Industrial Hemp Cultivation in India
Hemp is a dynamic crop that is easy to cultivate, maintain, and harvest. The Hemp plant is an annual, herbaceous plant with a slender stem, ranging in height from 4 to 15 feet. Hemp is an emerging high-value specialty crop that can be cultivated for fiber, seed, or cannabidiol (CBD).
Hemp is also called industrial Hemp. It is grown specifically for industrial use and it can be used to make a wide range of products. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items like paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. In this article we also covered below topics about Industrial Hemp Cultivation ;
- Agronomic considerations for industrial Hemp production
- Best climate to grow Hemp
- How much do you get per acre of Hemp
- Choosing the right time to harvest Hemp
- How much Hemp can you grow on a one-acre land
- The basics of Hemp seed germination
- The ideal climate for growing Hemp
- The right soil for Hemp
- Tips for growing Hemp seed starts
- How much time it takes to grow Hemp
A Step by Step Guide to Industrial Hemp Cultivation in India
Hemp crop is also versatile in the market, with thousands of uses for its seed, oil, and fiber. Hemp can be used to make many things like textiles, building material, livestock bedding, paper products, and more. It is stronger and more durable than cotton, and it requires less space and less water to grow.
Soil Requirement for Industrial Hemp Cultivation in India
The Hemp plant can be grown on a wide variety of soil types. Hemp plant prefers a sufficiently deep, well-aerated soil with a pH level of 6 or greater, along with good moisture and nutrient holding capacity. Poorly drained soils are not recommended as excess surface water after heavy rains can result in damage to the Hemp crop. Hemp crop is extremely sensitive to flooding and soil compaction.
Soil preparation is an essential process in Industrial Hemp Cultivation , and all soil hardpans must be broken to allow free draining as waterlogging kills the plants, especially the young ones. The presence of a compacted layer can restrain root development, mainly when the compaction pan is due to poor soil preparation. The most suitable soils for Industrial Hemp Cultivation are fertile clay loam or silt loam soils with neutral alkalinity. It does not germinate well in acid sandy soils, heavy clay, or gravelly soils. Hemp plants grow in peaty marshlands but will yield lower amounts and quality of fiber. It grows well in soils with high water-holding capacity, and good soil drainage is crucial to maximizing its production since Hemp plants failed to grow in poorly drained soils.
The Hemp plant can be grown in a variety of soils but grows best in loose, deep soils rich in organic matter, on fertile loams, and with a pH level from 6.0 to 7.5. Hemp plant does not grow well in wet soils. Test your soil several months before planting and apply lime and fertilizers as needed to get optimal crop yields.
Soil preparation for Hemp is similar to other spring crops, like spring small grains. Fiber Hemp is seeded in the spring season on well-prepared soils. Soil preparation mainly depends on the specific cropping systems and rotational scheme in use but is similar to that of spring wheat. Hemp seeds need a firm seedbed and good soil contact to germinate well.
Industrial Hemp Cultivating States in India
The Uttarakhand state government has become the first one in India to issue a license for Hemp plant cultivation. One can legally grow Hemp provided the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content is less than 0.3%. Another state is the Uttar Pradesh that has legalized Industrial Hemp Cultivation. And we could soon have Himachal Pradesh as the third state grows Hemp.
Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Gujarat – Hemp cultivated in Suvagarh village in Amreli district of Gujarat.
Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Andhra Pradesh – It is in the initial stages of setting up a Hemp farm in Alamuru, a small village in Andhra Pradesh. About 15 acres of the 27-acre farm will be used exclusively for cultivating industrial Hemp while the remaining 12 acres will accommodate warehouses, processing-units, testing-centers, and R&D facilities. The AP government start the cultivation of Industrial Hemp for several purposes such as manufacturing medical, cosmetics, and textile products. Though, the farmers can earn Rs 20 thousand per acre by cultivating Hemp.
Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Uttarakhand – Uttarakhand will be the first state in the country to allow commercial cultivation of Hemp crop, and it is a rich source of high-quality fiber and a host of medicinal and nutritive products.
Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Odisha – Odisha is one of the leading Hemp producing States in India.
Other cultivating states in India are Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Karnataka, Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Tamilnadu, and Industrial Hemp Cultivation in Rajasthan.
Breeding Characteristics Hemp Plant
Usually, Hemp is a dioecious plant. However, there are three classifications of varieties;
1. Monoecious varieties – That means male and female flowers develop on the same plant;
2. Dioecious varieties – These varieties are distinct male and female plants;
3. Female predominant varieties – These are obtained by pollinating dioecious females with monoecious pollen.
Cultivar Types – There are mainly two types of industrial Hemp based on their use:
1. Fiber cultivars – with long stalks and little branching,
2. Seed cultivars – with shorter stalks, larger seed heads, and have numerous branches (seed contains 30 – 35% oil). Both cultivars have low THC content, of less than 0.3%.
Temperature Requirements for Industrial Hemp Cultivation
Temperature plays a distinct and essential role in Industrial Hemp Cultivation throughout different growth stages. The Hemp plant grows under a wide range of environmental conditions, and a lot of studies have reported that it is more adapted to the temperate climatic zone. While the Hemp plant grows best when the mean daily air temperatures are between 16 and 27°C, it can also tolerate colder and warmer conditions.
Hemp Seed Germination for Industrial Hemp Cultivation
When it comes to growing Hemp from seed, the good news is that it’s similar to other crops that farmers are familiar with planting in the spring season. Hemp plant thrives in the loose, deep soils rich in organic matter, on fertile loams, and with a pH from 6.0 to 7.5. Hemp plant does not grow well in wet soils. Neither does Hemp do well in hard-pack nor clayed soils, which can be excessively moist or impenetrably dry.
Seed germination is the most fragile time in a Hemp plant’s life cycle and the time to pay close attention while preparing and maintaining the ideal soil conditions. Then, this can be the deciding factor for initial Hemp crop survival. Hemp seed germination in the Greenhouse allows for control of other conditions, as well. Pest and disease access are limited and can be isolated from other batches within a Hemp growing facility. Compacting all Hemp plants on a farm into a smaller greenhouse footprint also conserves labor and also resources allocated to maintaining Hemp seedlings during this fragile beginning stage of life. Good soil moisture is required for Hemp seed germination and until the young plants are well established.
Process of Sowing Seeds for Industrail Hemp Farming
Planting Hemp seeds from April-June is advised, although conditions are important than the calendar date. A soil temperature level above 10°C, 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 the germination process. You must be able to see seed-sprouts emerge anywhere between 5-10 days although some seeds can take as long as 2 weeks.
Hemp seeds must be in deep 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, the Hemp plant becomes mostly drought tolerant.
Advantages of Directly Sowing Hemp Seeds;
Directly sowing Hemp seeds is inherently less labor-intensive, requiring only one round of planting, instead of germinating Hemp seeds in greenhouse containers and transplanting them into the field. While still gaining an understanding of which Hemp plants will do best for them, farmers want to eliminate the additional labor of greenhouses.
Hemp Seeds Germinating in Paper Towel
Some important things to germinate Hemp seeds are oxygen, moisture, and heat. To germinate Hemp seeds, soak them in distilled, room-temperature water for about 12-24 hours. Remove from the water and then place on a moist, sanitary towel (disposable paper towels are a common choice) or prepare the soil with mild nutrients to act as bedding.
Though many choose the paper towel method for Hemp seed germination to better track germination phases, this process also required the additional step of seedling transplantation. Exposed roots can break or become contaminated quickly using this technique, hence the reason many large-scale farmers choose soil-based germination practices.
Planting Hemp seeds directly in soil outdoors is known to net less-than-favorable results. Common causes of Hemp germination failure include improper seed depth and low soil temperatures. The ideal depth of in-ground Hemp seeds is between 1/2 to 1 inch, and the ideal outdoor temperature is above 7°C after the soil has sufficiently warmed for the season.
