Every day we hear of new and exciting ways that hemp can be used to help humankind. Whether it be sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, or providing relief from chronic pain, hemp is likely our greatest ally in the plant kingdom.
For those unfamiliar with the industry, there can be some misunderstanding on what exactly constitutes a hemp plant. Even more, it’s easy to confuse one type of hemp plant for another as different types of hemp are grown for drastically different purposes.
Since hemp was legalized with the 2018 Farm Bill, any Cannabis Sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC is considered to be “hemp.” Therefore, hemp is set apart from other Cannabis Sativa plants by a ruling related to the illegality of THC. While this designation is helpful on a legal level, it doesn’t do much in understanding industrial hemp vs medicinal hemp.
The hemp industry of today is split up into two distinct categories: industrial hemp and CBD hemp. Not only is the industry divided by the types of products hemp can be made into, but also by the distinct ways that different hemp plants grow.
What is Industrial Hemp?
Industrial hemp is grown specifically for its fibrous stalks. Before the rise of the CBD industry, industrial hemp was largely the only type of hemp known.
Industrial hemp has been utilized by human beings for thousands of years. It is believed that the Mesopotamians farmed hemp up to 8,000 years ago, while Europeans adopted industrial hemp cultivation about 3,000 years ago.
Textiles made from the fibers of industrial hemp stalks have played important roles throughout human history. In fact, it is commonly believed that the first paper was made from hemp. Historians also credit hemp sails and ropes for aiding explorers as they sailed to the New World.
In the modern era, industrial hemp is coming to play a pivotal role in the environmental movement. Not only do hemp crops help with important jobs like carbon sequestration, but hemp products can replace less eco-friendly textiles like cotton.
What is CBD Hemp?
CBD hemp is grown for rich, aromatic flowers that are made into extracts, topicals, and edibles. While extremely popular today, CBD was little known just 10 short years ago.
CBD remained an obscure cannabinoid until medical marijuana legalization efforts began in states like California, Colorado, and Washington. Once the business world realized how much money was to be made with THC products, people began searching for an alternative, legal cannabinoid.
Research quickly uncovered that CBD offers relief from such ailments as anxiety, chronic pain, and sleep disorders — without the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC. After that, a legal loophole in the 2014 Farm Bill gave people the opportunity to legally grow and process CBD hemp. Finally, the 2018 Farm Bill legitimized hemp cultivation in the United States. This chain of events led to the global CBD market as we know it today.
Industrial Hemp vs Hemp: Key Differences
Some of the primary differences between industrial hemp and CBD hemp are related to the ways the plants actually grow. Because industrial hemp is grown for fibers and CBD hemp is grown for flowers, the plants diverge in their cultivation methods and overall growth patterns.
As hemp stalks are extremely hearty, industrial hemp is grown with methods and equipment taken from commercial farming. Conversely, because CBD flowers are quite delicate, CBD hemp plants must be grown in more specific environments.
Industrial hemp plants generally grow tall with singular stalks, while CBD hemp plants grow bushy with many stalks.
Industrial Hemp for Fiber
Industrial hemp is generally grown outdoors on massive farms. Industrial hemp stalks are harvested with large pieces of farming machinery like combines. After they are harvested, hemp stalks go through a series of processes where they are slowly broken down into usable materials.
Hemp bast is the long fibrous material found on the outside of the stalk. Bast is the primary material for which hemp has been grown for thousands of years. Because hemp bast is one of the strongest materials found in the plant world, it can be made into a number of products, including textiles, paper, and wood.
Hemp hurd resembles wood chips and can be found on the inside of industrial hemp stalks. Once considered a waste product, hurd is now made into such things as animal bedding and hemp concrete (hempcrete).
Hemp for CBD Yield
Hemp flowers can easily mold in wet and humid climates. As such, CBD crops are often grown in dry climates like California or Nevada, or within controlled environments like greenhouses.
Hemp flowers produce cannabinoids like CBD and CBG, as well as other beneficial compounds such as terpenes. Different strains of hemp produce unique flower characteristics and terpene profiles, with an array of attractive colors and aromas.
CBD hemp is grown exclusively in the interest of making consumable products. Whether it be edibles, topicals, beverages, or vapes, appropriate good manufacturing practices (GMPs) must be employed when cultivating and processing CBD. Because CBD flowers are delicate and grown for consumable products, farmers must put more care into growing this type of crop as compared to industrial hemp.
Industrial Hemp Uses
Most of the business interest in industrial hemp today is motivated by the environmental movement. To this end, certain hemp cultivation practices like bioremediation are extremely beneficial for the environment. Even more, hemp offers a sustainable alternative to popular textiles, as well as building materials like lumber, wood, and concrete.
Industrial hemp can actually help with global warming by reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Hemp plants pull carbon from the air through photosynthesis and then retain the carbon in their fibers – lessening the overall impact of the greenhouse effect.
Hemp fabric is a great alternative to cotton. Not only does hemp yield more per acre than cotton, but it can also be grown using far less water and fertilizers. Hemp actually makes the soil stronger through bioremediation, while cotton removes important nutrients from the soil.
High Grade: Your Hemp Industry Experts
At High Grade Hemp Seed, we have worked with hemp farmers to understand the best uses for this amazing crop. Whether it be industrial hemp or CBD hemp, we are happy to answer any questions you might have — contact us to learn more.