Hemp is a wonder crop, it can be grown for fiber, food, and a multitude of medicinal uses. Each of these different applications requires a different type of plant. Broadly speaking there are two types of hemp plants. First is Food and Fiber Hemp, exclusively grown from seed, it is a tall, and densely-planted crop grown like grain. This type of crop produces seeds, fiber, and because of the scale of cultivation, cannabinoids as a by-product, albeit at a lower level than medicinal hemp. Rosin, or medicinal hemp is the second type and is grown for cannabinoid content like CBD and CBG either for smokable flower or biomass production meant for extraction.
Grown from seed and cuttings, this type is mainly for medical or cosmetic use with byproducts like fiber and other plant waste used post-extraction for industrial applications. Furthermore, medicinal hemp is consumed either through smokable flower or CBD (or other cannabinoids) oil extracted from hemp flowers and biomass. Though the goal for both biomass and smokable varieties is to produce as much potent flower/biomass as possible, though the two are harvested and processed differently.
Hemp biomass includes most varieties of hemp grown for their high CBD content flowers. These varieties are harvested by machine and dried in the field. The plant is then machine trimmed excluding as much stalk, seeds and fan leaves as possible. The flowers are not “cured” and therefore not suited for smoking. They are instead are put through an extraction process to separate them from their cannabinoids and terpenes. The CBD extract is then incorporated into therapeutic products like gummies, vape oils, tinctures, balms and medicines.
For biomass farmers, the goal is to get the CBD content as high as possible without their crop becoming “hot” or over the legally allowed limit of 0.03 delta-THC, at the date of compliance testing. Most varieties of hemp produce CBD at a concentration around ten percent at the complaint THC level of 0.3%. The price of hemp per pound is affected by the ratio of CBD oil to plant mass. Higher percentage point plants earn a better price because it is easier for the extractor to process a pound of 12% hemp than it is to process two pounds of 6% hemp.
Hemp that is grown for “smokable flower” are varieties that have bred and selected for their look, smell and taste with the flowers carefully dried and cured to optimize the smoking experience. These varieties have excellent terpene profiles, the compounds responsible for cannabis’s fragrant bouquets and the medicinal “entourage” effect that scientists are studying for health benefits. Look for hemp varieties with the terms “smokable flower” or “premium smokable hemp” in the variety line to let you know the breeder had carefully selected these phenotypes for the best smoking experience. The cultivation of smokable flower differs from biomass in three particularly important ways. First, while the hemp is still in the field, farmers must take caution to prevent contamination from pesticides and other chemicals. Next, during the harvest phase, the plants must be more carefully dried and trimmed by hand in order the keep the flower’s trichome crystals intact. To finish the product properly, the hemp flower must then be correctly cured over a period of several weeks in a protected environment with consistent ventilation much like the best smoking THC flower is cured.
Whichever varieties you choose to grow, invest in the success of your crop and start with virus indexed, healthy young plants from Cultivaris that will give you peace-of-mind and the best chance at success this season.