A member of the Cannabis sativa family, hemp is an incredibly versatile plant. Humans have used it for thousands of years to make fiber for rope, clothing, and other items. Hemp seeds are edible and highly nutritious. The cannabidiol (CBD) contained in hemp plants is used for a variety of therapeutic treatments.
Hemp differs from its cousin marijuana in that hemp contains lower amounts of THC, the ingredient in cannabis that gets folks high. Hemp contains just 0.3% or less of THC. In 2018, the U.S. government finally got around to legalizing this valuable plant with the passage and signing of the Hemp Farming Act.
Many folks want to grow hemp for a variety of uses, from producing fiber for textiles or seeds for human consumption to CBD for health. Like the "weed" it resembles, hemp is easy to grow but does require some knowledge and skill to be raised successfully. Read on for tips about how to grow hemp seeds in this blog from DripWorks.
Where to Grow Hemp
First, you will want to decide whether you want to grow your hemp seeds indoors or outside. Each approach has its pros and cons. Growing hemp inside lets you control the climate but requires a greater investment. Raising hemp outdoors means you don't have to install lighting and other equipment but leaves you more at the mercy of the weather.
Wherever you decide to grow, you should seek light, loamy soil you have worked with a tiller, shovel, or hoe to loosen and aerate. Test the soil pH before planting. Ideal pH for hemp plants ranges from 6.0 to 7.5. Late spring is usually the best time to plant hemp seeds outdoors.
If possible, get certified seeds from a trustworthy source. Look for the right genetics for your project. Some university extension services may be able to give you science-based advice on the best hemp seeds for your area.
Some hemp seeds are better for fiber or food, while others have been bred to produce the best CBD. Hemp seeds for CBD are ideally feminized, while hemp seeds for fiber or food can be a mix of males and females.
The soil temperature should be at least 50º Fahrenheit when you plant. While they grow, hemp plants like a temperature between 60º and 80º.
Plant the seeds 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches deep. For hemp stalks used to make fiber for clothes, ropes and other items, plant hemp seeds for fiber close together to get a maximum yield. Hemp planted for edible seeds can be spaced farther apart. If you are growing hemp for CBD, allow as much space as possible between plants to encourage them to bush out.
Fertilizing and Irrigating
The first six weeks of the plants' life are crucial. Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer on the sides of the rows rather than on top of the plants.
Hemp plants will need about 12 to 15 inches of water while they grow. If it doesn't rain or your plants are indoors, you will want to water them regularly, so the soil doesn't dry out. Drip irrigation is an effective way to water your plants properly without having to do so manually.
Hemp plants typically are ready for harvest in September or October. Once harvested, they will require drying to be used. Stalks for fiber should be dried to a moisture level of 15%, which can be checked with a moisture meter available online or at some garden stores.