Best soil for hemp — Soil makes a big difference between a bumper plant and a failed harvest. As such, hemp farmers must take the time to test, prepare & manage their soils throughout the growing season. Even though hemp grows easily in different climates and regions, that shoundn’t imply that a farmer can ignore the soil.
Luckily, farmers with technical know-how and a sound soil plan can effectively turn most soil types into better hemp soil. What kind of soil can maintain healthy, strong hemp plants and increase the yields?
Best Soil for Hemp
Cultivating hemp is a relatively new experience in the US as per the recent Farm Bill approval. This means research on the best practices and perfect soil for hemp is in progress.
Growers can cultivate hemp in various soils, but the best soil for hemp is loose, well-drained, loamy soil with a PH level of between 6.0 and 7.5. Also, hemp does well in deep soil rich in organic matter, well-drained clay soil, and sandy soil provided that a farmer gives extra focus to fertilization and irrigation.
Hemp doesn’t grow well in wet soil limiting root and shoot development, lower fiber quantity, and pose challenges during harvesting. Essentially, growers should test their soils for some months before planting, including applying lime and fertilizers as required to get high yields.
Also, soil mustn’t have heavy metals. Hemp has “bioaccumulative” properties, which means that it can absorb radioactive elements, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, explosives, and fuel. Resulting yields may be limited or contaminated and unfit for consumption.
How can a farmer know whether his/her field soils are best to grow hemp? And if the hemp soil has less than ideal conditions, what can they precisely do to improve it? Fortunately, growers have lots of tools & options to test and improve their soils.
How to Test Soil
Before farmers grow crops, they must test their soil to determine its pH and nutrient levels. After all, the best time to identify and correct problems is before they become a serious issue. Growers should perform this practice several months before planting to spare time to prepare the best soil for hemp.
First, farmers can test their soil type by doing a simple DIY field test or squeeze test – just squeezing a handful of soil and studying the effect. Loam soil holds together for most parts but will be somewhat crumbly while sandy soil is very crumbly and doesn’t hold together. Clay soil is rubbery with a shine and easily molded.
For testing PH level and nutrient balance, farmers can either buy a basic soil testing kit to DIY test or mail soil samples to the local or state agriculture extension service. Most states advise using the Department of Agriculture lab test to receive a more accurate and detailed scientific report of the soil. As such, farmers should consult their local authorities regarding state industrial hemp growing programs and resources.
How to Improve Soil Conditions
Creating an Irrigation and Soil Nutrient Plan
Soil testing gives farmers information to establish an irrigation and nutrient plan before planting. However, improving health for hemp soils is just the beginning. Growers must undergo steps to maintain their health throughout the growing season, as well.
An irrigation strategy will be the second phase of the plan – hemp crops require well-drained soil. Overwatering or underwatering is both a usual and disastrous mistake. Thus enough watering through drip, floor, or pivot irrigation work best with hemp crops. Besides, farmers should include cover crops to manage soil erosion, soil quality, soil fertility, etc.
Preparing Soil for Hemp
If a farmer is starting a new field, he will probably perform more work than on a worked-for-many-years lot. The soil test will help the farmer prepare the soil and build the health of the whole field ecosystem. Here are some specific nutrients a grower might add to his medium.
Like other plants, hemp needs a lot of nitrogen. The amount to add in nitrogen-deficient soil depends on the results of field soil tested or sampled. However, under ideal situations, the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension recommends approximately 150 pounds of nitrogen for the hemp plant to produce 1500 pounds of yield. Again, farmers should test, observe, and experiment with soils to determine the right amount for their lands.
Hemp for CBD needs a lot of potassium to support better flower growth, but farmers should be careful not to go overboard. Ideally, 50-80 pounds per acre is enough to ensure the best soil for hemp.
It is essential to determine boron levels in a growing medium before planting. Note that some soil types include sufficient boron levels while others are not. It is also good to do a mid-season leaf analysis to know if the crops might require additional boron.
Hemp grows well in soils containing plenty of nutritious organic matter like compost, kelp extract, or fish emulsion. Farmers should check their fertilizers’ nutrients to ensure they aren’t adding an excess of a particular nutrient. For instance, some compost have high potassium levels, and too much can limit the absorption of much-required calcium. Therefore, farmers should ask for compost nutritional analysis and base their application rate on it.
Hiring an Agronomist
Among the best decisions a farmer can make is hiring an agronomist to test and improve their soils. A pro agronomist will perform everything needed to develop healthy hemp soil.
Investing In Premium Genetics Seeds
There is no perfect soil for hemp because it grows in a variety of mediums. Additionally, farmers can increase their chances of great harvest by buying seeds with potent, reliable genetics from Fortuna Hemp. We offer seeds bred to be not only robust but also withstand harsh weather and imperfect soil conditions.
Contact us to learn more about our top-tier seeds as you book an order. Have any questions about the best soil for hemp? We would love to answer them in the comment box.