Raising hemp for cbd oil

10 things you need to know before growing hemp

Hemp is a sibling to marijuana and looks exactly like marijuana. The only difference between the two is in the level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes hallucinogenic effects.

Hemp seed can be hard to find and expensive. Buying seed from a reputable dealer is critical to prevent the crop from containing more than 0.3% THC.

Hemp growers and processors have to get a license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture must test hemp before it is harvested to ensure the THC levels are below 0.3%. Then, the hemp must be harvested within 15 days of the test.

If farmers produce a crop of hemp that tests over the 0.3% limit for THC, the crop is considered to be marijuana and must be destroyed.

Grown for textiles or plastics, hemp has a planting rate of about 400,000 per acre. Hemp for CBD oil is grown at 1,000 to 2,000 plants per acre.

Growing hemp for CBD oil is more labor intensive and similar to growing tobacco, while cultivating hemp for fiber is more like cultivating a traditional row crop, planted much like corn or soy.

Hemp grown to produce CBD oil uses only female plants and farmers typically buy them as plants – not seeds. (The female plants focus on producing flowers, which is needed for CBD; the male plants focus on producing more seeds.)

Hemp thrives in warm weather and in soil that drains well. Hemp grown for CBD oil requires a lot of water and likely an irrigation source.

Having a signed contract with a buyer before planting is highly encouraged as current trends make the prospect of selling hemp on the open market unlikely, or at a reduced price.

(Source: OSU Extension, the outreach arm of the College Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences)

How to Grow Hemp (What You Need to Know About Growing CBD Hemp)

So, you want to grow hemp? It’s the perfect time to start learning everything you can. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill by the federal government, it’s now legal (once again) to grow hemp in the USA. While regulations on growing hemp haven’t yet been determined, it’s only a matter of time before growing hemp could become one of the most commonly cultivated crops.

The money in hemp isn’t bad either. While the legal status of CBD varies from state to state, by some estimates, the hemp market for CBD could be worth up to $30,000 an acre. Plant hemp with a 10, 20, 50, or 100-acre hemp farm, and you’re looking at a rather lucrative crop. There seems to be no stopping for the hemp industry. For those that know how to harvest hemp and cultivate hemp, crops like hemp are helping farmers see potential growth from this industry. While many farmers are growing a small crop of hemp right along with all of their other crops. So Let’s dive right in and find out how farmers can make hundreds of thousands on this incredible cash crop.

How to Grow Hemp: The Basics

Seeing as the topic of hemp growing could encompass an entire book, here we’re simply going to cover the basics of hemp cultivation. If you’re interested in hemp farming, but don’t know much about a hemp harvest or have the slightest idea of where to start, consider this written especially for you.

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What is Hemp?

Like marijuana, hemp is a member of the Cannabis sativa L. plant species. While both cannabis plants are from the same species, these cannabis plants contain a unique biological structure which makes them very different plants indeed. While marijuana plants produce thick, dense buds and grow to be relatively bushy, hemp plants are tall and thin, and they don’t produce the buds that marijuana is famous for. When you look at a hemp and marijuana plant side by side, there is no mistaking the difference between the two. One of the biggest differences between hemp and marijuana, however, is the cannabinoid content each contains. While marijuana can contain 5-30% THC (or more), hemp plants contain less than 0.3% THC. Since the controlled substances act came into effect, the possession, cultivation, processing, or distribution of industrial hemp has limited purposes. Most of them fall under agricultural or academic research carried out by a state department of agriculture, and a farmer will need special licenses to grow, cultivate and farm hemp.

What is Hemp Used For?

Hemp cultivation exists for a few different reasons. Years ago, growers have been looking at hemp for industrial purposes (such as for making hemp fibers). The hemp plant is also grown for the nutritional value found in the hemp seed that can be eaten by itself or used to make hempseed oil. Hemp is a hardy plant and is mainly used for rope, textiles, paper, animal feed, and much more. Most recently, hemp has been widely cultivated for CBD. When discussing hemp farming techniques, it’s vital to determine what you’re interested in growing it for. Fiber? Seed? CBD? Currently, farmers growing hemp for CBD is making the biggest buzz and industry experts expect that new markets for CBD will continue to grow. Why? Because the CBD industry has exploded and is estimated to be worth some $22 billion by 2022. And now that it’s (almost) legal to grow in the US, there are plenty of people that want in on the action. Let’s take a deeper look at the different categories of industrial hemp. We’ll cover some topics every would-be hemp farmers should know.

Fiber

For years, farmers have traditionally grown the hemp plant for its fiber. Fibrous types of hemp can be grown to produce paper, textiles, fuel, building materials, and much more. Hemp grown for fiber is typically done on a large-scale production (including harvesting, processing, and transporting).

