How Many Hemp Plants Per Acre
The answer isn’t a one size fits all. It is all about intent. What is your end goal? Your intentions will answer the question we are all asking, “How many hemp plants per acre?”
The answer based on your intentions depends on whether you’re growing CBD hemp or industrial (traditional) hemp . With that, the amount of hemp plants you plant per acre will matter substantially.
Spacing For Hemp Plants
According to the Successful Farming article, “ What Farmers Need to Know About Growing Hemp ,” Hemp farming is done at a rate of “1,000 to 1,600 plants per acre,” which are, “planted and tended to as separate plants.” So, if you’re looking to grow a crop of CBD oil producing hemp plants, you’ll need to consider spacing for hemp plants since there’s labor with tending between the rows of plants and crowding can create additional time, costs. Generally when spacing for hemp plants you want to give them a good three to five feet because these plants are very particular about spacing and how much sunlight they get. Anecdotal information from experienced farmers suggest 2,000 to 2,500 plants per acre may be achievable.
On the flip side, industrial hemp is “grown for mass-market products such as textiles and bioplastics,” and this traditional hemp, “has a planting rate of 400,000 per acre (roughly 100 plants/square meter), and is drilled in like wheat” ( Betsy 2019 ).
Michael Bowman, the founder of the National Hemp Association, went on to describe the plant, “It [industrial hemp] grows tall and you harvest the tops for seed production and then use the stalk for a number of industrial purposes” ( Betsy 2019 ).
CBD Oil or Industrial Hemp Products?
Many articles have mentioned that the industrial hemp market will be dominated by foreign producers, like China, and that hemp grown for CBD oil production will be the more lucrative route for farmers to take in the USA.
The market differences, between industrial hemp and CBD hemp, are echoed in the article, “ Hemp can be lucrative, but there are drawbacks ,” which quotes National Hemp Association board member, Alex Seleznov:
“Prices for hemp fiber and seed will be competing with foreign producers, mainly China… Fiber and seed producers want a production mill within 30 miles of where the hemp is grown, and that’s just not feasible in this country” ( Journal-Advocate 2018 ).
The article goes on to point out that:
“That leaves CBD,” Seleznov said “and that means a different kind of farming. While seed and fiber hemp plants can be grown close together and harvested with most traditional equipment, CBD-producing plants, much like their THC-producing cousins, have to be planted at wider intervals and have to be harvested by hand” ( Journal-Advocate 2018 ).
CBD Hemp Farming – Give it Some Space
The main difference between hemp farming for CBD oil and traditional hemp for mass market products comes down to spacing : CBD hemp plants need space (only 1,000 to 1,600 plants per acre) so they can grow and bush out to foster more bountiful flower yields.
Traditional, industrial hemp requires tall stalks in order to be profitable so they’re planted close together at a rate of 400,000 per acre to get longer stalks (crowded plants will grow tall and skinny to reach for the sun).
Nemadji’s next blog will go into what kind of yield you can expect per acre/plant and where to find certified genetics for planting your hemp crop. Ask us about our partnerships and look at split processing your fall harvest to maximize its value: end products are more valuable than raw biomass!
Anecdotal information from experienced farmers suggest 2,000 to 2,500 plants per acre may be achievable depending on the type of hemp is planted.
Hemp Field Layout & Plant Count
Planting & Harvesting Hemp
Growing hemp for cannabinoid production should be planted as a row crop. Since each plant is so valuable, growers want to maximize the plant’s size and resin production. One of the best, easiest and cheapest ways to accomplish this is to ensure that full sunlight is shining on the plants from all directions. For cannabis to really grow great, sunlight has to shine directly on the buds. Flower that grows in the dark will generally end up as ‘larf’; fluffy, lime colored buds with little resin. It is important to plan your field layout and hemp plants per acre for optimal growing.
The following field planting layouts show what fields will look like when planted on 4 foot, 5 foot and 6 foot centers. We have created an example one acre square field that measures 210′ X 210′. The area is completely filled with plants. When laying out an actual field for planting and harvesting hemp you have to make adjustments for fences, roads, drainages, buildings, ponds, irrigation requirements , etc., so this is for an imaginary acre that is completely planted from end to end.
We have chosen to layout the fields using the triangular system, where plants are placed midway between the plant in the adjoining row. This provides increased open space for sunlight as well as 15% higher plant density per acre than a square or rectangular system layout.
Planting on 4 foot centers
If the strain you’re planting grows compactly, matures quickly or planting is late, you might want to set up the field on 4 foot centers.
This layout requires a lot of plants, 2,601. 1,100 more hemp plants per acre than planting at 5 foot centers.
The mulch bed would be 24 inches wide so the path between rows would be 24 inches wide also.
If the plants grow four foot wide, it would be difficult to walk down the rows. Three foot wide plants would be about right.
Planting on 5 foot centers
Most individuals planting and harvesting hemp will lay out their fields on 5 foot centers. Normal growing plants that were vegetated for awhile will would be suited for this layout.
A whole acre is planted end to end, 1681 plants would be required. We tell customers around 1,500 hemp plants per acre.
If the plants grow four foot wide, the two foot path could be easily walked. On five and six foot centers, the mulch bed would be three feet wide, pretty much as wide as can be made with 60 inch plastic mulch.
If the plants grow four and half to five feet wide it will be difficult to walk down the rows.
Planting on 6 foot centers
Planting and harvesting hemp on six foot centers ensures that walking down the rows will be easy because the path is 3 feet wide.
An end to end planting would require only 1156 plants.
If the plants grow up to five foot wide there will be plenty of room to work.
Interested in planting & harvesting hemp? Learn more about the amount of hemp plants you should have per acre, harvesting guidelines, & more!