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How to Farm Industrial Hemp in the United States

"how to farm industrial hemp" growing industrial hemp

Getting Started: Is Farming Industrial Hemp Right for You?

Refer to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau's Hemp 101 seminar and  GRAIN specific farming questions at the bottom of this page for more insider information about growing hemp.  This information is NOT suitable for CBD production. CBD production is grown completely differently than grain and fiber production.


There are three main varieties of industrial hemp: grain, fiber, and CBD. For More information, visit our Hemp varieties page for more information on each variety.  Choose the right variety for you and your farm. 


Farming industrial hemp in the United States has never been more rewarding! The market for industrial hemp is growing fast as federal restrictions have been lifted, opening the door for thousands of hemp based products! As a farmer, you know this is a huge investment opportunity, but what exactly needs to be done to successfully farm and cultivate industrial hemp?


The information provided below will give a great start on growing hemp, but partnering with us to be a grower with contracted production, you will have all the expert consulting your need for the most successful hemp crop. So lets begin.

 
1. Contact your state's department of agriculture and apply for a permit to produce industrial hemp.


Industrial hemp is not a crop you will dump at your local co-op come harvest. Hemp grain is NOT your run-of-the-mill crop like corn.  Hemp production not only needs specific licensing and approval from your state's Department of Agriculture, but being so early in the rising industry means the market for hemp is delicate, requiring the farmer to do a little bit homework before their hemp can bring in the big bucks. In 2014, the federal government delegated authority to the states on industrial hemp production with the passing of the Federal Farm Bill, but that doesn't mean you should be scrambling to get seed into the ground willy--nilly. It is true, if you want to see success with industrial hemp, get into the game early, but make sure you do it right the first time, every time. Being so early in the game, you get to choose the cards you are dealt, so make the deal in advance. 


2. Contract a buyer before putting seed in the ground or apply for a production contract with us here.


The industrial hemp industry is growing fast. It is anticipated to become a huge money making operation for farmers and entrepreneurs alike. The industrial plant can be farmed for grain, certified seed, fibers, and more. The grain alone is a superfood with increasing popularity in the whole foods market. Legacy Hemp's cultivar, X-59, is high in protein and contains an ideal ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids. The body needs these nutrients in order to function, but can only get them from food like hemp grains.  It just so happens that the market for industrial hemp right now is in the grain. This is good news to you because, as a farmer, you probably have all the necessary equipment in your barn or shed to cultivate industrial hemp grains!


 Focus on grain production and the companies that will buy your industrial hemp grain. 


Currently, high throughput processing for industrial hemp is largely limited to the grain.  We are setting up processing of the stalks so farmers will be rewarded fabulously as an additional icing on the cake! As a farmer, this good news. You are used to being profitable on grains alone, but with hemp's hurd and bast fiber, you have an additional market in construction material, textiles, and more! Can you do that with corn? There never was much money in the stalks of corn, but soon you'll be paying yourself nearly double!

Preporation: Before You Put the First Seed in the Ground

So, you did your homework, you applied for the appropriate permit to grow industrial hemp and you found a buyer to take your grain and give you your well-deserved cash at the end of the season. Now you are ready to put your years of experience as a farmer to the test. With all  the paperwork aside, you can now do the part of hemp farming that  that you enjoy the most: getting a little dirty. 


3. Perform complete soil tests  (Midwest Labs)


Industrial hemp is a very resilient crop, capable to be successful in nearly all types of soil.  Hemp also outgrows and shades out most weeds, but these soil test are required not only because you want to be sure to optimize your expected grain yield, but also because much of the market for hemp grain is dependent on whether or not it meets the criteria to be called certified organic. The market is swinging away from conventional grain and moving towards organic hemp grain to please the whole foods markets. 


Right now, organic industrial hemp grain is selling for more than twice that of conventional hemp grain. Organic industrial hemp grain currently is being sold for close to $1000 an acre! But in order to get this amount's worth of cash out of your fields, you need to verify that your fields and the certified hemp seed you are up to industry standards to be called organic. X-59 can be grown conventionally or organically.  


These soil tests should focus on nutrients like soft rock phosphate, potassium sulfate, and elemental sulfer. Soil tests should be completed in late fall or early spring prior to sowing the first industrial hemp seeds in the ground. Legacy hemp provides certified organic hemp seed to farmers with production contracts of the industrial hemp seedcultivar, X-59. Known for its sweet and nutty flavor, near ideal shatter resistance, X-59 (Hempnut) is a favorite of the hemp industry with the whole food market.  X-59 can be planted coated with ProfitCoat PB seed coating to give it a head start in the cultivation process. 



While Seed is in the Ground

 

4. Plant when soil temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 


With narrow rows for weed suppression, the seeds should be planted ½ to ¾ inches deep at a seeding rate of 30 lb per acre. Industrial hemp requires only standard seeding equipment and conventional combines from planting to harvest. This allows the average farmer to get into the industrial hemp game following the formalities and paperwork involved with collected your state’s required permits and partnerships which buyers. Legacy Hemp will only partners with those companies and farmers what are willing to look toward the long-term success of the newly established industrial hemp industry.


