Did you know the hemp industry has become a billion-dollar market that has continued to grow and expand?
You’re interested in learning more about the hemp industry because of its bright future, but do you know about hemp’s history?
Hemp is actually one of the oldest crops and played a crucial role in human history, dating back to around 8000 BC. This versatile plant makes clothing, oil, rope, paper and more.
This industry has shifted with modern years and has seen recent explosions. This is because of markets growing for CBD and other natural products. But what exactly is hemp and what does this industry consist of?
Keep reading for our guide to hemp 101 and learn everything you need to know about this growing market.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a plant from the Cannabis sativa species grown for industrial uses. Hemp is a non-intoxicating plant with less than 0.3 percent THC. It also differs from marijuana, which is also derived from Cannabis sativa.
There are many differences between marijuana and hemp. This includes the way it looks, how cultivation happens and the chemical makeup.
One of the visual differences is the marijuana has larger leaves with a bushy appearance. But, hemp plants have thinner leaves featured at the top of the plant and grow taller. This difference is more distinct when the plants are side by side.
Additionally, the cultivation environment and process differ between the two plants. Marijuana plants need large space between each plant and grow best in warm and humid temperatures. But hemp plants are typically grown as close as four inches apart with a much larger growth cycle of around 120 days, compared to 90 days for marijuana.
Finally, the actual chemical makeup of each plant is highly different. This starts with the amount of THC, with hemp having a very low concentration. Hemp is grown for industrial purposes and isn’t meant to have a feeling of “getting high.”
So what are the industrial uses of hemp and why is it such a popular market?
What Are The Benefits To Hemp?
Growing industrial hemp is beneficial for both the economy and the environment. This is because we make hemp into so many products and can grow in lots of environments, without the help of many pesticides.
The seeds and flowers from the hemp plant can be used in health foods, organic body care, and other natural health products. The stalks and fibers from hemp plants are often cultivated for clothes, paper, construction material, and even biofuel.
Hemp is also environmentally friendly as it breathes in CO2 and detoxifies the soil where it’s grown. This will also help to prevent soil erosion and provide valuable nutrients.
Hemp can grow well in a variety of climates and soil types. Plus its natural resistance to most pests and weeds means farmers can avoid the majority of harmful pesticides. Especially avoiding those that are typically used when farming an industrial crop. It also requires less water to grow than many other plants.
What Are Hemp Products?
There are many uses of hemp to make products that are helpful to humanity. One of the biggest uses of hemp is fiber. Hemp can be used to make clothing, rope, and paper which is more environmentally friendly than cotton.
Another marketable use of hemp is for food since the seeds are highly nutritious and have a nutty taste. These seeds can be consumed raw or ground up and dried into a powder. The oil from hemp seeds is also a healthy source of omega-3 and is high in fatty acids. Hemp milk can also be produced from hemp seeds.
One hemp-based product that isn’t widely known is building materials. Hemp is used for blocks that are called “hempcrete” and are like concrete. Hemp is used to create wood replacements and biodegradable plastic.
Similarly, many people don’t think about hemp when related to biofuel, but the oil from hemp seeds and stalks can actually be made into biodiesel. This hemp-based biodiesel can be used to power engines.
CBD is another growing market and is sold as oils, edibles, tinctures, and more. Hemp is the primary source of CBD and is often cultivated for this purpose.
Hemp Farming And Harvesting
With hemp being such a versatile plant that is used in the many forms mentioned above, farming this plant has also been an expansive industry.
As mentioned, hemp can survive in many climates and environments, except for the extreme desert or high mountains. The best conditions to grow hemp would be warm weather and soil that is rich in organic material.
If you’re interested in growing and harvesting hemp, a good place to start is with the soil. Get your soil tested for rock phosphate, sulfur, and potassium sulfate levels. If these levels are too high, they may not be best for planting the hemp seeds.
A hemp growth cycle is around 108 to 120 days and the growth conditions should remain stable. Sowing the hemp seeds is vital for their growth. Make sure to prepare a firm but shallow bed in the soil to create uniformity.
It is also recommended to sow hemp seeds directly in the soil rather than in pots and allow them to be close together. Once the seeds are planted, you’ll move on to tending the hemp crops.
During the first six weeks, your hemp plants are in the soil when they’ll need the most irrigation. These plants can survive in many environments but they’re most sensitive to water consumption within the first six weeks.
The hemp plants should be ready to harvest after around 90 to 100 days of the plants being in the ground. You should start to see the head of the hemp plants exposed and be fully matured.
There are many ways to profit from the rapidly growing hemp industry, including growing and harvesting industrial hemp in this way. But another question many people have about hemp is around the legality. Is it illegal to grow and harvest this plant?
Is Hemp Legal?
The Marijuana Tax Act from 1937 started the regulation of cultivating and selling all cannabis varieties. Also, the Controlled Substances Act from 1970 actually defined and classified every form of cannabis and included hemp, as a drug, which made it illegal to grow in the US.
But, today, in most parts of the United States, hemp can be grown with less than 0.3 percent THC. Hemp products like lotions, foods, oils, etc are all legal and can be found in stores throughout the US. Each state will have its own laws that define the usage and cultivation of hemp, and will typically define the acceptable THC content.
A recent act called the Industrial Hemp Farming Act from 2013 was introduced to the House and Senate. If more acts become bills surround hemp, we could see the removal of federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp.
So if you’re interested in getting involved in the hemp industry, you may need to get certain licenses based on your state laws. It’s important to do your research based on the area you live in.
What Is The Future Of Hemp?
Hemp has dozens of practical uses that can be marketed and is used on a global scale, including the growing CBD industry. Educating the general public about the uses and benefits of hemp is another step in continuing to grow this market.
There are many states that are seeking legislation around growing more industrial hemp. Especially given the environmental benefits of hemp, we may continue to see more legislation appear in the future.
There have been more sustainable farming and agriculture practices that are becoming popular, and industrial hemp has been a large part of this. More research and development of hemp could result in economic and environmental benefits, including more renewable energy and organic products.
Get Involved In The Hemp Industry
The hemp industry is versatile and expansive. This means getting involved in the hemp industry could be anything from growing and harvesting hemp yourself as a farmer to selling or making different hemp products like oils, lotions or food.
You may also just be interested in supporting the growth of this industry by purchasing the products or getting more involved in the new legislation. With the benefits that hemp plants bring, it’s no wonder why this booming industry has a bright future ahead.
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