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The Best Hemp Products for Growing

The Best Hemp Products for Growing

You can plant a seed in the ground, give it water and hope for the best. Or you can get the best hemp products for growing and blow away the competition.

Growing hemp indoors will produce higher quality results than that of hemp grown outdoors on a large scale. Not to any fault of the grower, but due to the conditions of growing outdoors, the plants just have to endure more, including changing weather. Indoors, all of this can be avoided to grow hemp that looks and smells great.

However if you are growing industrial hemp on a large scale, there are still some hemp products in this list that you can utilize to increase productivity.

Hemp Products for Propagation

Whether you’re starting from seed or clone, you’ll need to start them in a controlled environment indoors. Whatever option you choose, you are best off putting those seeds or clones into some root plugs. There’s rockwool, coco, peat and other options you can try to hold your young plants, but you’ll need somewhere to put all of them once your seed and cuttings are put into the plugs.

Cheap and easy, all you need is a 50-cell plastic tray, or a 72-cell tray to house your root plugs. You’ll also need a bottom tray to hold your cells. This will make it much easier to move your plants around once they start to bulk up plus you can get them with holes for extra aeration and drainage.

Best Lights for Growing Hemp

When you are still in the propagation stage, T5 lights are one of the most common and effective options. They are also easy to find compared to other specialty lights.

The great thing about T5 lights is that you can easily increase their effective range. You can have two bulbs in one fixture to cover a smaller area, or if you have a larger propagation area pick up a 4×8 T5 ballast to cover twice as much area with one fixture.

Another great light option for propagation is LED light fixtures. LEDs can be expensive, but they are extremely cost effective and efficient in the grow. You can get just a single bulb, up to entire strips and fixtures depending on the area you need to cover. The best option by far though, is the 315 LEC (Light Emitting Ceramic) bulb.

Also known as a CMH (Ceramic Metal Halide), a 315 LEC bulb packs a lot of light power into one bulb. It is great for bulking up your plants during the vegetation stage, and is powerful enough to continually provide the light they need all the way through flower, resulting in healthier, more consistent yields.

You Need Rolling Benches

Hemp can be a vivacious plant that grows tall and wide if not trained and trimmed consistently. The bigger your plants get, the heavier they will become and the more space they will take up. If you just throw your pots on the ground or on a roller for each individual pot, you’ll be spending a lot of time moving plants back and forth just to get through your grow.

With rolling benches, all that extra work is gone. You can get benches as small or large as you need, and it allows you keep your plants in the same place, while still being able to move them easily. Benches are essential for optimizing the space in your grow.

You can push them together when you need more space, and you can push them apart to easily create walkable aisles. Without rolling benches, you’ll be spending way more time just trying to squeeze between plants without breaking branches.

To really succeed in growing the best hemp, there is more you’ll need to add to this list. Irrigation, humidity and other environmental controllers, the nutrients you use and more can all be a game changer if you aren’t putting as much focus into them right now.

Get some of the best tips for which products you should use, whether to grow form seed or clones and more on The Real Dirt Podcast.

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The Hemp Industry in Oklahoma: What you need to know

The Hemp Industry in Oklahoma: What you need to know

The Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program is taking off. There’s some important laws and rules to know so you don’t get left behind.

Oklahoma’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program allows universities and institutes of higher education to work with Oklahoma farmers to cultivate certified hemp seed for research purposes.  The state defines industrial hemp as “the plant Cannabis Sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.”

So already, Oklahoma has some serious restrictions on who can grow industrial hemp. But because they are still within the federal law put forward by The Farm Bill, they don’t need to change it.

Industrial Hemp in Oklahoma

Industrial hemp grown pursuant to the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Pilot Program is excluded from the definition of “marijuana” in the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.  The definition of marijuana also expressly excludes CBD derived from the mature stalks (including cannabidiol [CBD] derived from the fiber, oil, or cake of the mature stalks), of the cannabis plant.

At this time, it is not clear whether CBD produced from industrial hemp flower would qualify as “industrial hemp” and therefore be excluded from the state’s definition of marijuana, or whether CBD must be produced from the mature stalks of the cannabis plant (both marijuana and hemp) to be exempt from the definition of marijuana.

