Tag Archives: Hemp Industry

First cultivated hemp field in Minnesota since 1950 is growing strong

By Noura Elmanssy on Jul 5, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.

John Strohfus, owner of Strohfus Stock Farm in Hastings, grows a lot of things, but recently with the help of his partners Ben Thurmes and Ken Anderson, he’s added hemp to his list and made some history doing it.

Eighteen acres of hemp was planted on June 17 in Hastings. It was the first time since 1950 that hemp has been intentionally planted in the state of Minnesota.

The trio, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), is participating in the Hemp Pilot Program, which aims to show how viable hemp could be in the Minnesota market.

“I thought it would be a new and exciting crop,” Strohfus said. “It was something that would be a good fit for our small acreage.”

The pilot program that was announced in March of this year allowed the growth of hemp as long as the crop could be monitored by the MDA, Strohfus explained. The program is an effort “to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp,” according to the Minnesota statute on industrial hemp development.

While other farms are involved, Strohfus has the biggest planting.

Strohfus, Thurmes and Anderson all graduated from Hastings High School but didn’t get in touch until later in their farming careers. Strohfus and Thurmes had partnered in some farming ventures, and Strohfus reached out to Anderson, who knew a lot about the industry, when he had realized this can be done in Minnesota.

“(Anderson) has been an advocate in the hemp industry for many years … he has also been an advocate for and a lobbyist for the legalization of hemp as an agricultural product and was involved with the first planting in the United States in 2015 in Kentucky,” Strohfus said.

They submitted a proposal in April to the MDA and by May, they were approved and signed a contract. Strohfus said they had to wait some time before the seed arrived. When it did, a donation of grain drills from Value Implement of Ellsworth, Wisconsin, and Niebur Implement of Miesville made planting easy.

What is hemp?

Hemp, sometimes known as industrial hemp, is a variety of the cannabis plant. There are two forms of hemp, industrial and food grade. Industrial hemp can be used for fiber, straw, construction materials and more. Hemp for grain production is used for the food supply chain. Strohfus said that they are planting the grain variety. Food grade hemp seeds can be used in a variety of dishes like cereal or salads and is used to make hemp seed oil, a possible substitute for traditional cooking oils.

“They’re easy to eat and cook with, and they have a pleasantly nutty taste, like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut,” Christina Chaey wrote in an article for Bon Appétit.

Cannabis is most commonly associated with marijuana, as the cannabis plant is the same species that produces the drug. Hemp and marijuana, however, are two separate products.

According the National Hemp Association’s website, “one of the biggest misconceptions is believing that industrial hemp is the same thing as marijuana. The two plants are from the same species but are more like first cousins and NOT identical twins.”

“Industrial hemp and marijuana are cousins of each other but they’re really apples and oranges as far as plants goes,” Strohfus said. “So much, in fact, that one of the concerns with law enforcement was that people may come out to a field of industrial hemp and try to hide marijuana in the middle of it because you can’t distinguish the plants between each other by just looking at the leaf structure; however, industrial hemp will actually kill off marijuana and so they can’t co-exist in the same, same area.”

Due to its association with the cannabis plant, hemp became illegal in the United States through the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Although hemp has a very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level, which is what gives marijuana its potency, was still considered a threat and was banned from then on.

As a part of the pilot program, Strohfus explained, a license had to be purchased through the MDA in order to sell and market the product freely. The money paid goes to monitoring the plant by taking tissue samples to ensure the THC level is below the required 0.3 percent.

“Our hope is that in the coming 12 months, at the federal level, that hemp will be removed from the drug enforcement agency’s schedule one narcotic list,” Strohfus said, “and will no longer be listed as a narcotic and or listed specifically different from its cousin, marijuana, and that way state licensure will no longer be needed to regulate it, it would be a free market, agriculture product like corn, beans, wheat or oats. That’s our ultimate goal.”

Where is the U.S. hemp industry now?

With the help of the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Bill of 2014, hemp was recognized as a crop and states were given the authority to grow hemp as long as they also developed a research program to study the growth and cultivation of the plant.

As of 2015, Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont and Oregon had all begun to grow hemp, joining 14 other states that produce hemp.

“Our (Minnesotan) soils are very conducive to growing hemp,” Strohfus said, “and you know, historical data – it’s been documented that Minnesota and Wisconsin had some very, very good hemp yields back in the 30s, 40s, 50s until it was banned and also the varieties that have been developed now in Canada – Canada soil types are similar so we’re planting a Canadian variety.”

Canada started to research the crop in 1994 and it remains a very popular location for hemp, along with other countries like Romania, the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe.

With the addition of programs like the hemp pilot program in Minnesota, Strohfus said he hopes to make this crop once again viable in the farming industry.

“All three of us have a pretty good vision around that we want to make this a Minnesota soil-to-shelf product,” he said. “We don’t want to ship it to California for processing. We’d like to figure out a way to work with Minnesota partners and get it on store shelves in Minnesota within this first year.”

