Story by Ed Saukkooja
Like any new industry, the hemp industries will need large sums of investment capital for brick and mortar facilities and equipment. Everything from cooperatives with shareholder owned harvesting equipment and processing facilities to privately owned facilities will be encouraged and welcomed.
he laws in many states have been or are being worked out to allow research of this most valuable crop and it’s many uses. Federally the farm bill passed in 2014 allowing research in States that have made the distinction between industrial hemp and cannabis used recreationally or medically. Colorado, Kentucky, and others will be expanding acreage cultivated this year.
The University of Kentucky has been doing research on compressed hemp stalk British Thermal Unit (BTU) content. Surprisingly compressed hemp stalk has nearly the BTU content of coal. And the possibility of augmenting hemp with coal in power generating plants will provide a cleaner source of power than coal as the only feedstock.
On a small scale, for a modest investment, a farmer could convert stalk into pellets for home use in traditional pellet stoves. By decorticating the stalk (the act of separating fibers) having long bast fibers for cordage, textiles, composites and the short inner woody fibers known as hurd for a building material called HEMPCRETE. The hurd is also very absorbent and is an excellent bedding material for livestock. Options for uses are endless.
Farmers need markets and farmers need to know what markets are available. Before planting the farmer needs to know what the end use of their efforts will be. If there is a seed market in the area they should plant cultivars producing the highest seed value and not one that produces tons of fiber. Conversely, if there is a pulp and paper mill in the area the farmer will plant a cultivar providing the most fiber. Health Canada has over forty varieties under 0.3 percent THC content for commercial hemp farming; some for seed others for fiber.