Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years. The hemp plant is extremely versatile—CBD can be extracted from its flowers, milk alternatives and oil can be produced from the seeds, and fibers for clothing and other textiles can be made from the stems.
This long history of successful use has paved the way for hemp’s comeback as one of America’s fastest-growing industries today. Agriculturists are looking toward cultivation and manufacturers are looking to switch to this sustainable alternative.
But, without all the buzzwords, what is hemp biomass?
Meet Hemp: A Member of the Cannabis Family
Hemp, also known as industrial hemp, is a member of the cannabis family. Marijuana is also a member of this family but is distinct from the hemp plant. THC is the compound found in marijuana that creates its psychogenic effects. Hemp is not bred for THC and, instead, features CBD, which does not create such effects.
The hemp plant is tall, skinny, and leafy. Long, narrow leaves are concentrated near the top of the plant. The bottom produces few branches. Plants can be tailored to suit different climates and even different seasons. Some hemp plants are hybridized to flourish in dry climates, while others are better adapted to wet climates.
Hemp plants are angiosperms, meaning they have both male and female parts. The entirety of the plant can be used. The hemp plant can be divided into four parts:
- Fibers: Fibers grow on the outside of the stalk and are one of the most valuable parts of the plant. These fibers can be used in clothing and textiles.
- Stalks: Hemp stalks have a woody core surrounded by carbohydrates. This allows the stalk to be used in a variety of industries, from animal bedding to paper production.
- Leaves and Flowers: Hemp leaves produce oil that can be used for cooking. Hemp flowers produce CBD, which is highly sought-after by the wellness industry.
- Seeds: Seeds from the hemp plant have a rich nutritional profile; they’re high in protein and nutrients.
All four parts of the plant are useful in some way. Many cultivators focus on nurturing a specific part of the plant, such as breeding the flowers for high CBD content. Regardless of which part the cultivator is breeding for, they still seek to sell as much of the plant as possible.
What Is Hemp Biomass?
Biomass is a term used to refer to any organic substance produced in large quantities that are not used as food. Since the different parts of the plant have different uses, hemp biomass is separated keeping these aspects in mind. Typically, hemp biomass is separated into two parts:
CBD Hemp Biomass
CBD is produced by the flowers of the hemp plant. The plant can be hybridized to produce more CBD in the flowers. The hybridization process can also allow other characteristics to be selected, such as terpenes (for scent), growth size, and preferred cultivating environment.
Hemp Fiber Biomass
This type of biomass refers to the leftovers after all the flowers and seeds have been harvested. Left behind are the fibers and stalks, which can be profitable to sell.
The stalks, fibers, and leaves can be used to produce products like paper or textiles. They can also be used as a construction additive to make certain materials (e.g. cement) more flexible.
Additionally, this biomass can be sold as biofuel. Hemp as fuel is a renewable source of energy due to the sustainability of hemp cultivation.
Cultivators and manufacturers alike are looking for more hemp biomass. Hemp has been used for years, so why is everyone after it right now?
- It’s legal now! – The 2018 farm act federally legalized the growth, cultivation, and sale of hemp in the United States.
- It’s profitable! – Hemp is relatively easy to grow with little start-up costs, especially for growers already in the agriculture industry. Hemp grows quickly and is versatile, making it a popular choice for new and seasoned agriculturalists.
- It’s sustainable! – As the world becomes more environmentally aware, industries are looking for more sustainable, long-term options for economic growth. Hemp biomass provides a sustainable alternative for fuels, food, and more. The hemp industry is growing, not only in the US but worldwide. If you’re looking to purchase hemp biomass, always make sure it’s from a reputable source. As with all products, not all of them are created equal. Cultivation practices greatly affect the quality of the hemp produced, so always verify the experience of your agriculturalist.