This mish-mash of laws is going to make it difficult for those trying to enter the legal hemp and CBD industries in the state. It seems to be a grey area regarding where CBD can be derived from, with no clear “yes or no” answer on deriving it from the actual hemp flower. People can get away with a lot of things in grey markets, you just need to be willing to take that risk.

Selling Hemp in Oklahoma

 On February 19, 2019, the Oklahoma State Department of Health issued an announcement stating that businesses that manufacture or sell food products containing CBD are required by state law to obtain a food license. The agency indicated that it would give businesses until April 26, 2019 to comply with the law before initiating further action.

Suffice to say, if you are manufacturing or selling CBD edibles or other food products and don’t have your license already, you could be in some trouble. While commercial sales are permitted in Oklahoma, a product-specific legal analysis should be undertaken to fully understand the risks of operation in the state for your product.

More information on the rules regarding hemp sales and manufacturing can be found on the Oklahoma Agriculture, Food and Forestry website. 

Be Prepared

It is important to keep in mind that Oklahoma hemp laws are different from the federal law. It doesn’t matter if you abide by federal law to the tee in Oklahoma, you can still get in trouble if you don’t go through the proper application process to join the Pilot Program.

Another aspect of cannabis industries (including hemp) is that they are mostly new. Each state establishes their own laws surrounding hemp, and those laws can change. Under those laws could be additional regulations that also change over time.

As a business owner in the hemp industry, you need to be able to adjust your business to meet these new regulations, sometimes on short, strict deadlines. However, Oklahoma is starting off on the right track. Regulations should loosen over the next year or two as more is learned about hemp’s potential, and more opportunities will be opened to the general public to enter the industry.

Ready to apply? Here’s the link to the application.

Learn more about the legal hemp industry, the laws surrounding it and the economic opportunities that are available on The Real Dirt Podcast, featuring Shawn Hauser and Andrew Livingston from Vicente Sederberg LLC. Shawn is the head of V.S.’s Hemp Division, and Andrew is the Director of Economics and Research for the firm.

Get exclusive legal advice that would costs thousands anywhere else, only on The Real Dirt.

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hemp in Alabama (Pt. 2)

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Hemp in Alabama (Pt. 2)

At this point you’ve already decided whether or not you’re growing hemp from seed or clones. Now it’s time to get it planted.

Over 150 farms have already been approved to start growing hemp in Alabama. A lot of them are going to fail.

Why?

Because they’re going to treat hemp like any other row crop.

Planting and Caring for Hemp

In Alabama you should plant at the end of May through the first week ofJune with 2000 to 4000 plants per acre. It is best to sew directly into the ground, however many people find success by using automated plug planters. These planters allow you to plant clones and seeds in a root plug.

Bigger is not better. It’s best to grow plants that are under 5 feet tall and spaced appropriately where they still touch. Your hemp fields should look more like a corn or wheat field than your traditional ganja plant.

To put it simply: It’s all math.

Smaller plants are easier to harvest, easier grow, and don’t require staking. Larger plants require staking, more water, and more nutrition. If you have the land, it’s much better to plant more acres out than less plants. If you choose to grow large plants you will absolutely eat up all your profits and harvesting.

It’s easy to calculate the weight of a field. A foot-tall plant at a density of 2000 plants per acre will yield 2,000 to 4,000 pounds in acre. If you plant with a greater density of 4,000 plants per acre, you will be able to use mechanical harvesting techniques for easier collection. Bean pickers are already being used to harvest hemp throughout the country. You just need more plants per acre for it to be worth your while.

Best Hemp Practices

On a very small scale of 1 to 10 acres, it’s easy enough to plant your seeds or clones by hand. Anything bigger than that and you’ll either need a lot more hands or a mechanical planter.

Hemp clones and seeds require water to grow. They grow best in irrigated fields, however I have been to dozens of hemp fields throughout the country that don’t have irrigation and just rely on God‘s grace and the the rain.

Cross your fingers and it could work out great for you.

For guaranteed success, supplemental irrigation is essential. With any irrigation technique, hemp plants will suck up the water you give them. It is important for them to be in well-draining fields so they don’t get overwatered. You’ll also need to fertilize your fields.

