We sat down with Mettrum Originals'™ president, Greg Herriott to get a better idea of how our hemp is grown.
How many seeds are planted yearly?
While our production forecasts are typically related to acres planted, of which we will plant 1500 for 2016, there are between 300,000 and 400,000 plants per acre. This amounts to approximately one-half billion plants this season!
Do you use pesticides on the hemp crop?
Absolutely not! Hemp literally “grows like a weed.” In almost every set of conditions, hemp will out-compete any other plant near-by. This means we do not need to apply herbicides. Plus, there are no known insects which do any amount of crop damage. So here too, we have no need for applying insecticides. The growth cycle is natural and chemical free.
Personally, what is your favourite part of planting day?
My favourite moment is when the seeds are loaded into the seed drill. This is when you can give thanks and praise and wish for an abundant harvest. It’s like a moment of positive omen just before the seeds are sown into the soil.
We hear a lot of people saying hemp could save the world, why is that?
While this is a colossal statement, with the massive abundance and diversity of products hemp can serve to produce, as well as its positive environmental impacts, the world and all its inhabitants would be very well served with on-going increases in hemp production. For instance, hemp can go a long, long way in feeding people and animals with highly nourishing foods. Studies also indicate that one acre of hemp, grown and harvested in 100 to 120 days can yield 4 times the useable fibre from its stems than wood, lwhich takes approximately 8 years to grow and harvest. Hemp fibre is nature’s strongest. It’s uses are many: from paper and textiles production, to its fascinating strong and light-weight fossilization when mixed with lime and cement to form “hempcrete.” Hemp oil is easily converted to bio-diesel reducing the world's reliance on fossil fuel sources. We’ve been making hemp bio-diesel over the past several years and often power our farm operations with this carbon-neutral and renewable fuel source. Hemp oil was the “drying oil” of choice by the paint and coatings industry pre-prohibition in the 1930’s. Our HempWood finishing oil is an amazing product, with no harmful off-gases and it’s food safe. I can go on and on with examples…
How long does it take for hemp to grow?
From planting to harvest, the cycle is anywhere between 100 and 120 days, depending on weather conditions throughout the growing season.
What is the most important component in planting?
There isn’t really a single most important component. However, there are key aspects from field preparation to our variety selection. We have excellent Ontario-specific varieties of hemp which perform extremely well in the province.
Timing is key. We need to be patient and allow the average soil temperature to rise. This ensures quick germination and emergence so the hemp can out-compete weeds.
When does field preparation start?
Field preparation happens continually. Post-harvest in the fall sees any remaining stem stubble rolled flat or cultivated into the soil so it decomposes through the fall, winter and spring. This helps build organic material in the top soil. Late spring, when the average soil temperature is higher, our fields are cultivated to create a firm and fine soil texture. This ensures optimum contact between soil and seed when planting. Optimum soil contact allows the seeds to quickly root when germination occurs. This quick germination and emergence allows the hemp to out-compete weeds, naturally, without herbicides.
Can we visit the farm?
Absolutely! Come one, come all. The reaction / interaction between hemp and humans is extremely positive and very interesting, as we’ve observed over the past 2 decades of growing this amazing crop.
Until next time...