How to Grow Hemp (What You Need to Know About Growing CBD Hemp)

cbd-hemp-field-gencanna

So, you want to grow hemp?

It’s the perfect time to start learning everything you can.

With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, it’s now legal (once again) to grow hemp in the USA. 

While regulations on growing hemp haven’t yet been determined, it’s only a matter of time before growing hemp could become one of the most commonly cultivated crops.

The money in hemp isn’t bad either. 

By some estimates, hemp grown for CBD could be worth up to $30,000 an acre. 

Plant a 10, 20, 50, or 100-acre hemp farm, and you’re looking at a rather lucrative crop.

Interested in learning how to grow hemp?

We bet you are.

Let’s dive right in.

The Basics of How to Grow Hemp

Seeing as the topic of growing hemp could encompass an entire book, here we’re simply going to cover the basics.

If you’re interested in learning how to grow hemp, but don’t know much about hemp or have the slightest idea of where to start, consider this written especially for you.

What is Hemp?

Hemp Plants

Like marijuana, hemp is a member of the Cannabis sativa L. plant species. 

While both plants are from the same species, they contain a unique biological structure which makes them very different plants indeed.

While marijuana plants produce thick, dense buds and grow to be relatively bushy, hemp plants are tall and thin, don’t produce the buds that marijuana is famous for. 

When you look at a hemp and marijuana plant side, there is no mistaking the difference between the two.

One of the biggest differences between hemp and marijuana, however, is the cannabinoid content each contain. 

While marijuana can contain 5-30% THC (or more), hemp plants contain less than 0.3% THC.

What is Hemp Used For?

Hemp is primarily grown for a few different reasons. 

It’s been grown for industrial purposes (such as for making fibers) for years. 

It’s also grown for its nutritional seeds that can be eaten by themselves or used to make hempseed oil. 

Most recently, hemp has been widely cultivated for CBD.

If you’re interested in learning how to grow hemp, it’s vital to determine what you’re interested in growing it for. Fiber? Seed? CBD?

Currently, growing hemp for CBD is making the biggest buzz. 

Why? 

Because the CBD industry has exploded and is estimated to be worth some $22 billion by 2022. 

And now that it’s (almost) legal to grow in the US, there are plenty of people that want in on the action.

Let’s take a deeper look at the different categories of industrial hemp…something every would-be hemp farmer should know.

Fiber

Hemp Fibers

For years, hemp has traditionally been grown for fiber. 

Fiber types of hemp plants can be grown to produce paper, textiles, fuel, building materials, and much more. 

Hemp grown for fiber is typically done on a large-scale production (including harvesting, processing, and transporting).

Seed/Grain

Hemp Seed

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritional foods that exists. 

Seed/grain types of hemp plants will typically contain a significantly lower cannabinoid content but are prized for their precious seeds. 

These seeds are extremely delicate and must be harvested, processed, and transported with extreme care. 

Storage is also vital to ensure the highest possible quality.

Cannabinoids

Hemp plants

Cannabinoid-rich types of hemp are the most popular, as they contain significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) that can be used to make oil and various products. 

Growing CBD hemp strains requires a certain level of mastery when it comes to cultivation in order to achieve the highest CBD levels, while keeping THC levels under 0.3%. 

CBD grown for hemp typically only employs the female plant because male and female plants grown together will increase seed production while decreasing CBD levels.  

The very first thing you should ask yourself when learning how to grow hemp is what type of hemp you want to grow. 

You see, hemp plants grown for fiber, seed, and CBD are grown much differently.

CBD is extracted from the female hemp plants. 

On CBD hemp farm, there are typically 1,000-1,600 plants grown per acre and all are tended to individually. 

It’s grown similarly to marijuana, with the big difference being the levels of THC contained in the plant itself.

Both female and male plants are grown in industrial hemp farming. 

There is a planting level of some 400,000 plants per acre. 

Rather than harvested like marijuana, industrial hemp is reaped more like wheat. 

