Interested in farming

industrial hemp?

British farmers are some of the most innovative in the world and many are looking at cultivating industrial hemp for the first time. To help those thinking about cultivating industrial hemp in the UK below this you will find answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive.

We often get questions such as "Is it legal grow hemp in the UK?" and "Do I need a license to grow hemp?". We have covered these questions and many more below as a way of getting you up to speed on what is required in the UK to grow industrial hemp.

General Hemp FAQs

Yes, you can so long as you are licensed by the Home Office which requires you and the land you intend to grow on to meet certain eligibility criteria. You also have to use hemp seed that is approved for cultivation.

We can aid farmers in the process of applying for an industrial hemp license from the Home Office. We navigate past the common pitfalls and mistakes made during the application phase to ensure that anyone with the right set-up can obtain their license to cultivate.

UK Hemp Ltd have been instrumental in securing industrial hemp licenses for farmers since 2017 (formerly through the Bristol Hemp Co).

In 2021 UK Hemp will be responsible for a staggering 1000 acres of hemp being grown in the UK and Ireland, contributing massively to food security, financial sustainability and the reduction of Co2.

The window for license applications at the Home Office is between January 1st and the end of March.  We like to have our license applications ready for the Home Office by the end of October, this is because we want our farmers to be assured that they can plant on the licensed area as soon as possible – there is nothing worse than having to wait another year to be able to cultivate.

Once you've got your license it's pretty simple. Seed is drilled using standard equipment, no sprays are required during the growing cycle and then the hemp is harvested using a straw walker combine harvester.

FAQs about cultivation seed

You can grow different varieties of hemp seed, but all varieties must be approved by the EU/UK

The reason for this is that this industrial hemp seed has to contain no more than 0.2% THC

UK Hemp ltd are licensed by the Secretary of State, DEFRA and APHA to market, distribute and sell cultivation seed in the UK. 

View our license here

We distribute the highest yielding varieties of industrial hemp available. We recommend Henola for the production of seed and Bialobrzeskie for the production of biomass, shiv and fibre.

View "Henola" variety fact sheet

View "Bialobrzeskie" variety fact sheet

Technical questions - Growing Hemp

The growing season is from late April until early October, depending of course on the date of drilling, environmental and atmospheric conditions.

Hemp should be drilled in late April though to mid-May dependent on ground and weather conditions. Some farmers in the northernmost regions of the UK may want to wait a little longer than those in the south.

View Agronomist sheet / Growing guidelines here

These only general guidelines and farmers can use the best establishment methods for their own soil type.

Generally, for the production of seed you would drill 35kg of cultivation seed per hectare

No pesticides or herbicides are required in the cultivation of hemp 

Technical questions - Harvesting Hemp

Depending on the variety, hemp is harvested between late August and October

Most people will use a straw walker combine-harvester to harvest the seed from their hemp crops

Hemp seed should be cleaned and dried to between 8-9% moisture immediately upon harvest. It is crucial to start getting air through the seed within a couple of hours maximum of coming off the combine. Hemp seed needs to be dried at relatively low temperatures 30-33C to avoid burning the oil in the seed. 

The dried hemp seed will be stored in half ton bags on a pallet in a cool, dry place away from any pest incursion.  

We have a moisture meter available for sale which has the dedicated settings installed for hemp.

Under the industrial hemp license granted by the Home Office you are only permitted to harvest the seed or the stalk of the hemp plant, all other parts – flowers and leaves – have to be destroyed on site. It can be left to rot in the field and cultivated in with next crop preparations. 

Is growing hemp good for the farm?

During the growing cycle of around 5 months hemp crops sequester up to 20 tonnes of Co2 per hectare. This is more than any arable or forestry crop in the same period.

Hemp is becoming more and more popular in rotation with other crops for several reasons. The roots of hemp plants plunge deep into the soil, holding soil together which in turn reduces soil erosion. This also loosens the soil allowing for more delicate plants to grow on the same site later. It can be grown as a replacement for OSR.

Can I make money from growing hemp in the UK?

While the cost of seed is relatively high, the yield, given good conditions can be up to 2 tons per Ha.  UK Hemp Ltd will pay up to £1500 per ton for top quality seed.  

We are working on a carbon credit system for growers alongside an inexpensive method for utilising the stalk. At this moment in time, we are only able to purchase hemp seed from growers.

No, the production of hemp for CBD or for the extraction of cannabinoids is illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

You can contact us for all your hemp-related enquiries by using:

+44 (0)1985 846015 | info@britishhempco.com

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