Irrigation for Hemp Flower

Fletcher Farms

What kind of irrigation is best for your outdoor hemp grow?

Growing hemp flower outdoor is tricky enough but dialing in your irrigation can be even harder. When growing hemp outdoor the number one type of irrigation is drip. Drip irrigation is nice in the way that you can regulate the exact amount of water your hemp plant’s needs and helps with applying the right amount of fertilizer when it’s time to fertilize.

Other types of irrigation for growing hemp are flood irrigation. This method is usually used in the western states but does have some draw backs.

Flooding your field takes a lot of water to saturate your furrows on hot days. If you are using direct seeds its even harder to keep the seed wet enough to germinate at a high rate. Trying to fertilize your hemp plants using this method is another drawback that is not very efficient.

Here at Fletcher Farms, we really like irrigating our hemp flower with our center pivot. Using a center pivot is one of the most efficient ways to water crops because they apply water uniformly. The sprinkler heads on our pivot apply water droplets that look just like a rain drop, if you walk under one you will get very wet very quickly.

Using the Center Pivot for irrigating your hemp field

The center pivot is another irrigation system that is used more often out west where you have more of an arid climate. Some areas of the country that have cool wet climates, can experience setbacks from mold related problems. On our farm where we grow our Oregon hemp flower, we usually have a nice breeze that not only helps the hemp stalks stay strong. It also helps in keeping the hemp plants dry when they get wet.

One of my favorite things about using a center pivot, is the ability to foliar feed our hemp flower, and at the same time feed the ground around the plants. The way we do that is we have a fertilizer tank that is hooked up to the irrigation pump. When we start the water through the pivot, the irrigation water mixes with our fertilizer teas and sends it all out to the main irrigation line then goes out to the sprinkler heads.

Deciding what the right amount of water is to give your hemp plants all depends on what type of soil you have when you are growing hemp outdoors in the ground. Understanding what kind of soil you have is important, because clay soil will hold water longer than sandy soils and we all know hemp does not like wet feet. Here on our hemp farm we use a few methods to help us determine how much water to apply. One of my favorite tools is a moisture meter, using a good quality moisture meter really helps us to establish a visual eye on how our plants look when compared to what the meter says.

From the first day we put seed to soil, we walk our fields every morning with one thing in and that is what is our soil moisture at. The second thing we look for once our plants are starting to pop out of the ground is what do the plants look like, are they stressed, what color are they. Looking at how our plants look and knowing our soil we can now with confidence apply water depending on the visual of the plant. A couple things we look for on our hemp plants is color. Color can tell you a lot about how much water your hemp plants are getting. In my experience growing crops such as alfalfa, pasture grasses and including hemp, a dark green color indicates just the right amount of water in the plant. Light green color can be too wet in my experience and in a lot of highly successful commercial farmers eyes also. I find in my journey of farming that everybody has an idea on what works best for them. I have talked to numerous farmers over the years that live by the rule that “wetter is better” and that this is the way I have grown crops for years” and “it works for me so be it “. This is all fine because we all have our way of doing things. All I am trying to say here is darker green colored hemp plants will produce a bigger yield at harvest.

How much water should I give my outdoor hemp plants?

I am sure by now you have noticed I haven’t told you an amount of water to apply in inches or gallons yet, and that’s because there is no exact amount, it all depends on your soil. As a rule, you want your soil to be moist not wet for new seedling or direct seed at first planting. Then once your hemp plants get to a height of about 6 to 8 inches and established, you can let the soil become some what dryer but not totally dry or the point there is no moisture at all in the soil. This would be a good time to use your soil moisture meter, again depending on your soil you want to try and stay around 60% moisture on your meter and nothing less for too long. You can stay at this level of around 60% for a few days depending on weather and heat. This whole time you are watching your hemp plants behavior, do they look stressed, what color are they?

Just taking a step back we got to this point of moisture after we water our plants to a point of good moisture for a few days and now we are going into the drying out phase. Drying out never means dry soil, it means moisture around 60%. If you noticed when your plants had good moisture they had a light green look and now that you are cutting back on water you will notice they are changing from light green to a darker green and this is the color you want to be at for most of the grow season. With that said the color of your plants will fluctuate throughout the season depending on the amount of water you apply. When I know we have a hot spell coming I will keep the soil good and moist and at the tail end of the hot spell I will start my drying out phase accordingly. Our soil is clay dominant so it can take a few days for the soil to reach 60% at which time we add water to good moisture and start the process over again.

At any time, you notice your plants stressing take immediate action to remedy the problems. If it’s a water problem its easy to fix just add water or back off the water, let your plant settle into the adjustment for a day or so and revaluate. If it was a water problem after your water adjustment your plants will look upright and glowing.

If you’re wondering why your hemp plants, should be a dark color vs light green, is because when they are in the dark color state, all of the plants energy is going into producing big healthy hemp flower and not so much on growing leaves and stems, at the same time bigger hemp flower means more CBD oil, or if you are growing for a hemp pre rolls and smokable flower it all will taste and smell so much better.

Here at Fletcher Farms, for us it starts with the soil and then the water. Once you can dial both in, adding fertilizers and compost teas for your plants make for a much happier Farmer and hemp plant.