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The weed, weed.

 
Derek Lindsay
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Hello, I'm new to this community and permieculture in general. I am not even a gardener, but I have been grandfathered 9 acres of property; and I am determined to do some thing with it. My main problem at the moment is that about 7 acres of the property is completely covered in hemp. I would use seedballs and start slowly over taking the property but the canopy of the hemp is around 12 feet high. I highly doubt any thing can live under the dense foliage which is probably how the hemp managed to take over the entire area in the first place. A controlled burn is not much of an option in my circumstances because there are farm buildings and trees mixed in and near by the fields. Its very likely that if I tried a controlled burn it would take the rickety old barn and farm house in a heart beat.

My first question is, what is the best course of action to take against such an invasive plant?

My second question is, what is the soil going to look like under all this hemp?

I haven't checked the quality of soil under the vast turf of fallen hemp plants from seasons past. There is 2 acres of property that is wild buffalo grass and I did plant a garden in that area some years back. The soil seems very pleasant with sandy/loam. I didn't have much difficulty growing veggies and fruits.

I live in zone 5a southern Nebraska USA.

Nice to meet you all, and any input will be very appreciated.

Thank you
 
Jim Green
Posts: 7
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Your soil should be great! id figure out about the legality of hemp where you live and If I were you I'd go ask your local county / department of AG. For a special use permit to harvest the hemp for industrial use...rope, cloth, paper, etc.
 
Dave Turpin
Posts: 112
Location: Groton, CT
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You are certainly in a pickle there. It is not legal to grow hemp even for industrial purposes in the US, and only the DEA has the authority to issue a grow permit (which they have not done, ever)

Some states are fighting to legalize the production of hemp for industrial purposes, but Nebraska is not one of them.

What you should do really depends on how the hemp got on the property.... If someone in your family was growing it illegally you should probably destroy the evidence ASAP. If you are innocent in the whole thing and just found it that way, inform the DEA and THEY will probably destroy it for you.

It is all unfortunate, IMO. Hemp is such a useful plant, and is legal to grow for the oil and fibers in so many 1st world countries, but not ours!
 
Derek Lindsay
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Dave Turpin wrote:You are certainly in a pickle there. It is not legal to grow hemp even for industrial purposes in the US, and only the DEA has the authority to issue a grow permit (which they have not done, ever)

Some states are fighting to legalize the production of hemp for industrial purposes, but Nebraska is not one of them.

What you should do really depends on how the hemp got on the property.... If someone in your family was growing it illegally you should probably destroy the evidence ASAP. If you are innocent in the whole thing and just found it that way, inform the DEA and THEY will probably destroy it for you.

It is all unfortunate, IMO. Hemp is such a useful plant, and is legal to grow for the oil and fibers in so many 1st world countries, but not ours!


I'm aware of the legality of hemp, that's a large part of why I want to get rid of it. I did consider uses for it at first, its as viable as corn for biodiesel with a much lower need for care. In fact I don't do any thing and springs out of the ground. If only politics weren't in the way it would be a great harvest every year.

As for the illegal growing thing, it was actually a state mandate in WWII to grow hemp and donate it as supplies for the war. The stuff grows everywhere out here and its difficult to get rid of. It is currently very much illegal to cultivate it but the local law enforcement know its all wild for the most part. You can't get stoned off it, its like trying to smoke a piece of rope. If it were THC active I would forget about farming any thing else entirely and ship tons of marijuana out to Colorado my home state. Haha, of course that's tongue in cheek.

On to my actual problem that hasn't been answered. How in the world am I to get rid of it all? I have a tractor but its an old broken down T1 that would take some repairs. I don't have any attachments for it that I'm aware but there is a lot of odd things laying about the farm. Funding is a pretty big issue from me, I'm unemployed right now. I work some times for contractors doing construction but the industry isn't exactly thriving at the moment. Farmers are surprisingly doing ok despite the drought. I plan on building apiaries this winter and figure out what I can do with the land that is ready to cultivate. I spent all of today building laying boxes for chickens and bracing up the roof of an old hen house. I built the roof myself about 4 years ago but a tree fell on it and the trusses were bowing. I'm making the most of a difficult situation and I hope I can turn a small profit.

