons with each option, but if you take good care of your hemp plants, using seeds or seedlings yields a lucrative crop.
Growing from seeds
Planting hemp seeds follows a relatively similar process as planting in general. Once you select the strain you’d like to grow, purchase your seeds in bulk. Make sure you’re buying them from a reputable wholesaler to assure quality. When you’re ready to plant:
- Till the soil first.
- Prepare a firm, shallow bed for uniformity in planting depth.
- Sow seeds directly into the soil. No need to start in pots, although you can begin your seeds indoors if you prefer.
- Sow seeds as close as four inches apart, at a depth of around 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.
- Space out rows by 15-30 inches.
- After planting, you can roll and pack the soil.
Once the seeds go into the ground they need a lot of irrigation. Especially in the first six weeks they’re in the soil, hemp plants are pretty sensitive. While overall they’re pretty drought-tolerant, during the first few weeks they’ll need a little extra attention.
The time investment
Hemp seeds take about 5-10 days to emerge from the soil. After that, it’s another 8-16 weeks for them to reach maturity. The species of seed will determine the grow time. The best time to plant hemp seeds is between May and June. This is after the final frost of winter. Soil temperature should reach at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit first.
When compared to seedlings, hemp seeds take longer to grow. However, when you start from a seed, plants produce tap roots. This can make your plants stronger and lead to a higher yield.
Growing from seedlings
Seedlings come to you already germinated. This cuts out close to two weeks of your grow time. Using seedlings, especially clones, also provides you with a more uniform crop overall. This benefits farmers planting on a large scale for many reasons.
- With seedlings, plant management is often a more streamlined process. The plants are almost always the same, so no surprise issues.
- Since seedlings come to you as feminized plants, you have a lower risk of a male plant developing. Female plants are essential for CBD extraction. A single male plant can severely impact an entire crop. If one emerges, it’s important to get rid of it immediately.
To plant your seedlings, start with the soil. Soil quality is so important for a successful hemp crop. Before planting, make sure to get your soil tested. You should know the nutrient contents of your soil along with its texture. The best soil for growing hemp is loose, well-aerated loam, that’s full of organic matter. The pH level should be between 6.0-7.5. Good drainage is also essential in order for seedlings to thrive. Other soil types will produce a viable crop, but may require some additional work to maintain your hemp plants.
Once the soil is ready to go, remove each plant from the container it came in and transplant it into the ground. How you intend to use your plants determines how far apart you space your seedlings. Hemp plants for seed or CBD manufacturing should have more spacing between them than plants used for fiber. For plants used for CBD extraction, you should get between 1,000-1,600 plants per acre.
Debating cost over time
The two biggest considerations to think about when deciding between seeds vs seedlings are cost and time. While seeds typically cost less to buy, you’re also committing to a longer cultivation period. Waiting for seeds to reach the seeding stage can add almost two weeks to your overall schedule. To harvest a hemp crop faster, seedlings are the way to go. Not only will they give you a shorter grow period, but because care is usually more uniform, you do less leading up to harvest. With less variability in seedlings, particularly clones, you’ll spend less time figuring out how to best care for your hemp plants.
To learn about seeds, seedlings and the variety of genetics available to start your hemp crop, contact Arbor Vita8. Our knowledgeable team will help guide you to the perfect strain for your soil and environment. We can assist you in deciding on whether seeds or seedlings are best for your grow. Not only that, but once your crop is ready to harvest, our variety of services can assist you with extraction and manufacturing. Contact us today to learn more.