Since the Farm Bill passed in the U.S. in 2019, farmers are increasingly interested in growing hemp. Industrial hemp is one of the oldest industrial plants, as societies have used it for over 10,000 years. From textile and clothing to food and medicine, hemp crops can be processed into thousands of products. And although the said “miracle crop” has a myriad of advantages and uses, there are some mistakes you should avoid. Many avid farmers go blind into this business, turning hemp fields into areas of loss and debt.
One can make big money from hemp fields, but it’s not simple. Harvesting a hemp crop requires thorough planning and lots of research. Hemp may be simpler than other commodities to grow, but the processing is complex and expensive. Before diving into this business, follow these lessons to cover each part of the process.
Lesson #1: Understand your local laws
Although the Farm Bill made industrial hemp legal in all the states, the regulations and requirements differ in each state. In the U.S., you can grow hemp legally, but you must follow the local legislation of your condition. The legislation and requirements to get a hemp-growing license can be different. The first step is to do your research, talk to local farmers, and, if needed, hire an attorney to help you with the paperwork. Also, not all states currently offer hemp crop insurance.
Lesson #2: Prepare your soil
Like any other crop, the first and foremost action a farmer should take is preparing the soil. The first stage is to perform a soil profile test with a reputable laboratory. The soil profile will reveal all the chemicals present in your landscape. With these results, you’ll understand if your land needs correction, which nutrients are lacking, or if any toxic chemicals are present.
Specialists recommend that the suitable soil for hemp should be rich in organic matter and have a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Pay attention to the weather in your region because hemp fields do not grow well in wet soil. These soil types can negatively impact growth, fiber, and plant heights. The testing process must be done several months before starting to plant so you can have time to obtain optimal yield. If needed, apply fertilizers and lime during the Fall and Winter.
Lesson #3: Plan your harvest and do a lot of research
Farming is only sometimes a straightforward business. Even if you’re an experienced farmer but have never invested in hemp fields, you will need to do your rounds of research. The number of variables involved in investing in a different crop can make things incredibly difficult. Months before starting to plant your hemp field, you should start planning.
Your plan should include:
- Testing and preparing the soil,
- Purchasing hemp seeds suitable for your local climate and from a reputable source,
- Planning pest, weeds, and humidity control,
- Understanding what you’ll need for the harvesting process (labor and equipment),
- Planning the harvest to happen during the right stage of the plant,
- Storing the harvested plant and the drying process,
- Having buyers for the harvested product.
Each step of the plan requires thorough research and planning. One of the most challenging aspects of hemp crops is finding labor, as harvesting hemp is laborious. Processing the harvested plant requires significant work, and drying can be expensive. To ensure your investment is safe, please cover all stages.
Lesson #4: Sell before you grow
One of the biggest challenges that hemp farmers face challenges that hemp farmers are facing includes the need for more markets to sell it. Yes, the hemp crop value per acre can be up to $40,000, but it also requires hefty investments. The risks can be tremendous if you don’t find a market to sell your product.
So, when investing tens of thousands of dollars in your hemp field, contact potential buyers for your product. Because this is a new industry, it may be a challenging task. Trying to find a way when you’re already harvesting can be a costly mistake. The most important aspect is to have a processing facility and buyers ready for when you harvest the crop.
Lesson #5: Do not dabble
Whether you’re planning to harvest hemp exclusively or use hemp crop rotation with other commodities, do not dabble. Many farmers were attracted to growing hemp thinking only about the money they could make and had their dreams crushed. Hemp is a promising crop, but it still is farming and can have numerous variables. It would be best to prepare appropriately because it is a complex process.
The crazy number of people interested in hemp fields in the U.S. is impressive, but it also shows a lot of competition. If you plan to start growing it on a smaller scale or as a hobby, you must know that it may take time to be profitable.
Although we are hemp enthusiasts, we always focus on guiding you to make intelligent decisions. We believe in the immense potential hemp has as a crop and industry.