“How do I plant my hemp seeds?” is a question you may be asking yourself. There are two options to getting your hemp seeds in the ground: 1) Directly sowing the seeds in your field or 2) germinating and producing transplants in a greenhouse or protected environment.
There are pros and cons to both options.
With direct sow, you will save on money on germination and labor for transplant. The biggest upside with direct sow is certainly cost savings. However, there is another side to the cost savings coin: risk. If you directly sow your hemp seeds, there is more inherent risk in something going wrong in the germination process and getting a less than desirable germination rate.
For every seed that doesn’t break the soil surface and survive, you are losing not only the cost of the seed but also the value of that spot in your field that was supposed to be income generating but is now empty. If you decide to direct sow your hemp seeds, you may want to plant at a higher density to account for any mishaps.
In addition, because the seedlings are vulnerable to Mother Nature, you need to wait to direct sow until there is NO RISK of frost or freeze…. Otherwise, you could be completely risking your crop before it even gets started! Another risk to consider is directly sown hemp seeds are a bit more vulnerable to critters that enjoy the tender leaves as a tasty snack. Yes, we have seen entire hemp fields decimated overnight by hungry rodents, rabbits, and other small animals!
If you are considering directly sowing your hemp seeds, you must ensure that your soil has been well managed and worked to have a fine consistency free from any heavy clay clumps or rocks. Not only does your soil and beds need to be in tip-top shape, but you also need to ensure that you have bullet proof irrigation practices to consistently and adequately give your new seedlings a drink.
In addition, if you have intense weed pressure, you need to ensure you have proper weed mitigation techniques in place to ensure your new hemp seedlings have a fighting chance for outcompeting the weeds.
Now, there are also pros and cons to transplanting hemp seedlings vs the simple direct sow method. Mainly, your hemp seeds will have a significantly greater chance of survival. You will save money on seed costs and ensure that your field is filled with flourishing hemp plants and not barren, empty spots that are costing you money. Transplanted hemp seedlings will also have a jump-start as the plants are typically 3-5 weeks old when planted… this allows for a nice work around with potential frost or freezes as your hemp seedlings will be in a warm and cozy environment until your weatherman gives you the A-okay for no more freezes/frost.
The biggest drawback to doing transplants is the cost and needed infrastructure. It takes time and money to germinate and grow seedlings. In addition, you will need additional transplanting equipment and helping hands if you are working on a larger scale.
For photoperiod hemp seed, we recommend transplanting the seed vs doing direct sow. If you are an experienced farmer with hemp and have tried directly seeding hemp in your fields and have had success, then this option may work well for you. We do not recommend new hemp growers to try direct seeding their first time around.
For autoflower hemp seeds, we do recommend direct sowing… this is mainly because autoflower can be a little tricky with root sensitivity and premature flowering if not transplanted correctly. Direct sowing autoflower gets around the potential for premature flower initiation due to root stress.
We hope this helps! If you have other questions, take a look at our other blog topics. If you are getting ready to grow hemp and don’t know where to start, take our Alterra Variety Quiz right now to figure out which varieties are going to be best for you.