how to grow your own hemp overhead shot of small plant pots with seedlings

How to Grow Your Own Hemp Sustainably

Hemp is booming in North America!

In 2018, the newest iteration of the Farm Bill legalized hemp on a federal level. These recent legal protections have led to a huge increase in overall hemp farming across the United States. Figures from 2019 show over 500,000 acres of farmland across the country have been licensed for hemp. 

The new influx of large-scale commercial hemp farms has some people wondering about growing their own hemp. If you’ve been curious about getting into hemp cultivation, then you’ve come to the right place. Take a seat and get ready for growing hemp 101. 

Is it Legal to Grow Hemp? Do You Need a License to Grow Hemp?

Perhaps the most important thing for novice cultivators to keep in mind is that hemp’s legal status is still somewhat hazy. While the 2018 Farm Bill did make hemp a viable cash crop once again, unfortunately, it doesn’t have the power to legalize the plant completely.

Ultimately it’s still up to each individual state to decide on its own cannabis and hemp laws. So whether or not growing hemp is legal is entirely dependent on where in the country you live.

For example, in the state of Colorado, people are allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants for recreational purposes. So in this state, a would-be hemp cultivator could grow hemp without even applying for a special license. However, in a state like Idaho, where CBD by some standards is still a controlled substance, nobody can legally grow hemp under any circumstance. Every state is different, and each has its own unique sets of laws and regulations. However, most states will require cultivators to apply and pay for a hemp growing license.

Some states may even offer grants to grow hemp. It doesn’t hurt to check for available grant programs, and you may find some money and resources to help you get your hemp project off the ground.

Growing Hemp Indoors vs Growing Hemp Outdoors 

Once you’ve discerned whether or not hemp cultivation is legal in your area, the next thing to decide is whether to grow indoors with UV lights or outside underneath the natural heat of the sun.

The ideal hemp growing temperature is somewhere between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When grown inside, hemp can be cultivated during any season with artificial grow lights and temperature controls. However, this is going to add a lot of money to your total hemp grow supplies, as well as rack up pricy monthly energy bills. The energy used to support an indoor grow also creates a large carbon footprint, so you will likely want to grow outdoors if you’re concerned about sustainability

To determine the best time to plant outdoors, we first have to answer the question, “how long does it take to grow hemp.” Typically, the growth cycle for a hemp plant is around four months. This means that in North America, hemp is generally planted in springtime—somewhere between May and March to give the plant ample time to mature during the warm summer months. Harvests typically take place between July and August. 

How to Grow a Hemp Plant

Once it’s time to get started, your first step will be to buy hemp seeds to grow. Make double sure that the seeds you purchase are, in fact, low THC hemp seeds. Otherwise, you may accidentally end up on the wrong side of the law.

Next, you’ll want to plant the seeds about 1 inch deep in well-aerated soil with a PH between 6-8. Checking the PH of your soil is simple with a little device like a PH meter.

Hemp is a pretty drought-resistant plant, but it will still need to be watered on days when there is little rainfall. Check the soil hydration by sticking your finger down to the first knuckle. If it feels dry and rain is not expected, you should water your hemp plant.

You’ll know it’s time to harvest your crop when the flowers your plant grows begin to bud. 

What is Hemp Used For? 

Now that you’ve successfully grown hemp, what can you do with it?

  • Growing hemp for CBD content: If you’ve used seeds from strains of hemp known for high CBD, then the plant can be cultivated for the cannabinoid. Most of the CBD in the hemp plant is present in the flowering buds. Once these buds have been dried and cured, they can either be smoked, decarboxylated and cooked into edibles, or processed by an extractor into a CBD concentrate. However, home extraction is not recommended, as the process requires specialized equipment and can be dangerous.
  • Growing hemp for textiles: The textile industry can use the fibers from hemp stalks to create ropes, sails, hemp fabrics for clothing, and many other types of textile products.

    Growing hemp for biomass: Hemp Biomass is the leftover parts of the plants after the buds have been removed. Biomass can be used in the production of biofuel, textiles, and even CBD extracts. Hemp biomass is one of the biggest markets for commercial hemp producers who grow industrial hemp.