Seed/Grain

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritional food items that exist. Seed/grain food types of a particular hemp plant will typically contain a significantly lower cannabinoid content but are prized for their precious seeds as a nutritional food source. Farmers take great care when they plant these hemp seeds because they are extremely delicate and must be harvested, processed, and transported with extreme care. Storage is also vital to ensure the highest possible quality.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoid-rich types of hemp are the most popular, as they contain significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) that can be used to make oil and various products. Growing CBD hemp strains requires a certain level of mastery when it comes to cultivation in order to achieve the highest CBD levels while keeping THC levels under 0.3%. Hemp grown for CBD typically only employs female plants because male and female plants grown together will increase seed production while decreasing CBD levels. The very first thing you should ask yourself when learning about hemp farming is what type of hemp you want to grow. You see, hemp grown for fiber, seeds, and CBD oil is grown much differently. CBD is extracted from female hemp. On CBD hemp farms, there are typically 1,000-1,600 plants grown per acre and all are tended to individually by the farmer. Related article: Hemp Oil and CBD Oil Compared It’s grown similarly to marijuana, with the big difference being the levels of THC contained in the plant itself. Both female and male plants are grown in a crop of hemp. There is a planting level of some 400,000 plants per acre. When compared to marijuana harvesting, hemp is reaped more like a crop of wheat.

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Hemp Production for CBD – Revised

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension information typically is based on the interpretation of research information from Nebraska or elsewhere in the Midwest. However, such information is not available for hemp production due to previous restrictions on research in the U.S. This publication relies heavily on research findings from Europe and Canada and learning from growers’ experiences. See more stories in this series at https://cropwatch.unl.edu/tags/hemp.

CBD Demand

Demand for CBD, a non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp, has soared for un-validated treatment of many conditions and illnesses. However, an approximate 75% plummet in prices for the CBD feedstock during 2019 indicates that the supply exceeded demand.

CBD-containing products marketed in the US range from cosmetics to chocolate bars to bottled water to pet treats, all with no regulation. The Food and Drug Administration warned marketers of CBD products against the use of non-validated health claims to sell their products. In June 2019 the FDA approved the first CBD-based drug, called Epidiolex, to treat seizures caused by extreme types of epilepsy. The efficacy of CBD for treatment of chronic pain, neuro-inflammation, anxiety, addiction, and anti-psychotic effects has not been well-validated by clinical research.

Hemp grown for CBD is a high-value crop grown more as a horticultural than as an agronomic crop. It has a high labor demand, putting US production at a disadvantage with production in China and other countries with relatively inexpensive labor.

Hemp CBD varieties have not been well-validated for Nebraska but possibilities may include ‘Abocus’, ‘Autopilot’, ‘Boax’, Cherry Wine, Cherry Blossom, Cobbler, and Sweetgrass for high pharmaceutical-grade CBD yield but having less than 0.3% THC.. High CBD varieties are generally grown only as female plants, as the combination of male and female plants leads to seed production and decreased CBD yield. Breeders continue to improve the processes for creating stable feminized seed. Farmers need to be wary of the source of their feminized seed stock and to check test results for validation of feminized seed.

Farmers need to know state regulations for testing hemp for CBD and THC. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) regulations for industrial hemp production have been approved by USDA. Plant sampling by NDA staff to test for THC needs to be within 15 days before the date of harvest with the grower present during sampling. If the THC level is >0.3% by dry weight, the crop will not meet the legal definition of industrial hemp and need to be destroyed. Again, THC is expected to increase with stressful growing conditions.

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CBD varieties have short plants with much branching, growing as squat bushes. The suggested spacing at this time is 2-4 feet x 6 feet. Planting practices may change for higher plant densities when seed supply is sufficient to greatly reduce the cost of seed. Given the high cost of seed, seedlings should be produced in a greenhouse for transplanting. If planting more than five acres, machine transplanting is recommended which may allow transplanting 2 acres per day. Plants can also be produced from cuttings with similar vigor and productivity compared to plants from seedlings. Propagation from cuttings may improve plant uniformity and is a means to all-female plants. The potting mix for greenhouse production of seedlings is important but needs to be well-drained with good available water holding capacity and nutrient supply. The mix probably should include sandy loam soil, perlite, and some organic material.

The CBD levels can be much reduced by cross-pollination with wild or non-CBD hemp. The CBD plants must be well-separated by distance or time of pollination from hemp weeds or another hemp crop. Also, a few rows of corn or forage sorghum can planted around the plots to reduce pollen flow.

The highest concentration of CBD is in the bracts of female flowers but CBD oil may be extracted from the whole plant. Harvest may be by topping plants for the harvest of mostly leaves and flowers, by picking the leaves and flowers from the plant, or by taking most of the plant cut at 8-12” above the ground. The whole plant harvest may be by shredding such as with a silage chopper or by keeping the plant intact.

Drying the plant material is a major operation as the water content is high when harvested. To reduce the quantity to be dried and handled for CBD production, the woody stems may be removed for land application, composting or dried separately for fiber production. Artificial drying at up to 100 o F should be continuous flow but the temperature of the plant material should not exceed 75 o F. Suspending plants or branches upside down by wires indoors out of the sun and with good air movement for air drying at up to 75 o F is a common practice if the harvest is not too large.

The ground-up plant material is soaked in grain alcohol or ethanol to extract the CBD oil. After soaking, the mix is pressed to extract the liquid. The alcohol is then evaporated off leaving the CBD oil.

Drying for smoke able buds is an option. Smoking of CBD is reported to be more effective than oral consumption. The buds are preferred but some upper leaves may be included. Well-dried material can be kept and sold in sealable plastic bags or glass jars.

Market information is too weak for prediction or advice but information is improving such as with a USDA ERS Feb 2020 report.

For information on budgeting for hemp grain, fiber and CBD production, see worksheets from Pennsylvania State University and from the University of Kentucky.