WELCOME TO THE HEMP AGRICULTURE ROOM !
Note: By this time tomorrow, 260,000 more people will be born on Earth – and the next day and the next in ever increasing numbers. All will need food, water, shelter and a sustainable lifestyle. Every man and woman in the world who might choose birth control should have it available, as fast as possible. We need immediate access to cultivate industrial hemp to preserve what remains of the Earth’s ability to survive and support humanity. For that reason it is important to understand the basic horticulture of hemp.
EARLY HEMP AGRICULTURE HISTORY.
Hemp was present at the dawn of human agriculture, thought to be some 10-15,000 years ago in the Middle East and China. Hemp was reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Yearbook, 1914, to have been the first agricultural crop planted by humans for textile fibers. Besides the cloth itself, a sample of which was dated at 9,000 years, is the record of pollen left behind at early human dwelling sites.
Of course in the middle east hemp grew wild, so it is likely it was used long before the age of agriculture for rope, twine, and fishnets. Evidence of just such a human hemp culture comes from a History Channel report on the Scythians called the “Frozen Tombs of Siberia.”
Hemp is how European ships got to America.
ODE FOR AN AGRICULTURAL CELEBRATION
By William Cullen Bryant
Far back in the ages,
The plough with wreaths was crowned;
The hands of kings and sages
Entwined the chaplet round;
Till men of spoil disdained the toil
By which the world was nourished,
And dews of blood enriched the soil
Where green their laurels flourished:
—Now the world her fault repairs
The guilt that stains her story;
And weeps her crimes amid the cares
That formed her earliest glory.
The proud throne shall crumble,
The diadem shall wane,
The tribes of earth shall humble
The pride of those who reign;
And War shall lay his pomp away; —
The fame that heroes cherish,
The glory earned in deadly fray,
Shall fade, decay, and perish.
Honor waits, o’er all the Earth,
Through endless generations,
The art that calls her harvests forth,
And feeds the expectant nations.
“In United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. I, 1936, we (U.S. Supreme Court) held the federal government without power to control farm production…. “The act invades the reserved rights of the states. It is a statutory plan to regulate and control agricultural production, a matter beyond the powers delegated to the federal government.” From U.S. v. Butler
Hemp Field Video, USDA, 1994
Courtesy of Chris Boucher, The Hempstead Company
Text of World War II film by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to encourage farmers to grow hemp for the war effort and explain some of the methods.
CALIFORNIA HEMP HISTORY.
A GUIDEBOOK TO CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURE, University of California, 1983. Hemp Museum book.
“When compared to hemp as a fiber crop, cotton comes in a distant second. Cotton requires more water and pesticides than hemp and produces less fiber and far less wood than hemp. Cotton also absorbs far less greenhouse carbon than hemp. ”
“The fibers in hemp run the length of the stalk. Hemp wood weighs 6 times the weight of the fiber. The hemp wood is 77% cellulose, which can be made into endless products, fuel (wood alcohol), plastics, paper products, building materials, that are shown in other rooms.”
HEMP PRODUCTION, 1940
Requirements for farming fiber hemp.
Caption: Harvesting hemp, the rope crop. The machine lays the cut hemp into rows on the ground to ret by the weather.
Most of the information on growing hemp in the United States, in the USA Hemp Museum files, comes from Kentucky and Wisconsin (from early 1940’s unless specified, source HEMP PRODUCTION, KY Misc. 2626, Rural War Production Training, U. of KY).
- FERTILITY, CROP ROTATION, FERTILIZERS, AND BED PREPARATION.
- Rich or fertile soil is needed. Figures from 1940-1941, say land should be fertile enough to produce 50 bushels of corn or 1,200 pounds of tobacco per acre.
- Bottom land is perhaps best for hemp production, but rich up-land may be used.
- The soil must not be either too droughty or too swampy.
- The best soil for hemp is a loamy soil.
- The soil must be well-drained.
- For the best production of hemp, the soil, if acid, should have an application of lime.
- CROP ROTATION.
