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An Entry-Level Guide on How to Grow Hemp

The number of hemp crops in the U.S. and worldwide has grown exponentially in the past decade. Part of the reason for this is the passing of the 2018 farm bill in the U.S.

This has not only sparked the interest of consumers but cannabis enthusiasts looking to grow their plants—a tricky endeavor to take on without a guide to fall back on. 

Lucky for you, we’ve put together a short article taking you through the basics of growing hemp.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Is It Legal to Grow Hemp?

Ideal Conditions of Growing Hemp

Things To Know About How to Grow Hemp

Wrapping Up

Is It Legal to Grow Hemp?

After the 2014 farm bill, hemp was allowed as an experimental agricultural crop on a federal level in the U.S. Four years later, the 2018 farm bill federally legalized hemp cultivation and production of hemp-derived finished goods with equal to or less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC content.

However, each state follows its own Controlled Substances Act (CSA), even with a federally legal label. So the way hemp crops are controlled in each state may still vary. Although in most cases, the local CSA will mirror the federal government’s CSA.

Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize cannabis for recreational use in November 2012. It’s important to note that other states had legalized medical marijuana before that. Still, Washington and Colorado were the states that paved the way for legal recreational use in the U.S., While California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis use.

Hemp was one of the first crops in the world. Its first presence dates back to 8000 BCE in Asia (What is now China and Taiwan). Some evidence of hemp is combusted, but the evidence is even stronger for its use as a raw material for other products like rope and fabric.

The evidence of hemp cultivation in America dates back to the 1600s. Some reports even mention that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both had hemp in their plantations. However, this piece of information cannot be confirmed conclusively.

The government began to tax hemp in the early 20th century heavily. After several discussions throughout different presidencies, it finally got banned in the 1970s due to The War on Drugs under president Richard Nixon. At the time, both hemp and marijuana were considered the same thing (cannabis), a plant that was classified as a schedule 1 drug. Meaning it was illegal.

It isn’t easy to pinpoint where the first legal hemp crop in the U.S. was. But as you know by now, its legal status has drastically changed since the 1970s.

Ideal Conditions of Growing Hemp

Hemp thrives in warm weather and locations with well-drained soil. Both hemp and marijuana can be sown directly into the soil and don’t need to be transplanted from pots.

Hemp farming is experiencing a massive push from the government because it is identified to activate the economy and industry with incredible potential. But while growing a few hemp plants is not so hard, tending to a more significant crop can be very difficult.

Ideal Conditions of Growing Hemp

Hemp is a crop best suited for industrial applications. This means that a successful harvest is at least 50 acres or more.

Owning an industrial hemp crop requires a license. Not to mention that the legal liability behind a hemp farm is huge and draws a lot of attention from the government. Remember, hemp is federally legal only when THC content is kept under 0.3%. So you can expect to have to test your harvest.

The same type of legal complications could be met when shipping hemp seeds across the country. Even though hemp is federally legal, each state has its way of operating, and shipping across state lines can be tricky.

Things To Know About How to Grow Hemp

Female and Male Seeds

Cannabis plants (including hemp) can come in two different genders; male and female. 

Feminized seeds are bred to produce only female plants. You can also propagate vegetative clones of your plant by taking plant cuttings from females. Hemp is usually harvested by growing female plants that remain unfertilized, but hemp fiber can be taken from both genders. When the female plant is pollinated, seeds or grain are produced from it.

However, any cannabis plant can produce flowers from both genders. These plants are called hermaphrodites and can be avoided by making sure plants are well cared for, especially during their flowering phase.

Photoperiod

Photoperiodic plants have vegetative and flowering phases that require different periods of darkness and daylight. For that reason, both periods are triggered and better performed in different seasons. Therefore, the flowering stage should be timed when nights are longer, and the vegetative stage is shorter.

This is partly why indoor-grown hemp plants are more likely to have higher quality; in other words, you can control light exposure with indoor growth operations but not when growing outdoors.

Germination

If you’ve grown any other plant from seedlings, then you’ve been through the same process that germinating hemp requires. Germination has three main steps you need to follow to ensure the highest quality (without additional devices and products).

  1. Pre-soaking the seeds for 8-12 hours.
  2. Keeping germination temperature between 16-21 degrees C.
  3. Plant seeds 1-inch deep in moist soil or your seed starting mix of choice.

Seedlings

Once germinated, seedlings need to be kept between 20-25 degrees C. If you have a heat mat, this is the best way to control temperature. 

When growing hemp indoors, you can control light, temperature, but also humidity. Germinated seedlings perform best at 65-70% humidity. This can be controlled by using a humidity dome to cover the seedlings for the first two weeks after germination.

Things To Know About How to Grow Hemp

Once your seedlings reach the light photoperiod, you'll want to growwant grow lights over them 18 to 24 hours a day. Make sure you are constantly checking in on your seedlings' height to avoid roasting them too much.

The only thing left to do is make sure your seedlings are adequately fed and watered throughout their lifetime.

Transplanting Seedlings

Once your seedlings have grown enough, you can transplant them to the soil where they will flower. The temperature you keep them at will differ depending on how young your plant is when transplanted.

Once you’ve transplanted the plants, you’ll need to ensure that the soil is kept moist but not wet. You may choose to use only water or boost your watering with nitrogen-rich fertilizer and other supplements. Always keep humidity between 40% and 70%.

Flowering

The temperature during the flowering stage needs to be kept between 20-25 degrees C for fully mature plants. As they flower, the humidity range needs to be focused between 40-50%.

Air circulation must be maintained to avoid pests and fungi. For this, you may use a small clip fan below the grow lights.

Once the vegetative stage is over, you can change the photoperiod on your lights to trigger the plants into flowering. Watering should be reduced slightly for mature plants without allowing them to dry out, and feed should be regular and feel.

Wrapping Up

It will take some trial and error to grow cannabis plants that provide the results you’re looking for. As for the legal aspect of a healthy hemp crop, each state has its own set of rules that you should look into first, but hemp is considered a federally legal harvest since 2018.

The ideal conditions for growing hemp require a bit of effort and time to look for the perfect location. Solid, temperature, humidity, and seasonal conditions all play a massive role in the outcome.

Hemmfy articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them.

The knowledge around CBD and other cannabis-derived products is growing and constantly changing, as does their legal status. Hence, we recommend checking with your local authorities and a licensed physician prior to consumption.

Simon Cartagena

Simon Cartagena is a full-time cannabis copywriter. This has led him to write for companies like Hemmfy.com where he acts as Senior Content Writer and other world-renowned cannabis publications. Simon has created Content Marketing strategies and articles that have helped company revenues increase by up to 1,000%. Simon’s goal is to help people understand cannabis in an industry where misinformation seems to be predominant.