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How to Prepare Your Soil for Hemp Farming

How to Prepare Your Soil for Hemp Farming

Whether you’re just getting into hemp farming or are well-informed about what it takes to grow a healthy plant, you know that soil is a crucial aspect of the process. This article provides information on soil amendments and preparing your soil for growing mature cannabis and hemp plants.

Why Soil Matters When Growing Hemp

Soil is one of the most critical aspects when growing hemp. Within the soil lies the substances and nutrients plants need to survive, which include nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and others. The soil must be rich in both macronutrients and micronutrients, whether you’re growing hemp, or any other plant. Plants need large amounts of macronutrients and small amounts of micronutrients.

It can be helpful to have a firm grasp of soil science when planting hemp. Knowing how each macronutrient impacts the soil and plant quality will help you grow the most mature plants. Here’s how each macronutrient helps your hemp or cannabis plant thrive:

  • Nitrogen: Hemp relies heavily on nitrogen for growth and development, which makes up essential aspects of chlorophyll in plants and helps with protein development. Hemp and other plants depend on chlorophyll to carry out photosynthesis — the process by which plants synthesize food from sunlight.
  • Phosphorous: Phosphorus is part of every living plant and animal cell, helping with root development and stem sturdiness. Phosphorus also helps with fungal resistance, flower formation and crop yield. 
  • Potassium: Potassium is crucial to a plant’s ability to conserve water. It also helps move water and other nutrients throughout plant tissue. 
  • Calcium: Calcium provides structural integrity to plants, holding together cell walls and plant membranes. It also regulates plant enzymes and hormonal activity, which helps with their growth and development.
  • Magnesium: Along with nitrogen, magnesium is the central core of chlorophyll for photosynthesis. It also activates various enzyme processes.
  • Sulfur: Your hemp plants only need this macronutrient in small amounts but require it to form essential enzymes.
  • Carbon: Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air through minuscule holes on the surface of leaves. After absorbing the carbon from the air, the plants use it as energy to conduct photosynthesis.
  • Hydrogen: All plants synthesize hydrogen from water during photosynthesis through light energy. Hydrogen is also essential for plant growth.
  • Oxygen: Plants receive oxygen from water and air. Oxygen is needed in plants to release energy after photosynthesis.

Besides macronutrients, some other micronutrients to add to soil for hemp include:

  • Boron
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Zinc

Ultimately, the nutritional health of the soil determines the health of the plant. Healthy soil can make all the difference in mature plant growth and hardiness. However, different types of plants thrive in various types of soil. For example, the best soil for growing hemp and cannabis is loose and loamy soil with plenty of organic matter and an acidity level of 6.0-7.5 pH. Loamy soil is a rich mixture of clay, sand and silt.

How Do Soil Amendments Work?

Since organic matter is a fixture in healthy cannabis and hemp soil, soil amendment is vital. Soil amendment refers to introducing organic or non-organic material into the soil to improve its physical and chemical properties.

Organic amendments come from living things, like compost or mulch, while inorganic amendments come from mined or manufactured items. Some amendments have high pH and salt levels, which may cause problems for specific plants. Therefore, you should carefully choose amendments according to what you’re planting.

Some examples of organic and non-organic materials used in soil amendments include:

  • Compost
  • Epsom salt
  • Gypsum
  • Manure
  • Mulch
  • Worm castings

What Soil Amendment Is Best for Hemp?

Most soil amendment packages have various types of organic matter included in them, and the best amendments for growing hemp and cannabis work in tandem with each other. Since hemp thrive in slightly acidic, airy and loamy soil rich in organic matter, some amendments that work well for hemp and cannabis include:

  • Worm castings
  • Mycorrhizal fungi
  • Sea kelp
  • Humic acid

Since Hemp can’t break down organic material to extract its minerals, it relies on microbes to absorb nutrients from soil amendments. As such, microbes are an essential ingredient in any soil amendment package. A soil amendment package with every essential nutrient except for microbes is a nourishing meal withheld from a cannabis plant.

Benefits of Using a Soil Builder for Crop Yield

Soil builders have many benefits for improving crop yield. While plants naturally receive nutrients from the soil, a soil builder can turn a dead and dry garden into a vibrant oasis for your hemp and cannabis plants through microbial growth. As mentioned, the purpose of soil amendments is to improve the physical and chemical properties of the soil, thereby enhancing plant root environments.

Some properties that soil amendment can improve include:

  • Aeration
  • Acidity
  • Water retention
  • Drainage
  • Soil structure
  • Permeability

Soil amendments also provide enhanced soil carbon storage, improving soil health and increasing climate resilience. Here are some other ways soil builders can benefit your hemp and cannabis growth:

  • Turn dead dirt into living soil.
  • Hold plant nutrients until the plants are ready to consume them.
  • Boost overall crop yield and plant health.
  • Improve the ability of plants to use the soil’s resources.
  • Eliminate or reduce harmful pathogens and weeds. 
  • Add essential nutrients to the soil.
  • Prevent soil from becoming waterlogged.