Though greenhouse Hemp seed germination is ideal, farmers aren’t equipped with the extra space for on-sight greenhouse germination. In that case, pre-germinated cannabidiol Hemp seed starts are an excellent alternative.
Determining the Hemp Plant Spaces
The proper Hemp plant spaces required according to the type of the plant are given below;
Industrial Hemp – Industrial Hemp is not too distant in terms of spacing. They are required to have 4 to 6 inches in the garden or greenhouse. The fibrous stalks of Hemp are the reason why industrial help has minimal spacing.
Cannabinoid Hemp – In the cannabinoid Hemp plant, the usual requirement of their spacing ranges from 4 to 6 feet by distance next to each other. Cannabinoid Hemp plants are flowering Hemp and need a larger space to thrive in. Space enables them to acquire an adequate amount of lighting and converted it into the energy necessary to produce luxuriant, cannabinoid-rich flowers.
Stages of Industrail Hemp Growth
The Hemp plant grows very large, very quickly. To allow for this vigorous growth, the Hemp plants will need proper feedings. As a general rule, the soil contains twice as many nutrients at seeding, as the plant will absorb in an entire harvest season. This is a good starting point for a healthy field, but the Hemp plants will need to be fed at least once during the growing season. The plants will have distinct two stages of growth during the Hemp life-cycle. They are;
Vegetative – The vegetative stage is when the Hemp plant grows tall and wide, filling out with leaves, branches, and overall size.
Flowering – The flowering stage is when blooms or flowing buds, that are rich in CBD, begin to form.
In each stage, the Hemp plant requires a different mineral food source for optimum growth.
In the vegetative stage, the plants will use Nitrogen to expand and grow in size. A good fertilizer for this stage can be one rich in Nitrogen such as an NPK 10-6-6.
Once flowering has begun, the Hemp plants will switch over to using more phosphorus and potassium. Thus, once signs of flowering are noticed, it would be a good time to give a feeding of an NPK 6-12-8 fertilizer.
Growing Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Seed
Step 1) When the Hemp plant is grown for fiber or seed production, it is direct-seeded using standard seed drills similar to those used for wheat or small legumes. Row spacing can change from 6–7 inches to 20–25 inches depending on the specific variety.
Step 2) Industrial Hemp varieties are seeded to a depth of 0.5–1 inch. When moisture is readily available, Hemp seeds will germinate quickly at the shallower end. In drier conditions, Hemp seeds need to be uniformly planted at a 1.5-inch depth. Then, seeding deeper than 1.5 inches results in progressively poorer plant emergence, even with abundant moisture.
Step 3) The goal for fiber and seed Hemp is to make a large number of plants per acre with limited branching to produce a high volume of stem fiber and seed heads. A targeted plant density for grain production is 10 to 15 plants per square foot (435,600 to 653,400 plants per acre), while optimal plant density for fiber production is about 30 to 35 plants per square foot (1.31 million to 1.52 million plants per acre).
Step 4) Hemp seed size varies significantly between varieties and so can the seeding rate. Growers follow the instructions that come with the seed variety. To account for differences in germination, emergence, disease, and interplant competition, seed Hemp for grain at 25 to 40 pounds per acre, and Hemp for fiber at 40 to 80 pounds per acre.
Step 5) Higher seeding rates close the canopy earlier and provide greater plant density, better weed control, and thinner stalks that improve fiber quality. Excessively high stand populations cause increased plant competition and self-thinning later in the season. Though, fiber Hemp can compensate for lower density by increased branching.
Step 6) However, that branching reduces fiber quality. Higher seeding rates that ensure almost no branching of the main stem provide a more uniform stem height, improving ease of harvest. The seeding rate for grain, or oilseed, Hemp is half that of fiber types, resulting in more branching and flowering and seed heads on secondary branches.
