How To Prevent A Poor Hemp Growing Season?
In 2018 the farm bill finally made growing industrial hemp legal and farmers saw an opportunity to start their own hemp farm. One year later there are plenty of farmers that had problems with their first harvest.
All across the internet, the public claims that it’s simple to grow hemp, but for large numbers of farmers, it was far from the truth.
Although hemp is a strong plant, it’s still is a plant, meaning that if it has too much rain, too much sun, too much THC (higher than 0.3% what makes the plant illegal to sell), etc.
It can be a disaster for the farmer. You can’t control everything, but there are certain measurements you can take to decrease the chance of a poor harvest in 2020. Find out what some of those measurements are.
Test your soil and water
You need to be sure that the soil you use is useful for the hemp you want to grow. Without useful soil, hemp cannot grow to its full potential (maybe not even grow at all).
To be sure you have the right soil to grow hemp, you should have a laboratory test done to determine soil pH and fertility requirements.
The soil test will determine fertility needs and nutrient requirements and can tell you what you need to add to your soil to reach the perfect pH value of 7.2 – 7.4 and nutrient requirements.
Besides the soil test, it’s recommended to also have a water test done to understand the pH value of the water and to determine if the water can be used for your hemp.
If the water contains heavy metals, iron bacteria, or algae you should first filter it before using it.
Buying feminized seeds with the right genetics
One reason many farmers had a poor harvest last year resulted from not buying the right seeds with the right genetics. You need to be sure you buy the right seeds!
If you buy feminized seeds, you have the chance that loads of your hemp plants will be male, and a male plant can pollinate your female plants making them produce seeds instead of crops.
That is something you definitely don’t want!
Also, if you buy feminized seeds with the wrong genetics, you have the chance that your plants contain too much THC in them, making it illegal to sell.
So, how do you buy the right seeds?
The first thing and extremely important, don’t buy from people that come to your farm and ask if you want to buy seeds from them, you don’t know what you are buying until the harvest, and then it’s already too late.
Also, don’t think it doesn’t matter how many male plants you have for the sake of thinking you can remove them on time from your field.
When you have acres of land, this is just not efficient and almost impossible to do.
To buy the right seeds you should always buy from companies you trust and are widely known. This assures you you don’t get scammed.
Second, buy seeds popular among the top CBD manufacturers, this will increase your chances for a great harvest next year.
The most popular hemp strains for this moment are:
Berry Blossom–a favorite of many hemp growers. Aside from being a great choice for mass production, it can also withstand harsh climate conditions.
Cherry Wine–a variety with high CBD content of at least 15%, it is also known for containing a large amount of terpene.
Elektra–another high yielding strain that produces a high ratio of CBD and it also has a great terpene profile.
Charlotte’s Web–a strain with low CBD to THC ratio.
Lifter–one of the highest trusted strains that contain at least 15% of CBD and terpenes.
You need to have a crop rotation plan
If you want to have the ideal soil, know that hemp should not be grown every year on the same plot of land. That means you will need crop rotation to be sure you will have the ideal soil to grow hemp.
During the growing season, a hemp plant needs to have at least 25-30 inches of rainfall. This is more than what for example corn and soybean need. Researchers from the University of Colorado claim that the irrigated hemp fields produce almost three times as much yield when compared to non-irrigated hemp fields.
Time of seeding
The weather and soil conditions dictate when you can begin with seeding. Whatever you do, never begin with seeding until the soil has reached a minimum temperature of 42-46°F (6–8°C).
Within 24-48 hours after seeding the seed germinates and emerges in 4 to 8 days with warm temperatures and proper moisture.
Remove male plants immediately to prevent pollination!
If you are not planning to grow hemp for seed production, remove all male hemp plants immediately! Male plants cause pollination, pollination destroys your harvest. Pollinated female plants focus their energy on producing seeds instead of the crop you need.
You need to identify a male plant or pollinated plant rapidly and remove them directly from the field when found.
One of the early signs a female plant has pollinated is that her bracts become larger. Bracts are short, leaf-like structures that protect the female’s reproductive parts.
A proper test to detect whether the bracts have swollen is to take a pair of tweezers, grab one bract, and open it up. If there is a seed inside, you have a pollinated plant.
Another sign of pollination is the color of the pistil hairs. When a female hemp plant is pollinated the previously white hairs will shrivel and become darker.
Male or female plant, how quickly can I see if the hemp plant is a male?
To determine the sex of your hemp plant, you need to wait until the pre-flowering stage. From this stage, the difference between the male and female plant show. The blessing part is that a male plant will show his gender sooner than the female plant.
Between the stem and the stalk, there are the nodes. This is where the crop soon will grow. Female plants will show wispy white hairs. Male plants develop little sacs of pollen and will not show hairs.
How can I see if my hemp plant is healthy?
You need to constantly be on the watch to be sure your plants are healthy. Luckily, you can see by looking at the colors of the plant if the plant is healthy.
The first concern you always need to be aware of is pests. If you see a plant lose his colors, its recommended to giving it a proper eyeball inspection. Leaf miners, for example, will leave telltale tunnels as they eat their way through the leaves. If you see white veins, you need to treat the plant with “neem” oil.
If the leaves of your plant are turning yellow, this means the plant is having immense problems. Maybe it receives too much fertilization, it could mean it doesn’t have enough nutrients, it could also mean it is suffering from heat stress.
Most yellow leaves are caused by fluctuations in pH values. If the water pH is outside of the optimal range, then the roots cannot grow long enough to access all the nutrients needed.
When you are a hemp farmer, you should always be on the lookout, be sure your plant receives enough nutrients, without them your harvest will be a disaster.
When to harvest?
In the first weeks, a female hemp flower grows her flower or crop. During that period it has long white hairs coming out of it. After 4-6 weeks the long white hairs are turning into amber or yellowish color.
You know the plant is ready to harvest when the 50% to 80% of those long hairs are turned amber or yellow. If you harvest later, those long hairs turn brown and dry out.
This could mean you are too late to harvest and that it will influence on the taste and quality of the hemp itself.
Working with the right testing labs
Without testing labs you could not bring your hemp product on the market without knowing the quality and if it’s safe for the people who use it.
The lab needs to test if there is no higher than 0.3% THC in the hemp, if there is over 0.3% THC in the plant then the plant is considered marijuana, and marijuana is considered illegal so you are not allowed to sell your products.
Besides the legal part, you would also want to be sure the product is safe and contains the desired amount of CBD to help those who use CBD for medical reasons.
Testing labs test the hemp samples for dangerous substances like bacteria, pesticides, molds, and other contaminants.
Lab testing adds value to your product and is definitely recommended.
When you work with hemp, you need to follow the correct steps to have the best odds for a great harvest. Above are just some steps you can take to improve your chances of a profitable harvest.
Although hemp is a strong plant, it needs the right attention to grow to its full potential.
Check out this video below if you want to find out more about harvesting hemp.