Cultivation


The cultivation of hemp has been practised in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, long before the prohibition of cannabis was enacted in the early twentieth century. It was always seen as a tough, adaptable crop with a lot of potential. It was in 1993 when Hemcore Ltd was awarded the first licence for trial plots, and the prohibition on hemp was officially repealed. In the United Kingdom, there are roughly 80 hemp farms with a total land area of 2,500 hectares.

Licenses are given by the Home Office for hemp cultivars and end-uses that have been authorised. Hemp is not a difficult crop to produce, but because of the tenacity of its fibre, it may provide a challenge throughout the harvest process. Currently, an EC subsidy is provided for types that have been recognised.
It is possible to watch the development of two hemp fields in the United Kingdom during the growing season on this website. Please add this page to your bookmarks so that you can keep track of the development!

This is a French fibre cultivar that is widely cultivated in the United Kingdom. This particular variety has just been picked. To see a bigger version of the images, please click on them.

This is a strain from Finland that is now being tested to see whether it is suitable for the climate of the United Kingdom. To see a bigger version of the images, please click on them.

Hemp is a true break crop that requires little input and no upkeep between drilling and harvest. The following outlines the basic technique which can be used for hemp cultivation:

Seedbed

Needs to be a fine tilth similar to a cereal seedbed, it also needs to be free from weeds. A stale seedbed made in March and cleaned before drilling in late April/early May is essential. Fertiliser needs to be worked into the seedbed (preferably organic).

Drilling

Hempseed can be drilled or broadcast. If it is to be drilled a conventional 4 inch cereal drill is used. The seed must be drilled into moisture up to a depth of two inches and the field should be rolled following drilling.

Harvesting

This would normally be in early September. Three processes are required: cutting, turning & baling. The crop is cut with a mower or swather (disc mower / drum mower would be fine) leaving a 6-8 inch stubble. Turning is done with a single-wheel rotary rake about two weeks after cutting when sufficiently retted (rotted). It is then turned again in front of the baler and made into round bales. Typically it takes one month from cutting to baling.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS ILLEGAL TO GROW HEMP IN THE UK WITHOUT A LICENSE FROM THE HOME OFFICE

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