After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis industry has gained a lot of attention from many stakeholders. Several states have now legalized cultivation of hemp for medical use. We have also seen 11 states legalize recreational use of cannabis. The current trend has created a new opportunity for farmers in the United States. But many still do not know the ideal climate for growing hemp.
Investors who want to focus on hemp industry as farmers who want to do away with traditional crops like soy beans are all eyes on hemp. Some farmers have gone ahead to try the crop without enough information. Unfortunately, some have made huge losses, owing to lack of climatic as well as ecological requirements of hemp.
Requirements to Grow Hemp
Before we talk about climatic conditions, we need to understand the requirements for the cultivation of the crop:
- Hemp should be legal in your state for you to undertake the cultivation
- Fulfill the provisions of your state cannabis regulations to get a license
The regulations differ from one state to another. Some states like Iowa are yet to legalize cultivation of cannabis as a crop. If you want to undertake hemp farming, here are the ideal climatic conditions for the crop to thrive.
You can grow the crop in a wide range of soils. Hemp does well in aerated soils with a pH of 6 and above. The soil should be deep to allow firm root growth. The most essential minerals in the soil for hemp cultivation are phosphorus, calcium, and sulfur.
The soil should be well drained because hemp is affected by floods. The crop is prone to destruction from floods. However, you should ensure the plants are well irrigated especially during the flowing stage. You should apply NPK fertilizers to suppliant the soil nutrients. At young stage, the plants require nitrogen in plenty. During flowering stage, hemp requires phosphorus and potassium to increase the yields.
It is advisable to keep testing the soil to determine any deficiency. You should also eradicate mold if noticed in the soil. Industrial hemp also absorbs cadmium from the soil which is a pollutant. You should not plant consumption crop in soils which have high levels of the compound. Hemp is rarely affected by any pests, weeds or diseases. Therefore, there is no need for herbicides or pesticides. The best soil for growing of hemp is loam but also does well in other soils if conditions are not extreme.
Hemp does well in areas that receive rainfall of about 600 mm per annum which is well distributed throughout the year. During the initial stages of growth (up to 4 weeks), the crop may require supplementary water through irrigation. You can water the plants twice a day and decrease the watering consistency when the plants are established.
It is important to note that hemp helps to reverse the effects of global warming. The plant absorbs a high amount of carbon from the atmosphere. It also helps to prevent soil degradation through erosion because of its firm roots.
Temperatures and Light Intensity
Hemp can thrive in temperatures around 650 F in establishment stage. The soil temperature should be ideal for seed germination (around 450 F). The seeds germinate within 1-2 days and sprout after a week. After establishment, the plant can withstand adverse temperatures. The plant foliage prevents the evaporation of soil water.
The ideal light conditions for hemp growing are easy to attain as long as the crop is not under a shade. In indoor cultivation, the greenhouses should allow enough light to penetrate to keep the plants healthy.
Hemp seed density is dependent on the purpose of the crop. If you are planting the crop for fiber, you should plant the seeds close together. The high seed density encourages vertical growth which is ideal for fiber. The plants will produce fewer seeds but will be long to produce high-quality fiber. The close planting also discourages the growth of weeds on the farm. However, your soil should have high nutrients, be well aerated and drained to support close spacing.
In case you want high seed or flower yields, you should space the seeds to allow lateral growth as well. You can request the services of an extension officer to guide you on correct spacing depending on nutrients in the soil.
The best climate for growing hemp is found in most parts of the world. It does well in both southern and northern America, most parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Improvement in hemp farming technology has also created new opportunities. The crop can grow in a controlled indoor environment for maximum yields. Researchers are also working to invent new strains which can withstand extreme conditions like cold or drought.
State governments are also offering free extension services to farmers who want to cultivate the crop. You can seek advice on the condition of your soil or local climate to determine whether it is feasible to grow hemp in your area.