Lots of questions about the hemp plant have been raised in the last couple of years.
As one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, it can be used to make many things like clothing, biofuel, and even food.
In this article, we’ll unravel all the mysteries and provide all the answers you might have about hemp.
What is a hemp plant?
Hemp plant refers to a variety of Cannabis Sativa, that contains 0.3% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.
As a strain of the plant species, hemp was one of the first plants that were used in making fiber, some 10,000 years ago.
What are the Types of Cannabis?
There are three types of cannabis in Australia;
- Cannabis Sativa: Sativa is an annual flowering plant that was initially indigenous to east Asia, but is now grown around the world. Sativa plants are usually pointy and elongated, and the two common ones are hemp and marijuana.
- Cannabis Indica: Indica is a flowering plant that was previously found only in sub-tropical countries. Indica plants tend to begin flowering the moment they reach maturity, which implies that they proliferate. The leaves on this type of cannabis are broader, and they grow to only 1 to 2.7 meters.
- Cannabis Ruderalis: Ruderalis is the shortest in the family of cannabis with a height of only 0.3 to 0.7 meters. It is used to develop hybrids of Sativa plants and is also used in producing auto-flowering seeds.
Is hemp the same as marijuana?
Hemp is not the same as marijuana, and the fundamental difference is in their compositions.
While they both belong to the same genus, that is Cannabis, hemp is the non-intoxicating form, and marijuana causes euphoric feelings because it contains more than 0.3% of THC.
Another difference between the two strings is in their usage. Marijuana is used for recreational purposes, and it is also medicinal. On the other hand, the hemp plant is used mainly for industrial purposes.
A common ground for both strings of cannabis is that you can grow them in Australia, although there are still some rules to abide by.
While it is legal to grow hemp in Australia, to grow marijuana, you’ll need a license from the government.
4 Benefits of the Hemp Plant
The benefits of this plant depend on the product made from it. Nevertheless, here are a few advantages of using it:
- Their fuels are environmentally friendly.
- Plants are easy to grow and cultivate.
- Foods are usually rich in lots of nutrients and vitamins that the body needs.
- They help to reduce the possibility of having heart diseases.
What is hemp used for?
Hemp plants are versatile and can be used for a lot of purposes, which include:
- Food: Most products fall into this category because they are rich in protein, fat, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, folate, calcium, and carbohydrates. Hemp seeds are included in recipes, and you can buy them in their shells or de-shelled. The substance is also used to make protein powders and oil.
- Fuel: Industrial hemp is also used as fuel, and there are two types:
- Biodiesel: It is made from hemp seed oil. As an alternative fuel that works in diesel engines, biodiesel can be stored the same way as petroleum and is even safer to handle. But by far the best feature of this fuel type is that it replaces the smell of diesel with a pleasant aroma when burnt in diesel engines.
- Methanol or ethanol (Hempanol): This fuel is made from fermented plant stalk and is about five times cheaper to get than gasoline.
- Paper: This is a type of paper made from fibers of industrial hemp. It is a more renewable source of paper and has a higher tear resistance than the conventional ones. This paper doesn’t get yellow over time, and the plant grows three to four times faster than regular trees.
- Skincare products: Skincare companies are beginning to take advantage of hemp oil because of the testimonies from people that the oil has anti-aging qualities. The oleic and linoleic acids in the oil prevent the occurrence of wrinkles on one’s face.
- Concrete: Hemp plant can also be used to make blocks and cement. Masonry materials made from these plants have top-class insulation properties to keep people cool during the hot weather. Hemp blocks are also useful in redecorating damp walls, and it is more resistant to fire than conventional masonry materials.
- Rope: An inexpensive use of this plant is to make ropes. These ropes are one of the strongest because they have high tensile strength and are durable. To buttress, manila hemp has a tensile strength of about 1,215 pounds.
- Plastic: For over a decade, this great plant has been mixed with kenaf, flax, and fiberglass to make automobile composite panels. Furthermore, top car manufacturers like Audi, Ford, and BMW use hemp in their production process.
How to Grow and Harvest Hemp Plants
The plant thrives in almost any environment, with high mountains and deserts being the main exceptions.
However, warm weathers are the best conditions to grow the hemp plant, and the cycle can take from 100 to 120 days for completion.
Before growing the plant, tests for rock phosphate and potassium sulfur should be done to ascertain that they are not too high in the soil. You should also check the temperature of the soil at a depth of 2.5 cm to make sure that it isn’t above 10 °C.
Once these metrics have been checked and found to be stable, then you can go ahead and begin the process of growing the plant. It is recommended that you plant hemp in full sun.
5 things you’ll need:
- Water source
- Garden shovel, lawnmower or a tractor
- Water draining soil
- Draining soil
Steps to follow in the growing process
- Prepare the soil: Preparing the soil you intend to use to plant hemp seeds is essential because herbivores can affect their growth.
Break the soil with a tiller or hoe to aerate it. Hemp plant does not grow in poorly-drained soil.
- Sow the seeds: You should use a seed drill to plant the seed in the soil. So, pour them into the machine’s hopper, so it can bury them for you at the correct depth. It is better to sow hemp seeds into the soil rather than growing in a pot and later transplanting them.
It is recommended that you plant seeds at a depth of 1.9 to 3.2 cm. Also, ensure that they are well spread (about 4 inches apart) and you roll and pack the soil afterward.
- Water the seeds while they grow: Check the soil’s moisture regularly, especially if it doesn’t rain often. Water it until the soil 2 to 5 meters deep is damp. Watering the hemp seeds is most important during the first six weeks of planting. After this period, the seeds can survive for a long time without water.
- Spread fertilizers and herbicides over the crops: Apply fertilizers to the plants once it germinates. The plants should be watered immediately after applying the fertilizer so that the soil absorbs it.
Hemp plants prevent weeds from growing.
However, to be doubly sure that you don’t have any to deal with, especially as bacterial, fungal, and phytoplasma diseases can affect the plant, make sure you spray herbicides on your plants once they germinate.
Things you’ll need:
- A sickle
- Temperature gauge
- Storage location
Steps involved when Harvesting Fibres
- Collect the hemp stalks with a sickle: At a period around the 120-day mark, your plant is expected to be matured. Cut the stalks at their base to get the most fibers from each plant. For harvesting larger crops, use a sickle that allows for both forward and backward motion.
- Leave the stalk in the field for some weeks: To make the upper shell rot, slightly pile the stacks of hemp over one another. This process can take about five weeks, and it is best done at temperatures above 5 degrees. After retting, place the stalks in a dry area so that their temperatures drop below 15%.
- Place the fibers in a decorticator: This is a machine that breaks the exterior parts of the stalk. The stalk comes out through the actions of the rollers, and the stalk is gathered at the other side.
Possible Side Effects
Using the hemp plant, or any of its products doesn’t have serious side effects. However, people who take the edible forms of the plant may experience
- Throat irritation
Shying away from cannabis discussions has led to the misinformation about its plants, the most common being that the hemp plant is the same as marijuana.
Hemp is a plant that has a wide range of uses, and its products might replace a lot of the things we use today.
This piece contains all you need to know about the plant and how to grow it.