Hemp is often hailed as a super-crop that has a myriad of applications. What are the steps to cultivate it? Here’s a brief outline.
Hemp is a term used to describe varieties of Cannabis which do not contain enough THC to make you high, yet have a long tradition of use in a variety of products from cosmetics and food items to building materials and textiles. It is among the oldest crops that have been cultivated on Earth and is featured prominently on the farms of the colonial era throughout the U.S. However, it was outlawed for commercial use by the Federal government the year 1957 in the midst of a period of anti-marijuana panic.
North Carolina is one of the few states in which hemp cultivation has been resuming recently. There is a constant market for hemp, which is a product for industrial use (making items with hemp has never been banned and manufacturers were forced to import it from other countries such as Canada and Europe for the past seven years). In the course of how American hemp industry expands manufacturers are hoping to obtain hemp in the United States – which is why there are signs encouraging North Carolina farmers to plant hemp.
Is it Legal for farmers to grow Hemp?
In the 90s when the legalization of marijuana movement gained momentum and a variety of states began to pass laws that would allow hemp cultivation to start afresh in opposition to the federal prohibition. Many legal and practical obstacles prevented hemp farmers from establishing hemp cultivation in any significant way until recent times, but.
Today the hemp industry is legalized in 36 states to various degree (some to be used for research only). The first commercial hemp plantation took place in 2013 in which Colorado farmers Ryan Loflin harvested a 55-acre crop, the first in the United States since 1957.
The 2014. Farm Bill included a provision that permitted states to start studies on hemp cultivation. Although the prohibition on commercial cultivation in the federal government was not changed, the new policy was interpreted as a signal that federal regulations could be relaxed further which would trigger a fresh movement on the level of state governments to allow hemp and make it known as an economically viable crop.
In its raw form hemp is an extremely minor crop however, it is rapidly growing as of 2016. In 2016 less than 10,000 acres of hemp were planted across the country. In 2017, more than 26,000 acres – more than twice as much as the previous year were grown by approximately 1500 farmers.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has proposed an amendment to the 2019 Farm Bill that would lift the federal prohibition for hemp production. If it is passed it, hemp cultivation in the American hemp industry is likely to grow rapidly and create a huge need for farms to grow the crop.
If you’re thinking of cultivating hemp, the first step is to ensure that it’s legal in the area you live in. The National Conference of State Legislatures keeps a comprehensive current list of hemp laws at the state level.
Why Should You Grow Hemp?
Hemp is more vigorously grown than corn, and requires less water as well as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, gaining it the reputation of being an eco-friendly crop. The plant has more than 25000 uses, and could provide an eco-friendly alternative to other crops made on an industrial scale.
The numerous amounts that biomass hemp can be an ideal raw material to feed livestock, biofuel production as well as paper and textiles. The seeds, as well as the oil they produce can be used in a variety of ways that are both culinary and industrial. There is also the possibility of making alternative building materials from the stalks, like hempcrete which is able to absorb more carbon out of atmospheric carbon than emissions needed for its production.
One of the biggest industries that hemp cultivators are taking advantage of can be the manufacture of CBD oil, which is a therapeutic plant compound that is free of THC, and therefore is legally consumed in all 50 states.
What are the ideal Growth Conditions to Hemp?
Hemp is a perennial plant that is a good choice for growing in all regions of the nation except for extreme desert conditions as well as high mountain regions.
It thrives in warm climates and thrives in well-drained soils abundant in organic matter. Hemp seeds are typically planted directly on the spot where the plants will develop, instead of in pots to be transplanted. They must be planted once the date on which average last frost is over. Hemp plants that are established are drought-resistant, however the seedlings will require watering during the first six weeks, if they are dry.
What are the biggest Hemp Growing Obstacles?
Hemp Growing is frequently credited with incredible potential to sequester carbon, reducing the impact of agricultural pollution and allowing farmers profit hugely from marginal farms. However, the truth isn’t as straightforward. Here are a few things to think about before deciding if hemp could be the best choice for you.
It requires a large amount of space: It’s a crop that is suitable for industrial use and not for farmer’s market sales. Like most grains it’s difficult to become profitable growing hemp without at minimum 50 acres.
The “red-tape percent” is very high. Due to the legal uncertainty surrounding hemp, cultivators require specific licenses from their states that means they must pay charges and forms. Growers could also be required to undergo a background screening. In states where hemp is legal, farmers have to test their hemp plants to determine if they’re below an amount for THC-content. If your hemp plants are found to contain excessive levels of THC the plants could be destroyed.
Seeds that are suitable can be difficult to locate: Hemp growers are typically required to plant seeds that has been vetted for low THC content, however the seed industry is not keeping up with the market and there could be issues with the federal government when it comes to shipping cannabis seeds across states.
The majority of the farm equipment available commercially will double as a machine to cultivate hemp, however it is often necessary to make custom modifications to keep the plants from clogging machines. The equipment needed to extract hemp stalks into fiber isn’t readily accessible throughout all of the U.S., though it is becoming more common in more affluent hemp-producing states like Colorado. To stay away from expensive new equipment purchases farmers may have the option of contracting with companies who will accept the raw material from the plant and perform processing on an individual scale.
Is Hemp Well-suited to Organic Cultivation?
Hemp is a great crop for organic farmers as it needs little inputs, is remarkably resistant to disease and pests and grows so quickly as well as tall, that it is able to outdo herbicides, which reduces the requirement for hand cultivation which is a significant expense for many different organic crop varieties.
The USDA doesn’t permit hemp being certified as organic within the states where it can legally grown, however the agency has granted an exception for hemp. The market for organically certified hemp seeds, which are an extremely popular health food, is particularly large.