That’s right Hemp requires fertilization. Smart farmers test the soil prior to planting and apply the appropriate supplements. Hemp mostly needs added nitrogen and calcium. You can apply this with all the traditional means from chickenshit to gypsum, ammonium nitrate to calcium nitrate.

Harvesting Your Hemp

growing hemp and harvesting hemp in Alabama

Harvest can be a confusing component of hemp cultivation.

You can begin harvesting your hemp for extraction as soon as your plants’ CBD levels have started to reach their peak. This occurs approximately 35 days after your initial flower set.

This translates to a harvest in mid September to late October. Since we are mostly harvesting hemp for its CBD component and not its THC component, we have a wider latitude for harvesting.

Lastly, it is smart to invest in at least one or two chemical analyses of the CBD. The best time for testing is between three and six weeks into flower. This will give you a gauge of your harvest times and periods for next year as well.

While it might seem relatively simple, nobody has ever grown hemp on the scale that the US is about to begin growing. There will be a lot of problems that farmers across the country will have to combat. In different states with different climates, different problems will arise for the growers there. But now that it is a legal industry with unlimited potential, and with the help from social media platforms and podcasts like The Real Dirt, the answers to these problems will be much easier to find than they are now.

Learn more about hemp in Alabama specifically on The Real Dirt Podcast. And join our Real Dirt Alabama Facebook Group for news exclusive to Alabama, grow tips and more.

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Everything You Need to Know About Growing Alabama Hemp (Pt. 1)

Everything You Need to Know About Growing Alabama Hemp (Pt. 1)

Wow. Finally by the grace of God, hemp is finally legal. In Alabama, this is an exciting time and opportunity for many people.

With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is now considered a legitimate farm crop in the US. The problem is that hardly anyone knows how to grow hemp, and the people that have been growing hemp have only grown limited amounts, in limited environments.

Now Alabama and a number of other southern states have “legalized it.” But what does that mean?

What is hemp?

Hemp is considered any cannabis plant that has less than .3% THC. This is the only thing that defines what makes hemp legal in the US. With the new Farm Bill of 2018 comes the ability for farmers and states that have regulated the production of hemp to legally farm it.

Even though it’s called industrial hemp, there is very little industrial use of hemp today.

Out of hemp you can make everything from paper to plastics, cement to chipboard. We are on the cutting edge of this technology and we have yet to see industry spring up around it. In the future we will see the above and more utilized for industrial hemp. But until then farmers will have to settle on growing hemp for CBD extraction and potentially seed for food.

Growing hemp for grain can be lucrative. The seeds are inexpensive, however you have to be mechanically geared for the scale of this type of production. Think hundreds or thousands of acres.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the most lucrative side of industrial hemp today. It is a medicinal component of the cannabis plant that doesn’t share any psychoactive affects with its relative, THC. CBD is used in everything from skin creams to anti-seizure medications. It truly is a wondrous natural supplement.

As of today, CBD is the only way that you’ll be able to be cash positive from any hemp farming activity. If you’re lucky enough to have applied and received an Alabama Hemp License to grow hemp, then it’s time to get started.

The Plant

CBD hemp has many growth patterns and harvest times. It can be planted from June to August in most of the US. Alabama hemp is no different.

Unlike its cousin (i.e. ganja, marijuana, herb), Alabama hemp is grown on a considerably larger scale, with very different techniques.

The first thing you need decide before starting in Alabama hemp, is whether you want to grow from clones or seeds. High-CBD hemp seeds are available for approximately one dollar a seed on the current marketplace. These are feminized seeds that only produce female plants (or at least 90% or female plants).

That’s right. You still can have some percent of males show up, but that’s a little more complex science than we want to get into now. Basically, if you buy 10,000 feminized seeds you’re mostly going to get female plants. Don’t worry if you get a little seed in your hemp either.

You can just as easily purchase traditional seeds that will randomly be male and females. On a small scale of 5 to 10 acres this could be an excellent choice. It is easy enough to cut down all the males as they show their sex, leaving only the females in your field.

However if you do this you have to plant at twice the density in order to compensate for losing half of your plants.

Clones are by far the best way to have consistent yields and performance.

In part 2 of this guide, we’ll go over tips for planting properly, keeping your Alabama hemp plants healthy and maintaining your fields.

