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Quick Guide: Growing Hemp


Successful Farming Magazine tells us hemp products represent the greatest opportunity for American agricultural markets seen within the past fifty years. This has many growers paying attention to hemp, and several of them are taking the first steps. It's rare to have a conversation with a grower and not have hemp or the indoor growing of cannabis come up in the conversation. It has many searching for basic answers to the legality and real opportunity of changing an operation around to support what is today a profitable crop. Below are answers to the most common questions about hemp to help you make a more informed decision concerning growing hemp.

Is Hemp Legal To Grow In The United States?

It's legal to grow hemp in the United States, but with some serious restrictions. It's just not as easy to grow hemp, and it is lettuce from a regulatory standpoint. The passage of the Farm Bill in 2018 made it legal and identified serious restrictions. The farm bill created a more relaxed attitude for hemp, but the restrictions are worth checking out. For example

  1. Per section 10113 of the farm bill, the hemp you grow cannot contain more than .3% THC.
  2. The State you live in must submit a plan to the Secretary of the USDA for its regulation control plan. The USDA must approve the State's plan before you move forward. You can find a list of States allowing cultivation of hemp for commercial, research or pilot programs here.
  3. Finally, cultivating without a license can result in Federal charges.

Why Is Hemp So Popular Now?

Hemp is popular now because it can be used in a wide variety of ways. Today hemp is used for fiber, grain, and cannabidiol. Some examples of fiber uses include paper, textiles, building material, rope, and carpet. The grains are a good source of protein. There are almost 10 grams of protein in a tablespoon of seeds. Hemp seeds also have a high content of omega-3s believed to improve heart health. Finally, the cannabidiol (CBD) found in hemp is purported to do just everything including, relieve pain, reduce anxiety, reduce stress, relieve joint pain, muscle cramps, and hangovers. Nationwide sales of CBD is projected to hit $22 billion by 2022.

CBD is still in a gray area of the law. CBD made from a marijuana plant is a Schedule 1 substance, the same as LSD or heroin. The Farm Bill did not specifically make CBD from hemp legal. It did, however, open the door for federal regulation.

The other challenge CBD faces is preliminary findings of its effectiveness are just that, preliminary. There are many significant claims as to what it helps, but the scientific community is still learning. The proof of its effectiveness should be developed in the next few years.

Can You Make Any Money Growing Hemp

A recent Cornell University analysis found profits ranged from $130 per acre to as high as $730 per acre for grain and fiber. Compared to soybeans at $200 or less per acre or depending on the market (sometimes a loss) hemp is attractive. Also, hemp grown for CBD ranges in the thousands of dollars per acre price range.

How About Water Use

We still have lots to learn about growing hemp. Most estimates concerning water needs for hemp are in the 20 -30 inches a year range.

Hemp may provide farmers a new opportunity for growth. The risks are real and careful consideration must be taken before investing your time and resources. That sounds a lot like farming in general, and so most growers might already be comfortable with the risk. We'd love to hear about your experiences growing help if you want to share in the comments section. If you enjoyed this post consider following me on twitter at H2oTrends.

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Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association's Board of Directors and is a University of California Master Gardener. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.

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