What Environment Does Hemp Grow Best In?

Research suggests that hemp originate and thrive in central Asia, specifically in western China. As such, mimicking the soil conditions of those regions can help your hemp plant thrive. Some environmental aspects that hemp has shown to grow well in include:


How to Prepare Soil for Growing Hemp

Soil preparation for growing hemp starts with creating loam soil. This process begins with amending the soil with organic material. The organic material should be thoroughly mixed with the soil, not merely buried. Otherwise, the amendments will interfere with water movement, aeration and plant growth.

Remember, hemp prefer room for the roots to breathe, so you’ll want to ensure the amendments are mixed in with the soil well. Use a tiller or rotavator to mix the hemp seed with the soil.

Here are some steps to preparing your soil for growing hemp:

1. Select the Soil

To create a loam soil that serves as a viable seed bed for hemp , you’ll want to pick a starter soil rich that’s in macronutrients and slightly acidic — between 6.0 and 6.5 pH.

2. Pick Your Spot

  • Sunlight: Will the plants receive enough sunlight? Try to find a place where the plants will receive five to six hours of direct sunlight.
  • Terrain: Is the ground rough, flat or angled? Pick the flattest area you can find that shows promise for growing hemp.
  • Water access: Is the garden near an accessible water source? Ensure a water source is easily available to maintain the plants efficiently.
  • Fertility: Are other healthy plants growing in the area — even weeds? The presence of other plants indicates the soil is alive and well. Make sure those plants are absent of rot or insects.
  • Depth: Is the soil deep enough for the roots? The soil should be at least 8-12 inches deep. If it’s shallower, you’ll need to build a raised bed or terrace garden.

3. Tidy Up the Space

After deciding on an area, the next step is to tidy up the space by pulling out weeds and unnecessary plants. If you can, avoid using herbicides, as these can contaminate the soil and significantly reduce its quality. If you pull weeds out a few days after it’s rained, you should be able to pull them out by the root, preventing them from returning. Move out big stones and other objects that will interfere with plant growth.

4. Choose a Soil Amendment Package

Creating a loam soil also involves choosing a soil amendment package that’s suited well to hemp plants. Some factors to consider when choosing a soil amendment package include:

  • The length of time it takes for the amendment to decompose: A rapidly decomposing amendment is best if you’re looking for quick improvements. On the other hand, an amendment that decomposes slowly ensures long-lasting improvements. You can also buy amendment packages that combine rapid and slow decomposition ingredients.
  • The texture of the soil: Soil texture refers to how the soil feels and depends on particle size. Are the soil particles big and gritty? The texture is likely sandy with low water retention and high permeability. Do they feel sticky and small? In that case, you’re dealing with clay soil that has high water retention. In contrast, loam soils have medium permeability, water retention and particles. If your goal is loam soil, you’ll want an amendment that raises or lowers permeability and water retention, depending on the soil’s current state.
  • The salt concentration of the soil: Since hemp have high tolerances for salt content, this consideration is less critical than others. If your soil is already high in salt content, you won’t want to add a soil builder with high salt concentrations. Thus, having your soil tested for salt concentrations can help determine what kind of amendments you’ll need for your soil.
  • The amendment’s salt concentration and pH level: This factor should be considered in tandem with the previous one, as the amount of salt you’ll want in your amendment will depend on the soil’s salinity. Likewise, the pH level of your amendment will depend on the soil’s acidity. If the soil has high pH levels, you’ll want an acidic amendment to lower those to the more neutral range in which hemp and cannabis thrive, and vice versa.

Soil amendment packages also come in liquid or powder solutions. In general, powder solutions work well with large-scale growing. In contrast, liquid enzyme solutions work better for small-scale hemp and cannabis operations. Powder solutions can be mixed in easily over large quantities of soil and applied once every month or so. Liquid solutions are sprayed and work better with less soil, as they involve weekly application.

5. Work the Soil

Once you’ve decided on a soil amendment package, it’s time to work the soil to add in the amendments. Whether you’re growing hemp or cannabis in a terrace, pot or hole in the ground, you’ll want to aerate your soil.

To start the aeration process:

  1. Remove enough soil from the area, so you have room to work in it.
  2. Move the surrounding soil toward the emptied-out area, breaking up large soil chunks and removing obstructive objects as you do so.
  3. After you’ve moved the dirt around, move it to the front of the hole and add the soil you previously removed back into the hole.
  4. Flatten the soil with a rake or hoe and remove any remaining compact dirt from the surface.

After the aeration process, you can mix in the soil amendments. If you buy a soil builder from a manufacturer, the package should come with instructions for adding your soil builder into the soil.


