CBD is the current darling of the wellness industry. Its purported anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have landed it in cosmetics, skin creams, teas, pet treats, and many other products. Now, a cannabinoid newcomer is gaining popularity: What is CBG, and how is it different from CBD? More importantly, should hemp farmers keep an eye on this potential new crop or even consider planting CBG strains of hemp in their fields? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is CBG?
Hemp contains hundreds of active compounds known as cannabinoids. The two most well-known compounds are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). As research on cannabinoids has expanded, many researchers and health industry experts also have their eye on cannabigerol (CBG).
CBG has been referred to as “the mother cannabinoid.” When a hemp plant is young, it produces cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). This compound then breaks down into cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) as the plant matures. Without digging too deep into the science, the CBDA and THCA are then converted into CBD and THC, which can be extracted from the buds and resin of the hemp plant after harvest. The leftover amount of CBGA is also converted into CBG.
Understanding the basics of this process is important for farmers because it helps to explain why CBG cannabinoid is more difficult (but also potentially more lucrative) to cultivate.
CBG vs. CBD
How do CBD and CBG compare to each other? First, let’s look at some of the similarities between CBD and CBG. For starters, both CBG and CBD are non-intoxicating, unlike THC. This makes both CBD and CBG popular compounds for those who want the health benefits cannabinoids can offer without the psychoactive side effects of THC.
Early research also seems to indicate that CBG and CBD may possess some overlapping health benefits as well as unique benefits. Both cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating:
In a nutshell, the endocannabinoid system works to stabilize the body’s internal environment, which could be the reason research shows that CBD affects so many different parts of the body and impacts a variety of conditions.
One big difference between CBG and CBD is that CBD garners a far greater amount of research, including research that has reached human trials. The science on the effects of CBD is more established, which is one reason for its huge popularity.
As mentioned, researchers have now been turning their attention to CBG, and early studies have shown promising results. We need to stress that these studies are in the early stages, but these positive results surely mean that more advanced studies on CBG should be in the works.
The Challenge of Growing CBG Cannabinoid
Why is CBD so much more popular than CBG? Why is there so much more research on CBD and so many more CBD products? The answer is simple: CBG has historically been very difficult and cost-intensive to farm (not to mention illegal to grow until the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.)
Remember how we told you that CBG is “the mother cannabinoid” and that CBGA breaks down into THCA and CBDA as a hemp plant matures? The more that CBGA turns into other cannabinoids, the less CBG remains. Farmers who want to cultivate CBG traditionally had to harvest their hemp crop early before the plants could mature very much. This meant that farmers gave up on the chance to cultivate CBD in order to try and extract CBG.
Additionally, until very recently, hemp plants have produced very low amounts of CBG extract. It wasn’t uncommon to extract a measly 1% of CBG from a hemp plant, whereas a typical CBD strain of hemp could produce 10-16% of CBD.
If that weren’t bad enough, levels of CBG were so low in hemp plants that many farmers were forced to invest in specialized production equipment to isolate and purify CBG extract or pay higher prices for third-party extraction.
Of course, these extra investments and added risks do have a pay-off. CBG is known as the “Rolls-Royce of cannabinoids” and sells at a Rolls-Royce price on the open market. A 2019 study suggests that while CBD earns $3,600 per kilogram, the same amount of CBG can bring up to $20,000. That’s over five times the value of CBD.
Even with the promise of such a big potential payday, farmers may still be hesitant to take the risk of trying to cultivate CBG. Fortunately, hemp genetics is advancing at a breakneck pace, and several strains of CBG hemp have recently hit the market.
Introducing CBG Strains of Hemp
Hemp seed companies, including High Grade Hemp Seed, are working hard to breed hemp plants that produce more CBG extract. Here at HG, we have recently launched our Matterhorn CBG strain. Remember how traditional hemp plants could only produce 1% CBG concentrate? With our Matterhorn CBG, we’ve been able to achieve CBG concentrations of 15%. Farmers willing to invest in CBG hemp could be rewarded with a very healthy ROI.
Farmers who are considering cultivating CBG strains need to do their homework. Many of the CBG hemp seeds coming to market are brand new strains, and there are always disreputable companies that make big promises their seeds can’t keep. Do your research on a seed company before making a sizable investment. Work with a hemp seed company that has been around for several years and that has a good reputation for their other hemp seed strains.
It’s also a good idea to invest in feminized CBG seeds. You’ll pay a little more upfront, but you’ll earn that money back with higher yields of CBG. Also, you won’t have to do all the extra work of culling males from your fields, dramatically reducing your crop.
Finally, if you haven’t planted hemp before, or if you don’t have a greenhouse infrastructure on your property, consider choosing CBG hemp starts over seeds. Starts eliminate the risk of seeds that fail to germinate. They also come with a strong taproot that will help your plants stay healthy and strong throughout your growing season.
Should Hemp Farmers Plant CBG Hemp?
Is cultivating CBG worth the extra investment, work, and risk? A different way to think about these questions is to consider the value of diversifying your crop. CBD is a very hot commodity now, but more and more farmers are cultivating CBD extract.
At HG, we believe CBD hemp will always be worth planting and will still give farmers a great ROI, but it never hurts to diversify a crop and to continue experimenting. CBG hemp can both complement and hedge against CBD prices and can also position you at the very forefront of the CBG market. Some of the latest cannabinoid studies have found that CBD and CBG create a stronger, positive health effect when taken together. You can create that same synergy in your field.
If CBG becomes as hot as CBD, farmers who are experienced in growing high-yield CBG strains, like Matterhorn CBG, will be in a great position to feed a growing demand, especially for a previously hard-to-produce product.
Still have CBG cannabinoid questions? We’d love to answer them. Contact us today to learn more about our Matterhorn CBG or any of our CBD hemp strains. Our knowledgeable representatives can tell you all about how to grow Matterhorn CBG and how CBG hemp differs from CBD hemp. (Note: if you can grow CBD, you can likely grow CBG.) Finally, we can help you determine if CBG is the right addition to your farm and how it can fit into your overall hemp crop plan.