You can also hear from somebody who’s breaking into the Alabama hemp industry right now, Brett Terry, on The Real Dirt Podcast.

4 Issues Cannabis Growers Deal With

4 Issues Cannabis Growers Deal With

Growing cannabis isn’t easy. In fact, growing great cannabis consistently is difficult for most. However, the issues growers face are widespread and much more common.

New growers face a lot of the same issues when they get into cannabis cultivation. But even experienced growers can face the same issues, especially when expanding. 

The fact is, the bigger your grow, the more problems you’ll likely have to deal with. From mold and mildew to clogged lines and broken timers, here are some of the most common issues growers deal with, and how to deal with them yourself.

Powdery Mildew

If you’ve been growing, you’ve probably already dealt with powdery mildew. For the lucky few that have avoided PM up to this point, powdery mildew is a fungal infection that destroys your plants.

PM thrives in warm environments, which makes your flower room a great spot to sprout its spores. The reason PM is so hated by growers is that it can’t be cured. Once your plant is infected, it must be destroyed. Then you need to spray down the rest of your plants with some fungicide to prevent the PM from spreading any further.

Luckily there are organic options for dealing with PM so you cannabis plants will still be consumable.

Bugs

As long as plants exist, so will bugs that try to eat them. When it comes to cannabis specifically, the most common bugs growers encounter are aphids, mites, thrips and white flies. There are other bugs that can be problematic if you are an outdoor grower, like grasshoppers and crickets.

When it comes to bugs like mites, that are so small you can’t see any problem until your plants are affected, it is better to be proactive in the grow. The options for pesticides and insecticides are vast, but there is a select list of products you can use on cannabis. Keep in mind that the permitted products on the list don’t apply in all states. For example, some pesticides permitted in Colorado are not permitted in California.

Irrigation Issues

Irrigation issues normally plague growers who are producing on a larger scale and must use irrigation to compensate. While a drip irrigation system is extremely cost effective and efficient in the grow, one problem can throw off your entire system

Other issues that can arise in your irrigation are mold and mildew, which can do just as much damage to your plants.

One clog in your tubing that goes unchecked can result in the death of however many plants are down-line from that clog. And in a large scale operation, that can mean hundreds of plants. However with regular maintenance, checking your lines for clogs consistently, cleaning them out often, and timers and notification systems that you can set up, these problems can be easily avoided.

Environmental Control Issues

There is a small window of environmental settings that allows cannabis to thrive. Straying too far outside these climate requirements is detrimental for your plants. A lot of new growers will just throw some plants in their room and feed them, without much regard for the temperature or humidity of the room.

The easiest way, though an expensive option for the hobbyist or home grower, is to have an automated environmental control system. You can set up monitors that track your temperatures and humidity, and notify you when there is a fluctuation. Of course, if you don’t have a proper ventilation system or A/C and heat set up in your room, a controller won’t be of much use.

As long as plants are growing, bugs will try to eat them. Hand watering won’t always be efficient. Cold weather will damage your plants if not accounted for. These issues seem obvious, but a lot of people deal with them every day.

But you don’t need to break the bank and build out the next generation grow room to be efficient. There are plenty of DIY options for irrigation, as well as simple and easy to use pesticides that are also organic for use in cannabis. And you don’t need a high-tech environmental controller to stay on top of humidity.

If you’re willing to put the time and work in to save the money, you’ll be fine. Or if you got the change to spare, spend it wisely.

Los Angeles cannabis permit problems

Los Angeles cannabis permit problems

California had the right idea when they legalized cannabis in 2017. But with incredible delays, lack of resources and a surplus of entrepreneurs hoping to make a name for themselves in the industry, the state and cities like Los Angeles are struggling.

Over four million people live in the city of Los Angeles. It’s no surprise then, that the inhabitants would try to work in the new legal system. But it hasn’t been as simple, or profitable, as originally projected.

California is the biggest state in the country, as well as the largest supplier of cannabis. When the state legalized, it virtually leveled the main supplier in the state; the private market.

Unprepared, Understaffed, Overwhelmed

While strict requirements, exorbitant application fees and an originally-one-man advisory board made the legal industry all but unattainable for smaller growers and farms in the state, the process was made much simpler for retailers. Medical retailers, that is.

In Los Angeles, priority was given to owners of retail medical dispensaries in the application process. Since they already had the location, the storefront and the brand, all that was needed was a transition to the new regulatory requirements for recreational cannabis.

Second in line for application review came those that legally supplied the medical cannabis to the dispensaries in Los Angeles. It makes sense because once the retail locations are transitioned to recreational, they can continue to use the same growers and suppliers, maintaining their business relationships in the new, legal industry, with minimal delay. At least, that’s how it went on paper.

In reality, the situation isn’t going so smoothly. In February of 2018, the city gave out about 180 temporary permits to allow medical dispensaries to operate recreationally. For the growers and suppliers, the same was to be done by April. Those temporary permits weren’t issued until the end of August.

This shouldn’t be surprising considering the total lack of manpower the Department of Cannabis Regulation had then and now. The directory board of the department started with just one member. Now, over a year since legalization, there are only 13 members on the board. Now imagine those 13 people handling every single application process for the hundreds of retailers, growers and processors.

The picture starts to become pretty clear. As if the city didn’t have enough on its plate, it also included a social equity program in its local laws, aimed at helping repair some of the damage done by the war on drugs.

Los Angeles Social Equity Program

This is where the state of California and the city of Los Angeles could have set a great precedent for new and current legal industries. The city established a social equity program that would give priority to those most negatively affected by the drug war prior to legalization.

People of color in the city were disproportionately arrested for small drug crimes involving cannabis compared to their white counterparts, despite statistical data showing no difference in cannabis use between the two groups. This group and other minority groups negatively impacted by the drug war were meant to be some of the first allowed into the new, legal industry.

Unfortunately that isn’t how it has worked out for Los Angeles. While the social equity program gave priority to these minority groups, the Department of Cannabis Regulation gave higher priority to already-established medical retailers, growers and processors. And with the — to put it mildly — severe lag of the application process, these groups still haven’t had one single approval.

Mind you these are people who do not currently have a business, and want to open one in the recreational market. Many leapt for storefront dispensary locations, despite the low availability. Los Angeles put a cap on how many storefronts can be opened in a neighborhood, in addition to strict requirements for location (e.g. can’t be near schools, other dispensaries, public parks), greatly limiting the options for would-be entrepreneurs.

When it comes to timeframes, the city hasn’t been shy on the issue either;

“Bringing cannabis above ground is an incredibly complex process, and L.A. is doing it on an unprecedented scale,” Alex Comisar, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in a statement. “Our goal is to do this the right way, not the quick way or the easy way — and we’ve always been very clear about that.”

It’s a rough road ahead

Los Angeles is way behind schedule. It’s a fact. And the local government isn’t doing much to speed up the process. The Department of Cannabis Regulation currently sits at 13 members. Multiple additional position have been filed, but due to the slow city hiring process, anyone new has yet to be hired.

The head of the city council Herb Wesson insists that everything will basically sort itself out. Even with reports of many potential entrepreneurs leaving the city to open up shop elsewhere, Wesson isn’t fazed. “I have no time for folks that want to go somewhere else. Let ’em.”

Instead, as months have passed, industry groups and consultants have complained that many cannabis entrepreneurs are stuck paying steep prices for multiyear leases, after landlords hiked prices on eligible storefronts. 

“You had a lot of people who followed the city’s guidance and signed leases,” paying upwards of $10,000 a month in rent, said Larry Mondragon, vice president of zoning and entitlements for Craig Fry & Associates, a consulting firm helping cannabis businesses. “People are holding onto leases, paying exorbitant checks, not even knowing when they’re able to turn in applications to the city.”

Equity applicants are supposed to get a helping hand from the city through “business, licensing and compliance assistance.” But more than a year after recreational cannabis sales became legal, there are no city programs providing such aid.

So far, the only funding the city has approved for social equity is $250,000 for a fee deferral program. Department officials say they now are seeking more than $4 million for the program, hoping to roll out support services, such as business development training, no sooner than July.

Los Angeles needs to step up. California needs to step up. There are a lot of problems in the state with little to no solutions. Something needs to be done at the city level to change that. How, and even if that will be done, is still unknown.

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