Black Wonder 5000 Soil Builder

The Black Wonder 5000 Soil Builder package contains a potent mix of ingredients that are ideal for cannabis and hemp growth. These ingredients include:

  • Enzymes: The enzymes in this proprietary blend kick-start the soil rejuvenation process, instantly providing plants with the nutrients they need without waiting for microbial growth.
  • Microbes: Microbes are still essential for soil rejuvenation, as they ensure the soil remains fertile and loamy for many growing seasons.
  • Polymers: The polymers in the Black Wonder 5000 Soil Builder package are biodegradable sponges for fertilizer and water. This way, polymers hold nutrients in the soil until the plants are hardy enough to consume them.
  • Humic acid: Humic acid occurs naturally in soil and serves to help plant roots absorb water and nutrients more efficiently.
  • Mycorrhizae: Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi that develop organically in soil and extend the root system so plants can consume more water and nutrients. Mycorrhizal fungi also defend plants from various pathogens.
  • Lobster or crab shells: Lobster and crab shells are high in calcium, phosphorus, nitrogen and magnesium. These amendments promote the development of beneficial organisms in the soil and defend against various parasites.
  • Gypsum: Gypsum is rich in calcium and sulfur, making it an excellent amendment for ensuring the solid structural integrity of your hemp or cannabis plant. Moreover, gypsum doesn’t affect soil acidity.
  • Amino acids: The amino acids included in the Black Wonder 5000 Soil Builder will strengthen your hemp and cannabis plants’ immune systems, reducing your reliance on pesticides and fungicides.
  • Sea kelp: Sea kelp is an excellent source of potassium for your plants and directly impacts things like the sweetness, flavor and color of your plant.

To add this mix to your soil, follow these simple steps:

  1. Mix together seed, fertilizer, mulch and 24 bags of Black Wonder 5000 for every 1,000 gallons of water.
  2. Spread until the soil is dark and approximately one-half-inch thick.
  3. Cover the area you’ve seeded with straw or an erosion mat.
  4. Water the area to keep it moist.

Learn More About Black Wonder 5000 Soil Builder

Whether you’re growing industrial hemp for fibers, cannabis for cannabidiol (CBD) or another purpose, we can help you ensure your soil is healthy at Black Wonder 5000. Contact us today for more information about our Black Wonder 5000 Soil Builder!

Seeding Schedules

April 21 – August 14

  • Tall Fescue 200#/acre
  • German Millet 3#/acre as summer cover crop

NOTE: Above is out of season for cool season grasses.

Better Summer Option #2

April 21 – August 14

  • Bermuda Grass 20# acre
  • Centipede 4#/acre
  • German Millet as cover crop #3/acre

August 15 – April 20

  • Tall Fescue 150#/acre
  • Hard Fescue 50#/acre
  • Heat Tolerant Bluegrass 15#/acre
  • Rye Grain as cover crop 10#/acre

NOTE: From November 1 – March 1, add additional 25# Rye Grain as winter cover crop.

NOTE: Mountain counties change dates by 2 weeks plus or minus and include Tall Fescue year round.

Slopes, Silt Ponds, Natural Low Maintenance areas

April 21 – August 14

  • Tall Fescue 50#/acre
  • Serica Lespediza Inoculated 8#/acre
  • Bermuda 10#/acre
  • Bahia 10#/acre
  • Korean Lespediza 15#/acre
  • Weeping Love Grass 4#/acre
  • German Millet as cover crop 13#/acre

August 15 – April 20

  • Tall Fescue 100#/acre
  • Winter Peas inoculated 12#/acre
  • Serica Lespediza Inoculated 8#/acre
  • Kobe/Korean Lespediza Inoculated 13#/acre
  • Clover Inoculated 10#/acre
  • Bahia 5#/acre
  • Rye Grain 75#/acre

From November 1 – March 1: Add 50# of additional Rye Grain as winter cover crop

NOTE: Mountain counties change dates by 2 weeks plus or minus and add more tall fescue.

NOTE: Incorporating Black Wonder 5000 into soil will inoculate all legumes.

April 6 – September 6

  • Bermuda 20#/acre
  • Centipede 6#/acre
  • German Millet 3#/acre as summer cover crop

September 7 – April 5

  • Tall Fescue 150#/acre
  • Unhulled Bermuda 25#/acre
  • Centipede 8#/acre
  • Rye Grain as cover crop 15#/acre

Slopes, Silt Ponds, Natural Low Maintenance areas

April 6 – September 6

  • Centipede 3#/acre
  • Kobe/Korean Lespediza Incoulated 15#/acre
  • Bermuda 15#/acre
  • Bahia 15#/acre
  • Weeping Love Grass 5#/acre
  • German Millet 13#/acre as cover crop

September 7 – April 5

  • Tall Fescue 50#/acre
  • Winter Peas Inoculated 15#/acre
  • Red/White Clover Incoulated 10#/acre
  • Kobe/Korean Lespediza Incoulated 15#/acre
  • Centipede Grass 3#/acre
  • Bahia 15#/acre
  • Unhulled Bermuda 15#/acre
  • Rye Grain 75#/acre as cover crop

NOTE: On steep slopes add 10# Serica Lespediza to above mixes

NOTE: Incorporating Black Wonder 5000 into soil will inoculate all legumes

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