What’s next?

With the largest planting in the program now in the ground, Strohfus said that monitoring the product is the next step and making sure the logistics are developed in order to have a successful market.

“Other farmers will be able to feel confident that they can actually recover and profit from the grain as they could bean or corn,” he said.

Establishing a market for hemp will be a challenge, he said, but if successful, it stands to be well worth the effort.

“… The profit margins will be much higher than the current margins for corn or beans or other smaller grain crops, wheat and oats as well,” he said.

Overall, Strohfus said that the journey has been filled with learning and growth and hopes that this program impacts the hemp industry in Minnesota.

“It’s been really, really fun so far, we expect to learn a lot,” Strohfus said. “Hopefully we can actually get the packaging and the placement on the store shelf, that would be the ultimate bonus, but if we can at least get to a successful yield, successfully cleaned grain and be able to market that to the current buyers, that would be good enough and then getting it on the shelf would be the ultimate prize for this year.”

CONTINUE READING…

HempFlax invests €5,000,000 in Romanian hemp market

posted by David Cannafacts on October 13th 2015

PRESS RELEASE: 08.10.2015

HempFlax double cut technology in action

HempFlax, the leading Dutch hemp processing company, has invested 5 million euros in the Romanian hemp industry. Their first factory opens this October in Alba. Recent years have seen an increase in the market for cultivation and processing of hemp, with crops farmed in Romania being sought for export and used in various industries.

Prior to 1989, Romania was the fourth largest exporter of hemp worldwide. However, the amount of hemp grown decreased sharply after that period, reaching only few hectares in 2000. Currently, investors are again turning their attention to this market. The private investment of 5 million euros by HempFlax is a significant contribution to the revival of the Romanian hemp industry.

Hemp – a natural resource

Hemp plant in one of Romanian fields

A hemp plant in one of Romanian fields

HempFlax supports the initiative of the Romanian state to provide grants for farmers growing hemp for its seed and stems. The company is also purchasing the raw material in bales from Romanian farmers. Hemp fibre is a sustainable, renewable and therefore practically inexhaustible raw material for industrial uses. It is also one of the strongest natural fibres in the world.

„With an innovative vision and vigour, HempFlax contributes to the progress of agriculture in Romania. By providing renewable resources, the synthetic fibres made from fossil resources- such as nylon, fiberglass and plastics- can be replaced by fibres from natural resources such as hemp.”, explains Oana Suciu, CEO.

In 2015, the area cultivated by HempFlax is approximately 500 hectares located in Sebes, Pianu and Petresti. Investors expect an increase of approximately 300 hectares per year. The processing capacity of the factory is four tons of stalks per hour, which means a target of 5,000 cultivated hectares in order to reach maximum capacity.

The company also aims to establish cultivation contracts with Romanian farmers, supporting the development of the industry. HempFlax encourages an environmentally responsible approach by Romanian entrepreneurs and consumers, while discouraging unnecessary deforestation and environmental change. A worldwide leader in hemp processing, the company aims to revive the agricultural sector of Romania, returning it to its former status as a prolific exporter of hemp.

The cultivation conditions and utility of hemp

HempFlax double-cut technology

The HempFlax double-cut technology allows for the simultaneous harvesting of both seeds and stalks.

One of the most important HempFlax products is hemp fibre, used in the insulation and paper industries, in the manufacture of car door panels, and not at least in the textile industry. Hemp ‘wood’ (the interior of the stalks) is used in construction, mixed with hydrated lime to create an ideal insulation and construction material for houses or industrial buildings, replacing traditional bricks or concrete.

The process of hemp cultivation is natural and environmentally friendly. It does not require pesticides, insecticides or fungicides. After harvesting hemp, the stems are left on the field to naturally begin separating the fibres from the stalks, a process which is completed by custom-built HempFlax machinery without the use of chemicals.

Protein-rich hemp seeds are used in the food industry. The leaves are dried and used for tea blends, but also for the extraction of CBD oil, used in nutritional supplements and cosmetics.

In Romania, today’s legislation allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp. Only a select few varieties can be grown, those that are certified as having a THC level under 0,2%. The strains of industrial hemp Jubileu, Dacia, Diana, Zenit and Denise are Romanian varieties developed by the Secuieni Institute, and can be grown successfully in Romania.

About HempFlax

jc-07

Since its founding in1994, the mission of HempFlax as a pioneer of European industrial hemp cultivation and processing has been to serve both people and the environment by providing modern, natural products made from hemp stalks, and also from flax. By combining tradition with innovative technology and developing a fully integrated manufacturing process, HempFlax provides customers with sustainable, environmentally friendly, affordable products that meet a high standard of quality.

HempFlax also designs, develops and patents specialized equipment for the cultivation and harvesting of hemp, including an innovative harvester that manages to combine three distinct harvesting operations at the same time: those for the seeds, the steams and the leaves.

David Cannafacts Studying cannabis and its effects since 1995, educating the masses ever since.

CONTINUE READING…