Hemp or Marijuana? What’s the Difference?
People often get confused between hemp and marijuana. Both belong to the cannabis plant family, however, are distinct species. The growing methods used for the two plant species are also entirely different.
When harvesting marijuana, the goal would be to produce plants that have potent flowers with high-THC levels. In the case of industrial hemp, the focus would be more on the stalks and leaves. Industrial hemp cultivators grow these plants on a large-scale because of its oil-rich, highly nutritious seeds.
Industrial hemp is known for its lengthy stalks, deep taproots, and vigorous growth. The kind of hem you choose would be the factor deciding the number of seeds and fibres it may end up producing by the type of harvest, which has a massive role to play in the oil composition. In approximately four months, you can expect hemp plants to be all set for harvest.
Farmers harvest hemp stalks for fibres, which is useful in creating a wide range of textile materials and items such as newspapers. Hemp plants are used for making many paper products, which produces approximately four times more than trees per acre. Trees take several years to grow, which is much longer than hemp plants. Therefore, it is much more logical to grow hemp in order to supply paper to the world.
Hemp seeds are also useful in creating a variety of foods, such as protein powder, granola, ice cream, milk, bread, and so on. The oil derived from hemp is used in cooking oils, fatty acids supplements, and salad dressings. And some people also use hemp seed oil as an alternative to biofuel diesel.
Hemp has several other benefits such as:
- Hemp is resistant to pests.
- Hemp’s dense tap roots help in protecting the soil.
- Hemp’s dense growth helps in reducing the growth of weeds.
Growing Industrial Hemp
The following article focuses on tips necessary to grow industrial hemp:
CHOOSING THE RIGHT GENETICS
Hemp is an incredible agricultural crop, growing for seeds and stalks. It is essential to take the genetics into careful consideration and it all starts with what the plant is going to be used for.
Most farmers in the modern era grow hemp for extracting CBD. If you are growing the plants for fibres and seeds that could be used in the clothing and food industry, you should go with strains like Fibranova or Carmaleonte, originating in Europe.
If you are growing it for CBD, you should try out some of the American strains because they are known for having at least 20% CBD content. It is a result of selective breeding and genome research.
CONSIDERING THE CLIMATE
You can grow hemp in a variety of environments because it is a durable and sturdy crop. With deep taproots, the plants also have the potential to find water.
However, hemp is not meant for those who plan to grow it indoors. It is best to grow hemp on an industrial scale because it helps in reducing overall costs and boosting profit margins. Growing hemp indoors will end up costing you a lot, which might exceed the value of the yield.
CONSIDERING THE SOIL QUALITY
When growing hemp, you have to consider the pH of the soil, which has to be alkaline. Somewhere around 7.0 to 7.5 is ideal. The soil also needs to have proper nutrient holding capacity and moisture to ensure optimized growth.
HAVING THE RIGHT PLANT DENSITY
When you grow hemp, you have to place the seeds very close to one another. An ideal hemp field would be the one with thousands of plants, each comprising of one single stalk. The harvest has to look like a cornfield.
FEEDING YOUR HEMP
Because hemp is known to produce a lot of plant material, it will need a lot of feeding. In the beginning 8 weeks, provide the plants with a good amount of nitrogen. Later, you need to give enough phosphorus and potassium.
HARVESTING YOUR HEMP
You need to start working after the final pollen gets shed for harvesting good quality hemp. If you wish to harvest for seed, try waiting for at least 4-6 more weeks to allow the seeds to ripen. In short, you can expect your hemp plants to be ready within the next 70 days after the seedling process. However, it could also go up to 90 days.
Retting is necessary after harvest. The microbial decay of pectin is called retting. It can be a tricky process, especially when you want to retain the best quality fibres. There are mainly five kinds of retting –
- Chemical Retting
- Green Retting
- Dew Retting
- Warm Water Retting
- Water Retting
Growing Hemp – Legal Aspects
Unfortunately, hemp often suffers the stigma that’s associated with marijuana, especially when it comes to legal matters. In 1937, hemp was made illegal by the government under the Marijuana Tax Act. In 1970, the Controlled Substance Act made it illegal, along with all other species of cannabis in the US.
The the 2018 Farm Bill and the Hemp Farming Act removed industrial hemp from the Schedule I list of controlled substances. Currently, industrial hemp is known as a legal agricultural commodity, which is separate from marijuana.
If you wish to buy hemp or CBD products legally, you could take a look at Avid Hemp (they have a summer sale going right now) to spot some of your favourite products online.
However, there are certain restrictions still in place regarding hemp cultivation. Hemp has a legal threshold for THC content, which is at 0.3%. Hemp plants containing more than 0.3% of THC is classified as marijuana, making them illegal.