The tops are typically harvested for seed, while the stalk and other fibers are used for countless industrial reasons.

So, exactly how does your hemp garden grow? 

It all depends on the reason you’re growing hemp.

For all intents and purposes, we’ll focus on hemp grown for CBD.

How Does Hemp Like to Grow?

Hemp growing in nature

They don’t say cannabis grows like a weed for nothing. 

If you’re interested in learning how to grow hemp, rest assured it’s one of the easiest plants to grow. Seriously, it will grow almost anywhere.

That being said, if you’re growing hemp to extract CBD, you want to ensure you’re growing the highest quality hemp possible. 

We mentioned earlier that when grown for CBD extraction, hemp is grown similarly to marijuana. 

Each plant is tended to individually and given the love and care it needs to thrive.

Quality cultivation practices can almost guarantee a quality harvest.

So what are the ideal conditions for growing hemp?

Before we look into that, it’s important to understand a bit about hemp seeds themselves. 

After all, your hemp plants do need to grow from something.

Finding the Best Hemp Seeds or Clones

Currently, finding the right seeds poses a bit of a challenge to would-be hemp farmers. 

There are plenty of seeds available throughout Europe and Canada, however, if these seeds are acclimated to the US is another question.

Hemp has been all but prohibited for almost a century. 

This means you’re not going to be walking into your local feed store any time soon to pick up a bag of CBD hemp seeds. 

Aside from hemp seeds from Europe and Canada, there are hemp seed varieties available online, but determining if they are genetically stable enough to ensure a consistent crop isn’t guaranteed.

According to Michael Bowman, founding chair of the National Hemp Association, it will “take another year” to ensure hemp farmers are getting a quality seed they can rely on.

Best Conditions for Growing Hemp

When learning how to grow hemp, it’s vital to keep in mind the most favorable conditions for cultivating your crop. 

Sure, hemp will grow anywhere but there are conditions it prefers over others.

Check it out.

Soil

Soil Acidity and Minerals

First things first. 

Hemp does better in some types of soil than others. The first thing you’re going to want to do is get your soil tested. 

You can buy a soil test online or take a soil sample to your local agricultural center for testing. Hemp prefers soil with a pH of 6-7.5.

Well-aerated, loamy soil is best and should contain rich organic matter, be extremely fertile, and supplemented with the recommended minerals if necessary to ensure plants will have exactly what they need through the growing season.

Sun

Hemp Farm in the sun

Hemp plants love sun. 

That being said, hemp plants should be planted where they will receive the most sunlight possible. 

While hemp will grow with as little as six hours of sunlight per day, if you want your plants to thrive, full sun is idea (think 12+ hours/day). 

Seeds should be planted after the last danger of frost has passed, which is typically in early to mid-spring in most parts of North America.

Water

Hemp watering

Hemp needs at least 20-30 inches of rainfall during its growth cycle. 

If rainfall doesn’t meet these requirements, it will be necessary to employ proper irrigation. 

Ample amounts of moisture are needed during germination. It’s important to also keep in mind that water absorption will increase each day until the beginning of the flowering stage. 

According to extensive tests that were performed from 1975-1977, “soil moisture should not go below 80% of total moisture capacity during hemp ontogenesis.”

Pest/Disease Control

Any crop is subject to pests and disease, and hemp is no exception. 

Keep in mind when learning how to grow hemp, that it is subject to a number of different garden pests and pathogens.

Disease is also something to keep in mind, particularly white and grey mold (which have historically been reported to infect and significantly impact industrial hemp production). 

Other things to look out for are viruses, bacterial and fungal infections, root rot, and blight.

To date, there have not been any pesticides that are registered to use on hemp in the US. 

Keep in mind that if you’re interested in growing organic hemp (which is extremely important for several reasons), the pesticides you use to control pests and/or disease should meet USDA National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

To avoid disease build-up in hemp plants, a 4-year crop rotation is recommended.

