Hemp Uses And Care: Learn How To Grow Hemp Seed
Hemp was once an important economic crop in the United States and elsewhere. The versatile plant had a host of uses but its relation to the vilified Cannabis plant caused many governments to ban the planting and sale of hemp. The primary method of propagation of the plant is hemp seed, which is also useful nutritionally and cosmetically. Growing hemp from seed requires a carefully prepared seed bed, plenty of nutrients, and plenty of space for these large and fast growing plants.
What is Hemp Seed?
Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis. It has great potential as a grain and fiber material. There are approved varieties for planting depending upon where you live, so it is best to consult with your municipality to determine which, if any, varieties are permitted.
There are also species which are noted for best grain or fiber production, so selection will depend upon the purpose for the crop. Some tips on how to grow hemp seed will then send you on your way to a vibrant, rapid, and prolific crop.
Hemp seeds contains about 25 percent protein and over 30 percent fat, especially essential fatty acids which have been shown to promote optimal health. This makes them invaluable as animal fodder and in human consumption. Some studies even tout the seeds as reducing heart disease, minimizing PMS and menopausal symptoms, aiding digestion, and relieving the symptoms of common skin disorders.
Hemp seeds are also pressed to garner beneficial oils. Seeds are harvested when at least half the visible seed is brown. Seeds attain a cracked appearance as the outer layer dries. Hemp seed is heavily regulated and attaining viable seed within the confines of federal guidelines can be difficult in some areas.
Hemp fiber is a tough, durable product that can be made into textiles, paper, and construction materials. The oil from seed shows up in cosmetics, supplements, and more. Seeds are used in food, as animal fodder, and even beverages. The plant is considered to be useful in over 25,000 products in areas such as furniture, food, automotive, textiles, personal products, beverages, construction, and supplements.
More and more states and provinces are permitting growing hemp. It has been surmised that the plant could have global economic impact where governments allow the plant to be cropped.
How to Grow Hemp Seed
Be aware that many locations specifically forbid any hemp growing. In areas where it is permitted, you will likely need a license and adhere to a rigid set of rules unique to each locality. If you are lucky enough to be able to obtain licensing and certified seed, you will need to provide the crop with deeply tilled soil with a pH of 6 or higher.
Soils must be well draining but should also have enough organic matter to retain moisture as hemp is a high water crop. It requires 10 to 13 inches (25-33 cm.) of rainfall during the growth period.
Direct sow seed after all danger of frost has passed in soil temperatures a minimum of 42 degrees F. (6 C.). In optimum conditions, the seed can germinate in 24 to 48 hours, emerging in five to seven days. Within three to four weeks, the plant may be 12 inches (30 cm.) tall.
Due to the rapid growth and extreme vigor of hemp, few pests or diseases are of major concern.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for educational and gardening purposes only. Before planting hemp in your garden, it is always important to check if a plant is allowed in your particular area. Your local municipality or extension office can help with this.
Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis. It has great potential as a grain and fiber material. There are approved varieties for planting depending upon where you live. Learn more about hemp seed here.
Hemp seed plants
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Hemp, (Cannabis sativa), also called industrial hemp, plant of the family Cannabaceae cultivated for its fibre (bast fibre) or its edible seeds. Hemp is sometimes confused with the cannabis plants that serve as sources of the drug marijuana and the drug preparation hashish. Although all three products—hemp, marijuana, and hashish—contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound that produces psychoactive effects in humans, the variety of cannabis cultivated for hemp has only small amounts of THC relative to that grown for the production of marijuana or hashish.
The hemp plant is a stout, aromatic, erect annual herb. The slender canelike stalks are hollow except at the tip and base. The leaves are compound with palmate shape, and the flowers are small and greenish yellow. Seed-producing flowers form elongate, spikelike clusters growing on the pistillate, or female, plants. Pollen-producing flowers form many-branched clusters on staminate, or male, plants.
Cultivation and processing
Hemp originated in Central Asia. Hemp cultivation for fibre was recorded in China as early as 2800 bce and was practiced in the Mediterranean countries of Europe early in the Christian era, spreading throughout the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. It was planted in Chile in the 1500s and a century later in North America.
Hemp is grown in temperate zones as an annual cultivated from seed and can reach a height of up to 5 metres (16 feet). Crops grow best in sandy loam with good drainage and require average monthly rainfall of at least 65 mm (2.5 inches) throughout the growing season. Crops cultivated for fibre are densely sowed and produce plants averaging 2–3 metres (6–10 feet) tall with almost no branching. Plants grown for oilseed are planted farther apart and are shorter and many-branched. In fibre production, maximum yield and quality are obtained by harvesting soon after the plants reach maturity, indicated by the full blossoms and freely shedding pollen of the male plants. Although sometimes pulled up by hand, plants are more often cut off about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the ground.
Fibres are obtained by subjecting the stalks to a series of operations—including retting, drying, and crushing—and a shaking process that completes separation from the woody portion, releasing the long, fairly straight fibre, or line. The fibre strands, usually over 1.8 metres (5.8 feet) long, are made of individual cylindrical cells with an irregular surface.
Products and uses
The fibre, longer and less flexible than flax, is usually yellowish, greenish, or a dark brown or gray and, because it is not easily bleached to sufficiently light shades, is rarely dyed. It is strong and durable and is used for cordage—e.g., twine, yarn, rope, cable, and string—and for artificial sponges and such coarse fabrics as sacking (burlap) and canvas. In Italy some hemp receives special processing, producing whitish colour and attractive lustre, and is used to make fabric similar to linen. Hemp fibre is also used to make bioplastics that can be recyclable and biodegradable, depending on the formulation.
The edible seeds contain about 30 percent oil and are a source of protein, fibre, and magnesium. Shelled hemp seeds, sometimes called hemp hearts, are sold as a health food and may be eaten raw; they are commonly sprinkled on salads or blended with fruit smoothies. Hemp seed milk is used as an alternative to dairy milk in drinks and recipes. The oil obtained from hemp seed can be used to make paints, varnishes, soaps, and edible oil with a low smoke point. Historically, the seed’s chief commercial use has been for caged-bird feed.
Although only the hemp plant yields true hemp, a number of other plant fibres are called “hemp.” These include Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum), Mauritius hemp (Furcraea foetida), and sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea).
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Melissa Petruzzello, Assistant Editor.
Hemp, cannabis plant cultivated for its useful bast fiber and nutritious edible seeds. The variety of cannabis cultivated for hemp fiber and hemp seeds has only small amounts of psychoactive THC relative to cannabis grown for the production of marijuana or hashish.