While hemp enthusiasts and cannabis advocates rejoiced with the news that industrial hemp farming has been legalized in Canada, marijuana farmers gained yet another reason to worry about their precious crops. Widespread hemp cultivation has a very real chance of ruining any marijuana being grown in the region, as the low-THC hemp pollen will seed the high-THC marijuana buds. This ruins the quality and quantity of the marijuana, and could possibly destroy the genetic heritage of Canadian pot culture.
Tons and tons of pollen
Cannabis is the most prolific pollen producer of all cultivated plants. A single male plant can produce as much as 40 grams of pollen. Commercial hemp is grown at a density of at least 60 plants per square meter, and quick calculation reveals that at least 120 metric tonnes (about 55,000 pounds) of pollen would be produced in a 10 hectare field, the smallest size permitted by Health Canada. Most farmers will be growing fields many times this size.
During hemp’s flowering period, great clouds of pollen form over the fields. According to the hemp experts, these clouds reach an altitude of 30 meters, and travel as far as 12 kilometers!
Any marijuana grower within this range would find his farm of virginal females invaded and heavily seeded by a huge cloud of pollen from the low-THC boys at the hemp farm.
Indoor operations would not be immune. All grow rooms have air intake of some kind, and microscopic pollen in the air could certainly find their way onto tender buds under sodium lights.
The areas most suitable for industrial hemp cultivation are often in regions known for their widespread outdoor marijuana fields. This collision of enterprise could be devastating to Canada’s multi-billion dollar marijuana industry, which would have reprecussions across the Canadian economy.
Long distance dads
The pollen might not be visible in cloud form after 12 kilometers, but it still continues to travel much, much further. UN researchers are known to monitor the pollen count in Italy to calculate how much pot is being grown in Morocco ? a distance of around 1500 kilometers (1000 miles), perhaps giving a more accurate figuring on the scope of the problem.
With this kind of range, hemp fields in Saskatchewan could conceivably pollinate plants in Toronto! As hemp cultivation proliferates, Canada will undoubtedly be awash with hemp pollen. This will also affect many Americans cultivators, especially those living closer to the border.
What to do?
Seed-breeders are particularly vulnerable. The grower would likely be unaware that many of his seeds had been fathered not by the high-potency male he had picked out, but rather from rogue low-THC pollen that had slipped in with the breeze. On any kind of scale, such an event could ruin both livelihood and reputation.
It is almost impossible to completely protect against this kind of intrusion Some growers might be able to rig up filters to screen out unwanted pollen, but for those without a single, easily filtered intake vent, this will simply not be practical.
While it’s probably too late and perhaps even counter-productive to start picketing the local hemp farm, there are some precautions which can be taken. Distance is your safest bet, but if you can’t get out of the danger zone then quality filters and a cautious nature are good places to start.
For those of us who grow on a smaller scale, it’s worth remembering that the seeds you pick out of your pot will soon become an even less reliable source of good genetic stock.
If you grow indoors you may be able to arrange to have only vegetating plants during late Summer, when those horny males will be pumping most out of their inferior low-THC pollen. Outdoor growers within range of a hemp field could arrange to plant with a natural pollen barrier like thick foliage or trees, but will likely just have to resign themselves to picking out seeds and cursing that darned hemp.