Hemp Production for CBD – Revised
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension information typically is based on the interpretation of research information from Nebraska or elsewhere in the Midwest. However, such information is not available for hemp production due to previous restrictions on research in the U.S. This publication relies heavily on research findings from Europe and Canada and learning from growers’ experiences. See more stories in this series at https://cropwatch.unl.edu/tags/hemp.
Demand for CBD, a non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp, has soared for un-validated treatment of many conditions and illnesses. However, an approximate 75% plummet in prices for the CBD feedstock during 2019 indicates that the supply exceeded demand.
CBD-containing products marketed in the US range from cosmetics to chocolate bars to bottled water to pet treats, all with no regulation. The Food and Drug Administration warned marketers of CBD products against the use of non-validated health claims to sell their products. In June 2019 the FDA approved the first CBD-based drug, called Epidiolex, to treat seizures caused by extreme types of epilepsy. The efficacy of CBD for treatment of chronic pain, neuro-inflammation, anxiety, addiction, and anti-psychotic effects has not been well-validated by clinical research.
Hemp grown for CBD is a high-value crop grown more as a horticultural than as an agronomic crop. It has a high labor demand, putting US production at a disadvantage with production in China and other countries with relatively inexpensive labor.
Hemp CBD varieties have not been well-validated for Nebraska but possibilities may include ‘Abocus’, ‘Autopilot’, ‘Boax’, Cherry Wine, Cherry Blossom, Cobbler, and Sweetgrass for high pharmaceutical-grade CBD yield but having less than 0.3% THC.. High CBD varieties are generally grown only as female plants, as the combination of male and female plants leads to seed production and decreased CBD yield. Breeders continue to improve the processes for creating stable feminized seed. Farmers need to be wary of the source of their feminized seed stock and to check test results for validation of feminized seed.
Farmers need to know state regulations for testing hemp for CBD and THC. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) regulations for industrial hemp production have been approved by USDA. Plant sampling by NDA staff to test for THC needs to be within 15 days before the date of harvest with the grower present during sampling. If the THC level is >0.3% by dry weight, the crop will not meet the legal definition of industrial hemp and need to be destroyed. Again, THC is expected to increase with stressful growing conditions.
CBD varieties have short plants with much branching, growing as squat bushes. The suggested spacing at this time is 2-4 feet x 6 feet. Planting practices may change for higher plant densities when seed supply is sufficient to greatly reduce the cost of seed. Given the high cost of seed, seedlings should be produced in a greenhouse for transplanting. If planting more than five acres, machine transplanting is recommended which may allow transplanting 2 acres per day. Plants can also be produced from cuttings with similar vigor and productivity compared to plants from seedlings. Propagation from cuttings may improve plant uniformity and is a means to all-female plants. The potting mix for greenhouse production of seedlings is important but needs to be well-drained with good available water holding capacity and nutrient supply. The mix probably should include sandy loam soil, perlite, and some organic material.
The CBD levels can be much reduced by cross-pollination with wild or non-CBD hemp. The CBD plants must be well-separated by distance or time of pollination from hemp weeds or another hemp crop. Also, a few rows of corn or forage sorghum can planted around the plots to reduce pollen flow.
The highest concentration of CBD is in the bracts of female flowers but CBD oil may be extracted from the whole plant. Harvest may be by topping plants for the harvest of mostly leaves and flowers, by picking the leaves and flowers from the plant, or by taking most of the plant cut at 8-12” above the ground. The whole plant harvest may be by shredding such as with a silage chopper or by keeping the plant intact.
Drying the plant material is a major operation as the water content is high when harvested. To reduce the quantity to be dried and handled for CBD production, the woody stems may be removed for land application, composting or dried separately for fiber production. Artificial drying at up to 100 o F should be continuous flow but the temperature of the plant material should not exceed 75 o F. Suspending plants or branches upside down by wires indoors out of the sun and with good air movement for air drying at up to 75 o F is a common practice if the harvest is not too large.
The ground-up plant material is soaked in grain alcohol or ethanol to extract the CBD oil. After soaking, the mix is pressed to extract the liquid. The alcohol is then evaporated off leaving the CBD oil.
Drying for smoke able buds is an option. Smoking of CBD is reported to be more effective than oral consumption. The buds are preferred but some upper leaves may be included. Well-dried material can be kept and sold in sealable plastic bags or glass jars.
Market information is too weak for prediction or advice but information is improving such as with a USDA ERS Feb 2020 report.
For information on budgeting for hemp grain, fiber and CBD production, see worksheets from Pennsylvania State University and from the University of Kentucky.
Welcome to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Hemp Program webpage. The Hemp Program is permitted by the Arkansas Hemp Production Act of 2021 (A.C.A. § 2-15-501 et seq.) and the 2018 Farm Bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, P.L. 115-334) authorities.
2022 Hemp Program Applications are now available on the “Applications for Hemp Licensing” webpage!
The Department’s Hemp Program licenses Hemp Growers and Hemp Processor/Handlers for residents of Arkansas. Licensed Hemp Growers are permitted to legally produce or grow hemp crops, while Licensed Hemp Processor/Handlers are permitted to accept hemp crops to be processed into “publicly marketable hemp products,” such as seed oil or CBD oil.
|CURRENT LICENSED HEMP GROWERS||CURRENT LICENSED PROCESSOR/HANDLERS|
Full details surrounding Arkansas’s Hemp Program are all located on this Department website. All information about the Hemp Program is organized across different webpages as listed below. If you have visited all of the Hemp Program’s webpages and still have questions about the Program, please send e-mail inquiries to [email protected]
Anyone interested in potentially obtaining a Hemp License should first read ALL the Program’s webpages, as well as the Program’s Rules, the Arkansas Hemp Act of 2021, the 2022 Hemp Program Orientation PowerPoint, and the 2022 Applications Instructions Packet.
The Hemp Program’s webpages include:
Hemp Program Overview
This Program webpage provides general background and overview information of the Arkansas Hemp Program. This webpage contains information on legislative background, the previous pilot research program, Arkansas Seed Dealer/Labeler License information, etc.
Hemp Program Rules & The Law
This Program webpage is where the Arkansas hemp-related Laws and Rules/Regulations are located. This is also where any proposed rules will be posted, as well as where the public can comment on any proposed rules. It is imperative that applicants are familiar with Program Rules and associated Hemp Laws prior to applying for licensure with the Program.
Applications for Hemp Licensing
Interested in joining the Hemp Program? Visit this webpage to find both Hemp Grower and Hemp Processor/Handler applications, as well as the 2022 Application Instructions Packet. Both applications are available in “fillable” Adobe PDF format. The Program will accept Hemp Processor/Handler applications year-round, as well as Hemp Grower Indoor Growing applications. Hemp Grower Outdoor Growing applications have an associated seasonal deadline, usually in late April.
License Holders – Forms & Deadlines
License Holders in the Hemp Program are required to submit all Program reports and request forms via e-mail to [email protected] This Program webpage contains all Program forms available in “fillable” Adobe PDF format, as well as a convenient list of deadlines and other helpful resources for license holders.
Restrictions on Sale or Transfer
Planning on moving or transacting hemp material? Have a question whether a specific hemp material is considered publicly marketable? This Program webpage addresses the Program’s rules surrounding transfer or sale of hemp materials in Arkansas. Visit this webpage to help determine what types of material can only be in the possession of a license holder in Arkansas, and what types of material are able to be sold to the public.
Hemp Resources & Additional Links
This Program webpage contains helpful website links and resources pertaining to the industrial hemp industry in Arkansas and in the U.S.
Reviewed all Hemp Program webpages and still have a question for the Program?