Hemp that is grown specifically for CBD extraction is supposed to produce maximum resin and flower production.
It is done using suitable husbandry practices which demand resin rich genetics (low in THC).
CBD Hemp Cultivars
Hemp cultivars meant for CBD extraction are supposed to be rich in CBD and low in THC content. This is the single most important characteristic industrial hemp farms look for in a cultivar for producing hemp-derived cannabinoid.
In addition to carrying high-CBD and low-THC, some cultivars may also have minor traces of other important cannabinoids and terpenes.
Typically these strains come from industrial hemp (high CBD) variety that promises adequate resin and flower production. They are then further treated to boost CBD potency. An ideal CBD-rich hemp cultivar should be able to produce huge crops with an abundance of flowers and high CBD production.
An ideal hemp cultivar should be able to grow well under a wide spectrum of weather conditions. It should be able to withstand wind, frost, drought, hails, and most outdoorsy weather conditions.
Genetics Of High CBD Hemp and The Plant Breeders Rights Issues
It wasn’t until recently that cannabis has been accepted on such a wide scale globally. This acceptance has led to a more in-depth study of CBD-rich hemp genetics. Hemp farmers are now better able to understand and study this incredible plant.
With that said, one of the key considerations of hemp farming is making sure that the seed supplier has the rights to studying genetics. There are some strains that may have plant breeders rights. That could restrict the usage of seed or its cloning for production. In the absence of Plant Breeders Rights, there’s a high possibility that a farmer could end-up using stolen genetics which might not be fully theirs to sell.
Another key consideration is – CBD to THC ratio. This ratio is essential for when planning for harvest. This ratio should also be consistent within cultivars.
In CBD hemp farming that is done particularly for medicinal purpose, farmers need cultivars from a known genetic source and a well-established processing method in order to ensure GMP consistency.
CBD Hemp Harvesting
CBD hemp harvesting is done with hands to make sure the flower head remains intact and clean. Rough handling could damage the resin-rich trichomes so give special attention to that.
Hemp Drying & Storage
Drying of hemp (post-harvest) is a crucial step. This is the part that governs the quality of CBD product. Fully-dried hemp with minimal damage promises finest quality end-product.
But, if the harvest is too wet or is not dried quickly or lacks proper ventilation – it could start developing bacteria or fungus; resulting in contamination and eventual decay. The harvest will no longer be suitable for selling or any other usage.
Having proper drying facilities and adequate ventilation during storage is therefore super important.
Pelletised Hemp Biomass for Extraction
When hemp plant is processed for CBD extraction following seed separation, you can extract the other materials of the plant such as the flower head and the leaves. More often, they are pelletised for the extraction purpose at a dedicated facility. This pelletised hemp biomass is then used for CBD extraction.
CBD Hemp Cultivation Style
In contrast to other types of hemp crops, farmers cultivate CBD hemp as a female-only crop. The spacing between each plant is typically about 4 to 8 feet.
Each plant requires individual irrigation and management.
The best time for harvesting is right before the flower head turns fully mature. The moment they begin to dry and ripen is when you harvest them.
Harvest timing may also depend on when it’s time for CBD and THC testing in the leaves and flower head depending on the moisture level.
Since the cultivation of hemp, especially CBD-rich hemp is highly controlled, farmers would typically run THC tests during cultivation to make sure that THC levels do not exceed specified legal limits.
There are many regions where it is essential to harvest the plant before it becomes fully mature. This is important to avoid THC levels from increasing. The legal THC limit is 0.3%.
If due to some reason, THC levels do exceed, it could result in the destruction of the entire crop. Therefore, planning the harvest at the right time is paramount.
Different states may have different requirements/guidelines for harvesting and crop testing. State Department of Agriculture typically lays down these regulations.
CBD Hemp After The Harvest
Post-harvest, it is essential to dry the hemp otherwise the crop can begin to deteriorate. Drying of hemp ensures the preservation of CBD and terpenes profile.
Industrial hemp farms typically maintain special chambers housed with drying equipment. These drying facilities must conform to suitable standards such as dry and clean floors. The facility must also be free from insect and animation infestation such as nesting of birds. Otherwise, this could lead to contamination of the harvest.
It is common to hang the hemp plants upside down because large stems are first removed before further processing. Based on the preferred method of extraction, farmers may extract and grind the leaves and small branches or they also trim it.
Some processors who work on large scales like to process the entire plant while others like to go with trimmed buds. The later tends to produce premium distillate and oil products. There’s also a middle ground where they process untrimmed buds while leaving out the leaves and the stem.
CBD Extraction From Hemp
After harvesting, drying, and processing – the resulting product is now ready for CBD extraction. This would typically happen at a separate facility. CBD-rich oil comes from the biomass or flower material.
After initial extraction you get crude CBD oil, which is again refined to produce CBD isolates and CBD distillates. These distillates and isolates are used in final products like medicines, oil tinctures, capsules, etc.