Hemp Seeds: A Step-By-Step Guide on Growing Hemp
Growing industrial hemp
Hemp is a dynamic crop that is easy to grow, maintain, and harvest. It also has a multitude of uses from medicinal to manufacturing. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you begin growing hemp seeds.
What You’ll Need
- Planting Supplies
- Hemp Seeds
- Water Source
- Well Draining Soil (ph6-7.5)
- Garden Shovel (for moving soil)
- Garden Hoe (for moving soil)
- 1 Tarp
- 2 5 Gallon Buckets
- 1 scythe or garden shears/snips
- 1 Stick, Club, or Bat
First, we want to check the condition of the soil where you will be planting your hemp seeds. A simple soil test is quick and easy. Start by going to your local hardware store and purchasing a soil test kit. There are a number of kits on the market, so choose the one that fits you best. I like using Land Grant Labs. They provide a print out of the results, and recommendations on how to correct or solve a soil issue. Your local agricultural center can also provide means for soil testing.
Sending in a soil sample before sowing your hemp seeds is very important. Kush recommends doing a few soil tests from different labs. This will help you to have a broader idea of what is going in the soil, but one test will do the job to get started.
Soil Fact: Hemp typically prefers a soil with a ph of 6 to 7.5.
Prepping the soil
Once the results of your soil test are returned, take any recommended actions. Supplement your soil with the recommended minerals to ensure that the plants will have all the nutrients they need for the season. Another way to insure a proper mineral composition is to plant a cover crop the previous season.
Like growing any crop sustainably for the long term you must feed the soil and not the plant. Hemp is no exception to using proper crop rotation methods, such as:
Year 1: Hemp (planted for harvest)
Year 2: Common Buckwheat (planted for soil phosphorus regeneration)
Year 3: Hemp (planted for harvest)
Year 4: Alfalfa (Planted for soil nitrogen regeneration)
Following this cycle of crop rotation will make for better, healthier, dynamic soil. By design, it also leads to a better, healthier, dynamic hemp product for generations to come.
If the soil is healthy and vibrant, anything it grows will also be healthy and vibrant. My favorite cover crop is Common Buckwheat. It’s inexpensive, covers a lot of ground, smothers out common weeds, works well in poor soils, and is better than other cover crops at retrieving phosphorous. Additionally, buckwheat helps later crops with fruiting, flowering, and root growth.
If you don’t the time to plant a cover crop this season then simple supplementation from your local agriculture supply store can be a quick and effective way to ensure you have organic mineral content in time for the current season.
Planting Hemp seeds from April-June is advised, although conditions are more important than the calendar date. A soil temperature above 50°F, in Full-Sun (6-8 hours of sunlight a day), and well drained soil is ideal. Upon planting, follow with a deep watering to promote germination. You should be able to see seed-sprouts emerge anywhere between 5-10 days although some seeds can take as long as two weeks.
Hemp seeds should be deeply water once a week, early in the morning, or at dusk to prevent evaporation. Watering is most important between the first 6 weeks, after this, hemp becomes mostly drought tolerant.
If you starting seeds inside, it is recommended to do so around May 1st. This allows 3 weeks of growth before transplanting outside. Seedlings should be lightly watered each day and stored in a warm (above 70°F) room with 6-8 hours of direct to indirect sunlight. When the stems near the base begin to become “woody” and more stable, the seeds are ready to make the move outdoors.
In some hemp fields, seed spacing is commonly 4’x6’, due to how big the plant will be at full maturity. This additional space also gives room to harvest material from the plant. Similar to an orange grove or apple orchard, all hemp plants have their own space. This is more convenient for the farmer, due to the creation of rows to walk, room between plants for inspection, and easier movement at harvest time. This is not necessary, but keeps the field orderly and manageable.
However, hemp can be planted very densley with no issues as well. Not only will this help keep weeds at bay, but it will provide more harvest potential. Another benefit is that the hemp crops do not need to be inspected as frequently due to the sheer quantity.
Either method of planting your hemp crops is acceptable.
Growing Hemp: Frequently Asked Questions About Planting Hemp Seeds
What is the ideal soil temperature for planting hemp seeds?
Hemp seeds should be planted in soil as close to 50°F as possible.
What level of sun is needed for hemp seeds?
Hemp should be planted in full sun.
When is the best time of year to plan hemp seeds?
Ideally, you should plan to plant your seeds from April-June.
How many days does it take for hemp seeds to emerge?
