Washington states soil is comprised of volcanic ash from erupting volcanoes centuries ago. The soil is excellent for gardening and many crops thrive here. Depending on which side of the state gardeners live on they can enjoy wetter growing seasons on the Western side of the state or drier growing seasons on the Eastern side of the state. The Central basin area is home to many farming communities and thriving.
Plant Hardiness Zone(s)
The state of Washington was in early on the legalization of hemp flower, and in this state’s case also medical marijuana and recreational cannabis. That being said, there are still important regulations for growing industrial hemp flower and it is important to understand the specific agricultural benefits (and challenges) that the state of Washington has to offer potential growers.
One of the most important factors will be location. Washington has extremely rainy regions that border on rain forest, thick pine forests, mountains, and some plains. This gives plenty of potential options when it comes to growing but the best parts of the state for outdoor industrial hemp growth have deep soil that is aerated well and receives and solid amount of moisture. Drainage is crucial as sitting water from lack of drainage can actually hurt the crop. A large portion of the state already used for agriculture will be ideal for industrial hemp flower. Eastern Washington in wheat heavy areas could potentially be ideal for many known strains of hemp flower.
Ideally the best thermal zones are not going to be in the mountains where the soil can be a bit thinner and there’s a lot more exposure to cold.
Length of Growing Season
The exact growing season for hemp flower in Washington can vary but it’s important to remember that they are a short day plant. This means the ideal time for cultivation will be when there are fewer than 12 total hours of sunlight in most cases. This can lead to split planting seasons depending on the severity of winter and how early you should plant with one being in early May (if possible) and the other being a pretty tight growing season generally from late July/early August and hoping to harvest before the snow comes in.
Average Annual Sunlight
The state of Washington receives an average of more than 2,100 sunlight hours each year. This translates into just over 7 sunlight hours of sunlight each day. The longest days, with the highest number of sunshine hours – past 12 hours – are between the months of April and September. To keep hemp plants from prematurely transitioning into the flowering stage before they are fully grown, farmers need to ensure that they get more than 12 hours of sunlight.
Average Annual Precipitation
Precipitation numbers need to be paid close attention to. While the state’s annual precipitation average is 38 inches a year, the west coast has multiple regions of 80 to 140 inches a year, split up by a large section that averages 60 inches a year. Go to the southeast and there are sections that average less than 10 inches a year in the rain. Adjust the strain of hemp grown accordingly.
The best areas of Washington for growing hemp flower are going to be below 800 feet above sea level, and ideally are in the 600 feet above sea level or below area.
The ideal soil pH for hemp is going to be in areas of 6 or higher.
Loose aerated soil is good but avoid gravel, clay, or soil that doesn’t have drainage. Hemp flower is going to struggle to grow well in regions that have these types of soil issues.
Washington does have its share of hemp-hungry pests that need to contend with. Borer insects are the biggest threat. Out of this family of insects European corn borers and hemp borers are going to be the worst with non-insect pests like mites and slugs also being an issue that growers will have to contend with on a large scale level.
Obtaining A Hemp Flower Grower’s License In Washington
Under federal law, it is illegal to grow hemp flower 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 Washington, as well as a breakdown of the application process, click here. List of CBD Laws & Regulations of the United States by state.