When most people imagine growing crops, hemp or otherwise, the image that most often comes to mind is of a big, wide, open field divided into neat rows of crops. For many drawn to growing hemp, that idyllic image is likely to deter them from pursuing that dream due to the heavy investments required to begin an operation at that scale.
Greenhouse growing can be a more realistic entry point to the hemp industry, and it actually has some unique advantages over traditional farming. To set yourself up for success, and maximize the advantages greenhouse growing can provide, Blue Forest Farms has a few suggested best practices.
The Where and What
It might seem obvious, but deciding were you intend to grow your hemp is one of the most important decisions that needs to be made before placing your greenhouse. Possibly the most important factor in choosing your location is sunlight. A location that receives a lot of natural sunlight is ideal as it can drastically reduce the extra energy costs you might spend in providing artificial lighting to your crop. Another thing to be taken into account when picking a location is the possibility to expand. If you think you may want to add more greenhouses in the future, having appropriate space available is essential. Once the where is figured out, the type of greenhouse will be the next major decision. There are two primary types of greenhouse to focus on. First is a poly connected greenhouse, which is great for a wide range of crops besides just hemp. The main benefit of a poly connected greenhouse is the ease with which it can be expanded. However, it is also architecturally designed to have great condensation control, as well as very efficient ventilation options. It also easily allows for climate control. The second type is a cold frame greenhouse, which tends to be a more cost effective option. Savings can hold great appeal to those just starting out. Keep in mind that a cold frame primarily uses solar energy for climate control.
For the small-scale grower, especially if you intend to keep your crop small, an attached or lean-to greenhouse would be a great option, as well. These are typically less than half the size of freestanding greenhouses, and are built right up against the wall of an existing home or structure.
Greenhouse Growing Tips You Should Know
Once you’ve decided on the installation location and type of greenhouse to build, there are still some very important things to know, which can save you time and frustration, before your first attempt at growing hemp.
While it may seem contradictory to the idea of growing in a greenhouse, blackout curtains are highly recommended for anyone planning to grow hemp for CBD content. Hemp needs intervals with twelve hours of complete darkness while they’re in the flowering stage in order for them to fully flower. Investing in enough curtains to fully cover the interior of your greenhouse so that absolutely no light can enter is the best method. It’s possible to cover the greenhouse from the outside, which may be cheaper, but it’s harder to prevent light leakages, and it’s always possible that the elements will damage your covering.
Conversely, for those taking advantage of the year-round growing possibilities greenhouses provide, but who live in Northern climates, adding light may be necessary in darker months. While twelve hours of darkness is needed during the flowering stage, eighteen hours of light is needed while in the vegetative state. LED lighting systems are popular with greenhouse growers.
Another choice you’ll have to make when building a greenhouse is what type of panels it will have – diffused or clear. The general consensus is that diffused, or semi-diffused, panels are best for growing hemp as they will prevent the plants from competing for unevenly distributed light, as well as prevent any hot spots from developing. Combined with installing a blackout system, choosing the right panels will help your entire crop grow evenly and provide a consistent CBD content and a higher yield.
Watering and Climate Control Systems
Depending on the type of greenhouse you choose, there are automated systems that can be installed to make the growing process even easier. These can be ideal for new or small-scale growers who are not able to devote a lot of time to taking care of their plants, as well as for solo farmers who grow on a larger scale.
Watering systems, for example, can be installed and set up to automatically water your hemp plants on a set schedule. There are also climate control systems, which monitor and adjust the temperature inside your structure. Advanced darkening systems with motorized rollout can replace blackout curtains. These types of additions can be rather expensive, of course.
Whether or not you choose to install any automation in your greenhouse, a ventilation system of some kind, even a manual one, is absolutely essential to keep the hemp plants at an ideal temperature. Fresh air also helps keep things like pests, mildew, and diseases from affecting your plants.
Without ventilation, the climate in a greenhouse can easily become unsustainable for proper plant health and possibly lead to losing your hemp crop. It’s also important to remember that just because they’re in a greenhouse doesn’t mean all aspects of outside farming can be ignored! Fresh, high-quality, soil must be added every year of growing. Reusing soil for too long will lead to an unhealthy garden.
Get Started Growing Hemp
Greenhouses are a flexible option for those looking to get into the hemp industry at nearly any scale. They can be as small and hands-off as a lean-to with a fully automated watering and climate control system, or as large as a full-scale growing operation with multiple structures.
Whatever is right for you, knowing how to fully take advantage of the positives greenhouses provide, and what pitfalls to avoid, can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. Just remember that, despite all the equipment, tools, and technology that greenhouses utilize to control things outdoor farming can’t, hemp plants are still living organisms that need to be cared for just as much as they would require in a traditional farm.
Our stable, genetically isolated hemp seeds give your grow the best chance of success. With CBD levels averaging in the 13-18% range, our low THC, high CBD genetics ensure your crop won’t run hot. Each one of our strains was hand picked for the sole purpose of industrial growth and harvest.