Did you know that some hemp growers require both male and female plants?

Published Sep 22, 2019 10:06 a.m. ET
iStock / jessicahyde

Growing marijuana is a hot topic, but hemp is quickly becoming a trendy competitor that is expected to surpass that of its euphoria-inducing counterpart. The most common issue with growing cannabis is that it can be challenging to reproduce outdoors, as the risk of cross-contamination from nearby cultivator’s crops, can significantly impact both this year’s crop as well as the quality of next season’s plants. If one male is within several kilometers of a field of female marijuana plants, it will fertilize the entire crop, creating seeds rather than dense buds that are good for smoking or processing into concentrates.

Growing hemp seeds outdoors

Farmers who are considering making the switch to hemp don’t always need to invest in massive indoor facilities, and most don’t realize how beneficial it can be for both the plant and their pockets to cultivate hemp plants outside just like any other regular crop. The main difference is that there are so many exciting products that can be made from hemp seeds, and to get them, farmers must include both male and female counterparts in their fields. Though technically, a strong wind that carries pollen from an outside hemp plant can contact another quite easily, the product of that season's yield remains virtually the same.

How does that affect next year’s crop?

Since the hemp industry in Canada is so highly regulated, a fresh batch of hemp seeds that have been harvested from controlled plants in a sterile environment, are the only ones that garner Health Canada’s approval. The hemp seeds that are produced each year outdoors, all go to making a variety of products instead of being reused in the future.

Is there any risk to farming hemp plants outdoors?

Unfortunately, no growing system that is economical or good for the environment comes without risks, and planting hemp seeds is no different. Right now, due to government rules and a tight control over GMO crops, if you were to cultivate hemp plants outdoors, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a farm with this type of plant for anything other than hemp seeds manufacturing. That is because, if by chance your crop does get pollinated by a neighboring GMO field, the results are no longer yours to keep as the company that owns the rights to that particular strain’s genetics, will also inherit everything that is crossed with their genetics.

What types of products can be made with hemp seeds?

Luckily, there are plenty of options for farmers who would prefer to take this nature-based approach to grow hemp plants.

1. Hemp hearts latest superfood
If you haven’t heard of hemp hearts, then you really need to give them a try. This incredibly powerful superfood will not get you high and isn’t marketed for cannabinoid content because they are made using hemp seeds. Though this option doesn’t offer the activated cannabinoid benefits, it is a high protein and healthy fat addition that is perfect as a supplement for nearly any diet.

2. Cultivating hemp seeds for hemp oil
The most highlighted benefit of the hemp plant is generally it’s medicinal CBD content which can work as an anti-inflammatory, but most consumers don’t realize that this product is typically made from cold-pressed and refined hemp seeds. Since it is a popular option, for now, this is the section of the hemp industry that is often the largest and more beneficial financially, but it can also be challenging to enter, which is the reason why so many farmers are opting for contracts with hemp hearts manufacturers.

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