The rocketing market of hemp has led thousands of farmers to grow hemp plants to sell their parts; fibers, seeds, and flowers are bought at high prices from companies who seek to produce quality products for consumers all over the country. Among these parts, a particular component has gained the attention of manufacturers: hemp biomass. If you are unfamiliar with this term and want to know what it is and its uses, this guide will aid you find out all there is to discover about hemp biomass.
To begin with, hemp biomass is the collection of the organic material that remains after the flowers and other parts of the plant have been harvested. Even though biomass is often considered as waste in farming, researchers have found out that hemp biomass (stalks and leaves) have several properties that can be used to create eco-friendly, compostable and durable products.
Before continuing, it is important to note that there are two types of hemp biomass; hemp fiber biomass -the remaining material of hemp plants- and CBD biomass. The latter is used for CBD production, being directly harvested from the flowers of the hemp plant. For instance, CBD biomass is sold at elevated prices by pound explicitly for CBD products. Many farmers focus on producing premium CBD biomass to sell to big companies to obtain bigger profits.
When CBD-rich hemp buds are hand trimmed, like our Botany Farms’ craft CBD flower, some leaves called “sweet leaf” are left behind to ensure there are no excess materials in the final product, which ensures a better smoking experience. However, these leaves also have good levels of CBD that become part of biomass.
How is Hemp Biomass Harvested?
In order to produce high-quality biomass, the trims and leftovers are put to dry in a lab facility or an open-air barn. Here, moisture stops being as important as it was in the growth process of the plant, since humidity reduces the quality of hemp biomass. If moisture is retained, mold will rapidly grow and place a potential threat to the harvest.
Since hanging the stalks builds-up mold near the center, each branch is separated and hanged individually. This way, the drying process becomes quicker and generates less product loss. The drying phase can go from 3-5 days, and some farmers use a clip fan to accelerate this process.
Once they have dried completely, the stalks and leaves are shredded to make them smaller. When ready, they are packaged by kilo and ready for sale in bulk. This blend contains around 10% CBD, which is a standard amount of CBD in biomass. Some farmers, especially those who have grown their hemp crops indoors, will produce up to 15% CBD in their biomass, hence receiving more profits from companies.
If hemp biomass will be used to create fibers, the transformation process is way different. Usually, the biomass undergoes a retting process to separate the fiber from the rest of the stalk. These processes take up to 2-4 weeks to have the fiber ready to be transformed into different products, but its profits are great, since many industries are starting to use hemp fibers for textile purposes.
Nowadays, producing hemp biomass outdoors can yield up to 500-1,500 pounds per acre. These calculations can vary depending on the agricultural processes that have been carried out by each farmer and the area. It is more common to find higher, better quality yields of hemp biomass in indoor-grown hemp plants, since they are controlled to deliver the best results.
What is Hemp Biomass Used for?
If it is rich in CBD, hemp biomass will be used to produce CBD extracts and oils. If the methods of extraction are of high-quality, the resulting product will have at least 30-70% potency. It is important for companies to buy hemp biomass that has been indoor-grown, since it contains fewer contaminants than outdoor-grown hemp plants. This way, CBD isolates will have the purest of forms and deliver better effects to the final customer.
Besides CBD extracts, hemp biomass is used to produce many other items that have been growing in popularity thanks to its sustainability.
- Teas: the leaves are removed from the stalk once they have dried and can be used to produce tea. Whether they are used loose or put into tea filter bags, the taste and aroma of hemp tea is certainly something to try out.
- Fuels: due to the current climate crisis, bioenergy is emerging as the new alternative to fossil fuels. Thanks to hemps’ adaptability to soils and reconstruction of them, many researchers believe that it could become the next high energy crop: it does not require as much water as other crops and has a high biomass yield. However, due to the little research done on the possible properties of this plant for energy purposes, the use of hemp for bioenergy is very limited.
- Paper and packaging materials: the core of the stalk of the hemp plant is rich in cellulose. Hemp is known for having very strong fibers, which makes it an ideal crop to produce hemp paper and packaging materials. Additionally, it can also be used to create bioplastics.
- Fiber: probably one of the most known uses of hemp biomass, hemp fiber has been produced for centuries to make ropes, fabrics and insulation. Hemp fiber is water and rotting resistant and can be two times stronger than wood. As a plus, it is completely biodegradable.
As you can see, hemp biomass can be used for a wide variety of purposes. For this reason, many farmers have switched to the harvesting of biomass in order to obtain bigger profits, especially from CBD-rich hemp biomass.
A downside to this sudden increment of hemp biomass production is the lack of high-end biomass. The vast majority of farmers cultivate hemp outdoors, which expands the probabilities of contaminated crops and the use of pesticides. Hence, the best hemp biomass found in the market usually comes from indoor-grown crops, which are completely controlled and regulated to achieve a high-quality product.