Hemp Harvesting

Hemp Harvesting Operation

Hemp grown for CBD extraction is typically harvested in early to mid-fall when cannabinoid levels are at their peak (think early to late October). 

Much like the harvest of marijuana, hemp flowers are when ripe and full, then dried and optimally cured. 

Typically, hemp plants are harvested at right around 4 months (or 16 weeks).

After harvest and curing your hemp plants, knowing where to sell your hemp (or send it for extraction to make your own products) is the next step. 

While regulations have not been yet established for the legal hemp industry, expect a better understanding of where to sell wholesale hemp as new laws are set in place.

Understanding Hemp Cultivation Laws

We have truly stepped into one of the most exciting times in history. 

After almost a century of prohibition, hemp has made a comeback. And it’s stepped into the mainstream spotlight.

While the 2018 Farm Bill essentially made hemp legal, regulations that govern the plant have yet to be established.

It’s up to individual states to address their own policy regarding hemp cultivation. 

If you want to grow hemp, you’ll want to check the laws established in your state. 

Click here for more information on State Industrial Hemp Statutes.

Hemp, Hemp Hooray…Growing Hemp is Here to Stay

Industrial Hemp Harvester

We’re obviously overjoyed that hemp has made its way back into mainstream America. 

Considering it was once illegal not to grow hemp in the US, then criminalized for almost 100 years, we’d like to think hemp has made one heck of a comeback.

If you’re interested in growing hemp, there’s never been a better time to learn everything you can. 

Growing hemp for CBD extraction is an industry that’s set to explode in the next couple of years. Want to get in on it? 

Best to get in now by learning all there is about growing hemp.

In the coming months, we’ll take an even deeper look into growing hemp to give you all the information we possibly can as we stay updated on rapidly changing policy, regulation,  and cannabis cultivation laws in general.

Photo credit: GenCanna

Last Updated on

31 thoughts on “How to Grow Hemp (What You Need to Know About Growing CBD Hemp)”

  1. why are most farmers planting I
    by may 15…I live in southern Nevada the last frost is past can I plant when ever I want now..and does it have a time limit from planting to harves?

    1. Hi Jose. Thanks for your excellent questions. We are not familiar with the growing conditions in your state. My best recommendation is to reach out to hemp farmers in states near to you. They will have the best answer based on their experience in the field – which is the best experience of all, when it comes to farming. Thanks again and best of luck in your growing season! 🙂

  2. Hello! Thank you for the hemp information. We have planned to grow a few acres of help for cbd this year, hoping to plant our clones next week. We found out a few days ago that hemp for fiber is going to be grown in thousands of acres all around us, including less than a mile away. We live in a very windy area. Is our cbd crop doomed? They are planting seed about 2 -3 weeks after our clones were started in the greenhouse. Is it worth still growing it?

    1. Hey Lacy. So your main concern is the wind? Can you be more specific of what kind of wind we are talking about?

      Please summarize your main concerns and we will do our best to help 🙂

      1. Hey thanks for the response! We have been reading about make plants from hemp for fiber plants pollinating hemp plants grown for cbd and making the crop worthless because when pollinated the plant puts on seed instead of flower and cbd oil. We have read that the male plants can pollinate our female cbd hemp plants for many miles, from 3 up to 30 miles away. If male hemp fiber plants are planted across the street, will our crop be ruined? Should we not plant st all?

        1. Actually if the female plants are pollinated from the males they still produce hemp flowers but they seed up. seedy flowers arent as desirable because it takes from the flower size unless your trying to produce seeds for producing seeds themselves which have other uses…

        2. You probably want to either harvest early, which will provide less weight and lower cbd content or try to complete your grow indoors in controlled grow houses. Their males will pollenate your crop if not by wind then by insect and ruin your entire grow.

  3. Deliah Quedec

    Hi there,
    I am considering growing a small number of plants for CBD, unfortunately our soil here is not ideal. Is it possible to grow in containers.

