How to Begin Growing Industrial Hemp on Your Farm

How to Begin Growing Industrial Hemp on Your Farm

Industrial hemp has a lot of very practical uses. It can be used for clothing, paper, animal feed, biodegradable plastics, and insulation, among other uses. With all of the things hemp can be used for, it’s easy to see why it can be a desirable crop to grow. If you want to start growing industrial hemp on your farm, there are some things you should know.

Know the Law

If you want to start growing industrial hemp, there are some legal considerations you need to be aware of. You need to be familiar with zoning codes and local regulations. Depending on your state, you may need to obtain a permit to grow it. Keep in mind that federal law prohibits the extraction of CBD from any hemp you grow. Additionally, it’s best to make sure your hemp has less than .3% THC in order to make sure you’re in compliance with laws and regulations. Fortunately, industrial hemp has much less THC than marijuana, so it will be easier to do so.

Prepare Your Soil

Preparing your soil properly to grow hemp is an important factor in whether or not you have a successful crop. Soil type matters a lot here. If your soil is too wet or has clay that doesn’t drain well, the hemp won’t grow well. A well-aerated loam soil is best. Hemp has a fairly small soil pH range that is ideal. It’s best to keep the soil between 6.0 and 7.0 pH since that is the range at which various nutrients are best absorbed. Your soil needs to have adequate and appropriate levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, and boron in order for the hemp to have the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Build an Irrigation System

An irrigation system is a good thing to have when growing a hemp crop, especially if you live in an area that doesn’t supply enough rain to nourish it. Generally speaking, hemp plants need 20-30 inches of rainfall during their growing phase for optimal growth. There are different ways you can irrigate your crop, but drip irrigation systems seem to work best for hemp crops. Drip irrigation systems deliver water to the base of the plant without overdoing it and soaking the ground, which can ruin the crop. Because it doesn’t water the leaves of the plant the risk of disease is also reduced.

Buy a Tractor

If you have a large crop to care for, you’re going to want to have a good tractor to help you get the job done. Tractors can help with the plowing and both the laying and removal of plastic mulch, which can be used to conserve water, maintain the right soil temperature, and control weed growth. When purchasing a tractor, it’s important to choose one that fits your needs. Consider things like the amount of horsepower you need, the type of transmission you want, and whether it’s a 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive. You should also consider your own comfort and safety. A tractor canopy reduces your risk of skin cancer by providing cover from the sun.

Other Equipment You Need

Of course, a tractor by itself won’t do you much good without the right attachments for the job. These are what make it possible for your tractor to save you time and effort in caring for your crop. Aside from your tractor and its attachments, there are other pieces of equipment that are good to have on hand. Depending on whether you’re starting from seeds or plants that have already sprouted, you’ll need a seed drill or a transplanter, respectively. If your hemp is intended for textile use, a combine is helpful when it comes time to harvest the crop. If you intend to process the crop further yourself, you’ll need additional equipment for processing.

Planting Hemp

Once you have all the equipment, prepared your irrigation system, and ensured that the soil is ready for hemp, it’s time to get to the business of planting. There are a few factors to consider when planting hemp. The intended purpose of the crop will impact how densely you can seed it, and how close together they can be. Hemp intended for textile use can be planted closer together than hemp intended for seed manufacturing. Additionally timing is important. If you plant too soon, a late frost may damage the crop. Too late, and you may run into the same problem before harvesting or conditions that are too dry for proper growth. The soil should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Tending the Crop

Maintaining and caring for your hemp crop is an important part of making sure it’s healthy and maximizing your yield. Make sure your plants get enough water, especially during the growing phase. Otherwise their growth will be stunted. Hemp tends to prevent the growth of many weeds, so you may find you don’t need as many herbicides. They can fall victim to pests though, so pesticides may be in order. If you’re taking a more organic approach, consider a companion planting approach. Some plants are natural pest deterrents, while others can add needed nutrients back to the soil. If you use this approach, be sure to research what plants work best with hemp.


As with other parts of growing a hemp crop, harvesting will be in part dependent on the purpose of the crop. This will impact both the timing and the method. If you’re raising a crop for seed, you’ll need to examine the plants to determine when the best time to harvest is. This can be tricky, since the seeds mature at different rates on different plants, and even at different rates on the same plant. A combine tractor can be used to harvest seed hemp. Hemp grown for fiber is ready to be harvested between the time when early blooms arrive and seeds set. When harvesting hemp for fiber, do your best to avoid chopping or breaking the stems too much. Remember, longer fibers are better.

Growing industrial hemp can be a great crop to grow on your farm. If you want to get started with it, there are some things you need to know. Familiarizing yourself with the process and specific needs of industrial hemp will help you grow a successful crop. If it’s legal where you live, consider giving it a try and see how you do.

Read this next: How Ongoing Cannabis Legalization is Impacting Other Natural Remedies


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