How Long Does Hemp Take to Grow?
American farmers planted almost 130,000 acres of hemp last year. Demand for CBD has exploded, which has led to more people cultivating hemp.
Whether you’re wondering if you should start a hemp farm or want to grow a couple of plants at home, you may have questions about growing the plant.
One of the biggest questions for anyone considering hemp cultivation is, “How long does hemp take to grow?” This influences how much hemp you can produce from any amount of land, as well as how many crops you can have in a year.
This guide will walk you through the hemp growing cycle. With this understanding, you’ll be ready to take your first steps into hemp farming.
The Hemp Life Cycle
Like most plants, hemp starts off as a seed. You can plant the seed, and then let it grow. If you want to harvest a little sooner, though, you can also use clones.
Clones are already plants, so you don’t need to wait for them to sprout. They’re ready to harvest about a month to six weeks earlier than plants started from seeds.
The plants will flower when they reach maturity. They’ll also produce seeds. You can use these seeds to start a new crop, or you can use them to make hemp seed oil.
Most hemp farmers buy seeds from trusted producers. These seeds have good genetics, which may affect their yields or CBD content. It may also make them more resistant to pests or molds.
Most seed producers list their varieties on their homepage, so you can get a good idea of what they have on offer.
How Long Does Hemp Take to Grow?
All right, so how long does it take the hemp plant to go from seed to plant to harvest?
It depends a bit on what you want to harvest the plant for, actually. If you’ve planted your hemp outside in the ground, the typical life cycle takes anywhere between 70 and 140 days, give or take.
That’s around three to five months. If you plant in May, then your hemp may be ready any time between August and November.
The length of time also depends on what you plan to harvest the hemp for. If you want to make hemp fiber, you can harvest your plants around the 60-day mark.
Seeds take a little over 100 days, so you’ll need to wait a bit longer. Hemp buds for making CBD take the longest to mature. You’ll be looking at a timeline of around 120 to 140 days.
Factors Affecting Hemp Growth
Hemp is pretty easy to cultivate, but the environment around it affects how it grows. Hemp plants thrive in hot, dry climates. They’ll grow much faster if you plant them somewhere in the southwest.
If you live in a wet, cool climate, your plants will still grow. They may be smaller or take longer to grow.
You’ll also want to make sure you plant after the final frost of the spring. Hemp plants will not survive frost. If you live in an area where frost is a danger, then you may want to start you plants in pots indoors.
This can protect them from frost, while letting you get ahead on the growing season. You can move the plants outdoors later.
Some people prefer to use clones for this reason. The clones don’t need to sprout, so they’re ready to go in the ground sooner. You’ll still need to plant them after the final frost of the season, but they let you spring ahead on the growing cycle.
Plants grown from seed do have their advantages, though. They tend to be hardier than clones, making them more resistant to other outdoor conditions during the growing season.
Pests and Mold
One thing to watch out for is problems with pests and mold. Humans aren’t the only creatures who like the hemp plant, so you may find insects and other creatures decide to infest your plants.
You may want to treat the plants with a pesticide. You should always review your state’s guidelines for which products are safe to use. There are different regulations, depending on what the plants are grown for.
Molds are another concern, especially in wetter climates. Hemp plants grown indoors are particularly vulnerable to mold, but mold can happen outside as well.
Be sure to inspect your plants carefully. Before you plant them, you should consider factors such as the amount of rainfall the plants will receive, as well as the amount of sunlight.
Preparing to Plant Hemp
You’ll probably need to get a license to grow hemp. You can apply to your state’s program or the federal program operated by USDA.
It should be noted here that the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to cultivate industrial hemp. Home-growing is a gray area in some states, so always check the regulations.
State programs have standards for the concentration of certain substances in hemp plants. These include pesticides, but also heavy metals.
Heavy metals and other substances can end up in the plant as it takes up nutrients from the soil. Hemp plants are particularly good at “cleaning” soil, which means they take up a lot of less desirable substances in the soil. For that reason, you may need to spend some time preparing your soil for hemp plants before you plant.
This should be a concern even for people who just want a plant or two for personal use. Heavy metal content can be transferred from the plant to you via oils made from the plant.
You’ll also want to optimize the nutrients in the soil. This will help you grow healthy, hardy hemp plants.
Prepare for a Better Harvest
You asked, “how long does hemp take to grow?” and now you have a good idea of just how long you’ll be waiting to harvest. In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to help your plants along.
Looking for more information about hemp and CBD? Check out our incredible library of helpful how-tos and informative articles!