- Hemp must be grown in a general crop rotation as other crops are grown.
- Hemp should be placed in the rotation after such crops as peas, beans, or clover, so that the nitrogen content of the soil will be as high as possible.
- The physical condition of the soil must be considered for the hemp crop.
- If hemp is grown on sloping land, it should be contour-cultivated, grown for one year only in the rotation, and the erosion controlled the same as would be necessary in corn production.
- Nitrogen is the most important plant nutrient the farmer will need to consider. Nitrogen may be supplied through sulfate of ammonia or nitrate of soda. From 180 to 240 pounds of sulfate of ammonia or from 200 to 300 pounds of nitrate of soda per acre is recommended, depending on the soil. Sulphate of ammonia should be applied before the seed is sown. Nitrate of soda, may be used as a top dressing or sown at the time the seed is sown.
- Phosphate should by all means be applied where it is likely to be low, especially on land that has been manured, phosphate should be added to make a well balanced fertilizer as manure is low in phosphate.
- Lime: As a rough guide for the liming of soils to be used for hemp production, perhaps 2 tons of ground limestone is sufficient in most cases. Hemp will yield better on soil slightly alkaline, at least a small amount of lime should be applied even if the soil is only slightly acid. Of course, if the soil is very acid, larger amounts of lime will be needed. Fine lime should be used.
- Manure: When possible, the manure should be applied to the crop just before hemp in the rotation.
- Experiments on hemp strongly indicate that Nitrogen and Potash were needed on the plots for hemp (State College of KY, Bulletin No.55, April, 1895).
- BED PREPARATION.
- Thorough preparation of the soil is necessary before the seed are planted. The seedbed should be very fine and mellow, and should be worked just before planting, to kill any weed seed which may have germinated since earlier workings. A seedbed considered “just right” for alfalfa should be the goal of the hemp grower (U. of Illinois, Circular 547, 1943).
- The seedbed should be level so that when the hemp is cut it will be even, easier to handle, and there will be no loss of fiber.
- PLANTING METHODS AND DATES/TEMPERATURES
- PLANTING HEMP FOR SEED PRODUCTION.
- Depth: Hemp should usually be covered less than one inch, and the ground above the seed should be pressed firmly.
- Quantity: One to two quarts of seed are required to plant an acre.
- Re-planting: If a poor stand is obtained, it is perhaps better to plant the entire field over rather than to re-plant (of course, to plant the field over, it will need to be re-worked).
- Labor required to thin the crop should not influence the farmer to plant too few seeds –twelve to fifteen seeds perhaps being about the right number to plant at each hill (these seed should be scattered in the hill).
- Hill spacing: The hills should usually be spaced five feet apart, on fertile land the hills are wider apart than on poorer land, and on bottom land the hills are spaced wider than on up-land.
- Thinning: The best time to thin the seed crop is when the plants are about six inches high, the hills should be thinned to four or five plants, and thinning should be done when the ground is moist but not too wet.
- Cultivation: Seed hemp should be cultivated about the same as corn. The first cultivation should be given as soon as the plants are well up, even if it is not possible to get close to the hills. After the plants are 2 Â½ feet high it is usually not necessary to continue cultivation.
- Males: The male plants should be removed as soon as the pollen has blown from them (traditionally cut 18 inches above ground).
- Harvesting females for seed: Hemp should be cut for seed at about the time the middle branches begin to shatter.
- Shocking: Approximately forty or forty-five hills should be cut to the shock, depending on the size of the plants. The shocks should be carefully made and tied so that they will not fall or blow down. The shocks should not be allowed to stand too long.
- Threshing: Hemp seed is ready to thresh when it is thoroughly dry.
- PLANTING HEMP FOR FIBER PRODUCTION.
- One bushel of seed per acre (33 – 44 lbs) is the proper seeding for most the land that will be planted to hemp for fiber. Realize that the smaller stalk will produce the better quality of fiber.
- Where hemp is seeded with a hand-seeder, the ground should first be cultipacked and then, after seeding is completed, the seed should be covered with a spike-toothed harrow.
