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Hemp Farming 101: What You Need to Know Before You Plant

    Let’s chat about hemp farming. Hemp is a versatile and valuable crop that can be used for a variety of products, such as fiber, oil, food, medicine, and biofuel. Hemp is also a sustainable and environmentally friendly crop that can improve soil health, sequester carbon, and conserve water. This blog post will provide you with some basic information and tips on how to begin.

    Hemp planted on field
    Hemp planted on rows

    What You Need to Know About Hemp Farming


    Before you start farming hemp, there are some things you need to know about the legalities, regulations, and requirements of hemp farming. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that causes the “high” associated with marijuana. Hemp is federally legal in the U.S. since the 2018 Farm Bill, but each state has its own rules and regulations regarding hemp cultivation, processing, and marketing. Therefore, you need to check with your state’s department of agriculture or hemp program to find out if you need a license, permit, or registration to grow hemp, and what are the testing, reporting, and inspection requirements.

    Hemp Type

    You also need to know that hemp is a dioecious plant, meaning that it has male and female plants. Male plants produce pollen that can fertilize female plants and lower their quality and yield. Female plants produce flowers that contain cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which are the main compounds of interest for many hemp growers and consumers. Therefore, you need to decide what type of hemp you want to grow: fiber, grain, or CBD. Fiber hemp is grown for its stalks that can be used for textiles, paper, building materials, and more. Grain hemp is grown for its seeds that can be used for food, oil, animal feed, and more. CBD hemp is grown for its flowers that can be used for medicine, cosmetics, supplements, and more.

    Choose Variety

    Depending on what type of hemp you want to grow, you need to choose the right variety of hemp seeds or clones that suit your goals and your growing conditions. Hemp seeds can be either regular or feminized. Regular seeds produce both male and female plants, while feminized seeds produce only female plants. Clones are cuttings from female plants. Clones have the advantage of being genetically identical to the mother plant and having a shorter growing cycle than seeds. However, clones are more expensive and more susceptible to pests and diseases than seeds.

    How to Grow Hemp

    Hemp is a fast-growing and resilient crop that can adapt to various climates and soils. However, hemp grows best in a mild climate with a humid atmosphere and a well-drained loam soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. Hemp also needs plenty of sunlight and water during its vegetative stage but less water during its flowering stage.

    Steps to Gros Hemp:

    1. Prepare your soil by tilling it and adding organic matter or fertilizer if needed. You can also use cover crops or companion plants to suppress weeds and improve soil health.
    2. Plant your hemp seeds in rows or beds (row crops) with enough space between them to allow air circulation and weed control. The optimal planting time is after the last frost in spring when the soil temperature is above 50°F (10 *C). The seeding rate depends on the type of hemp you are growing and the size of your seeds. Generally:
      • Fiber hemp requires a higher seeding rate (40-60 pounds per acre or 60-70 kilograms per hectare)
      • Grain hemp (20-40 pounds per acre or 30-40 kilograms per hectare)
      • CBD hemp (1,000-4,000 plants per acre or 2,500-10,000 plants per hectare)
    3. Irrigate your hemp plants regularly during the first four weeks of growth to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. After that, water them only when needed depending on the weather and soil conditions.
    4. Weed your hemp fields to prevent weed competition and improve plant health. You can also use mulch or plastic film to suppress weeds.
    5. Fertilize your hemp plants if needed according to your soil test results and your crop’s nutrient needs. Hemp requires nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other micronutrients for optimal growth and yield.
    6. Monitor your hemp plants for pests and diseases and take preventive or corrective measures if necessary. Hemp is resistant to pests and diseases but can suffer from insects, mites, fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, rodents, birds, deer, etc.
    7. Harvest your hemp crop at the right time depending on the type of hemp you are growing and the end use of your product. Harvest fiber hemp before flowering when the stems are still green and flexible. Grain hemp is harvested after flowering when the seeds are mature and dry. CBD hemp is harvested during flowering when the flowers are at their peak of cannabinoid production. You can use different harvest methods and equipment to harvest hemp, such as sickles, scythes, mowers, combines, balers, etc.
    8. Dry and store your hemp crop properly to preserve its quality and prevent mold and spoilage. Fiber hemp is dried in the field or in a barn for several weeks until the moisture content is below 15%. Grain hemp we dry in a bin or a dryer until the moisture content is below 10%. CBD hemp is dried in a dark and well-ventilated area until the moisture content is below 10%. You can also use curing, decortication, shelling, extraction, or other processing methods to further process your hemp crop.
    Harvesting hemp field
    Hemp field harvesting

    Why You Need to Track Your Hemp Farming Activities

    Hemp farming is a complex and dynamic activity that involves many variables and challenges. To be successful as a hemp farmer, you need to keep track of your hemp farming activities and data, such as:

    • Hemp varieties, seeds, clones, and sources
    • Soil conditions, amendments, and tests
    • Planting dates, rates, and methods
    • Irrigation schedules and amounts
    • Weed management practices and costs
    • Fertilizer applications and costs
    • Pest and disease occurrences and treatments
    • Harvest dates, methods, and yield

    Tracking your hemp farming activities and data will help you to:

    • Optimize your hemp production and profitability
    • Comply with your state’s regulations and requirements
    • Manage your risks and liabilities
    • Improve your decision making and planning
    • Learn from your successes and failures

    How AgNote Farm Management Software Will Help You

    AgNote is a farm management software that will help you to track your hemp farming activities and data easily and efficiently. AgNote will allow you to:

    • Record your hemp farming activities and data on your smartphone or tablet
    • Synchronize your data with the cloud and access it from any device
    • Analyze your data with charts, graphs, and reports
    • Share your data with your team members, advisors, or customers
    • Export your data to Excel or PDF formats
    • Compare your data with other hemp farmers in your area or region

    This is the ultimate farm management software for hemp farmers. It will help you to grow better hemp, save time and money, and increase your profits. You can register and try AgNote today for free.