Let’s look at the exciting process of Growing Hemp to Maximize CBD. The cannabidiol (CBD) market has become a huge component of the lucrative cannabis industry. As an increasing number of people discover the benefits of CBD and recognize that it does, indeed, help them with a range of physical and mental conditions, they are making it a regular part of their wellness routine.
There is a growing amount of clinical evidence, as well as mountains of anecdotal indications that CBD helps conditions like anxiety, inflammation, depression, and pain relief. CBD also has uses as a digestive aid and is thought to reduce the proliferation of cancer cells. With hemp and its primary cannabinoid CBD now legal, many of the stigmas that previously surrounded it due to it close relationship with marijuana are beginning to fade so that now CBD has hit mainstream consumer products.
An ever increasing number of CBD lotions, creams, balms, salves, beverages and concentrates are now available to those who wish to consume them. CBD is also available in plant form and many people choose to smoke or vape it in the same way they consume marijuana. Along with the growing popularity of CBD, there has also been a spike in the number of people who want to grow their own.
Cannabinoids, Concentrates and Terpenes
When consuming hemp, many people prefer the whole-plant form of both because of the rich assortment of cannabis compounds present. Hemp concentrates that are made with isolate extraction methods have the terpenes and other compounds stripped away so that only CBD remains. Isolate extraction fails to capture the full power of all compounds and the entourage effect that occurs when they are consumed together.
The entourage effect is a phenomenon on which various cannabis compounds, primarily cannabinoids and terpenes, interact on complexes ways, resulting in a different overall effect than when consumed separately. The synergistic interaction of cannabinoids and terpenes has a cumulative effect that often has a total that differs from the sum of its part. For instance, the terpene myrcene is known to reduce anxiety, which is also a characteristic of CBD.
When consumed together, there is a greater cumulative anti-anxiety effect. The entourage effect doesn’t always occur between terpenes and cannabinoids. CBD is known to counteract the effect of THC, so when consuming strains with rich amounts of both, a less psychoactive effect is likely to occur.
When growing hemp for CBD, an ideal climate will maximize terpene and cannabinoid levels. A proper indoor garden should always have good insulation as well as adequate airflow. In many gardens, an automated environmental control system will be money well spent. Environmental controls and related equipment like heaters, coolers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers will keep growing conditions as they should be.
If a garden has temperature and humidity levels that fall outside of the optimum range, either too high or too low, problems will result. When temperature levels are too high or too low, optimum photosynthesis and corresponding plant growth cannot occur.
If the plants are stressed, they will reflect it in their structure, with wispy leaves and flowers being clear indications that environmental adjustments should be made. Optimum temperature and humidity levels vary during the various life stages of the plants, so periodic adjustments are advantageous for the garden to reach its full potential for potency and yield.
Ideal Soil Conditions
Let’s start at the bottom. Hemp prefers a balanced (pH 6-7), well drained, loamy soil. Soil that is well aerated and allows for adequate water retention. Although it can grow in a wide variety of soil types, sandy soil is often the most difficult. This is due to compaction and poor water delivery to the roots. Having dry roots due to inadequate moisture, or excess water remaining on the surface, will lead to crop damage.
Ideal Planting Conditions
Once the soil is prepared for planting seeds, dig a well at a depth less than 2 inches. Planting at 1 inch lets the seeds sprout in uniformity. This allows for a more profitable field because taller plants will not shade newly emerging sprouts. This also is helpful when harvest time rolls around. The height of blooms, seed areas, and stalk height will be at close to uniform.
Ideal Light Conditions
Hemp does well in full sun when the outdoor temperatures are around 60°F and preferably 2-3 weeks after the last chance of frost has past.
[PRO-TIP] If an unexpected frost does occur the young plants can be protected if they are covered by a film or cloth and are watered 24-48 hours before the frost. Well watered soil retains heat more so than dry soil giving the plants a better chance of survival.
Ideal Temperature Conditions
Once established, hemp is quite drought tolerant. Through the early stages of seed germination, air temperatures should be between 50-80°F. This will give the roots enough time to become fully established before the heat of summer is in full effect. Seeds can be started when soil temperatures are between 42-46°F.
Ideal Moisture Conditions
When planting seeds directly into the field they require more water over the first 4 weeks. Watering a freshly planted field 1-2 times a day to allow the seedlings proper moisture for healthy germination. Once the plants are about 2 inches in height, the water can be adjusted as necessary to provide slightly moist soil throughout the rest of the growing season. Once the plants reach a height of 3-4 feet water can be further reduced depending on how hot outdoor temperatures become.
