Pubdate: October, 1892
Source: American Agriculturist for the Farm, Garden & Household
"Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment of man." - Washington
Volume XLI. - No. 10. - New Series - No. 429.
Page: 412

Fig. 1. - Hemp - Female and Male Plants.
Fig. 2 - Flowers of Hemp - Male and Female.


Hemp and Hemp-Seed.

Numerous inquiries indicate a renewed interest in Hemp Culture, though a share of these have in view the production of the seed rather than the fibre. The method of cultivation is quite different. To produce the finest fibre, the plants need to stand closely and bear but few and small branches; in raising seed, the plants must have room to develop and to produce numerous strong branches.

Hemp is affected by soil and climate to a remarkable degree. It requires in all cases a strong soil, and if allowed to ripen its seeds is an exhausting crop. It does not do so well on new land; hence other crops are raised for a few years before growing hemp upon it. In this country the plant grows about 8 feet high, but in southern Europe it grows to 15 and even 20 feet. The most singular effect of climate upon the plant is seen when it is cultivated in India. There the plant produces a resinous matter which exudes upon the surface of the stems and leaves. This has powerful intoxicating qualities, and is the active principle of the hashish, used in the East to bring on a state of unconsciousness, accompanied by blissful dreams. The Indian Hemp was for a long time supposed to be a distinct species, but it is in no other respect different from the common plant, when sown in a northern climate, produce only ordinary hemp, without any of these marked properties.

When cultivated for the fibre, the seed is often sown broadcast; but it is better to sow in drills, as the plants can be cultivated while young. They soon become large enough to keep down all weeds. From four to six pecks of seed to the acre is the usual quantity; but sometimes, when a fibre of unusual fineness is desired, two bushels are sown.

In raising Hemp-seed, the land is well manured, and the seed planted in hills three and a half feet apart each way, sowing a dozen or more seeds to the hill. The crop is cultivated with plow and hoes, the same as corn. At the first hoeing the number of plants is reduced to six in each hill, and at the last working, when the plants are about 18 inches high, they are thinned again, leaving only three in the hill. The hemp has staminate and pistillate, or male and female flowers, in different plants. One staminate plant, or "blossom plant," as the planters term it, produces sufficient pollen to fertilize several pistillate or "seed plants." As there is an excess of these, a share is pulled as soon as they can be distinguished. The difference in appearance between the two sexes is seen in figure 1. The pistillate flowers are in dense leafy clusters, while the staminate are in open panicles. These are more distinctly shown in figure 2. The usual method is to cut out all the staminate plants save one in every other hill in each alternate row. After those allowed to remain have shed their pollen, which may be known by their ceasing to yield a dust when shaken, they are to be pulled. When a share of the seeds are ripe, the plants may be cut or pulled, tied in convenient bundles, and placed in stooks until all are ripe, when they are threshed out with a flail. It is best to use a barn-sheet or other cloth upon which to lay the bundles while threshing. Hemp-seed contains about one-fifth of its weight of oil; the chief consumption of the seed, aside from that used for planting, is as a food for cage birds.