Alabama Hemp Growers and Processors Association

HEMP 101

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HEMPOSSIBILITIES

Hemp is an annual plant that grows from seed. It grows in a range of soils, but tends to grow best on land that produces high yields of corn. The soil must be well drained, rich in nitrogen, and non-acidic. Hemp prefers a mild climate, humid atmosphere, and a rainfall of at least 25-30 in (64-76 cm) per year. Soil temperatures must reach a minimum of 42-46°F (5.5-7.7°C) before seeds can be planted.



HARVEST

The crop is ready for harvesting high quality fiber when the plants begin to shed pollen, in mid-August for North America. Harvesting for seed occurs four to six weeks later. Fiber hemp is normally ready to harvest in 70-90 days after seeding. A special machine with rows of independent teeth and a chopper is used.

To harvest hemp for textiles, specialized cutting equipment is required. Combines are used for harvesting grain, which are modified to avoid machine parts being tangled up with bast fiber.

Once the crop is cut, the stalks are allowed to rett (removal of the pectin [binder] by natural exposure to the environment) in the field for four to six weeks—depending on the weather—to loosen the fibers. While the stalks lay in the field, most of the nutrients extracted by the plant are returned to the soil as the leaves decompose. The stalks are turned several times using a special machine for even retting and then baled with existing hay harvesting equipment. Bales are stored in dry places, including sheds, barns, or other covered storage. The moisture content of hemp stalks should not exceed 15%. When planted for fiber, yields range from 2-6 short tons (1.8-5.4t) of dry stalks per acre, or from 3-5 short tons (2.7-4.5 t) of baled hemp stalks per acre in Canada.

GRAIN PROCESSING

Hemp seeds must be properly cleaned and dried before storing. Extraction of oil usually takes place using a mechanical expeller press under a nitrogen atmosphere, otherwise known as mechanical cold pressing. Protection from oxygen, light, and heat is critical for producing a tasty oil with an acceptable shelf-life. Solvent extraction methods are also emerging for removing oil since they achieve higher yields. Such methods use hexan, liquid carbon dioxide, or ethanol as the solvent. Refining and deodorizing steps may be required for cosmetics manufacturers.

A dehulling step, which removes the crunchy skin from the seed using a crushing machine, may be required. Modifications to existing equipment may be required to adequately clean the seeds of hull residues.

SEED OIL and CBD OIL (cannabis sativa)

Hemp (cannabis sativa) seed oil contains oil about 32.21 %. The content of moisture, protein, ash, fiber and carbohydrates were 03.07 %, 23.90 % , 04.32 %, 17.30 %, 28.50 % respectively. The whole seed moisture content were quite low. Hemp seeds are a good source of oil, protein & carbohydrates. The high oil content makes the seed a potential source of commercial vegetable oil. It is used for many purposes. The physical & chemical properties of hemp ( cannabis sativa ) seed oil were determined. It was found that the oil extracted from dried hemp seeds was liquid at room temperature bold yellow color having bland taste & pleasant nutty odor. It has congealing point 15- 72 0C. The refractive index at 40 0C and specific gravity at 20 0C were 1.4570 & 0.8927 respectively.

The acid value (mg KOH / g of oil) , iodine value (g / 100 g of oil), saponification number (mg KOH / g of oil) , unsaponifible matter content (% of oil) and peroxide number (Meg / Kg) of oil were 2.15 , 163.5 , 190.2 , 0.26 & 7.2 respectively. Acid value of oil is an indicator for edibility of oil & suitability for industrial use. Iodine value of hemp seed oil indicate a high composition of poly unsaturated fatty acid is an asset in nutrition as high content of saturated fatty acids is implicated in cardiovascular disease. It is also used in cosmetics and body care products.hemp seed oil contains fatty acids that help to maintain healthy blood vessels & nerves.

FIBER PROCESSING

To separate the woody core from the bast fiber, a sequence of rollers (breakers) or a hammermill are used. The bast fiber is then cleaned and carded to the desired core content and fineness, sometimes followed by cutting to size and baling. After cleaning and carding, secondary steps are often required. These include matting for the production of non-woven mats and fleeces, pulping (the breakdown of fiber bundles by chemical and physical methods to produce fibers for paper making), and steam explosion, a chemical removal of the natural binders to produce a weavable fiber. Complete processing lines for fiber hemp have outputs ranging from 2-8 short tons/hour (1.8-7.2 t/hr).

The primary fiber is pressed into a highly compressed bale, similar to other fibers like cotton,wool, and polyester. Other products, such as horse bedding, are packaged in a compressed bale.

PAPER MAKING

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Bast fibers are usually used in paper, which are put into a spherical tank called a digester with water and chemicals. This mixture is heated for up to eight hours at elevated temperature and pressure until all fibers are separated from each other. Washing with excess water removes the chemicals and the extracted binding components (pectin). The clean fibers are then fed into a machine called a Hollander beater, which consists of a large tub equipped with a wheel revolving around a horizontal axis. This beating step, which lasts for up to 12 hours, cuts the fibers to the desired length and produces the required surface roughness for proper bonding. Bleaching chemicals are sometimes added during this step or to separate tanks with the fibers. The bleached pulp is then pumped to the paper machine or pressed to a dryness suitable for transportation to a paper mill at another location.