    Deelz

    1. Hey Deelz. Thanks for your great question! Yes, it’s absolutely possible to grow in containers. In fact, I am doing it right now. I just got done planting actually. Some really nice CBDawg plants.

      I use 7 gallon cloth (style of “Smart Pot”) container growing bags I get on Amazon. Click here to see the ones I use and love 🙂

      Let me know if you have any more questions about growing in containers!

  4. I searched and searched on line and read all your information about growing hemp and its great information , but there’s one thing that I am missing.
    When you’ve planted hemp for CDB purposes and your crops are ready to harvest. How is the harvesting done.
    If I understand any of this right CDB hemp has buds like in marijuana, is this true? but hemp has lower THC. so are we cutting the buds off the plants and drying them, then sending them off to be extracted for oils etc.
    Not really sure> Can you please explain the harvesting part and what comes after that. Thank you

  5. I want to grow a few hemp plants for CBD in containers here in Texas, now that it is legal. Do I start them from seeds? Where is the best place to get them?

    1. Hi GiGi. Thanks for your question. I purchased seedlings from a local hemp farmer. I would say to try that first right where you are in TX. That way you don’t need to mess with seeds. There are also tons of vendors and suppliers in Colorado.

  6. Tammy Barkhurst

    Hello,
    We are researching the possibility of growing phytocannabinoid rich (PRC) hemp in a light dep greenhouse. Is there a specific female seed/clone we need to purchase (we are close to CO) for this?

    Thank you,
    Tammy

    1. Hey Tammy there are plenty of varieties for you to choose from in CO! Have you found your supplier yet? They will assist you on the best varieties for your plans and goals. Best of luck!

  7. Hi,

    Do you have a list of Legit seed vendors that don’t require a minimum quantity order for people growing a small number of plants? Thanks!

  8. Hi, I live in California, I do not like the smell of the pot plants, does the hemp plants have that smell? Also in growing hemp, can I just grow 1-3 plants? I am wanting to grow lavender on my property and would like to grow a few hemp plants as I do things for cosmetic, health and oils.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Becky. Yes, hemp smells very much like marijuana. The smell shouldn’t be an issue unless you are very close to the plant. You can grow a small amount of plants but this will of course limit the amount of CBD you get. It all just depends on how much you need.

  9. We’re looking at starting out indoor grow in the coming months in Indiana. Looking at selling cbd flower outside of the state. My question is how do you keep thc levels down during the indoor process? Thanks in advance!

    1. Get the right genetics. Growing from seed produces 3 times the flower weight than growing from clones, buy the way.

  10. Ive got 450 irrigated acres of hemp ranging from Boax to Autoflower. I was curious with that many acres, do I need to pull out all the males in each field? I was told that I should and recently have been told that I didn’t need to. I always thought it would decrease my flower content. Thanks, Lance

    1. Pull the males. That’s a lot of plans. If the male plants create pollen, it will drift into the female plants, the flowers will become seedy & die. It all depends on what you want out of the plant. You want flower for CBD or THC, you pull the males. You want fiber & seeds leave the males.

  11. I am having a problem with hermaphrodites. How do they work in a Hemp field? Do I need to pull them out? How do I tell if my female plants have been pollinated?

    1. Hermies produce hermies. Don’t go cheap on seeds, the better the seed the stronger the plant. Stress also causes hermaphrodites, soil, water and too much or little nutrients with tell the plant things are bad throw some seed for survival. Also you do need to pull them or they will pollinate other plants. A lot of workin a big field. If you plan on growing quality flower give them enough space to give them individual care (prune bottom branches, mulch with good compost and water liberally)

  12. How and what kind of large space do you dry, cure and store hemp while waiting for buyers for cbd? Similar to marijuana? There are 100’s of acres of hemp plants to harvest and process. Might take months to year to get rid off them.

  13. Thanks for the information. Any chance we can get a comprehensive fertilizer guide/plan. There is not a lot of information about using fertilizer nutrients to influence cbd oil content with out encouraging increases in THC content.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like it? Share it.

>