Hemp has been at the center of an incredible amount of press over the last several years. With the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, interest about what hemp is, the legality of growing it and how it might benefit American farms are just a few of the questions being asked.

Here at American Hemp Ventures, our H.E.M.P. Consulting team has been working with farmers to navigate the new opportunities of hemp and find ways to add hemp to their farm plans.

The H.E.M.P. Consulting Group works with farmers to review and analyze ways to add hemp to existing farm operations, provide seed, grow services and brokerage services for the sale of the harvested crop.

What is hemp?

Hemp is an agricultural crop that has been actively cultivated since 8,000 BCE. Hemp has over 25,000 known uses including food, textiles, paper, bio diesel and thousands more. Hemp produces fiber for building materials and textiles, bast for paper, oil for biodiesel, ethanol for energy, grain for people and cattle and has a long list of possible health and nutraceutical benefits as well.

How is hemp different from marijuana?

Hemp contains over 100 compounds and 426 chemical entities. The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is the concentration of a compound called THC. THC is the active compound found in marijuana that is known to get people “high”. Hemp contains less than .3% (.003) THC and hemp cannot get a person “high”.

How does the 2018 farm bill impact hemp?

The farm bill makes hemp a 100% federally legal agricultural crop that is eligible for crop insurance, banking and federal grants. It puts hemp in a similar realm as traditional crops like corn, wheat and soy, etc.

What is hemp used for?

Hemp has a long list of uses. The most current demand for hemp is in the extraction of a key compound called cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has been found to aid in reducing seizures, Parkinson’s, pain relief, reducing inflammation, diabetes support and even fighting cancer. Market awareness and demand for CBD is growing rapidly. With modern technical developments, Hemp uses have increased to include composite boards, motor vehicle brake and clutch pads, plastics, fuels, bio-diesel, Eco-solid fuel and many others.

Is there a market for hemp?

Grandview research pegs the world hemp market (not including CBD sales) at over $5 billion in 2018 and growing by 14% CAGR to $10.6 billion by 2025. US sales of hemp will approach $820 million this year and are projected to represent over 30% of the world hemp market. CBD sales alone grew 40% in 2018 to $521 million and are expected to reach $22 billion by 2022.

What’s the value of a hemp crop?

The biomass produced from 1 acre of hemp would generate approximately $23,000 in CBD sales today. We do expect supply to begin to drive prices down over the next several years, but there is still a projected supply short fall over the expected demand. In addition, the demand for hemp seed and other hemp by-products will generate additional revenue. Current hemp seed prices range from $1 – $5 per seed.

What are the benefits of farming hemp?

Hemp has been shown to bioremediate (clean up) soils and remove metals, pesticides, solvents, crude oil, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, toxins from landfills and even radioactive elements.

Hemp also acts a very viable cover crop to regenerate soils by depositing carbon dioxide and aerating the soil it grows in. Hemp requires only about 30% of the water of corn, and can be grown nearly pesticide and herbicide free.

Hemp requires little fertilization and can be grown on the same piece of land for a long time without causing any reduction or depletion in yield.

How does hemp rotate with other crops?

Hemp can act as a very valuable cover crop or ancillary crop to supplement your existing operations. Hemp could be used to diversify current rotations of bean, wheat, or alfalfa. Hemp responds well to most preceding crops.

Do I need special equipment to farm hemp?

Hemp can be planted and harvested with much of the traditional farming equipment currently in use including combines and seed drillers.

How Long Does it Take to Grow Hemp?

Hemp can be planted over a wide range of months because it is so hardy. It will benefits from the highest yields if planted in early June. Hemp seeds geminate in 24-48 hours, emerge in 5-7 days will achieve 12 inches in 4-5 weeks. Harvest should occur between 12-16 weeks, depending on several variables.