How to cultivate Hemp for CBD

Field production of industrial hemp is getting lot of attention in Thailand. With new changes in the regulations for processing various parts of the plant. Oil from the seed and fiber from the stem are the two most common uses, and now the possibility of extracting cannabinoids (CBD) from flowers appears very attractive. Here are a few basic facts before you jump into cultivation for CBD extraction.

Selection of varieties for CBD
This is one of the very important aspects growers must understand. Choose a high-CBD strain of cannabis. Note:
if a plant contains more than 0.3% THC it is not considered hemp. If you’re concerned with THC percentages and making sure you’re growing hemp, it’s extremely important to get a strain from a trusted breeder.

Can a density be suggested?
The most commonly asked question about hemp cultivation is: How many plants per Rai, Square Meter? For production of seeds and fiber, the densities tested are anywhere from 100 to 300 plants per square meter. For potential CBD production, my recommendation is to go between 600 to 1,000 plants per acre in proper rows. The plants will grow fairly large and good branching will take place.

What about male and female plants?
We are interested in female plants that flower – that is where CBD is. The male plants can be sorted out and removed in the field at about six weeks of age. I have learned that the window to remove male plants is very narrow, between two and three days. This means you need labor to get it done quickly. The other alternative is to grow plants in liners, like bedding plants, and remove the plants and use transplants in the field. This requires greenhouse capacity. (This is how we Grow Hemp) The growing media and fertilizers are just about the same as that of bedding plants.

What’s the best time to harvest?
If you seeded the fields directly, then the vegetative phase is continued until end of June or early July, and it is based on varieties. However Growing here in Thailand our “Light Cycle” is different. Thus we all have a lot to learn.

How to know about CBD content and Timings to Harvest?
Wait until flowers are turning brown and trichomes are white opaque. Then they are almost ready for harvesting. In a field scenario, where the flowers did not get pollinated, late-May planted crop can possibly be harvested by end of July.

Harvesting and Extraction
On smaller acreage, manual harvest is possible when density guidelines are followed, that is 600 to 1,000 plants per acre. Because it will be taller and wider, some mechanics have to be developed to access all buds. Many growers consider using the stems for fiber. For extraction, one has to depend on commercial, licensed extraction facilities which are coming up now. We can do our own Extraction. I am aware of people developing mobile units – which have to be certified by MOPH.

There is still a lot to learn about hemp production for CBD. Some marketers claim they have higher CBD – up to 20 per cent varieties – available as feminized seeds, but they are likely more suited for total indoor operations or being Grow outdoors in North America. For high CBD, we have to avoid seed formation and harvest at proper times.

Hemp cultivation for CBD is still a huge learning curve.

If you’re thinking about growing Hemp or high-CBD strains of cannabis in order to harvest the CBD, you may be wondering how similar the process is to growing cannabis for THC.

The process is remarkably similar, but not exactly the same.

On a biological and legal level, the only difference between hemp and high-CBD or high-THC cannabis plants is… the amount of THC and CBD. These are all simply different strains of the cannabis plant.

Hemp vs Cannabis vs Medical Marijuana: “Like Different Strains of Roses or Oranges”

What is hemp and why is it legal?

Hemp was recently legalized on a federal level in the United States. But how is hemp different from cannabis?

There is exactly ONE difference between regular cannabis or marijuana and hemp….

The THC content. That’s it. You can have two strains of cannabis that look exactly the same, but if one contains less than 0.3% THC, it is considered hemp, while if it has even 0.4% THC by dry weight (in any part of the plant) it’s no longer considered to be hemp.

The term ‘industrial hemp’ includes the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part or derivative of the plant including seeds, whether or not it is used exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed). The tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) concentration is the distinguishing factor between industrial hemp and marijuana. Industrial hemp cannot have a THC concentration more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”)

I know it seems like it should be more complicated than that, but that’s it. “Industrial hemp” is basically any strain of cannabis with extremely low levels of THC. The strains of hemp used by farmers typically have also been bred for a specific purpose such as providing fiber.

These plants are a type of industrial hemp. This cannabis strain has been selected to produce negligible amounts of THC and strong fibrous stalk.

If you want to grow your own CBD, the most important thing is to start with a high-CBD strain. You can’t force a cannabis plant to produce more CBD than its genes allow, and many if not most popular cannabis strains contain high levels of THC and less than 1% CBD. Genetics is key!

Pay attention to harvest time. For the highest levels of CBD, you should harvest plants at the beginning of the harvest window. Both CBD and THC start to degrade as buds continue to mature. If you harvest buds late there are a few differences. Buds harvested on the later side usually have slightly lower levels of CBD and THC, but higher levels of CBN. As a result, buds harvested later tend to be less psychoactive (due to less THC), and are more likely to make you feel sleepy or have a strong body effect (due to more CBN). Because of the various ways cannabinoids interact with each other, it’s important to experiment with harvesting early vs later to see what works best for you. Just because harvesting early gives the absolute highest level of CBD doesn’t mean the resulting buds will work the best for you. You should experiment with different harvest times because every body reacts differently!

  1. Keep the leaves. CBD is contained not just in the flowers/buds of the plant, but also in the leaves. The CBD concentration is relatively low so the leaves are not suitable to smoke, but the CBD can be extracted by turning the leaves into things like butter, tincture or oil. Note: CBD extractions made from leaves are typically less concentrated/strong than extractions made from the actual flowers/buds.

  2. Extracting CBD. Unlike the leaves, the CBD-rich buds/flowers are often smoked or vaped. However, many people prefer to consume them in some type of edible form. This has a slower onset but the effects tend to be longer-lasting. For the most part, any method that extracts THC will also extract CBD, as they’re both cannabinoids that easily attach to oil. The problem is you can’t easily separate THC and CBD from each other. So if the starting plant matter has no THC, then a simple extraction into butter/oil/tincture will extract the CBD. But if you’re trying to get just CBD from plant matter that has both THC and CBD, well you need equipment for that! This is why it’s so important you start with the right strain. If the plant produces only the cannabinoids you want, you don’t have to do anything but extract and enjoy them!

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