On average, it takes about 5-10 days for hemp seeds to begin to emerge from the soil.
What is the proper seed depth for hemp?
Hemp seeds should be planted ¼” to ½” deep into the soil.
What is the proper row spacing for hemp plants?
Hemp should have at least 4” between each seed when planting.
When do hemp plants reach maturity?
On average, hemp reaches maturity between 8-16 weeks (based on species).
When should you sow hemp seeds?
2 to 4 weeks after your average last freeze when soil temp is above 46F, or anytime up to 4 weeks
How to Harvest Hemp
Hemp can be harvested for fiber or seeds.
As soon as seeds develop (after 4-8 weeks) fiber can be harvested. The longer you wait to harvest the stalk for fiber, the more durable the fiber will be. You can begin harvesting hemp fiber as early as seeds are visible.
To harvest hemp fiber
- Cut stalks 2-3 cm from the soil using shears or a scythe
- Lay the stalks on the ground to dry, also called “retting.” This process allows moisture and microbes to break down the stalk so that fiber is easier to remove. “Retting” can also be done by submerging the stalks in water for up to 7-10 days. Retting will not occur under 41°F or above 104°F. This process can take up to 5 weeks.
- Allow to dry completely before storing
- Once dried hemp can be bound in stacks, bales, or bundles for storage
- Hold cutting over a tarp or collection bin in a well ventilated area
- Thrash the clipping with a stick, club, or bat to kock all the seeds off onto the tarp/bin
- After harvesting each plant as a whole you will pour the seeds into a 5 gallon bucket
For seed harvest, wait 12-16 weeks until you see seeds forming at the top of the crop. Some seeds lower on the plant may be harder, where as some closer to the top may be soft and green. This is normal and means your plant is not quite ready for seed harvest. For maximum harvest wait until the majority of the seeds are hard.
How to Get seeds from your hemp crop:
- Cleanly cut just below the lowest seed pod off the stalk with shears/snips or scythe.
- Hold cutting over a tarp or collection bin in a well ventilated area.
- Thrash the clipping with a stick, club, or bat to kock all the seeds off onto the tarp/bin.
- After harvesting each plant as a whole you will pour the seeds into a 5 gallon bucket.
- Hold a bucket one foot above another bucket and pour the seeds back and forth. When the seeds are poured from one bucket into the next, the wind (or a fan) moving between will blow away all the residue and debris. Repeat this step 5-10 times until all debris and residue has been removed. This process is called “winnowing.”
- You can now pour seeds into a refrigerator safe bin with a lid and store between 32-40°F.
Once the seeds are harvested, you can harvest the fiber from the fully matured stalk as well. Fully utilizing the crop to its maximum potential by repeating the steps for “fiber harvesting”, listed above.
Planting Hemp seeds from April-June is advised, although conditions are more important than the calendar date. A soil temperature above 50°F, in full sun.
Where to Buy Hemp Seeds to Farm: 6 Tips from Hemp Farmers
Since the U.S. government relaxed restrictions on hemp farming in the Farm Bills of 2014 and 2018, many farmers have started planting this lucrative crop. If you are interested in adding hemp to your farm, you might be wondering how to get started. The answer is simple. Start with the right hemp seeds. Every farmer knows that the key to a successful crop begins with quality seeds. But how do you find hemp seeds for growing, and how can you evaluate the quality of the seeds?
Here are the six tips to buying hemp seeds to grow, straight from the mouths of experienced and successful hemp farmers:
1. Decide What You Want to Achieve
Hemp is an extremely versatile plant that can be farmed for a variety of different purposes, including fiber, grain, cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, cannabigerol (CBG) extracts, or smokable flowers. Different hemp seeds are cultivated to enhance the production of one or another of these features.
Therefore, it’s crucial that before you invest in hemp seeds for growing, you determine what results you want.
Are you interested in harvesting fiber or grain? What about CBD or CBG oil? Currently, CBD oil is the most profitable hemp crop to plant. Some sources estimate that farmers can see a profit of up to $40,000 per acre of hemp cultivated for CBD oil. While there is a large range in final profitability, interest in CBG oil is also beginning to increase, selling at an even higher price than CBD oil, yielding as high as 3 times the value of CBD.
2. Focus on Good Genetics
Once you’ve decided what hemp product you want to harvest, search for seed companies that offer hemp strains designed for that purpose. Often, these companies have spent years crossbreeding strains to enhance the seed’s output. For example, a hemp seed that can increase CBD production by just 2% in each plant can result in thousands of extra dollars in your pocket for every acre planted.
As you dive into your hemp seed research, you’ll likely discover that farmers and hemp experts mention the same strains again and again as the best in the industry. Choose the company that originated those strains rather than seed resellers.
Finally, good seed genes are about more than just increasing output. You also want to search out seeds that will grow into resilient plants that can survive and thrive in different environments and through a variety of weather conditions. Look for hemp seed strains adapted to your growing season and local environmental conditions.
3. Buy Feminized Seeds
If, like many hemp farmers, you want to focus on producing CBD or CBG oil, then the feminization rate in your seed selection matters. Hemp plants can be either male or female. Both CBD and CBG oil are dominantly derived from the flowers of the female plant. If a male plant pollinates a female plant, it will dramatically lower the amount of CBD and CBG oil female plants produce. Even a few male plants in a field can noticeably cut the CBD and CBG oil production of your crop and your profits along with it.
It’s incredibly important to work with a seed company that provides feminized seeds. No company can guarantee 100% feminized seeds, but the best seed companies can get very close (and they will teach you how to quickly identify male plants).
In the farming business, a few percentage points here or there can make the difference between a profitable crop and dipping into the red after all your hard work. When it comes to where to buy hemp seeds, invest in companies that can offer the very highest feminization rates.
4. Look at a Hemp Seed Company’s History and Reputation
The recent relaxation of laws against hemp farming has led to a rush of new players in the industry looking to “cash in” on the hottest new crop to hit the market. Suddenly everyone and their brother has hemp seeds and other related products to sell to unwary farmers.
Look before you buy hemp seeds for growing! Take the time to do your due diligence and research a company’s history and reputation before you invest your hard-earned money. Because hemp farming was essentially outlawed up until 2014, hemp seed companies are still relatively new. However, the top companies have been around for years and have invested a lot of time and effort into creating high-producing strains of hemp seeds. These companies also make a point of working directly with hemp farmers and agricultural scientists to ensure the quality of their seeds.
5. Work with Seed Companies that Understand Compliance
Industrial hemp farmers need to be extremely careful to ensure that their hemp product stays in compliance with federal law. That means their hemp crop must have a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) below 0.3%.
Compliance starts with the seed company. You’ll want to choose hemp seeds for growing for sale that are genetically designed to produce low amounts of THC. If your seed company doesn’t provide low-THC seeds, it will be nearly impossible to stay in compliance.
Of course, each farmer must test their plants through every stage in the growing process to ensure THC rates are below the limit. Starting out with the right seeds, however, can make this process much easier and help ensure you get to harvest without any compliance issues.
6. Invest with a Seed Company That Provides Excellent Customer Service
No crop is guaranteed, which is why knowledge is power for farmers. Choosing the seeds for your hemp crop is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, so it helps to get the right kind of guidance. The best hemp seed companies care deeply about helping their clients make educated and confident decisions when they buy hemp seeds to grow.
For example, a hemp seed company should be happy to take the time to explain the features and benefits of their different hemp seed strains. They should be eager to learn about your farm, your budget, and your goals so they can make hemp strain suggestions that will give you the best chance of success. They should also be able to answer questions about what equipment you need and whether hemp seed starts would be a better option for your farming setup.
Before you buy hemp seeds from a company, give them a call and talk to a representative. Make sure they’ll take the time to help you make the best choice for your farm.
It All Starts with the Seed
A good hemp crop comes from good hemp seeds. A lot of new farmers wonder where to buy hemp seeds, but the answer is easy: choose High Grade Hemp Seed. We were founded in 2011 and became one of America’s first certified hemp farms. We’ve spent years building up a team of expert farmers and scientists and crossbreeding hemp seeds to develop the very best strains.
Our results speak for themselves. We offer seeds with a 99.9% feminization rate and a 98% germination rate. Our Berry Blossom hemp strain is considered an industry standard for high CBD production, and we’ve developed five additional CBD-oriented strains that are quickly becoming farmer favorites in their own right. Our Matterhorn CBG strain is one of the very best for producing CBG.
Of course, don’t just take it from us—let us show you what we’re all about. Give us a call and tell us your story. We would love to hear about your goals and to help you find the right hemp strain and seed type for hemp success. Contact us today or take a look at our highly praised hemp seed strains.
Wondering where to buy hemp seeds? A bumper hemp crop starts with the right seed. Read this week’s High Grade blog to learn more about growing CBD hemp seed.