News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. June 10, 2020: Hemp farming has become a highly profitable business in the US, particularly since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. For years, the farmers have cultivated hemp to harvest the biomass and the fiber which is then used for a variety of purposes such as fabric, textile, energy, animal food, and so much more.
However, more recently, there has been a major shift in this arena. Both the farmers and Industrial Hemp Farms are now leaning more towards growing hemp for CBD (cannabidiol) which is supposed to carry huge medicinal value. CBD is essentially a type of oil that comes from the hemp flower. Today, the overall profit per acre from hemp farming is greater than it ever was.
Let’s take a look at the nitty-gritty of hemp farming as a business and the commonly asked questions in that regard.
1. Is industrial hemp legal?
Yes, it is! After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill also known as the Agricultural Improvement Act, hemp has officially become a mainstream crop. It’s no longer part of the Controlled Substances Act.
However, the crop is still regulated and you do need a permit for it. Each state has to submit a program for approval by the USDA. They can also have legislation to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances which then allows for applications via the USDA program.
2. Is hemp the same as marijuana?
No, it is not. They are both varieties of the cannabis Sativa plant but their chemical profile/structure is completely different. Hemp is cultivated through selective breeding. It is specifically cultivated to yield high-quality fiber, grain, and cannabidiol production.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is bred for the production of THC or Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the psychoactive chemical/cannabinoid that causes mind-altering effects. Hemp is required to maintain less than 0.3% THC (by dry weight) as part of the protocol before it can be considered hemp.
3. What are the uses of hemp?
The applications of industrial hemp are virtually limitless. Historically speaking, hemp was grown for mostly fiber which was used in the making of rope and fabric.
Today hemp fiber is used for applications like insulation, hempcrete, pressboard, plastic, animal bedding, etc. Hemp seeds are a source of protein which is why you’ll find products like hemp protein powder. The seeds are also rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and omegas. It’s also used as food for livestock. Hemp seeds can also be pressed into making oil cosmetics and food. Finally, hemp flowers carry medical value and hemp oil is part of that.
4. How To Start Hemp Farming?
As a farmer, the first thing you’re going to want to do is to familiarize yourself with all the hemp farming state laws and regulations. The last thing you would ever want to do is spend countless resources, time, money, and energy only to wrap things up because you failed to follow the red tape or stick with the protocol.
Once that is out of the way and you have procured all the necessary licenses/permits and approvals to start a hemp farm, you need to procure the right kind of equipment for prepping the ground, planting the seeds, and also for the final harvesting, extracting, and processing.
5. What kind of soil do you need?
Although hemp can thrive in practically all kinds of environments, you should be aiming for well-drained soil. The soil should be rich in organic materials/nutrients.
Grounds with excessively wet soil or areas of heavy rainfall where the soil remains saturated for long periods should be avoided though. Always go for high fertility grounds with low weed pressure.
You should start with testing the soil first to check for potassium sulfate, sulfur, and rock phosphate levels. Make sure they are not too high. Aim for testing the soil sometime around early spring or late autumn.
6. What climatic conditions are ideal for hemp farming?
Although this is a difficult question to answer, hemp does best in warm weather areas. Avoid high mountain regions and desert areas though. In terms of location, places away from the equator and closure to the poles are ideal. Flat grounds with good percolation are ideal for hemp cultivation. Areas with hot days and cooler nights with a healthy nutrient-rich water supply with short summers are best.
A typical hemp growth cycle is 108 to 120 days. The growing conditions during this time should remain stable and consistent.
7. What kind of equipment is needed for hemp farming?
You would need some basic tools and equipment to prep the ground and plant the seeds for a high-yield crop. Common equipment is those used for preparing the dirt, shaping the raised bed, covering the beds with mulch, drip irrigation system, and a transplanter.
All these equipment are essential for creating an environment that gives farmers control over water, temperature, and fertilizers; while also helping them fight weeds, control diseases, and avoid soil erosion.
8. After harvesting, who do you sell the hemp to?
Most of the hemp farming happens under some kind of contract with a manufacturing lab. However, the market for hemp biomass is growing at the level of futures (pre-sales) as well as post-harvest period. Both the decisions of pre-selling and holding the harvest are usually part of some kind of financial need or plan discussed and agreed upon by both the processors and the farmers.