1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
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2) Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.
3) Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug
4) The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers, which are among the Earth's longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose. The cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.
5) According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of bio-fuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
6) Hemp can be grown organically. Only eight, out of about one hundred known pests, cause problems, and hemp is most often grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.
7) Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp's low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.
8) Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.
9) Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
10) Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name a very few examples. Over two million cars on the road today have hemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards, luggage racks, etc.
*Hemp has been grown for at least the last 12,000 years for fiber (textiles and paper) and food. It has been effectively prohibited in the United States since the 1950s.
*George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper.
*When US sources of "Manila hemp" (not true hemp) was cut off by the Japanese in WWII, the US Army and US Department of Agriculture promoted the "Hemp for Victory" campaign to grow hemp in the US.
*Because of its importance for sails (the word "canvass" is rooted in "cannabis") and rope for ships, hemp was a required crop in the American colonies.
*Henry Ford experimented with hemp to build car bodies. He wanted to build and fuel cars from farm products.
*BMW is experimenting with hemp materials in automobiles as part of an effort to make cars more recyclable.
*Much of the bird seed sold in the US has hemp seed (it's sterilized before importation), the hulls of which contain about 25% protein.
*Hemp oil once greased machines. Most paints, resins, shellacs, and varnishes used to be made out of linseed (from flax) and hemp oils.
*Rudolph Diesel designed his engine to run on hemp oil.
*Kimberly Clark (on the Fortune 500) has a mill in France which produces hemp paper preferred for bibles because it lasts a very long time and doesn't yellow.
*Construction products such as medium density fiber board, oriented strand board, and even beams, studs and posts could be made out of hemp. Because of hemp's long fibers, the products will be stronger and/or lighter than those made from wood.
*The products that can be made from hemp number over 25,000.
*Industrial hemp and marijuana are both classified by taxonomists as Cannabis sativa, a species with hundreds of varieties. C. sativa is a member of the mulberry family. Industrial hemp is bred to maximize fiber, seed and/or oil, while marijuana varieties seek to maximize THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana).
*While industrial hemp and marijuana may look somewhat alike to an untrained eye, an easily trained eye can easily distinguish the difference.
*Industrial hemp has a THC content of between 0.05 and 1%. Marijuana has a THC content of 3% to 20%. To receive a standard psychoactive dose would require a person to power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over an extremely short period of time. The large volume and high temperature of vapor, gas and smoke would be almost impossible for a person to withstand.
*If hemp does pollinate any nearby marijuana, genetically, the result will always be lower-THC marijuana, not higher-THC hemp. If hemp is grown outdoors, marijuana will not be grown close by to avoid producing lower-grade marijuana.
*Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent and more mildew-resistant than cotton.
*Fabrics made of at least one-half hemp block the sun's UV rays more effectively than other fabrics.
*Many of the varieties of hemp that were grown in North America have been lost. Seed banks weren't maintained. New genetic breeding will be necessary using both foreign and domestic "ditchweed," strains of hemp that went feral after cultivation ended. Various state national guard units often spend their weekends trying to eradicate this hemp, in the mistaken belief they are helping stop drug use.
*A 1938 Popular Mechanics described hemp as a "New Billion Dollar Crop." That's back when a billion was real money.
*Hemp can be made in to a variety of fabrics, including linen quality.
Hemp Plant Facts
1. Plant Description
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is an annual herbaceous plant with a slender stem, ranging in height from 4 to 15 feet and a diameter from 1/4" to 3/4". The innermost layer is the pith, surrounded by woody material known as hurds. Outside of this layer is the growing tissue which develops into hurds on the inside and into the bast fibers on the outside. The stem is more or less branched, depending on the crop density. When sown thickly the stems do not branch. The leaves are of a palmate type and each leaf has 7 to 11 leaflets, with serrated edges. The strong tap-root penetrates deep into the soil. However, if the soil conditions are unfavorable, the main root remains short, while lateral roots become more developed.
2. Soil and Soil Preparation
Industrial hemp can be grown on a wide variety of soil types. Hemp prefers a sufficiently deep, well-aerated soil with a pH pf 6 or greater, along with good moisture and nutrient holding capacity. Poorly drained soils, however, are not recommended as excess water after heavy rains can result in damage to the hemp crop. Hemp is extremely sensitive to flooding and soil compaction
A fine, firm seedbed is required for fast, uniform germination of hemp seed. Conventional seedbed preparation and drilling are probably ideal. The seedlings will not emerge uniformly if the seed is placed to a depth greater than 2 inches. "No-till systems" can also be used with good results, but may be more vulnerable to erratic emergence depending on the growing season.
To achieve an optimum hemp yield, twice as much nutrient must be available to the crop as will finally be removed from the soil at harvest. A hemp field produces a very large bulk of vegetative material in a short vegetative period. The nitrogen uptake is most intensive the first 6 to 8 weeks, while potassium and in particular phosphorous are needed more during flowering and seed formation. Industrial hemp requires 105 to 130 lbs./acre (120 to 150 kg./ha) nitrogen, 45 to 70 lbs./acre (50 to 80 kg/ha) phosphate and 52 to 70 lbs./acre (60 to 80 kg/ha) potash.
