In the United States, we are still relatively new to the nuances of industrial hemp cultivation. Although this was one of the most profitable crops early in the 1900s, is has only been in recently allowed that farmers in a 29 states now have been able to legally grow industrial hemp.
However, in Canada, Australia and a few other countries around the world, farmers have been reaping the benefits of industrial hemp cultivation for generations. So we look to the agricultural societies in these other countries for much needed advice.
The Australian Hemp Party offers some great information about growing industrial hemp that demonstrates how different and yet how much easier it is for farmers.
Basics of Hemp Cultivation
Soil requirements are fairly basic: “Hemp prefers a mild climate, humid atmosphere, and a rainfall of at least 25-30 inches per year. Good soil moisture is required for seed germination and until the young plants are well established.”
When should you plant hemp seeds? “Seeding should not begin until soil temperatures have reached a minimum of 42 – 46 °F (6 – 8°C).Hemp seed germinates within 24 to 48 hours, and emerges in 5 to 7 days with good moisture and warm temperature. Hemp grown for fiber should be seeded as early as possible while hemp for grain should be seeded later to minimize the height of the stalk.”
How do you control weeds? “Industrial hemp is an extremely efficient weed suppressor. No chemicals are needed for growing this crop. Industrial hemp is a low maintenance crop. There are no registered chemicals for weed control in hemp cultivation. A normal stand of 200 to 300 plants per square meter shades out the weeds, leaving the fields weed-free at harvest.”
The OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) also has a wealth of information for industrial hemp cultivation, includes tips on fertility:
Hemp requires approximately the same fertility as a high-yielding crop of wheat. About 42% of the plants’ biomass returns to the soil in the form of leaves, roots and tops. These contain over half of the nutrients applied to the crop. Many of these nutrients will be available to help feed the following crop.
In Canada, where industrial hemp cultivation has been legal again since 1998, their agricultural agencies see this as a crop, rich in opportunity:
“Hemp’s agronomic and environment attributes are remarkable: it can be grown without fungicides, herbicides and pesticides, it absorbs carbon dioxide five times more efficiently than the same acreage of forest and it matures in three to four months. Hemp can be used to create building materials, textiles, clothing, inks, and paints and has potential use in other non-food products. These advantages are in tune with the environmental and health preferences of today’s North American public. The growing curiosity of consumers, the interest shown by farmers and processors, and Canada’s excellent growing conditions for industrial hemp allow optimistic views for its future.”
Farmers and business professional agree; industrial hemp cultivation has an enormous upside for creating jobs, revenue and products. We just have to get past the legal stumbling blocks that keep industrial hemp cultivation and harvest from being an acceptable and legal crop in the United States.
You can help make the future happen by signing the petition from the National Hemp Association. They need your help to get 1M signatures and raise the money to take this to the federal level and make industrial hemp legal across all 50 states.