5. Balance Soil Fertility to minimize weed competition and maximize hemp plant health.


Ocean GTraace Minerals - Crop (OTM-C) provides organic nutrient support to the growing hemp plants in the form of a foliar spray on seedlings 12” to 24” tall or directly onto the soil. Derived from sea water,but stripped of its salty origins, OTM-C provides an abundance of trace minerals and necessary substances to allow for a plentiful harvest. OTM-C can be applied to fields at as little as 22.5 oz per acres to ensure the fruitfulness of your hemp fields. 


6. Harvest at approximately 110 days (for grain varieties) with conventional combines (know the specifics for your planted hemp variety).  


At approximately 110 days, the head of the industrial hemp plant (X-59) has fully matured. This is the ideal period to combine and clean the grain of foreign material and prep for storage. At 9% hemp grain can be long-term in silos under processed further by customers.


Legacy Hemp will provide hemp grain processing services for its own operations and affiliates. We are here to work for you. 


Legacy Hemp is selective in its partnerships, this is a good for the industry and those who work with us. Legacy Hemp provides the ability to process industrial hemp grains into a variety of products, This selectivity is what will keep the industry vital and youthful as it looks toward the future and overcomes the hurdles of the critical first stages to set up infrastructure. We want our farmers to succeed which is why a production contract is required to work with Legacy Hemp. These contract ensure that all your hard work, all your grain, finds a place on the shelf at the end of the year while your and money finds rest in your pocket. 


Final note: planting without a buyer is both risky to the farmer and a potential hazard to a still infant industry. With so much room to go, Legacy Hemp aims to guide the newly legalized industrial hemp industry to success by doing it right the first time, every time, because “doing it right now,” is NOT the same as “doing it right, now.”

Apply to be a hemp farmer now!

Hemp Grain Farming Specifics

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Hemp Grain Farming Basics

  1) Field Selection

  • Hemp does not like wet weather or wet soils so well-drained fields that do not stay saturated after rains are ideal
  • Choose fields with the lowest weed pressure and highest fertility
  • Follow a crop in the rotation that results in the fewest weeds the following year

2) Seedbed Preparation

  • No herbicides are labeled for hemp so clean tillage provides for optimum control of weeds
  • Burn down herbicides with no residual can be effective
  • A shallow, firm seedbed allows for uniform seeding depths – similar to alfalfa/clover establishment
  • Rolling and packing the soil after planting is a good practice

3) Timing

  • Seeding dates should coincide with soil temperatures of 50 degrees F or higher (May-June) for rapid germination and emergence
  • Earlier plantings produce taller plants with higher yield potential but is less effective for weed control

4) Planting

  • Planting is best accomplished with a grain drill but seeds can be broadcast or planted with a corn planter on 15-30-inch rows
  • Seeding depth is targeted at ½ inch with a range of ¼ – ¾ inches deep
  • Seeding rates range from 25-35 pounds/acre

5) Maturity

  • Seeds mature approximately 90-100 days after planting
  • Seed maturation occurs at the bottom of the seed head and moves upwards
  • Seed bracts expose seeds when they mature to allow for natural air drying

6) Harvest

  • Harvest begins approximately 100-120 days after planting (September-October)
  • Grain moisture at harvest should be 12-18% to reduce fiber wrapping
  • Rotary combines with draper headers work best but conventional combines work as well
  • Plants should be cut directly below the grain head to reduce the amount of fiber brought in the combine
  • Combine settings should be similar to Wheat or Canola
  • Typical grain yields are 1000 lbs/ac (conventional) and 500 lbs/ac (organic)

7) Post-Harvest

  • Grain should be immediately cleaned off the combine and put on air before spoiling occurs
  • Do not leave harvested grain sit overnight without air
  • Grain should be dried to 9% moisture
  • Belt conveyors are preferred but augers ran full and slow can also reduce seed cracking

8) Grading & Shipping

  • Grain samples are sent to laboratories after harvest for microbial testing to determine if the grain meets food-grade requirements
  • Buyers usually begin shipping harvested grain to the processors between January-December

9) Fiber Harvest

  • Fiber harvested after a grain crop should be cut 1-2 days after harvest or preferably the following spring
  • Fiber should be baled in large square bales at 15% moisture or less
  • Typical fiber yields after a grain crop is 1-3 tons/acre

10) Pests

  • Weeds are the primary pest in hemp production since there are no herbicides labeled for the crop
  • Hemp is very competitive with weeds but proper field selection and good pre-plant management (i.e. clean tillage and/or burn down herbicides) are recommended
  • The two most significant diseases are Grey Mold (Botrytis cinereal) and White Mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum)
  • Grey Mold and White Mold develop in high humidity with cool to moderate temperatures and can peak during drizzly, foggy, maritime-like conditions
  • Insect pests are not a common threat to hemp grown for grain

For more information about growing hemp visit this link and click the green eGuide on the top of the page.


http://www.hemptrade.ca/eguide

Wisconsin Farm Bureau: Hemp 101 Seminar

Need more information? Please watch this video seminar explaining how you can grow industrial hemp in Wisconsin. Much of the detail of this video can be applied to other states as well. We want you to join the legacy of hemp by producing grain and profit with this information. 

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