The legalization of industrial hemp in Kansas has been hailed as a potential ‘gold rush’ for struggling Kansas farmers, but with the steep learning curve, and inability to insure the crop (as of this writing at least), it isn’t without risk. Individuals looking to get in early and take advantage of the emerging markets for hemp products could find their efforts paying off in spades.
Farmers need to be licensed and submit to a criminal background check, fingerprinting, and registration of the GPS location where the cannabis will be grown. These challenges notwithstanding, Kansas’s famously rich soil, mild weather, and adequate rainfall make it a prime location for a booming hemp industry.
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
Hemp is defined as Cannabis Sativa L., a hardy tall variety of cannabis that is resilient, and grows well at most growing zones, and can easily thrive in the geographic range covering Florida up to Illinois. Nevertheless, the plant still does best in a mild, humid climate – which describes Kansas climate almost uniformly.
Despite being drought tolerant, and able to thrive on relatively little water, Cannabis does best with at least 10-20 inches of rain per year. With an average of about 40″ per year, Kansas farmers will need to pay special attention to grading and drainage as hemp isn’t tolerant of ‘wet feet’, and young plants will quickly yellow and stop growing if the ground is too saturated.
Length of Growing Season
Another major advantage to hemp farming is the short growing season, with plants going from seed to harvest in just under 4 months. During the height of the foliage growing season, stalks can grow as much as 6 inches per day! Kansas farmers should make sure to do their research, carefully selecting the best time to plant in their area.
Average Annual Sunlight
Day length is important to consider when setting your planting schedule. Cannabis is a ‘short day’ plant, and only flowers when days are under 12 hours in length. This is important for hemp growers, as when the flowers emerge the cannabis stops growing in height, but it’s stalks gain girth and in turn create more fiber for you to harvest! Taking advantage of this information can help boost hemp harvests exponentially.
Average Annual Precipitation
Despite being drought-tolerant, and able to thrive on relatively little water, Cannabis does best with at least 10-20 inches of rain per year. With an average of about 40″ per year, Kansas farmers will need to pay special attention to grading and drainage as hemp isn’t tolerant of ‘wet feet’, and young plants will quickly yellow and stop growing if the ground is too saturated.
Elevation will be a significant consideration for Kansas, as the state’s lowest point is 600+ feet above sea level. Cannabis reacts to altitude in a variety of ways, one being that it tends to turn ‘hot’ – or have higher levels of THC when grown at high altitudes. This might pose a significant challenge for Kansas growers, as any crops testing at above .3% will be destroyed at the growers expense.
Cannabis prefers loamy soil with excellent drainage and a 6.5 – 7.5 PH. The state of Kansas has both alkaline and acidic soils. Most parts of the state have highly acidic soils that require liming to support normal plant growth and avoid the problems associated with high soil acidity.
However, some western and central parts of the state have alkaline soils. For proper growth, hemp plants require a soil pH level ranging between, 6 and 7.5. Farmers who need to lime their soils to achieve the desired pH level need to consider the soil texture when deciding on the amount of lime to be used.
Kansas’ soil is prairie soil and largely loam with good drainage. Hemp requires massive amounts of nitrogen during the growing season, so supplementing is essential to a good outcome.
There are few native potential pests that would harm your hemp crop. Rotating fields every two years is important to avoiding specialized pests, such as hemp moths & fleas. Weeds are rarely an issue, as the plant’s notably rapid growth cycle enables it to quickly crowd out weeds.
Obtaining A Hemp Grower’s License In Kansas
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 Kansas, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here. Read about hemp legality by state.