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Industrial Hemp FAQ




After 80 years of over-regulation and prohibition, industrial hemp is one of the most misunderstood commodities in the United States. We’re happy to clear up the most common misconceptions, so you can begin to make an informed choice for you and your business.  


Isn’t hemp just another name for marijuana?

No. Even though they are both Cannabis sativa L., Industrial hemp is the non-intoxicating, low-THC, oilseed and fiber variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug.

So is it legal to grow hemp in the United States?

Yes! Thanks to the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (Farm Bill) hemp is no longer a controlled substance. However, hemp will still be regulated and can only be grown with a permit. Each state will have to submit their program to the USDA for approval or pass legislation to remove hemp from the state controlled substances act. They can then establish individual licensing processes.

What other countries are growing hemp?

The world’s largest producers are China and France, but hemp is also grown in Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine.

What are cannabinoids?

These are the various chemical compounds found in cannabis. The concentration of particular cannabinoids varies from one strain of the plant to another. That’s how we tell the difference between marijuana, which is valued for its high concentration of the cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and industrial hemp, which contains 0.3% or less THC. By contrast, hemp is valued for its concentration of cannabidiol (CBD).

Can smoking hemp get you high?

No. The cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is responsible for the high associated with cannabis. By definition in the United States, industrial hemp contains 0.3% or less THC. Therefore, smoking hemp does not produce a high.

What are the top concerns for growing hemp?

First and foremost is ensuring that you are licensed under the regulations and processes of your state. These may apply to nursery, growing, harvesting, transportation, processing, etc. You’ll also want to consult your bank and insurance company. Much of the infrastructure is still being put into place, so do your homework.

What license do I need to farm hemp?

Since the passing of the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, states have been individually responsible for establishing licenses, so check with your state’s department of agriculture directly.

What kind of farm is best suited to incorporate hemp?

It’s important to note that at the outset, hemp should be included as a rotational crop, both to set up its sustainability and to capitalize on its benefits to the soil. In general though, farmers of tobacco, cotton, corn, wheat, and fruit see the most natural application of their existing systems.

What type of climate is right for hemp?

A temperate climate is best, where there is diversity of day and night temperatures, and a relatively hot summer.

What type of soil is right for hemp?

Ideally, fields are flat with good percolation. Hemp is a hardy plant that withdraws toxins from the soil so it requires relatively minimal nutrients and less water than similar temperate crops.

What materials and equipment do I need to farm hemp?

Generally speaking, most orchard-style and machine-driven farming operations can utilize their existing equipment, with a few adaptations.

How would I even get hemp seed?

With commercial production in the U.S. in its infancy, high quality seeds and clones are in relatively short supply at the moment, and may require an international purchase. However, HempWave exists to fill this important need by providing carefully cultivated, American feminized clones that comply with federal THC limits.

Why would I use seeds vs clones?

Some prefer seeds because they are more familiar. However, they are a little more difficult to control and predict. If you’re not working with a reputable supplier, the seeds may have more THC than is allowed under the 2018 Farm Bill, or there may be more males in the mix, creating pollen and an inconsistent quality of yield. This is why feminized clones are preferable in the production of predictable industrial hemp.

What is the ideal number of plants per acre?

Depending on your needs and harvesting capabilities, HempWave recommends 2,800-3,200 per acre.

What is the growing season for hemp? Can I grow it more than once a year?

This is a summer crop, so the season will depend greatly on avoiding frosts. That being said, the short growing cycle (90-120 days) may allow two crops per year in some locations.

How do I dry the plants?

Wind row and dry it outside, or put it through an industrial dryer.

How much labor is required?

Harvest may demand up to two people per acre, but machine driven operations require less.

How do I know that I’ll turn a profit?

Every business needs good decisions and sound practices in order to be profitable. Assuming you have a solid foundation, you purchase quality seed material, and follow established successful methods, hemp has been shown to generate significantly higher revenues than similar cash crops. The market is currently in a boom owing to the high demand for hemp and hemp-derived products relative to supply. This is likely to be the case for some years, but with proper due diligence you can confirm whether hemp makes sense for you.

How do I sell my hemp?

At this stage of the market’s development, you need to find the right partner, and inspect the contract thoroughly. Buyers’ interests range from biomass at the futures (presales) level to biomass at harvest, various levels of cannabinoid extraction, as well as fiber. Ask your state department of agriculture or local hemp trade association about licensed entities in your area, and research each for their systems and terms. HempWave is currently exploring partnerships with farms in multiple states.

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