WAt ALPINOLS we have 25 years of experience in organic soil management and 15 years of experience in growing hemp. On this page we want to explain to you what exactly hemp (cannabis) is and how a hemp plant grows.
Table of content
1 What is hemp (cannabis)?
2 How is hemp grown?
2.1 How is our hemp grown?
2.2 Growing hemp outdoors and in a greenhouse
2.3 Outdoor hemp plants are harvested in autumn
3 What is organic hemp cultivation?
3.1 What does hemp cultivation mean?
4 Is it legal to grow hemp?
5.1 Hemp cultivation is controlled by the BLE in Germany
6 Hemp cultivation at ALPINOLS
Hemp or cannabis belongs to the hemp family. In total, there are two types of hemp: Hemp (Cannabis sativa) and Indian hemp (Cannabis indica). Hemp has been cultivated and used by humans for thousands of years. Hemp is the oldest useful plant.
Typical applications are the production of ropes and clothing from hemp fibres. Oil is extracted from hemp seeds. But the intoxicating effect of THC also makes cannabis popular. In today's medicine, the many ingredients of the plant ((cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids) are playing an increasingly important role.
A typical other famous hemp plant besides cannabis is hops.
(Photo: Flower of a hemp plant)
Not only for agriculture is hemp a great possibility, but also for the cosmetics, food industry and wellness sector hemp can be very useful, as one can use many plant components. However, legal hemp cultivation is a rocky road with strict requirements, applications and controls.
So there are a few hurdles to overcome if a farmer decides to give hemp cultivation a chance. It is not only important to take into account that there are different varieties of commercial hemp, but also that the hemp plant receives the necessary care so that it can develop its valuable components.
How is our hemp grown?
At the beginning, of course, there is the seed. It is important to determine what the hemp will be grown for: Harvesting seeds, fibres, food or for example to produceCBD oil. Depending on this, the commercial hemp variety is selected and the time at which the seed is sown. The cuttings are then planted in the field in spring. Hemp is sensitive to frost. The time of planting should therefore not be earlier than April or May, so that the temperatures do not drop below 0°C if possible.
We grow our hemp outdoors and in a greenhouse. Another cultivation method is indoor, which we do not use. The difference between these cultivation methods and indoor cultivation is that both greenhouse and outdoor are very natural cultivation methods. In the greenhouse, the plants are planted in the field, but they are surrounded by a protective roof. This way, they are protected and can draw all the good nutrients from the soil.
The soil in which the hemp plant is grown must be kept free of weeds. This is done by hoeing or by covering the plants with a foil. In addition, hemp takes very deep roots. The hemp plant can thus fetch enough water from deeper soil layers even in dry conditions. However, it can also absorb harmful substances in the soil if the soil has not been cultivated organically for long enough.
In nature, the hemp plant forms its inflorescences after the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year (usually 20 June to 22 June). In the greenhouse can be helped a little by the change of darkening and light. This makes it possible to harvest several times a year.
(Photo: Cannabis plants on protected soil)
Harvesting then takes place in autumn when the flowers are ripe or when the time has been simulated in the greenhouse. The flowers and leaves are then separated from the stem for harvesting. For our CBD oil, only the trim is used, i.e. the fine leaf edge around the flowers. In order to harvest this as gently as possible, our hemp is harvested by hand.
The trim is then processed and goes into an oven where the finely chopped leaves are dried at over 200 degrees. In this way, the cannabinoid CBD, which is still present in the plant as CBDA, can be converted to CBD . This process is called decarboxylation.
Hemp is a deep rooter. The roots grow very deep into the soil. The hemp plant can thus fetch enough water from deeper soil layers even during drought. However, it can also absorb harmful substances in the soil if the soil has not been cultivated organically for long enough.
(Photo: Our hemp plants in Switzerland on certified organic soils)
At ALPINOLS, we grow our hemp sustainably according to the Bio Suisse guidelines. Bio Suisse is the leading organisation in Switzerland that awards organic certificates. The umbrella organisation was founded back in 1981 and awards a so-called "Knospe" to member farms. The Knospe stands for a holistic approach, which means that the entire farm and the entire production must be organic.
