At the state level, California state laws have provisions for the cultivation of cannabis or hemp. However, the majority of the counties in California have not started collecting applications from farmers. Such counties include Mendocino, Yolo, Colusa, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, among others. As such, California is lagging behind other hemp producing states when it comes to the cultivation of hemp in terms of volume, however the quality of the hemp being produced is second to none.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), twenty-three (23) out of the fifty-eight (58) counties accept and approve applications for hemp cultivation. Out of the twenty-three (23), some counties support the cultivation of hemp only if the hemp is for research studies, while others (about seven) restrict hemp cultivation to certain time periods. (They can choose to extend the period if the board of supervisors of these counties decides to extend it.) 

The good news, however, is that some of the counties are reviewing their stance and giving room for hemp farmers looking to grow the crop to move into it. These counties include Sonoma, Humboldt, Shasta and San Luis Obispo county. We shall highlight a few of the counties that accept application for hemp cultivation:

  • Kern County: Kern is the leading hemp producing county in California, due to its accommodative regulations on hemp production. Kern has fewer restrictions on the requirement for hemp cultivation, sound farming practices, and enough land, making it attractive to intending hemp farmers. The last report on hemp production revealed that over 33 registered entities had indicated their interests to produce hemp in Kern. Companies such as Freedom and CA Hempire Farms, have commenced the cultivation of hemp. However, there are still a few challenges about the means of harvest. Hemp farms do not entirely understand the types of tools that they should use in the harvest process. Another problem is that hemp farmers are not sure of the chemical composition of tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH) in the cultivated hemp plant is not more than 0.3%—one of the important requirements for hemp cultivation. If you intend to set up a hemp farm without facing too many barriers, you should consider choosing Kern county. There are no restrictions regarding the size of the farm or the purpose of the hemp cultivation.
  • Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh accepts applications from hemp farmers for hemp cultivation, but unlike Kern county, is not as accommodating when it comes to the regulation requirement for its cultivation. Pittsburgh only permits the cultivation of hemp plants with low THC content, and maintain stringent control measures to ensure that all hemp farmers comply with the guidelines
  • Humboldt: If you want to reap the benefit of starting a hemp farm in a less competitive region? Humboldt is the right region for your farm location. The council of the county stopped the cultivation of hemp for the last two years, and the moratorium period will be over in March 2020, creating a less competitive environment for proactive investors. Humboldt is one of the counties that make up the Emerald Triangle—the largest cannabis-producing region in the United States. As such, the area presents a large market for cannabis, thereby making it a good site for hemp farms. 

Hemp Cultivation in California


Aside from the counties mentioned above, there are other counties across California where you can grow your hemp in commercial quantity. When growing hemp, it is essential to note some climatic conditions that support hemp growth. 

Hemp plants prefer a relatively deep and well-aerated soil with a pH of 6 or higher. There should be a fine and firm seedbed for farm and uniform germination of the hemp seeds, and soil should be rich in right soil nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, phosphate, among others.

For best climatic conditions for the hemp cultivation, experts encourage that you should plant the hemp about two weeks before corn. The reason is that the soil conditions are mostly optimal during this period. Soil temperature should be between 6 to 7 degrees Celsius while temperature should be warm and moist. Rainfall should also be between 25 to 30 inches a year, coupled with a humid atmosphere and mild climate.           

So while California might be slightly behind the curve when it comes to volume, and a little bit slow  to embrace the loosening of regulations, it is seen to have a bright future and with its favorable climate is sure to continue producing some of the finest hemp available anywhere in the world.

Anthony Tribunella

Having experienced the benefits of CBD first hand when it was starting to gain popularity, Anthony decided to spend his working life championing it to the public and his peers in the wider CBD community. As a CBD innovator himself, Anthony likes to remain at the leading edge of scientific and product development to ensure that the potential of CBD has every chance of being fully realized.

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