- Care should be taken, regardless of the method of seeding, to see that the seed is not covered more than one-half to one inch deep.
- If the soil is very dry, a light roller (not a cultipacker) should be used.
- PLANTING DATES / TEMPERATURES.
- Early seeding is desirable (the first half of April being best). In Kentucky hemp for fiber should not be seeded later than May 1. The best time for Illinois farmers to seed hemp is after oats and just before corn are planted, but not before April 20(U. of Illinois, Circular 547, 1943).
- Experiments in early planting should consider bed preparation, frost dates, soil moisture, days of sunshine, and temperatures in the area.
III. DAYS TO MATURITY / HARVEST.
- The best time to cut fiber hemp is when the plants begin to shed pollen (males). Some farmers say cutting should be done when the plants are in bloom (females) and before the seed form.
- This will be in late August or early September in Kentucky, giving a range of days to maturity of 120 – 140 days.
BROOMRAPE: Broomrape (common name) is at present the only serious pest which concerns the hemp grower. Hemp should not be grown in a field known to be infested with broomrape. Hemp should not be grown year after year on the same ground. A hemp rotation which does not include tobacco (another host plant) will aid in the control of broomrape.
- WATER REQUIREMENTS.
- of Illinois, Circular 547, 1943, makes the the following statement: “The crop is not drouth-resistant and needs frequent rains.” Other comments: Hemp is very resistant to lodging…Severe hail storms reduce leaf surface and if they strike the stems, the fibers are weakened.
- MODERN HEMP PRODUCTION.
A new book is just out which I have not read, but here is the information on that book:
THE CULTIVATION OF HEMP: Botany, Varieties, Cultivation and Harvesting. By Dr. Ivan Bocsa (Hungary) and Michael Karus (Germany). 1998.
“This new book is the definitive guide for growing hemp. Learn about: 1) The two distinct varieties of hemp; 2) How hemp is cultivated; 3)The harvesting of hemp; 4) hemp’s ecological value.”
- HEMP: LEGAL ISSUES.
The more you know the better. EDUCATE YOURSELF.FUEL – PAPER – FIBER – FOOD – MEDICINE
- Cannabis/hemp/marijuana growing was legal in parts of the U.S. until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, so that is the place to start.
“2. This Convention shall not apply to the cultivation of the Cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes (fibre and seed) or horticultural purposes.”
Article 28, U.N. Single Convention on Narcotics Use, 1961.
Even though we signed the above treaty, the United States Government insists on calling the Cannabis plant (English = hemp) by the erroneous name of marijuana and prohibiting its cultivation.
GROW YOUR OWN.
- HEMP: DEA APPLICATION FOR EXEMPTION OR RESEARCH PRODUCTION.
Hemp production for “Industrial uses,” which some of us would argue includes the pharmaceutical industries, is tightly controlled under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which placed the issuing of permits in the hands of the Drug Enforcement Administration. John T. Birrenbach, founder and Director of the Institute for Hemp, wrote an article titled: “How To Grow Legal Hemp,” in a Best of High Times issue of 1992. He argued that hemp was legal to grow, but to my knowledge no permits for industrial hemp have been issued by the DEA, through 1998, making this a de facto prohibition. Birrenbach pointed out both State and Federal permits are required (State permit required by the DEA). On the federal level, DEA form 225 (New Application for Registration Under Controlled Substances Act of 1970) must be completed (under federal law code 21 CFR 1301).
Address and phone number given on the form are:
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
P.O. Box 28083
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20005
For INFORMATION, call: (202) 254-8255
TOPICS UNDER CONSTRUCTION:
Chinese symbols for hemp 5,000 years old
Hemp trade routes.
Famous hemp growers
Early hemp Ag. Documents
Modern hemp techniques
Hempstead Co. experiment in desert.
Kentucky Hemp History
Missouri Hemp History
If you would like to join the USA Hemp Museum
or communicate with the curator, send an email to Richard M. Davis:
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