Hemp can be used as a fiber crop, for grain, seed oil and CBD production. It’s a textile, a food crop and a medicinal herb. This singular plant is so valuable that in 2021 more than 500,000 acres of American farmland were dedicated to industrial hemp production.
This may not seem like much compared to the 90 million acres of corn grown in the U.S. that same year. But considering just 8 years prior, in 2013, total hemp production in the U.S. was zero acres, it would seem hemp might be the next big thing in American agriculture.
It doesn’t matter whether you own a small-scale hobby farm or an extensive for-profit operation. This versatile plant is sure to have something to offer everyone.
A New Crop with an Old History
While hemp might seem like a new crop in today’s world of modern agriculture, this useful herb has been cultivated on this continent longer than the U.S. has even been a country. Hemp was first introduced to North America in 1606 and quickly became a favorite crop amongst colonial farmers.
Hemp was used for to make cloth, sails, paper, rope and lamp fuel. This amazing plant was considered so useful that in the 1700s, American farmers were legally required to grow hemp on their farms. George Washington himself grew hemp on his estate, and the first American flags were made from hemp fiber.
Not only is hemp useful, but growing this incredible plant could be considered patriotic.
Read more: Raise farm profits by growing hemp!
Hemp versus Cannabis
You may have heard these terms used somewhat interchangeably in conversation. But in the eyes of the law, hemp and cannabis are treated very differently.
Be sure to check with your local authorities before growing either of these crops to avoid any potential complications. This could be as simple as a call or email to your local extension office inquiring on the particular rules surrounding hemp production in your area.
Although these two crops fall under different regulatory stipulations, they are in actuality different cultivars of the same species. To put it simply, hemp is any strain of Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound in the plant).
It’s the hemp plant that is grown for its fibrous stalk, healthy seeds and flavorful oils. This is also the plant used to craft medicinal CBD products. On the other hand, the cannabis plant, with its much high content of the chemical compound THC, is grown for recreational uses.
Hemp is a fast-growing plant that will thrive in most soil types and can produce a seed crop in 100 to 150 days, depending upon the cultivar. The plants require full sun, and the seedlings require consistent watering for the first few weeks. But once they are established, hemp plants are quite…