Soil Testing For Industrial Hemp: Why Do It?

November 11, 2020
Category: Growing Tips

Growers generally agree that before planting, it is important to conduct soil testing for industrial hemp. In this short article, you’ll learn:

  • why it’s important to test your soil prior to planting
  • what’s the best soil for growing hemp
  • how to test the soil

Why Test Your Soil Before Planting Industrial Hemp?

Testing your soil will give you detailed insight into your fields prior to planting. Without testing, you’ll be proceeding blindly and may end up with low-quality plants, low CBD content, or contaminated crops. All these problems can be addressed before planting by simply testing and preparing the soil. 

The results of your soil test will show you:

  • which nutrients are present in your field in proper quantities
  • which nutrients will need to be added with fertilizer or amendments
  • which nutrients are overabundant and may need balancing
  • the pH of your soil
  • if any heavy metals, chemicals, or other contaminants are present in your soil

The nutrient balance in the soil significantly impacts your plants’ health and how much CBD they’ll produce. Additionally, hemp is bioaccumulative, which means it will easily absorb contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides from the soil. While this property of hemp makes it a wonderful crop for cleaning up damaged soil, it will render valuable CBD crops grown in damaged soil unusable. 

The Best Soil For Growing Hemp

Industrial hemp is still a new industry that requires careful, attentive experimentation. Finding the best soil for growing your crops will take some carefully monitored trial and error; one of the best ways to track soil nutrition’s impact on plant health is by soil testing so that you know what nutrients are in your soil. 

The basic nutrients that are particularly important when it comes to growing hemp are Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Boron, Potassium, Sulfur, Magnesium, Calcium, a fertilizer rich in organic matter, and some other micronutrients. A well-balanced soil will include each of these in just the right quantity for industrial hemp.

Hemp grows best in well-drained, aerated soil. However, any soil that’s properly irrigated and fertilized can support hemp crops. You’ll want to maintain a pH of 6.0-7.5 throughout hemp’s growing season. An initial soil test will give you an idea of how to improve your soil for the most successful hemp crop. 

You’ll want to prepare to irrigate and fertilize your soil throughout the growing season to provide the necessary nutrients at each step of the hemp growing process. This will greatly impact the health of your plants and CBD levels. Read more about flushing your industrial hemp crops here.

How To Test Your Soil

The soil testing process is fairly straightforward. Several months before planting, take ten cores of soil to make one composite sample; complete this process for every five acres, so that each five-acre area has a ten-core composite soil sample. 

Take samples at a depth of 6 inches, or as deep as your soil is tilled, using a soil probe. Be sure to keep soil samples well tracked and marked, so you know which field or portion of the field each composite sample represents and can apply the soil analysis accordingly. 

You can typically find a local soil testing company to process your samples by doing an internet search. You can find some mid-western labs listed here. If you provide your soil analysis to your state’s Department of Agriculture and tell them what you’re intending to grow, they can often provide basic information on what to add to your soil. 

You may also consider hiring an agronomist to help you choose the most helpful test and the best fertilizer and amendments for your particular soil and crop. 

You can learn even more about growing Cannabis for CBD production on our blog and purchase several varieties of hemp clones here.