Biodiversity, no pesticides or artificial fertilisers
Biodiversity is also an important point. Plants and animals should be able to retain their diverse habitats. Of course, Bio Suisse also makes sure that no synthetic chemical pesticides or artificial fertilisers are used. The soil and the earth in which the hemp plants are grown should be as natural as possible. The hemp plants must be able to take root in the grown soil in order to be cultivated according to Bio-Suisse guidelines. This means that growing hemp in pots or indoors is not considered "organic".
No artificial substrate
In addition, no artificial substrate may be used to root the cuttings. This means: The hemp cuttings spend their first days in a pressed ball of earth on a table. And the time at which the hemp plants are allowed in the soil or in the greenhouse is also fixed. The cuttings are not allowed out of their pots until March, when temperatures are above 5°C.
Natural fertilisers and harvesting in autumn
Organic hemp is therefore only cultivated between March and October. Bio Suisse also prescribes as fertiliser substances that occur naturally. These organic fertilisers are, for example, compost, manure, rock or feather meal. If pests want to make themselves at home in the hemp field, organic hemp cultivation does not use synthetic chemicals. Instead, the natural defences of the hemp plants are promoted. A healthy soil and the right care can work wonders.
(Photo: Hemp harvesting by hand at ALPINOLS)
Hemp seeds, hemp oil, CBD oil: Hemp products and CBD are becoming increasingly popular. But is hemp cultivation legal? One of the conditions for legal hemp cultivation is that the hemp variety must come from the EU's useful hemp variety catalogue. This catalogue lists all varieties of hemp that are certified by the EU and whose cultivation is permitted in the EU for commercial purposes.
Currently, more than 70 varieties are listed. The catalogue is always updated on 15 March of the current year and can be extended. If a hemp variety exceeds the permissible THC value two years in a row, it is also possible that it will be removed from the EU catalogue of commercial hemp varieties and may not be legally cultivated.
Not everyone is allowed to grow hemp. Only farmers who officially act as such have the possibility to grow hemp. The farmer who decides to legally cultivate hemp must use special seeds, which he must submit to the competent state authority. In Germany, hemp varieties approved for cultivation must have a THC content of less than 0.2%. This establishes that the hemp varieties are not suitable for the production of illegal cannabis. It is thus further ensured that the psychoactive THC is not contained in the plant in excessive amounts.
If scientific institutes wish to cultivate hemp for research purposes, they must first apply to the Federal Opium Agency, even though the THC content of the specified commercial hemp varieties is below 0.2%. In this way, hemp cultivation can be better controlled and regulated.
Hemp cultivation in Germany is controlled by the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE). There you can also find, for example, the EU useful hemp variety catalogue with all approved varieties for hemp cultivation. If a farmer decides to cultivate hemp, he must register this with the BLE by 1 July of the year of cultivation at the latest. In doing so, he must state which hemp variety he is using and have it approved. Extensive documentation is also necessary.
As soon as the hemp seedlings enter the flowering phase, this must also be reported to the authorities. To ensure that the hemp does not exceed the THC limit, samples are taken in the field. If the THC content then does not exceed the limit, harvesting is allowed.
In Switzerland, hemp is no longer subject to agricultural seed legislation. This makes it possible that seeds and seedlings of CBD hemp varieties can be produced and sold. In addition, a THC limit of less than 1% applies to commercial hemp in Switzerland. The cultivation of cannabis that exceeds the THC limit is still not allowed.
Our hemp is grown in Switzerland and spread over a greenhouse and various outdoor fields. With more than 15 years of experience in cannabis cultivation and over 25 years in organic farming, we have learned that plants are very similar to humans.
The more care and love they get, the better they grow. That is why we harvest every leaf for our CBD oils by hand, do not use any foreign substances and analyse our products in-house as well as with an independent laboratory - this is how we guarantee consistency, transparency and the highest quality.
At ALPINOLS, we offer high-quality CBD products that comply with the THC limit. With us, hemp cultivation is kept as transparent as possible. However, foods and food supplements that are enriched with CBD fall under the Novel Food Regulation in the EU. They can only be placed on the market with a successful Novel Food registration. Our CBD oils are cosmetics, which are declared accordingly.