10 things you need to know before growing hemp

Hemp plants

  1. Hemp is a sibling to marijuana and looks exactly like marijuana. The only difference between the two is in the level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes hallucinogenic effects.

  2. Hemp seed can be hard to find and expensive. Buying seed from a reputable dealer is critical to prevent the crop from containing more than 0.3% THC.

  3. Hemp growers and processors have to get a license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

  4. The Ohio Department of Agriculture must test hemp before it is harvested to ensure the THC levels are below 0.3%. Then, the hemp must be harvested within 15 days of the test.

  5. If farmers produce a crop of hemp that tests over the 0.3% limit for THC, the crop is considered to be marijuana and must be destroyed.

  6. Grown for textiles or plastics, hemp has a planting rate of about 400,000 per acre. Hemp for CBD oil is grown at 1,000 to 2,000 plants per acre.

  7. Growing hemp for CBD oil is more labor intensive and similar to growing tobacco, while cultivating hemp for fiber is more like cultivating a traditional row crop, planted much like corn or soy.

  8. Hemp grown to produce CBD oil uses only female plants and farmers typically buy them as plants – not seeds. (The female plants focus on producing flowers, which is needed for CBD; the male plants focus on producing more seeds.)

  9. Hemp thrives in warm weather and in soil that drains well. Hemp grown for CBD oil requires a lot of water and likely an irrigation source.  

  10. Having a signed contract with a buyer before planting is highly encouraged as current trends make the prospect of selling hemp on the open market unlikely, or at a reduced price.

(Source: OSU Extension, the outreach arm of the College Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences)