With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last year, the United States gave the green light for farmers to begin cultivating hemp by removing it from the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances. Hemp has been grown for hundreds of years all over the world due to its versatility as a textile and for its health benefits, but because of its similarity to marijuana, hemp was made illegal in 1937 under provisions in the Marihuana Tax Act. The 2018 Farm Bill allows hemp to be treated as the agricultural commodity it has always been.
Hemp can be grown and used for the following nine submarkets according to experts: Agriculture, construction materials, automotive, furniture, paper, recycling and textiles, personal care as well as food and beverages. More recently there is a growing interest in cultivating hemp for CBD oil as well as for seeds for consumption.
Hemp has traditionally been grown outdoors in fields to be cultivated and harvested in mass quantities for textile and other industrial uses, but those interested in cultivating hemp for the purposes of producing CBD and for health products are seeing the benefits of growing hemp in greenhouses.
Grow your hemp all year
Even in areas that see warm temperatures most of the year, hemp can usually only be harvested once per year. It is much easier to control the climate within a greenhouse environment which means that hemp can be grown all year and you will likely see multiple harvests. Depending on your environmental factors and with the natural sunlight allowed in through a greenhouse, you can move your hemp plants into vegetative growth through the winter and flowering in the spring or summer. It’s also possible for you to increase your CBD production per year in a greenhouse environment by pruning plants in a longer vegetative cycle before they flower.
Fewer pest problems
Pest management is a major consideration whether you’re dealing with outdoor field crops or indoor greenhouse crops but when you’re growing hemp for CBD production it is much easier to manage pests in a greenhouse environment. Outdoor hemp grown in fields is extremely susceptible to being exposed to many different bugs, rodents and even birds. This usually means that farmers have to use a lot of pesticides which can be expensive and is usually not healthy for the environment or end product. In a greenhouse environment, hemp growers have much more control when it comes to pest management; the biocontrols are contained and do their jobs where they are benefitting the crop and pests that could damage your crops will stay outside. Greenhouse growing means much less pesticide being used and much more control about what is entering in and out of your greenhouse. Just be sure to have climate controls in place to avoid mold and mildew which can occur because of humidity.
If you’ve decided to go ahead with cultivating hemp in a greenhouse environment, there are a few considerations to make:
Consider your location
The first thing you need to consider before making any other decisions is where you will grow your hemp and how to position your greenhouses. If you are planning on starting with only a few greenhouses with plans to eventually expand, you will need to consider the space you have. You also need to make sure that you place your structure somewhere facing the natural sunlight which will cut down on your energy costs and reduce the need for supplementary lighting.
Choose your structure
There are a number of greenhouse structures available but make sure you are choosing the most practical and economical option for your hemp cultivation operation that can be easily expanded upon when necessary.
A poly connected greenhouse is a versatile option suited for almost any crop, including hemp or marijuana. It can be expanded upon when desired and is the most economical greenhouse option for largescale growers. The single piece arch rolled into a gothic peak provides superior condensation control and the gutter vents along with the other natural ventilation options make for the most effective and efficient airflow.
A Cold Frame greenhouse, or a hoop house, is also a very cost effective option for growing hemp or marijuana year round. Hoop houses can be covered with greenhouse grade poly and by adding either fans or natural ventilation, they are an excellent starter greenhouse for any type of grower.
You will need to consider blackout curtainsIf you are growing hemp for CBD, your hemp plants will require periods of total darkness during the flowering stage. Blackout curtains, or light deprivation curtains, ensure no light can penetrate the greenhouse and are also used in greenhouse production for poinsettias, mums, kalanchoes and of course, marijuana when they enter their flowering stage. Your hemp will require 12 hours of continuous darkness which will force the plants to flower. Blackout curtains can easily be installed truss to truss on greenhouse gutters. Be sure to cover your side walls, door opening and exhaust fans to make sure that no light is entering the greenhouse.
Click here to read more about light deprivation curtains and other curtain systems.
We are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits that hemp can provide. With the demand increasing for low THC, high CBD health products, it’s likely that we will see more hemp being cultivated in greenhouses in the coming years.
If you are interested in growing hemp and think that greenhouse growing is for you, contact the experts at GGS to get your project started.