Yes, we are here!

In times like these our hobbies become lifesavers. At GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE and FARM COLLECTOR, we have been tracking down the most interesting and rare vintage farm machines and collections for more than 80 years combined! That includes researching and sourcing the best books on collectibles available anywhere. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-866-624-9388 or by email. Stay safe!

Growing Like a Weed

| November 2004

  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-1.jpg
    International Harvester hemp cutter in the teens
  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-2.jpg
    McCormick-Deering Hemp Catherer-Bundler
  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-4.jpg
    Stockpiles of bundled hemp stalks
  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-3.jpg
    Hemp-turning machine

  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-1.jpg
  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-2.jpg
  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-4.jpg
  • FC_V7_I4_Nov_2004_06-3.jpg

From seed to plant

Hemp was best cultivated on ground that was suitable for corn in a manner similar to small grains, according to a 1919 report from International Harvester's North Dakota research farm near Grand Forks. Farmers who planted hemp at a rate of three pecks of seed per acre noted that the stand choked out persistent weeds. Agronomists concluded that even if there was no value to the fiber or seed, hemp could effectively be grown in rotation for weed control alone.

Colonial hemp cultivators used rudimentary soil preparation hand tools such as digging sticks, hoes, rakes and spades to loosen the soil. Hemp seed was hand-broadcast, sometimes followed by a light raking. The persistence and scope of ditch weed throughout the U.S. attest to hemp's ability to take care of itself.

Hemp growers took full advantage of improved cultivation practices. Horse-drawn plows, harrows, cultivators and even cultipackers all played a role in hemp production, as with small grains in particular. Planting with horse- or tractor-drawn seed drills later improved stand uniformity, density and contributed greatly to seed economy.

'We drilled hemp with about 6-inch spacing in the late 1930s for a good stand,' Junior Prange explains. 'You got the best fiber on good ground, with close spacing.' Junior recalls that by then the recommended sowing rate was a bushel and a peck of seed per acre.

Cutting the crop

'Hemp is ready to cut at about 100 days depending on conditions,' Junior says. 'We planted small grain around the hemp so that we could get into the field with the reaper without knocking down any (hemp) stalks.'

Early hemp harvesting methods included cutting the plants with sickles and later hemp knives - backbreaking work often carried out by slaves, sharecroppers or migrant laborers. The hemp knife, longer-handled than the sickle, looked something like a modern corn knife. In some instances, the plants were uprooted rather than cut, but in either case, they were then laid on the ground in thin layers to allow exposure to dew and rain, partially rotting the stems in a process called 'retting.'


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube


click me