Hemp - an industrial form of cannabis - differs from its consumable counterpart in many ways. Instead of being grown for its THC-rich flowers, hemp is harvested for seeds and stalks, which are then used for a variety of products. Because of this, the methods used to grow these two types of cannabis also differ a great deal.
Featuring deep tap roots and long stalks, industrial hemp plants are robust and generally ready to harvest within four months. They produce four times the amount of paper as trees, and take far less time to mature for harvest.
Hemp offers a huge variety of benefits as an industrial crop. Different varieties offer varying oil compositions, and can produce different amounts of seeds and fiber. But they all offer the same impressive list of benefits:
- Deep tap roots that help protect the soil
- Highly resistant to pests
- Dense growth that curbs weeds
- Relatively easy to organically farm
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of growing industrial hemp is the extensive amount of products it can be used for. Whether you decide to focus on stalks or seeds, there's a world of possibilities when it comes to hemp harvesting.
Hemp stalks are grown for their fiber, which can then produce a variety of textile materials, like packing materials and newspapers. The more robust parts of the stalks can be used to make hempcrete, a lightweight, durable and highly sustainable building material.
The seeds are often used for hemp nut and hemp oil. A huge amount of food staples, like bread, granola, and milk, can be made with hemp nuts. Hemp oil can be used to produce cooking oils and cosmetic supplies.
If you want to grow industrial hemp, there are a few things to consider. First, you'll want to select the proper genetics for your purposes. Hemp is a versatile agricultural crop that can be grown for its seeds or stalks - and depending on which you'll be harvesting, you should take the plant's genetics into careful consideration. When you're selecting seeds, be sure to choose ones that have been bred to best suit your needs.
Second, make sure to grow your hemp plants in the right environment. While industrial hemp's deep tap roots can pull water from deep underground and help the plant thrive across a wide range of environments, healthy crops will likely need extra water. Additionally, making sure the soil quality has an alkaline pH level is vital. Anything above 6 is essential, with a reading of 7 to 7.5 being the ideal. And industrial hemp should never be grown indoors - the costs will far exceed your return.
Finally, industrial hemp should be grown dense. Seeds should be planted closely together, and a successful hemp field should contain hundreds or thousands of plants composed of a single stalk. Where the distance between plants in a cannabis farm may be similar to an apple orchard, industrial hemp fields should look more like corn or wheat crops.