Hemp has a long and rich history as an important crop for many communities worldwide, with evidence of its cultivation dating back thousands of years. however, these days hemp is immediately connected with drug culture, but we should take a rational view of the plant, because it’s much less a risk than initially assumed.

In the 20th century, hemp was largely banned due to its association with marijuana. It’s important to note that the biggest distinction between hemp and marijuana is the level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained within the plant. While marijuana is cultivated for its high THC content, hemp contains very low levels of THC and has a wide range of industrial and commercial applications.

Hemp the superfood and “super plant”

Modern hemp growing has developed into a diverse industry with a wide range of applications. Hemp is a flexible plant that may be cultivated for its seeds, fibres, and flowers. The plant is used in a wide range of industries, from food and health and wellness to textiles and construction. The manufacture of CBD (cannabidiol) oil, has been demonstrated to have a number of health benefits, including lowering anxiety and inflammation. Seeds have become a popular ingredient in food products like protein powders and snacks since they are a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients. Its fibres may be used to make clothing, paper, and building materials as well.

Adding to the Rotation

The usefulness of every part of the plant is what makes hemp such an appealing new crop for rural communities looking to diversify their economies. Every part of the plant has a wide range of potential uses in a variety of industries.

The plant produces the bulk of its yield during its short vegetative period of 6 to 8 weeks. The plant grows best a mild and humid climate with a rainfall of at least 63-80 centimetres per year and a temperature of 15°C to 25°C. Hemp can be grown on the same land for many years but can be introduced into a soil rotation to improve soil health.

The farming of the plant offers a range of environmental benefits that make it an attractive option for sustainable agriculture. It is a fast-growing plant that requires relatively few resources to grow.

The low-maintenance crop

Hemp is a very low-maintenance crop and is an extremely efficient weed suppressor. A normal field of hemp will shade out the weeds lowering the need for weed control chemicals. This means that hemp farming can help reduce the number of harmful chemicals entering the environment and potentially contaminating soil, water, and wildlife.
Hemp has a deep root system that can help prevent soil erosion and improve soil health. The plant’s roots can penetrate up to 9 feet deep, breaking up compacted soil and helping to prevent runoff and erosion, which can reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients that enter nearby waterways.

Fibre hemp can be ready to harvest in just 70 to 90 days from seeding.

Moreover, the stems of the plant can be retted out in the field depending on the weather. It takes around 14 to 21 days for the retting process to complete. This will leave you with some of the best fibres for the next step of decortication.

Decortication is the process of removing the outermost layer (or “bast”) of the hemp stalk, leaving behind the inner core (or “hurd”) which can then be used for a variety of purposes. Bast fibres are long and strong, and can be used to produce textiles, paper, and building materials, while the hurd is softer and more absorbent, and can be used to make excellent animal bedding, biodegradable plastics, and many other products.

The Future of Hemp

According to UNCTAD, hemp is estimated to be an $18.6 billion industry by 2027. Just this year the USDA has granted $35 million to five hemp-specific projects as part of their “Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities” program.

The future of the hemp industry is bright, with growing interest and investment in hemp farming and the development of new hemp-based products. The demand for hemp-derived products like CBD oil, textiles, and construction materials increasing every year.

Consumers are becoming more interested in natural, sustainable, and plant-based products for a variety of reasons. Hemp fits these criteria perfectly. With its many potential uses, from food and medicine to textiles and building materials, hemp is poised to become a major player in a variety of industries.