CannabinoidsA Guide To Growing Hemp Flower In Connecticut

Overview

Hemp is the new kid on the block in Connecticut agricultural communities, and as more states legalize it as an industrial crop, farmers through the country are lining to claim their stake what promises to be a multi-billion dollar industry. But what do we really know about growing hemp? What pests, or requirements does it need to thrive in Connecticut?

Plant Hardiness Zone(s) 

One of the advantages to growing hemp as an industrial crop in Connecticut is its cold hardiness, making it a viable option as both a summer, and in some cases,  a winter crop. Its history of cultivation in Russia clearly demonstrate that low temperatures aren’t a limiting factor to cultivating this plant on an industrial scale. In fact, studies show that hemp seeds are able to germinate at near freezing temperatures and withstand deep freeze (-5°F) for up to 24 hours, and 20°F for up to 2 weeks. This can be a saving factor for northern farmers, leading to less loss of crops due to late freezes and unexpected cold fronts.

Thermal Profile

Easily adaptable, Hemp is also heat resistant, growing quickly in the hot summer months. Despite its deep tap root and trichome that develop when there is a water deficit, hemp still requires at least 20-30 inches of rainfall during the growing period. In areas where less rain is expected, irrigation will be needed to ensure the best possible outcome.

Length of Growing Season

Cannabis has a short growing season, going from germination to harvest in about 70 – 90 days in ideal conditions. The plants grow so tall and fast that weeds are hardly a problem, as they are easily able to outgrow and out-compete other plants. This minimizes the need for hand cultivation, weeding, or spraying – greatly lowering the out-of-pocket cost.

Average Annual Sunlight

Day & night length affect cannabis plants in very specific ways, with shorter days leading to thicker more fibrous stalks, and a higher yield. Planting early is important, allowing the crop to take advantage of the shorter fall days to bulk up and yield thicker, longer fibers. It’s important that farmers pay close attention to seed source as well, as the latitude at which the seed was grown will affect the yield and growth of the crop. 

Average Annual Precipitation 

Every year, the state of Connecticut receives an average of more than 44 inches of precipitation. The rainiest month in the state is May while January is the driest. The minimum average annual rainfall requirements for growing hemp plants range between 25 and 30 inches. It is important to note that the plants require more moisture during the early growth stages. Afterwards, the plants become relatively drought resistant.

Surface Elevation

Elevation is another factor to consider if you are interested in growing industrial hemp as your annual crop. Although seed hemp shouldn’t be grown at altitudes higher than 650-800 ft above sea level, if the hemp is being grown for fiber then altitude isn’t an issue, as it primarily affects seeds reaching maturity in time for harvest. 

Average Sunlight Throughout Growing Season

Day & night length affect cannabis plants in very specific ways, with shorter days leading to thicker more fibrous stalks, and a higher yield. Planting early is important, allowing the crop to take advantage of the shorter fall days to bulk up and yield thicker, longer fibers. It’s important that farmers pay close attention to seed source as well, as the latitude at which the seed was grown will affect the yield and growth of the crop.

Soil pH  

In most parts of the state, soils have an acidic pH level. This means that to achieve the right pH level required to support the proper growth of hemp plants, between 6 and 7.5, liming becomes necessary. To ensure that liming is done properly, farmers need to consider the texture of the soil in their region. Fine textured soils such as loams and silt loams require a higher level of liming as compared to coarse textured soils, such as sandy loams and loamy sands.

Soil Composition

 Drainage and soil composition are essential, and the plants don’t do well in clay or overly compact soil. During the growing phase nitrogen is essential, with the plants requiring massive amounts to reach full potential. Yellowing of the first ‘true’ leaves on seedlings are indicative of a nitrogen deficiency and will severely impact fiber mass.

Notable Pests

Although hemp is pest resistant for the most part,  planting cannabis in the same field for more than 2 successive years is highly discouraged as the hemp moth & hemp flea can become a serious issue, multiplying rapidly. Other than the hemp flea and moth, the hemp borer also pose are pests to look out for.

Obtaining A Hemp Grower’s License In Connecticut

Under federal law, it is illegal to grow hemp anywhere in the United States without first obtaining a grower’s license from the appropriate regulatory body for the state in which the interested party intends to plant the crop. For information on the legal status of hemp in Connecticut, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here. Read about hemp legality by state.

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