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Hemp has been grown in the UK for many hundreds of years prior to the ban on Cannabis in the early part of this century. It was always regarded as a hardy versatile crop. The ban on hemp was lifted in 1993 when Hemcore Ltd were granted the first license for trial plots. There are now approximately 80 hemp farms growing a total of 2,500 hectares in the UK.
Licenses are issued from the Home Office for approved hemp varieties and end-uses. Hemp is not a difficult crop to grow but difficulties do occur during harvest due to the strength of its fibre. Currently an EC subsidy is available for recognised varieties.
This page is following the progress of two fields of British hemp throughout the growing season. Please add to your bookmarks so you can follow the progress!

This is a French fibre variety commonly grown in the UK. This variety has recently been harvested. Click on the pictures for a larger view.
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Week 13 Harvesting Harvesting Harvesting

This is a strain from Finland which is being trialled for its suitability for the UK climate. Click on the pictures for a larger view.
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Hemp is a true break crop that requires little input and no upkeep between drilling and harvest. The following outlines the basic technique which can be used for hemp cultivation:

Seedbed

Needs to be a fine tilth similar to a cereal seedbed, it also needs to be free from weeds. A stale seedbed made in March and cleaned before drilling in late April/early May is essential. Fertiliser needs to be worked into the seedbed (preferably organic).

Drilling

Hempseed can be drilled or broadcast. If it is to be drilled a conventional 4 inch cereal drill is used. The seed must be drilled into moisture up to a depth of two inches and the field should be rolled following drilling.

Harvesting

This would normally be in early September. Three processes are required: cutting, turning & baling. The crop is cut with a mower or swather (disc mower / drum mower would be fine) leaving a 6-8 inch stubble. Turning is done with a single-wheel rotary rake about two weeks after cutting when sufficiently retted (rotted). It is then turned again in front of the baler and made into round bales. Typically it takes one month from cutting to baling.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS ILLEGAL TO GROW HEMP IN THE UK WITHOUT A LICENSE FROM THE HOME OFFICE



History of Hemp

 
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