4. Growing Conditions
Hemp prefers a mild climate, humid atmosphere, and a rainfall of at least 25-30 inches per year. Good soil moisture is required for seed germination and until the young plants are well established.
5. Weed Control
Industrial hemp is an extremely efficient weed suppressor. No chemicals are needed for growing this crop. Industrial hemp is a low maintenance crop. There are no registered chemicals for weed control in hemp. A normal stand of 200 to 300 plants per square meter shades out the weeds, leaving the fields weed-free at harvest for the next crop.
Notice the canopy effect created by the dense planting. When properly planted and cultivated, weed control is a non issue.
6. Time of Seeding
The best time to seed hemp should be dictated by the weather and soil conditions, rather than the date on the calendar. Hemp can be seeded as early as two weeks prior to corn provided that soil conditions are optimum. However, seeding should not begin until soil temperatures have reached a minimum of 41 - 46 deg.F. (6 - 8 deg C.). Hemp seed germinates within 24 to 48 hours, and emerges in 5 to 7 days with good moisture and warm temperature.
7. Plant Population
High yields of high quality fiber can be achieved with proper plant density. Seeding rates of 250 to 400 viable seeds per square meter are probably ideal, depending on soil type, soil fertility and cultivars. The seed or grain production will require lower seeding rates.
This stand is ready to harvest. Note the uniformly dense population.
8. Breeding Characteristics
Generally, hemp is a dioecious plant ( a plant having the stamens [male] and the pistils [female] borne by separate plants of the same species ). However, there are three classifications of varieties:
- monoecious varieties - when male and female flowers develop on the same plant;
- dioecious varieties - with distinct male and female plants;
- female predominant varieties, obtained by pollinating dioecious females with monoecious pollen.
9. Cultivar Types
There are two types of industrial hemp based on their use.
- fiber cultivars - with long stalks and little branching; (shown to the left)
- seed cultivars - with shorter stalks, larger seed heads and may have numerous branches (seed contains 30 - 35% oil).
(definition) "Industrial hemp is classified under the genus Cannabis.37 Marijuana and industrial hemp derive from different portions of the plant popularly known as the hemp plant.38 The plant is designated as Cannabis sativa in the Linnaean system of botanical classification (Cannabis sativa L.)39 Generally, the flower or leaves of the hemp plant are the portions of the plant that produce the drug marijuana, whereas the stalk produces the industrial products.40"
Source: Duppong, Thomas A., "Industrial Hemp: How the Classification of Industiral Hemp as Marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act Has Caused the Dream of Growing Industrial Hemp in North Dakota to Go up in Smoke," North Dakota Law Review (Grand Forks, ND: University of North Dakota School of Law, 2009) Vol. 85, No. 2, p. 407. http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/85NDLR403.pdf
(definition) "Industrial hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species, Cannabis sativa L. Marijuana typically contains 3 to 15 percent of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis, while industrial hemp contains less than 1 percent. However, the two varieties are indistinguishable by appearance. In the United States, Cannabis sativa is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, regardless of its narcotic content, under the Controlled Substances Act as amended. Since 1990, varieties containing less than 0.3 percent THC have been legalized in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Canada and Australia legalized hemp production in 1998. In other countries, such as China, Russia, and Hungary, hemp production was never outlawed."
Source: United States Department of Agriculture, "Industrial Hemp in the United States: Status and Market Potential" (Washington, DC: January 2000), p. iii. http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/328262/ages001e_1_.pdf
(definition - hemp vs. marijuana) "Marijuana and hemp come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, but from different varieties or cultivars. However, hemp is genetically different and is distinguished by its use and chemical makeup.2
"Hemp, also called “industrial hemp,”3 refers to cannabis varieties that are primarily grown as an agricultural crop (such as seeds and fiber, and byproducts such as oil, seed cake, hurds) and is characterized by plants that are low in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical). THC levels for hemp are generally less than 1%.
"Marijuana refers to the flowering tops and leaves of psychoactive cannabis varieties, which are grown for their high content of THC. Marijuana’s high THC content is primarily in the flowering tops and to a lesser extent in the leaves. THC levels for marijuana are much higher than for hemp, and are reported to average about 10%; some sample tests indicate THC levels reaching 20%-30%, or greater."4
Source: Johnson, Renée, "Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity," Congressional Research Service, (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, December 22, 2010), pp. 1-2. http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/CRS_Hemp_Report_5.pdf
(differences - hemp vs. marijuana) Although opponents of hemp production claim that hemp fields will be used to hide marijuana fields, this is unlikely because, "Hemp is grown quite differently from marijuana. Moreover, it is harvested at a different time than marijuana. Finally, cross-pollination between hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plant. "
Source: West, David P, "Hemp and Marijuana: Myths and Realities" (Madison, WI: North American Industrial Hemp Council, 1998), p. 4. http://www.naihc.org/hemp_information/content/hemp.mj.html
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