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Hemp Regulation and Production in Michigan


February 5, 2020 - Author: ,

What is Hemp

  • Cannabis sativa L.
  • Legally defined as cannabis with ≤0.3%  Δ-9tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Annual broadleaf plant
    • Dioecious and monoecious
    • Tall and competitive, 4-13 ft.
    • Tap rooted
    • Photoperiod sensitive
    • Wind pollinated

Hemp Varieties and Uses

  • Varieties selected based on desired end product
    • Fiber
    • Seed/Grain
    • Non-seed oils and extracts (cannabinoids)

Uses for Hemp Fiber

  • Stems processed into two types of fibers:
    • Basts – longer, higher quality for making textile, rope, etc.
    • Hurds, or shivs – shorter, woody, lower quality for animal bedding, compost, other products

Uses for Hemp Seed

  • Seed can be sold into several markets
    • Resold for crop planting
      • Quality likely low outside of qualified breeding program
    • Hulled for food
    • Crushed for oil and cake byproducts

Uses for Hemp CBD

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is concentrated in the glandular trichomes (specialized hairs) of flowers and leaves
  • Products including tinctures, skin cream and oils with numerous claims of relief from anxiety, pain, sleeplessness, and other ailments.
  • Epidiolex was FDA approved in June 2018 for treatment of two specific types of epilepsy (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gasaut syndrome)
  • In September 2018, Epidiolex was reclassified from schedule I to schedule V
  • Derived from marijuana plants, but is made from CBD-isolate
  • Stated price of $32,500/yr
  • Smokable flower as a niche market for those wanting smell/feel of smoking marijuana without the psychoactive effect
  • Potent method for getting CBD into the body
  • $300-$400 per pound of flower

State Regulatory Responsibility

  • USDA Interim Final Rule published Oct 30
  • MDARD will submit a regulatory plan to USDA:
  • Procedures for recording where hemp is produced
  • Procedures to ensure hemp produced meets the legal definition of not more than 0.3% THC
  • Procedures for disposal of materials with a THC concentration exceeding 0.3%
  • Procedures for handling violations of the 2018 Farm Bill and the proposed state plan
  • Corrective action plan with deadlines & monitoring

Hemp Agronomy: Soil Fertility

  • Hemp benefits from fertile soil and fertilizer
  • ~110 lbs N/ac for seed, 50 lb N/ac for fiber
  • P and K according to soil tests for winter wheat
  • Additional P and K for fiber vs. seed
  • Sulfur and other micro-nutrients as needed

Hemp Agronomy: Site Preparation

  • Plant in April or May after soil temps warm to greater than 46 F
  • Do not plant after early June due to photoperiod
  • Tillage generally recommended, but no-till can work with even moisture, good seed to soil contact and weed control
  • CBD systems often utilize plastic mulch, irrigation and cuttings or transplants

Hemp Agronomy: Planting

  • Fiber and grain crops planted from seed with planter, grain drill or broadcast and cultipacking
    • ¼ – ½ inch deep
  • Dense stand ideal for yield, and to out-compete weeds
    • Fiber: ~50 lbs per acre, 8” or less row spacing
    • Grain: ~35 lbs per acre, 8-16” row spacing
  • Cannabinoid production different than fiber or grain
    • 1,500 – 3,000 plants per acre
    • Female plants only, often grown from cuttings, transplants or feminized seed
    • Rogue out male plants
    • Isolation from other cannabis to avoid pollination, 3–15 miles
    • Very wide spacing to encourage branching and flowering

Pest Management: Insects

  • Due to lack of previous cultivation, significant insect pests are not expected immediately
  • However, many insects can and will feed on hemp, and we expect pest buildup over time as the crop becomes more abundant
    • Defoliators (grasshoppers, corn earworm)
    • Borers (corn borer, hemp borer)
    • Sucking pests (aphids, mites)
  • Bud and flower protection most important
  • Two insecticides currently labelled for hemp

Pest Management Diseases

  • Hemp is susceptible to many different pathogens 
    • Soil and roots: Pythium, Phytophthora, Fusarium
    • Foliar: Hemp leaf spot, Cercospora, Septoria, Powdery mildew, rust
    • Stems: White mold
    • Flowers: Botrytis bud rot
  • Only four bio fungicides currently registered for use on hemp nationally, one in Michigan

Pest Management: Weeds

  • No herbicides are currently labeled for hemp!
  • Design a weed suppressive crop rotation, and follow a competitive crop
  • Start clean, selecting fields with low weed pressure and use tillage and/or stale seedbed
  • Ensure proper plant population and rapid establishment
  • Know you weeds and strategies for control
  • Have the right tools at your disposal for prevention, mulch, cultivation, etc.
  • Make a weed control calendar to anticipate management
  • Don’t underestimate the labor required


Tags: agriculture, beginning farmer field crops, beginning farmer webinar series, field crops, msu extension

Related Topic Areas

Beginning Farmer Webinar Series, Agriculture


James DeDecker

James DeDecker

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