*EDIT*

They are pushing for legalization in Nebraska as well apparently. I don't stay up to date with the news as I should.

http://www.netnebraska.org/article/news/nebraskans-seek-legalize-various-uses-marijuana

Perhaps I should leave the part of the property alone and only use what I can manage right now. Who knows what might happen in politics the next few years. The real problem with hemp will be the fact that it will remain illegal on a federal level despite it being legalized state wide. They are having that problem in Colorado right now. I guess it will work like backwards prohibition most of the states will legalize it and then the fed will give up.
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Crash grazing
I assume you intend to grow other crops
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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you could ask a neigbhour to mow it
but the sseeds would really fatten stock Im sure there is a niche market for hemp fed beef , hell people eat cornfed
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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If it were a smaller area I'd say do it manually, at this scale I'd use some kind of animal. I bet some goats would work it down well. And leave little pellets all over.

I guess the main question is what do you want to do when the hemp is gone.
 
Derek Lindsay
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Jordan Lowery wrote:If it were a smaller area I'd say do it manually, at this scale I'd use some kind of animal. I bet some goats would work it down well. And leave little pellets all over.

I guess the main question is what do you want to do when the hemp is gone.


This is a good question. I honestly can't decide what to plant and I was confronting the first issue. I can plant pretty much any thing I could ever need within the two acres that are free right now. But I would like to make some cash. What is your best suggestion?

Goats would be a good idea. There have been live stock in the field before which I believe has caused the problem in the first place. The livestock ate all the grass, the hemp took root and without competing wild grass it flourished with its size and speed. I am concerned that despite being able to clear it for one year using goats or cows it will just come back the next year. Without being able to plant on time and just waiting for all the hemp to be mowed down by livestock how am I suppose to get ahead of it?

Like I said before I am not much of gardener and hardly a farmer. Maybe I am in over my head on this but it is what I have and I need to make the best of it.

Getting it to be mowed is also a great idea, although it has been done before on this land I believe. I will start contacting folks tomorrow and see what shakes loose.

Also please forgive my ignorance on such things, I came here for answers to how I can possibly cultivate some thing out of the ground and make it worth while. I really do appreciate any advice.
 
Blaine Lindsey
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I think you should get goats and have them eat it for you! i was just talking to a friend yesterday about the health benefits of raw goat milk, and how maybe it would be even more nutritious if the goats were aloud to graze on hemp or any plant with a large amount of cannabinoids! did you know there are cannabinoids in human mother's breast milk? they play a vital role in human development. maybe it would be a great addition to the health of the goats+its milk+ knocks it out of your yard
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3360
Location: woodland, washington
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I would think you could harvest that much with a scythe. I believe one experienced person could scythe a couple acres of hay in one work day, so if you put in the time, you could cut it all down. there's some retting and other steps involved to make the fibers useful, but you did mention that you are currently unencumbered by an employer, so I would guess that you've got some time on your hands. you could have all the hemp rope you could ever use. there is a certain crowd that is willing to pay an awful lot for hemp rope if it's conditioned correctly. dyeing it deep red generally helps...

or the goats plan is good if all that is more work than you're interested in.

after the plants are gone one way or another, running a lot of poultry over the area should solve the seed problem and keep it from growing back.
 
Jim Green
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I like the poultry idea, the omega3 and proteins in the hemp seeds would be perfect for free ranging poultry.

EDIT:
also the above comments about goat milk are right on, and it is stupidly simple to make goat cheese from the milk. Check the price on goat cheese next time your in the store...it may push you toward goats more than poultry, but if you have the resources, patience, and time, 9 acres is plenty to do both goats and poultry. I'd do ducks, chickens, and turkeys if I was up in Nebraska like you!
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Plant a few fast growing trees that will out shade the weeds, think polar/empress tree that grows 8ft a year.
You might be able to get them for free or less than $2 each then harvest them after 10years.
Use the harvested trees for firewood/woodchip mulch/mushroom/lumber maybe.

If you could get some animals, sheep/goat, they could also take care of the problem.
The most important thing to do is to do it 1 acre at a time, or whatever divisions that makes it manageable.
 
julian kirby
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attempt to get DEA licence before you remove it from your property? even though they will more than likely say no, try anyway. or if you have trouble ridding your property of it, it makes a great compost additive, the cannabinoids have some interesting properties while breaking down in the compost. I only say that from observing my Caregivers compost pile, it breaks down faster than any other compost pile I have ever seen, and it has only been going for 3 years.
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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If it's considered an invasive nuisance in your area, I don't think the legal ground exists to punish you for it, or at least not the inclination, considering they would have to prosecute anyone in your area with a fallow field filled with hemp. I would simply be careful not to handle the plants or their seed. Get goats and chickens grazing on it; you will have taken what you've indicated as a problem and turned it into, at least, a foodsource for yourself, and more likely an income stream.

