Cultivating Hemp? Everything you need to know
It is important to choose the most adequate variety with respect to the objectives one desires to achieve.
In Europe, we are witnessing an ever increasing investment in Hemp cultures. Companies and farmers decide to convert and invest with their fields in the ‘Green culture’.
What do you need to know to set up a Hemp cultivation in Italy?
If you decide to launch yourself into the cannabis business, in the first place it is necessary to know that it is possible to cultivate only seeds included in the Common Catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species, Directive 2020/53 of the European Union.
In Italy the cultivation of Hemp is regulated by Law no. 242, 2016, which contains the Provisions for the promotion of the cultivation and of the agro-industrial supply chain of Hemp
Any agriculturist must, therefore, limit him/herself to the cultivation of the 64 varieties registered in Brussels, , while seeds produced autonomously from certified seeds, purchased in the preceding season, can not be utilized.
At the same time, it is important to keep the tags of the seeds purchased, as well as the invoices. This documentation is very important and has to be exhibited in case of field control by the Carabinieri (Italian military police).
In this regard, the Law provisions do not consider informing the local Carabinieri about the cultivation mandatory any more, before starting it up. However, many individuals continue to communicate with the law enforcement officers before starting the cultivations, in order to have no worries during the agricultural season.
Which variety to cultivate?
It is important to choose the most adequate variety with respect to the objectives one desires to achieve. If you’ve got the intention to cultivate cannabis to obtain fibres, for example, you will opt for a variety which will be different from the one selected by those who intend to enter into the food market or into the market of cannabis extractions for green building.
If you do not have a clear idea of which type of cultivation to start up, we recommend to interface with the agricultural organisations present on the territory, able to best support you with regard to the first steps to take. Sharing perspectives, for example, with farmers who already have experience in the Hemp sector, will certainly help you to have clear ideas on how to operate.
The selection of the farmland
The land is a core element for a successful outcome of the crop. It isn’t just the place in which the plants grow, but it is an active element of the season, where the larger part of your time is spent.
It is important to know the history of the land, how it has been processed in the previous years and whether it has certifications, such as the one confirming its ‘organic’ status.
Usually in the month of November one begins to prepare the field on which one intends to work the following season.
Ploughing and milling are common activities for all agriculturists in order to prepare the seedbed in the best of ways.
The seeds, instead, are sown around the end of April. However, climate chances, which pushed the winter season ahead in the past few years, in some cases up until late April, has meant that many farmers postponed sowing to a later date.
It is just as important as well to analyse the land before processing it, in order to ensure that it is free from pesticides and heavy metals. This is an aspect we will further explore in the next upcoming articles. Also, assessing whether there is a watercourse and, if this is not the case, how to get one there.
At the beginning of our article, we made the premise that the selection of the variety we are going to cultivate will change according to our agricultural project.
Equally, the field will be prepared on the basis of our final objective; if we intend to cultivate Hemp to allocate it in the textile industry, the preparation will be very different from the one for Hemp with the food market as a final destination.
Unexpected events, what can happen during the summer season?
If, in a control, the presence of THC shows to have risen above 0.2%, the judicial authorities, after having carried out analyses, can authorise the confiscation or the destruction of the field without any liability whatsoever to the farmer.
In Italy, the situation has some legislative gaps; last February, the Cassation stated, with regard to a case, that the ‘doping effect’ parts from 0.4%.
The analyses are carried out after samples are taken in the field in presence of the farmer, to whom the same samples are handed out for counter-analyses.
Treatment of the plants
Hemp plants do not need particular treatments; in recent years, however, it is possible to find quality products on the market that can support our field, in case of critical situations. Another argument we will further explore in the upcoming articles of our Blog.
In Italy the Committee for Agriculture of the Chamber of Deputies, approved a unified resolution, in November last year, related to the issues connected to the agricultural use of products derived from cannabis sativa, concerning which various legal uncertainties presented themselves, as mentioned earlier.
The resolution outlines how the cultivation of Hemp, after decades of abandonment, has recorded an exponential increase in Italy: in the past three years the cultivated area passed from 950 to 3 000 hectares.
The resolution adopted by the Committee for Agriculture of Montecitorio requires that the aspects related to the ‘dried, chopped or pelletized biomass, composed of the entire hemp plant or of parts of it’ are clarified, as well as the definition of the maximum residue levels of THC admitted in foods, as provided by law no.242/2016.
It is requested to determine specific customs codes for each macro-category of products deriving from hemp; to consider the possibility to support the proposal at Community level, to raise the limit of THC contents in hemp cultivations from 0.2% to 0.3%, “also in order to allow the processing of a significantly higher number of varieties”.
In conclusion, it is requested to proceed urgently with the issuance of the ministerial decree about the implementation of the legislative decree (no. 75, 2018) regarding the list of medicinal plants.