Industrial Hemp: from seed to market

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Industrial Hemp: from seed to market

1. This informational pamphlet details the current state of the industrial hemp market with a specific eye towards the New York state market.

2. Hemp is a strain of Cannabis which is cultivated for many industrial purposes and has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.3 percent.

3. Marijuana by comparison contains, quote – 3 percent to 15 percent THC by weight – unquote.

4. Industrial hemp can be used in many products including rope, fabric, paper products, and plastic


5. Hemp is a hardy plant which can grow to a height of 16 feet annually.

6. Growing hemp for seed production vs fiber production requires significantly different methods.

Fiber plants should be planted earlier in the growing season and be placed close together. Seed

intended plants should be planted later in the season and spaced farther apart.

7. Hemp seeds are harvested an average of 6 weeks after the plant has flowered, while fiber plants

are typically harvested between early flowering and seed development.

8. Refrigerated storage of seeds are believed to maintain their viability much longer, but even

typical non-refrigerated storage should maintain 80 percent viability for a year.

9. After harvest, fiber plants must go through a process called Retting which involves bacterial or

moisture breakdown to soften the fibers.

10. Retting can be accomplished with the use of multiple methods: dew retting, water retting, warm

water retting, green retting, or chemical retting. Dew retting involves leaving the cut stalks in the field to be naturally break down; it is the slowest process and produces the lowest quality fiber but is also the cheapest. Warm water retting on the other hand uses multiple water baths at different temperatures to produce, quote – a very uniform clean fiber – unquote.

11. The annual market for hemp, quote – products solid in the U.S. in 2016 was at least $688 million – unquote. Hemp CB represented 19 percent of the total.

12. The federal 2014 Farm Bill granted states the right to oversee industrial hemp pilot programs. The federal Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2016 further limited the DEA’s ability to interfere with hemp cultivation.

13. Overall the industrial hemp industry has a promising future, but for many states current regulations are limiting widespread industry growth.

Source: Thayer C. Industrial Hemp from seed to market.


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