TABLE OF CONTENTS
With hemp now a legal commodity that represents a rapidly growing segment of the legal cannabis industry, the attention of many entrepreneurs, as well as those seeking employment, have now shifted to taking a good long look at hemp and the opportunities it provides.
Hemp has myriad uses and is incredibly versatile when it comes to the broad range of products derived from it. Not only is cannabidiol (CBD) one of the reasons people grow it, but hemp also has value in other markets like textiles, building materials, plastics, and even fuel production. Major car companies have experimented with building vehicles largely of hemp products. The fact that these vehicles could run on fuel made partially from hemp is truly mindboggling. When you also consider the potential medical and health benefits of hemp, you can easily draw the conclusion that it ranks among the most useful and versatile plants on the planet. As such, the National Hemp Association is not only doing well but growing rapidly.
The CBD market in the legal cannabis industry now has two primary sources for CBD products: marijuana and hemp. The fact that these two forms of the same plant (Cannabis sativa) can serve two similar but significantly divergent markets is not only interesting, but fortunate for those who wish to engage in the cultivation of either.
Growing hemp closely parallels growing marijuana, regardless of whether it’s sativa or indica. The general principles of growing either are largely the same, with little exception. What’s good for one is also good for the other. The primary differences between growing either for cannabinoid use is that hemp is grown for CBD, and marijuana is still primarily grown for its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.
Growing artisan hemp flower for high CBD content is an exploding horticultural endeavor in the modern cannabis space. In order to be shipped nationwide and sold legally throughout the country, artisan hemp flower still must conform to the rules governing “industrial hemp.” To qualify as such, dried and cured hemp flower must contain 0.3 percent or less of THC, while the CBD levels may reach lofty percentages in the teens and twenties. This is the complete opposite of the marijuana industry where THC is king, in the flower department at least. Marijuana strains now commonly reach THC percentages in the 20s and 30s, with some strains in research and development even reaching 40 percent. Since CBD is known to counteract the effects of THC, the CBD in marijuana is intentionally bred out, with many commercial strains containing absolutely no CBD (0.00 percent). While some people appreciate the presence of some CBD in their flower to capture the benefits of whole-plant medicine, the industry is clearly heading in a different direction in regard to flower potency.
Artisan Hemp Farming
Hemp farming to produce high-quality, CBD-rich artisan flower is an exciting new pursuit with opportunities that are only bound to grow in the future. The demand for this product is growing, as an increasing number of people become aware of it.
Although hemp growers strive to produce bud with increasingly high levels of CBD, just like marijuana growers strive for high THC, the desire to develop strong and increasingly complex terpene profiles is a strong focus of both groups of growers. The terpene content of cannabis—regardless of whether it’s marijuana or hemp—is what differentiates the vast portfolio of strains now on the market. Cannabis-loving consumers are more than willing to reach for their wallets when they find their favorite strains or, even better, a new one they like. For this reason, cannabis company research and development (R&D) departments are hard at work to pump out tasty new strains, many of them proprietary to the company that created them. This focus on R&D is good for the industry and makes all companies work a little harder to stay in step with the times and the demands of an appreciative customer base.
Although cultivation companies that produce artisan hemp exclusively are in the minority compared to all the marijuana growers in the industry, the number of new hemp growers is starting to spike to respond to demand. Some cannabis companies will inevitably begin to grow both in order to deliver product that appeals to customers with differing cannabinoid preferences.
To put yourself in the best possible position for employment by a leading hemp cultivator, strongly consider industry-specific training like the programs offered by leading cannabis colleges like The Cannabis Training University (CTU). The certification you receive from a cannabis university like CTU will put you ahead of your competition when it comes to landing a job in this specialized area of the cannabis industry.
Important Factors for Hemp Cultivation
If you want to grow hemp, look to marijuana-growing best practices as an obvious starting point. Consumers have high expectation for potent product when it comes to modern cannabis, so let’s explore the basic principles of growing cannabis—in this case, hemp.
Go Organic. Americans seem to have an insatiable appetite for organically produced products, whether they be fruits and vegetables, protein, or otherwise. The price differential is narrowing between organic produce and “regular” fare as farmers become increasingly aware of the demand for it and that the costs to produce it are not prohibitive. It seems that if you slap a “Certified Organic” sticker on any product these days, consumers consider it a plus and will likely buy it. The word “organic” equates to healthier living for many people. The same holds true for cannabis, and, like produce, organically produced cannabis really does taste better and is no doubt better for your body. Growing cannabis with organic soils and nutrients is the direction the industry is going. Although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as a federal agency, does not certify hemp as organic, independent companies will do so, following the requirement of the USDA and other organizations. Undoubtedly, the word “organic” will continue to garner increasing attention in the marketing of legal cannabis.
The Strain Name Game. Although the names of cannabis strains have been around since the black-market days—some of them remaining the same today—many of these names are quite clever and work as effective marketing tools. This fact is definitely not lost on artisan hemp farmers who are already marketing their flower under names as clever as any marijuana. Hemp flower names like “Sour Space Candy” and “Elektra,” have a nice ring to them. Another artisan hemp strain, “Suver Haze,” sounds a bit like Super Silver Haze, which is a well-known marijuana strain. Coincidence? A good strain name can go a long way toward effectively marketing a product—which could mean the difference between someone buying a cleverly named strain or passing on it. It will behoove those engaged in professional hemp farming to never underestimate the importance of a clever marketing advantage.
Indoor or Outdoor? There are pros and cons to both outdoor and indoor cultivation. Any aspiring hemp farmer would be wise to weigh his or her options. Outdoor cannabis relies on solar energy, which is a massive cost-savings consideration. Outdoor growing also usually requires more water, which equates to a considerable expense. Outdoor growing is not as controlled as indoor cultivation, and environmental factors come into play like more animals and pests that can damage crops, as well as adverse weather like hail and strong winds. Outdoor cultivation does have more marketing potential. For instance, in Colorado, cannabis companies advertise their marijuana on radio spots as both “outdoor grown” (if you can believe it in Colorado) and “organic.” These key terms no doubt appeal to people who want their cannabis to be as natural as possible. Indoor growing is controlled and more predictable as far as production goes. Temperature, humidity, and watering cycles are automated, and operations run like clockwork for several aspects of the grow. The debate will no doubt rage on about whether indoor or outdoor cannabis is “better.”
The commercial hemp industry currently faces fewer restrictions than its counterpart, legal marijuana. Both types of products have significant health benefits and commercial value, and most of the same principals apply to growing them since they are the same species. Pursuing a career as a professional hemp grower today makes as much sense as cultivating marijuana for a living. Both are sustainable, and when grown and marketed correctly, have the potential to earn big profits.