Opportunity costs identify alternative returns on the assets deployed. This is important to get an accurate assessment of the profit margin attributable to the hemp crop. If you are unsure what to include, please check with your accountant.
Calculating water requirements is a challenge and is likely to become more so with anticipated changes to our climate. That said, we need to make provision for dry conditions to make the best out of the crop.
Soil moisture as well as temperature at sowing are significant. A soil moisture probe will help you decide how much to pre-irrigate. Be aware that the germination and early establishment phase are most vulnerable to over irrigating. Close monitoring is required during the first 6 weeks or so.
Managing what may be a scarce water resource is critical and requires that irrigation equipment is well maintained and operated at maximum efficiency.
The choice and application of any fertiliser must be based on a soil test together with advice from an experienced agronomist.
As a guide, hemp initially requires a similar nutrient profile as a Maize crop.
An agronomist can also advise on the best timing for both fertiliser and chemical applications. Note that fertiliser and chemical requirements may well change (reduce) with subsequent plantings so a soil test should be done each year. Crop yields can be expected to improve with experience.
Seeds sown at a consistent depth will give you the best chance of uniform growth and optimal results. Having the soil well prepared and irrigated are prerequisites for success.
Select the seed variety to fit the purpose. Grain varieties will not grow much biomass, and biomass varieties will not grow much grain, so pick the variety that best suits your market. Also note that the hurd from grain varieties is generally of a lower quality compared with fibre varieties, hence the market price for the straw will also be less.
Germination percentages are essential to know so be sure to get a germination test result when making your seed purchase.
For consistent hurd quality we recommend that you have the seed graded by size and sow the smaller size separately from the larger size.
Get expert advice to set the optimal space between plants. This will vary depending on variety and chosen crop type. Note that hemp has an auto toxicity factor and slower developing plants may be choked or killed off due to close proximity to stronger plants.
The surest way to have good germination is to have the soil prepared (tilled) so there is very good seed to soil contact. Hemp has very little vigour as a seedling so limit compaction as far as possible.
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