third step to growing hemp for CBD in Wisconsin is the planting process. The
majority of growers plant sometime throughout early June and late July. A major
factor to consider when scheduling a planting date in Wisconsin’s unpredictable
climate is the risk of frost. Frost can kill off entire grow operations when plants
are extra vulnerable in their earlier growing phases, so it’s a safe bet to get
your seeds/clones in the ground a couple days later rather than earlier.
with any plants, hemp will grow larger and stronger with the more room you
space between each plant. The general rule of thumb is to plant seeds/seedlings
somewhere between 3-6 feet apart from one another, with each about 0.5” deep in
the soil. The closer your plants are to each other, the more plants you’ll have
per acre. For example, one acre will grow a rough estimate of 1600-1800 plants
when seeds are placed 5 feet apart. Since the hemp industry is so new, there isn’t
much equipment made to automate the planting process quite yet. Equipment made
for crops such as corn, soybean, etc., can be modified to an extent, but planting
by hand is the most reliable method for smaller grows (for now).
Wisconsin wildlife has shown an interest in hemp, so fencing
your fields is a solid option to protect your green ladies. Another addition to
think about for planting is irrigation. Although our summers in Wisconsin are usually
steady when it comes to rain, there have been droughts in the past. Also, it’s
not a bad idea to place a tarp over your crop asides from where you place the
seeds/seedlings. This will save you countless hours of weeding and assure that
your plants have little competition for the soil’s nutrients. Thanks for reading!
Be on the lookout soon for Step 4 to Growing Hemp for CBD in Wisconsin;
assuring that your soil is prepared to grow hemp for CBD, the next step is to
find the proper genetics to plant. This is arguably the most influential factor
towards the overall health and quality of your plants. Good genetics can
produce below low-quality flower if grown with carelessness, but below-average
genetics are incapable of growing the top-shelf buds we’re all aiming for. The Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has a list of
approved seeds for farmers to choose from.
There are multiple options to consider when choosing genetics, such as unfeminine seed, feminized seed, or clones. While unfeminine seed is the cheapest option, be aware that male plants will sprout and potentially seed out the female plant’s flower, drastically reducing the quality. The following option is to plant strictly feminized seed. Although this is option is nearly twice as expensive as unfeminized seed, it reassures that little to no male plants will be present within the crop. The third and final option is to find a nearby farmer in your area who is selling clones. Clones are a reliable way to find identical genetics that thrive in your area, all the while still maintaining a strictly feminized crop. Growing with clones nearly guarantees a high-quality harvest, but it’s by far the priciest choice with each acre of clones costing around $8,000 plus labor.
When deciding which genetics option to move forward with, you
should always investigate who else is planning to grow hemp in your local area
and which genetics they’re using. In the case that you were to invest thousands
of extra dollars for a feminized option, there’s always a risk that your plants
will still be pollinated by males from a different crop in the area via winds
or bees. This step in the growing process is key for a quality harvest, which
goes to show that planning months before and doing your research is absolutely
vital when growing hemp for CBD.
Wisconsin saw a massive breakthrough in 2017 when the federal government passed the 2018 Farm Bill, allowing farmers throughout the country to legally grow and process industrial hemp. While this was a great step forward, relatively inexperienced Wisconsin farmers were faced with the difficult task of learning how to properly grow the crop. This post will be the first of a series in which I’ll try my best to explain the most efficient process of growing hemp in Wisconsin.
First and foremost, farmers must apply for a license to grow through Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). More information on licensing can be found through this link. As far as the actual growing, the first step towards farming industrial hemp is to check for adequate soil.
There’s a few requirements the soil should meet if you’re looking to take a hemp crop from average to high quality plants. Hemp thrives in loamy soil that is drained well. The ideal acidity (pH) of the soil is somewhere between 7 and 7.5. Hemp is vulnerable to damage via soil compaction during its first stages of growth, so the less clay in the soil the better.
As for nutrients, hemp responds well to the typical optimal levels of nitrogen, phosphate, phosphorus, and potassium. If your soil is lacking any of these nutrients, it’s suggested to add the lacking element accordingly. One of the biggest struggles hemp farmers deal with is the inability to use chemical fertilizers or herbicides. Since the plant’s cannabidiol (CBD) will be extracted into oil after harvest, hemp must remain fully organic throughout the growing process. It’s encouraged to use organic fertilizers such as cow or chicken manure to fully prepare the soil for the grow. I hope this post educated those who are interested in adding to Wisconsin’s emerging hemp market, feel free to comment with any questions and be on the lookout for the next step’s post in the near future!
Paper is a vital commodity for today’s society, and we use it as if the trees we harvest to produce it are grown overnight. It’s estimated that roughly 25% of waste in the average landfill is composed of paper. Over 93% of paper made today is produced from trees. Given the fact that the world’s demand for paper is expected to double by the year 2030, it’s safe to say we must find an alternative to paper from trees immediately. Luckily, with the 2018 Farm Bill Act being passed, industrial hemp and its regenerative agriculture properties might just be what our planet needs to mitigate the damages we’ve inflicted on our forests.
Hemp paper is vastly superior in comparison to tree paper in every aspect. Environmentally speaking, hemp can be recycled up to 8 times, where paper from trees can only be recycled 3 times. Furthermore, trees that are processed into paper take several decades to grow. Hemp can be grown and harvested up to 3-4 times in the proper climate. To cap it all off, one acre of hemp can provide as much paper as up to four acres of trees. Hemp paper has the potential to fill our planet’s paper demand in an efficient, regenerative process.
