Industrial Hemp Basics

Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Industrial hemp is not psychoactive.

Hemp is an annual, broadleaf plant with a taproot. Under ideal growing conditions, hemp is capable of very rapid growth with a growing season lasting from 70 to 140 days. In well structured and well drained soils the taproot can reach depths of 6.5 to 8 feet. In compacted soils the taproot remains short and the plant produces more lateral, fibrous roots. Hemp grows well in rotation with variety of crops.

For fiber production, hemp plants are planted densely and can grow to 4 to 15 feet tall without branching. The stem has an outer bark that contains long, tough bast fibers. Bast fibers are similar in length to soft wood fibers and have a very low lignin content. Hemp rope, textiles and clothing are made from bast fibers. The inner core contains the “hurds” or “shives” (short fibers), similar to hard wood fibers. Hemp hurds are used for building materials, particleboard (MDF), animal bedding, paper, and plastics. China is currently the largest exporter of hemp fiber.

For grain production, hemp plants may branch and reach heights of 6.5 to 9.8 feet. Shorter grain plants are preferred for combing. Hemp grain yields can range from 600 to 800 lbs. Hemp seeds are used for food and to produce personal care products. Canada is currently the largest exporter of hemp seed. Find out more about industrial hemp: