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Industrial hemp farming

Additional Information

Industrial Hemp (iHemp) is made up of varieties of “Cannabis Sativa” that contain less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is an annual broadleaf plant with a taproot and is capable of very rapid growth under ideal growing conditions. The female flowers and seeds are indeterminate, meaning that there are both ripe and immature seeds on the same plants at the time of grain harvest.

Fibre hemp plants will grow to 2-4 meters tall without branching. In dense plantings (i.e.: seed drilled) the bottom leaves fall off due to lack of sunlight and the male plants die back after shedding pollen, generally 4-5 weeks into the growing cycle, lasting approx. 1 week.

The stem has an outer bark that contains the long, tough bast fibers. They are similar in length to soft wood fibers and are very low in lignin content. Hemp rope, textilesand clothing is made from these fibers. The core contains the “hurds” or “Shives” (short fibers), similar to hard wood fibers and these are used for building, particleboard (MDF) and pet bedding, as well as plastics.

For grain production the plant may branch and reach heights of 2-3 meters. Tall plants do not mean more grain and shorter plants are preferred for combing. In well structured and well drained soils the taproot may penetrate 15-30 cm deep (12”). In compacted soils the taproot remains short and the plant produces more lateral, fibrous roots.

Growing:
Each iHemp variety has its own set of characteristics; small or large seed, low or high oil content, different oil composition, etc….

Varieties grown for fibre may contain from 15-25% bast fibres. As markets develop contracts to grow iHemp may specify the exact varieties that will meet specific market needs.

iHemp varieties tested in Ontario, Canada so far have all been of European origin with the exception of new Ontario-bred varieties such as “Anka” and “Carmen” and they come in 2 types; “dioecious”, which have male & female flower parts on separate plants (i.e.: “Kompolti” and “Unico B”) and “monoecious”, which have male & female flower parts on the same plant (i.e.: “Ferimon” and “Futura”). A 3rd type of cultivar, known as female predominant, is a dioecious type that has 85-90% female plants. It is believed that this type of plant can yield more grain. Most French varieties are a hybrid of predominantly female typeOnly varieties of iHemp that are named in the list of approved cultivars, published by Health Canada, are approved for planting in Canada. These varieties are known to produce plants containing less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) under normal conditions. The THC level may vary with stage of growth and increase under environmental stress conditions. They mature to fibre in 60-90 days and to grain in 110-150 days. Using home-grown or “common” seed is illegal.


Dual Purpose Crops:
Most of the French and Romanian cultivars are suitable for grain and fibre production however these tall cultivars present some challenges for harvesting because growers need also to consider that weather conditions after grain harvest (late August