It almost sounds too good to be true, especially when you consider the fact that hemp paper is not only better for our planet, but its also a much higher quality paper. Where paper from trees is liable to being easily ripped, hemp paper requires significant force to be ripped. It also degrades much slower in comparison to tree paper. For example, one of the earliest drafts of our nation’s declaration was on a piece of hemp paper, and that copy is still in pretty solid shape considering it was made over 240 years ago. Hopefully hemp paper will begin to mitigate the demand for tree paper as farmers throughout the country develop the best ways to grow this fantastic plant for its strong natural fiber. It’s a win-win scenario for the farmers who grow hemp, the consumers who use the paper, and most importantly, our planet.
Hemp is being rediscovered by thousands of people each day thanks to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Farmers around the nation quickly jumped at the opportunity to be some of the first to grow one of mankind’s most useful crops in over 70+ years. The result of this Farming Act of 2018 being passed is seen through the massive resurgence of hemp products found in today’s market. Although it may seem like an exciting new cash crop for many, our nation has seen a similar spike in demand for hemp products during World War II.
The US government released this short film in 1942 to encourage the cultivation and production of industrial hemp for wartime efforts. Prior to the release of Hemp For Victory, the government had prohibited hemp production within our borders, restricting all hemp access to be imported from countries such as the Philippines and East Asia. When Japan’s military took over these regions, the U.S. government flipped their take on hemp in order to encourage farmers to provide our military with the strongest natural fiber on Earth.
The black and white film begins by touching on the rich history of hemp and goes on to explain how it’s grown from seed and processed into rope, textiles, and cloth for soldiers. This lead to patriotic farmers growing an estimated 150,000+ acres of industrial hemp, a vital resource which surely helped us obtain the victory. After World War II the US government buried the film and went back to its old stance on hemp as a dangerous substance. The last hemp farms in the US were planted in Wisconsin in the year 1957. 50 years later, the hemp boom we see today was sparked when the government granted two North Dakota farmers the right to grow industrial hemp.
Although the major demand for hemp is rooted in society’s recent CBD boom, there has also been a resurgence for the fibers contained in the crop’s stem. The industrial hemp plant commonly grown today is made up of two fibers found in the stem. The outer fiber is called the bast, and the inner is labeled as the hurd.
The bast fiber is what gives the hemp plant strength, growing thicker and longer as the plant resists winds during its developmental growth stage. The inner hurd fibers are short and less useful than bast fibers in an industrial sense, although the hurd fiber is said to still be more durable and just as useful as cotton by many farmers.
Hemp fiber uses
You may be wondering what exactly makes hemp fibers superior to other natural fibers. The past century’s dominant cotton industry was threatened by industrial hemp, so they resorted to slandering hemp plants via association with marijuana. I’ll touch on the history of the hemp plant more in a future post, but essentially the heads of the cotton tycoon started the war on hemp in order to maintain their position at the top of the fiber industry. The main reasons why hemp is the superior fiber can be broken down into three factors; it requires 50% less water to grow, hemp naturally fights off bacteria, plus it won’t ever shrink such as cotton does. Beyond those factors, hemp is also used to strengthen concrete and it can be converted into a bio-fuel which is much more efficient than ethanol. Furthermore, paper created from hemp fiber is one of the most durable papers on the planet. I hope you learned something from this post, check back in next week for more hemp content!
My name is Sam Higginbotham and welcome to The Industrial Hemp Blog! I’m currently a senior studying Electronic Media and Advertising at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Alongside finishing my education, I’m also focused towards the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp.
“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” ~ Henry Ford
Before we take the dive into more specific news and details of this industry, I figured it’d be best to start by clarifying the most common misconception surrounding industrial hemp;
Although both plants are a part of the cannabis family, the two are drastically different on chemical and industrial levels. While marijuana (right) plants are grown in a manner to grow to average height and focus towards higher flower yields, industrial hemp (left) plants are grown taller and skinnier in order to maximize stalk yields during harvest.
Asides from physical appearance and cultivation techniques, these plants also differ on a chemical level. The majority of marijuana grown is cultivated with high THC percentage as the main focus. THC is the psychoactive component found in marijuana buds, which is why people catch a buzz when smoked. Industrial hemp contains minuscule amounts of THC, generally below 0.3%. This is not nearly enough to get psychoactive effects. Furthermore, the flower that hemp does produce is usually high in CBD, a chemical which has been shown to naturally calm your mind, promote relaxation, and ease pain caused by a multitude of health issues. I hope this provides some clarity on this hot topic, and feel free to post any questions you may have in the comments section. Thanks for reading and stop by again soon!
Traditional mediums used to construct buildings most often include the carbon-heavy substance concrete. While it’s safe to say that cement is a time-tested, durable foundation, its production comes at a serious environmental price. Worldwide, it’s estimated that cement production accounts for roughly 7% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Thankfully, the demand for alternative building materials such as hempcrete is on the rise.
When the light, strong, inner core of hemp stalk is ground up and mixed with lime and water, the mixture gets poured into brick molds, creating blocks of hempcrete. Not only is hempcrete stronger, lighter, and the most earthquake-resistant of all materials, but it’s also the healthiest! The leftover hemp stalk found in the bricks continues to breath excess carbon out of the environment for decades after being made. Furthermore, the production is 100% natural, allowing for those who build with hempcrete clean, petrochemical-free air to breath in their homes.
“The most sustainable building material isn’t concrete or steel — it’s fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century, when France was still Gaul.”
Popescu, A. (2018, January 27). There’s No Place Like Home, Especially if It’s Made of Hemp. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/science/hemp-homes-cannabis.html.