I would suggest controlled grazing, like in east/west strips wide enough to provide light to the understory, so from the south (your specific property orientation will determine this, but this isn't likely to change) and leaving ungrazed strips of the same width. See what weeds come up in bad (hard packed, overgrazed, occasionally parched) ground in your area, make as long a list as you can of them. Find out what they are, and see if you can make a grouping of plants that can be forage for your livestock. Check out threads on growing forage or pasture on this site, and see what works in your area. Also check out seed guilds (don't know how new to permaculture you are, sorry if you've covered this).

You will want to identify the trees mixed in and see if they fit into any descriptions you can find of pasture polyculture. Honestly, I wouldn't be determined to eradicate the hemp from your property. It will be nearly impossible if the seeds have worked their way into the soil's seed bank, and if you can dismiss them as nuisance plants you're "eradicating" with controlled grazing, well, if they're all mixed in with your other forage and not a twelve-foot-tall eyesore (and if you have other tall plants, like sunflowers and jerusalem artichokes), they'll already be less of a problem.

As to seedballs, I love them for the application. Depending on if you drink tea or not, two used teabags tied around a seed apparently also works well. That, however, would be a lot of teabags.

I wish I had your land issues. Good luck, and keep us posted.

-CK
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Could you rent a side-cutting mower or brush hogger that could mow it all down? Once that's done, I'd try covering patches with black plastic to heat it up and really kill what's left. If there are trees you don't want to kill, use a scythe to cut around them so you can spot them more easily when you're mowing. Then I'd leave the hemp in place on the ground and plant potatoes or melons/cucurbits/pumpkins through them. In the fall when you collect the crop, spread around some fast-growing ground cover seeds that grow well in your area - winter rye, vetch, oats, clovers, etc. In the spring, if you've a mind to, you can till some in and plant buckwheat there, using organic fertilizer if needed for it to grow. Once that's done it should have smothered out much of the remaining hemp and weeds and possibly increased the fertililty so you can start transitioning it to pasture/garden/orchard.

That's a lot of work, tho. I'd probably either put in goats or mob graze with pigs. For using pigs to reclaim land, see http://journeytoforever.org/farm_pig.html (about halfway down). If you split the land into two pastures you could do dairy goats and feed the milk to the pigs - their growth is limited by the amino acid lysine, which the milk can supply. With that, depending on the breed, you could feed them pretty much just forage and milk and they should do quite well. If you're feeling really lucky and not in a hurry to use it yourself, you could try to find someone nearby with goats or pastured pigs and "rent" the pasture to them in return for them fencing it in. Could be a win-win. www.localharvest.org would be a good place to start looking for people with goats or pastured pigs.
 
Rob Keen
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Hi Derek,

I have read your post with glee and would seriously love to be in the position you have found yourself.

Primary mission, work with what you got. The plant is incredibly usable, building products, super highly nutritious animal feed, rope, clothing materials, medicine, high in omega 3, the uses are nearly limitless. these alone are good enough reason to not just hack them down, cannabis seeds can hibernate for 7years so you could have a lot of hacking down over the next few years.

What i personnally would do is this. Get some animals grazing in the hemp. This will slow down the seed germination and will eventually (over many years) get rid of it. At the same time giving you an instant free food source. I would also get a bio deisel conversion unit(research and make yourself), weed has high amounts of ethanol compared to other plants. This aspect will at least pay for your own fuel and depending how much you do you could have some to sell on.
One other thing i wanted to say is at the very least weed is a nitrogen fixing plant, so it deposits nice amounts of fertliser directly into your soil. You lucky boy....
Whatever you plant there after weed has been growing for a few years will rocket.....!

Happy days....


 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Do you have any evidence of cannabis fixing nitrogen? This doesn't jive with most of what I've read on the growing of both industrial hemp and the medicinal strains. I know it's a taprooted dynamic accumulator with a propensity for taking up heavy metals, but if this is true, it's news to me.

-CK
 
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