Considering converting your farm or nursery to grow hemp? There’s something you need to know.
This article was written for Viridian Sciences, developers of cannabis ERP and seed-to-sale software. The original article can be found here: Considering converting your farm or nursery to grow hemp? There’s something you need to know.
At the end of 2018, lawmakers in Washington DC inserted language into the 2018 federal farm subsidies bill that legalized the cultivation of hemp and the production of CBD oil. Since then, a growing number of US farmers have considered converting part or all of their operations to producing hemp.
In fact, according to advocacy group Vote Hemp, licensed hemp acreage increased more than 445% over the past year. More than half a million acres of hemp were licensed in 2019. That’s up from just over 100,000 acres in 2018. And the current rate of growth is expected to continue for some time.
Although there are a lot of startups jumping into the ring, quite a few growers of grains, produce, and ornamentals, and even chicken farmers are converting their operations to the production of hemp hoping to cash in on the Green Rush.
Because hemp is relatively new to US farmers, newcomers and established farms alike have a lot to learn about the cultivation of this complex crop.
For starters, there are two completely different types of hemp to choose from. Each has its own cultivation requirements and its own markets.
What are the two kinds of hemp?
When considering converting an operation over from food production or another commodity the single most important consideration is which type of hemp to cultivate.
Hemp cultivation can be divided into two categories: industrial hemp and phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, or PCR hemp, also sometimes called CBD hemp.
Hemp is defined by the federal government and most states as strains of cannabis that produce no more than 0.3 percent THC. THC is the compound found in marijuana that is responsible for the high. Beyond that, the law makes no distinction between the two types of hemp. Much of the mainstream news related to hemp also fails to point out the distinction between these crops.
Countless new reports have referred to hemp as both “marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin” and “the plant with 10,000 uses.” Although this is technically correct, the two crops being referred to here are actually completely different types of hemp with completely different requirements and challenges.
The crops we are referring to here are industrial hemp, and phytocannabinoid-rich hemp. The first is grown for its fibers and seeds. The latter is produced for its resinous flower clusters.
However, one thing these two crops have in common is that they are both highly regulated. In an effort to prevent farmers from secretly growing marijuana in their hemp fields, many states have implemented strict growing, testing, processing, and distribution regulations. Meanwhile, some states have even opted to ban the production of hemp altogether.