Step 7) Seedlings emerge 3 to 10 days after planting and will grow fastest with an air temperature level between 15°C and 27°C. Flood or sprinkler irrigation is best for plant growth because of the high plant population and narrow row spacing. The Hemp plant grows slowly for 3 to 5 weeks and then undergoes a rapid stem elongation and growth period for 5 to 6 weeks.
Step 8) Rapid growth ends when shorter day lengths trigger the flowering procedure. Densely seeded fiber types may reach 16 to 18 feet tall, while some grain types may only reach 3 feet. Many multiple-use or essential oil cultivars fall between these 2 growth heights.
What is The Ideal Nutrition for Growing Industrial Hemp?
A Hemp field produces a large bulk of plant material in a short vegetative period. The nitrogen uptake is most intensive in the first 6 to 8 weeks, while potassium and in particular phosphorous is essential more during flowering and seed formation. Industrial Hemp plant requires 80 to 100 lbs/acre (90 to 112 kg/ha) nitrogen, 35 to 50 lbs/acre (39 to 56 kg/ha) phosphate and 52 to 70 lbs/acre (60 to 80 kg/ha) potash.
We recommend feeding Hemp plants a liquid fish emulsion after they’ve been above ground for about 2 weeks, or if plant leaves are yellowing from malnutrition. Then, start with a half dose of what the label recommends as seedlings are delicate, and repeat weekly until ready to field plant.
In case if you miss this: Spirulina Farming.
When and How to Harvest Hemp
As a rule of thumb, a full-term Hemp plant requires 100 to 120 days to mature. Early finishers can be ready for harvest in 90 to 100 days, and auto flowers can finish in about 75 days. Your results may vary, so monitor your crop closely as it gets close to maturation.
For most farmers planting full-term Hemp on a traditional schedule, the harvest time of Hemp will land between mid-August and early October. Farmers with a small Hemp crop used to be able to use visual cues to determine the ideal time to harvest their Hemp crop.
Harvesting of Hemp crop for high-quality fiber occurs as soon as the last pollen is shed. Harvesting Hemp for seed occurs 4 to 6 weeks later when 60% of the seed has ripened. Fiber Hemp is ready to harvest in 70 to 90 days after seeding. The end use of the product has a significant impact on the harvesting method. Hemp has a much faster crop yield. It takes about 3 to 4 months for Hemp stalks to reach maturity, while trees can take between 20 to 80 years. Not only does the Hemp plant grow at a faster rate, but it also contains a high level of cellulose.
The Yield of Industrial Hemp per Acre
One acre of Hemp can yield an average of about 700 pounds of grain, which in turn can be pressed into about 22 gallons of oil and 530 pounds of meal. Also, the same acre of land will produce an average of 5,300 pounds of straw, which can be transformed into approximately 1,300 pounds of fiber.
Commonly Asked Questions about Industrial Hemp Cultivation
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Is Hemp Legal in India?
Cultivation of Hemp for industrial purposes such as making industrial Hemp or for horticultural use is legal in India. However, it is your responsibility to check with the agriculture/horticulture department for the legality of growing.
What is the soil temperature for planting Hemp seeds?
Hemp seeds should be planted in soil as close to 10°C as possible.
Does 1 acre of Hemp produce more oxygen than other trees?
A tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year and can trap up to 1 ton of the gas by the time it is 40 years old. One acre of Hemp crop will produce more oxygen than 1 acre of apple trees, all other variables remaining the same.
How much time does it take for Hemp seeds to emerge?
On average, Hemp seeds take about 5 to 10 days for Hemp seeds to begin to emerge from the soil.
What are soil conditions for Industrial Hemp Cultivation ?
Hemp plant prefers a balanced, well-drained, loamy soil.
What is the proper seed depth for Hemp?
Hemp seeds should be planted ¼ to ½ inches deep into the soil.
Disclaimer: Please check with the agriculture/horticulture department for the legality of growing hemp in your areas.