Since hemp cultivation was federally legalized in 2018, the hemp industry has begun booming throughout the United States. While there are many outstanding questions about hemp cultivation, and many existing regulations that must be followed, there’s already a lot to learn about this new cash crop.
Hemp is an herbaceous, annual plant with a slender stem, which ranges in height from four to 15 feet, and in diameter from 1/4″ to 3/4”. The innermost layer, or pith, is surrounded by hurds, an outer, wood-like material, and bast fibers. As you likely already know, most hemp plants grown in the U.S. can have only .3% Delta-9 THC at the flower level (though regulations vary by state – and hemp cultivation is still not legal in Idaho, South Dakota, and Mississippi). If the flower has a higher THC level, farmers often have to destroy their entire hemp crops.
Wasco Cultivators Are Perfect for Starting and Sustaining Hemp Crops
At Wasco, we’re particularly interested in hemp cultivation, because we know our tools can, will, and are already being used to start and sustain hemp crops. In most cases, hemp prefers a deep, well-aerated soil with PH 6 or greater, as well as excellent moisture control and nutrient-holding capacity. Soil with poor drainage can often harm hemp crops after heavy rains, due to the soil’s failure to drain surface flooding. So soil with good drainage, for both water and nutrients, is vital to growing a healthy hemp crop.
We’ve seen a number of hemp pioneers succeed with Wasco Spider Cultivators – which are the perfect tool to help your hemp crop get started. Hemp seeds require a fine, firm seedbed to successfully germinate. If the hemp seed is not planted at least two inches deep within the soil, you will not attain uniform germination. Additionally, hemp fields produce a large bulk of plant material in a short period of time. Therefore, to achieve maximum yield, you’ll need to make sure a wealth of nutrients are available to your crop during the first two months of its life.
The Life Cycle of Hemp Crops
For the first six to eight weeks of your hemp crop’s life, nitrogen uptake will be a necessity, while potassium and phosphorus will be needed during the flowering and seed formation periods. Hemp prefers a humid atmosphere, with a mild climate and a good amount of rain. Soil moisture is very important for seed germination, so you’ll want so ensure your soil is moist until the young plants are well-established.
It’s also important to keep weed control down as your hemp crop grows, so running a Wasco cultivator through your hemp rows, churning the soil and cutting the weeds, is a must. Running a cultivator not only kills the weeds that are stealing your hemp’s water and nutrients, it also evenly distributes the available nutrients among your soil, which will improve your hemp quality and yield.
You can grow hemp on the same plot of land for several years, although it’s highly recommended that you rotate the crop out from time to time. Introducing hemp into your crop rotation is also thought to improve soil health. Hemp harvesting is done four to six weeks after the plants’ last pollen is shed. To attain the highest quality hemp fiber, the seeds are allowed to ripen 60 percent of the way. The hemp fiber is ready to harvest between 70 to 90 days after seeding. The hemp harvesting process is vital to the end product’s quality. In the end, the crop must be cut, dew retted, baled, and processed.
Hemp Could Be Your Farm’s New Cash Crop
Hemp is a new, exciting plant, and its ultimate potential is still unknown. Hemp is unique in that it is an annual crop, yet it is cultivated in many ways common to vines and other perennial types. Orchard farm types, high valley fruits, and extensive farming outfits can all likely insert hemp into their arsenal of crops, with little change to protocols and equipment.
If you have any questions or wish to inquire about the hemp cultivation process or machinery needed, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (559) 485-5860 – we’d be happy to help you start your hemp cultivation operation.