Washington-based HempLogic plans to tour the US this year, showcasing equipment that will help hemp farmers process their crops closer to the source. Schedule is being set for hemp-friendly locations and festivals where they can show farmers the Mobile Hemp Decorticator.
Decortication is harvesting of the soft “bast fibre” layer of the hemp plant stalks. The inner, soft and fibrous layer, is ideal for use in textiles. It is surrounded by the outer shell of the stalk, and an inner woody layer near the core, called the hurd.
Having a machine that can get this prized fiber-layer free of the outer shell and inner hurd avoids shipping to one of the few decortication sites worldwide. Farmers without access to this machinery must ship their harvest as whole stalks.
There are only a few hemp decorticators active; large and rare, they have been set up in Belgium, France and just a few other places. One of these hemp-specific industrial machines is located in Spring Hope, North Carolina, providing a place for industrial hemp farmers in the state’s Pilot Program to send their harvest for processing.
With mobile equipment from HempLogic, rather than shipping their crops to a warehouse for processing, the decorticator can come closer to the farmer. Cost-benefits will depend on the size of the farm, or farms in a collective, and acres to be processed. It will also depend on having manufacturers ready to purchase the fiber harvested — and in a way that doesn’t break state law(s).
The processing of the industrial hemp plants may vary, depending on whether the end-product will be cannabidiol (CBD) oils, hemp foods, or fibers. Focusing on fiber, the path from field to manufacturers (rope, clothing, building products) looks something like this:
- farmer with land (and state permit) acquires seed
- farmer plants seed, tends crop as it grows
- mature industrial hemp is harvested by cutting the stalks (manually or with machinery)
- stalks for fiber are run through a decorticator separate fiber from the hurd
- fiber (and hurd) is sold and transported to a plant that turns fiber into cloth or other products
- items produced with US hemp fiber are shipped to stores, for sale to customers (you)
Industrial hemp was a major crop in the new America of the 18th century. With the brakes of anti-marijuana laws releasing, industrial hemp is expected to be a major crop for US farmers in the coming years. In an industrial that is just getting its feet under it, where the crops go and how they are used, are still being worked out. Costs for onsite processing with the mobile decorticator versus shipping to a processing site may become publicly available as numbers are determined from the next growing seasons.
Corn and cotton farmers have suppliers, processors, purchasers, and industry support already in place, while industrial hemp continues dealing with drug prohibitions in its efforts to form a proper supply chain from the field to the customer. The hemp industry has only recently come back to the US — held out of reach for decades by the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s marijuana+hemp prohibitions. Colorado and Washington have several years of hemp growing under their belts, with North Carolina going into its second growing season — the first hampered by DEA freezes on seed shipments. This will be the first year that NC farmers may have access to NC-grown seed — though the state law was modified after last year’s delays, and NC industrial hemp Pilot Project farmers may be able to purchase seed from other US states. Having access to proper equipment will be an important part of this supply chain.
HempLogic is the parent company, and its HempHubs USA is a sub-company overseeing the 2018 tour of hemp-open states. HempHubs USA is in the niche to help farmers, processors, and the hemp products market gain ground. Minimizing shipping by processing plant stalks into fiber at the source, is one way to bring crops to manufacturers, and on to customers, more seamlessly.
The HempHubs USA tour dates will be announced shortly.
In the meantime:
- Check out an article on HempLogic, and US hemp farming, in the AG WEB Farm Journal.
- Learn more on the HempLogic website at www.hemplogicusa.com.
- (NC-based readers) The NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Project approves a small number of farmers to grow industrial hemp, and its rules/applications are online at www.ncagr.gov/hemp.
- Read our article on hemp and NC from before the first season of seeds were sown in NC (January 2016).