Ideal Air Flow
Air flow between the plants is necessary to keep mold and mildew at bay. This can be accomplished outdoors by spacing plants adequate distances apart. Four to seven inches between each plant in a row is ideal. Spacing rows two to four feet apart is adequate depending on the end harvest goals. Traditionally hemp has been planted like a grain, as that has been the primary end harvest goal, but now more and more farmers are planting hemp like a vegetable or orchard, due to the desire to maintain the plants at higher quality and harvest for a different end goal.
Hemp grows very large, very quickly. To allow for this vigorous growth, the plants will need proper feedings. As a general rule, the soil should contain 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 plants will need to be fed at least once during the growing season. The plants will have distinct two stages of growth during their life-cycle: Vegetative and Flowering.
The vegetative stage is when the plant grows tall and wide, filling out with leaves, branches, and overall size.
The flowering stage, as the name suggests, is when blooms or flowing buds, that are rich in CBD, begin to form. This flowering location is also where seeds/grain is formed.
In each stage, the plant requires a different mineral food source for optimum growth.
In the vegetative stage, the plants will use primarily Nitrogen to expand and grow in size. A good fertilizer for this stage would be one rich in Nitrogen such as an NPK 10-6-6.
Once flowering has begun, the plants will switch over to using more phosphorus and potassium. So once signs of flowering are noticed, it would be a good time to give a feeding of an NPK 6-12-8 fertilizer. The number of the NPK’s (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) here do not have to match the numbers above. Today there are so many different blends of feed to choose from, that selecting the “right” one for your crop may seem overwhelming. Not to worry, the main thing to remember is that the numbers should be higher in Nitrogen for the vegetative stage, and higher in phosphorus in the flowering stage. To find what out what minerals your soil has already, you can perform a simple test.
When to Plant Hemp
Hemp can be seeded in the early spring through early summer and plants reach maturity in as quick as 60 days for some species. More commonly hemp is allowed to grow for 90-120 days allowing the plant to complete it’s full life cycle. The timing of the harvest is based on the end harvesting goals. Most recently hemp has been grown primarily for grain in North America (Canada) and the leftover stalks were viewed as a nuisance. But now with the ever growing market for hemp based products, more and more farmers are letting the plants grow 60+ days to harvest the flowers for CBD extraction, leave a section to continue growing to 90+ days for seeds, and once both are harvested, cutting down all the stalks for fibre harvest production. Making a three distinct harvests from one plant. Getting the most out of their time, land, and money.
When to Rotate Hemp Crops
Hemp can be grown year after year on the same section of land, but good crop rotation is key to the sustainability of any good farm. Rotating the hemp plot with buckwheat (phosphorus regeneration), legumes (nitrogen regeneration), and alfalfa (nitrogen regeneration) are all good solutions to maintaining the soil.
The soils health is key to keeping a great operation alive and well, so taking the time to plant a cover crop, replenishing the soil with nutrients and minerals can make the difference in growing healthy crops for years to come. A 4-year rotation is recommended.
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)
CBD Hemp Genetics
Genetics play a key role in producing high CBD hemp. Hemp strains have been meeting the health and wellness needs of cannabis patients for many years, including children with epilepsy. Since hemp became legal nationally, new strains are emerging all the time. We sell seeds for several high CBD hemp strains here in our shop.
Berry Wine - Fruity myrcene and spicy caryophyllene are this strain's most prevalent aromas with lesser emphasis on flowery bisabolol and an undertone of pinene accompanied by the taste of sweet fermented fruit. Berry Wine hemp has a 23:1 CBD:THC ratio and should be monitored closely late in flowering.
NY CBDiesel - This strain's large, dense, terpene rich flowers have a heavy lemon aroma and flavor that really make them stand out from the crowd. With a 35:1 CBD:THC ratio and terpene profile that's out of this world, this unique strain is sure to impress even the most discerning critics!
Cherry Wine - The classic cross of The Wife X Charlotte’s Cherries. With a sweet terpene profile, it is another strain we are offering that produces very high quality flowers. We believe this was the most widely planted hemp strain in the US in 2019. All our Cherry Wine seed is bred from our F1 ‘Bohdi’s Cut’, the original Cherry Wine phenotype from Colorado.
Mountain Mango - This is some of the sweetest hemp we’ve ever tasted. It was planted in more than 40 states across the US in 2019 and has produced winning crops from California to Maine. These plants set to bud very quickly, have great calyx development, and their large sticky flowers are super frosty.