American farmers are promised a new cash crop with an annual value of several hundred million dollars, all because a machine has been invented which solves a problem more than 6,000 years old. It is hemp, a crop that will not compete with other American products. Instead, it will displace imports of raw material and manufactured products produced by underpaid coolie and peasant labor and it will provide thousands of jobs for American workers throughout the land.
The machine which makes this possible is designed for removing the fiber-bearing cortex from the rest of the stalk, making hemp fiber available for use without a prohibitive amount of human labor. Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody “hurds” remaining after the fiber has been removed contain more than seventy-seven per cent cellulose, and can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to Cellophane.
Harvesting hemp with a grain binder. Hemp grows luxuriously in Texas.
Machines now in service in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and other states are producing fiber at a manufacturing cost of half a cent a pound, and are finding a profitable market for the rest of the stalk. Machine operators are making a good profit in petition with coolie-produced foreign fiber while paying farmers fifteen dollars a ton for hemp as it comes from the field.
From the farmers’ point of view, hemp is an easy crop to grow and will yield from three to six tons per acre on any land that will grow corn, wheat, or oats. It has a short growing season, so that it can be planted after other crops are in. It can be grown in any state of the union. The long roots penetrate and break soil to leave it in perfect condition for the next year’s crop. The dense shock of leaves, eight to twelve feet above the ground, chokes out weeds. Two successive crops are enough to reclaim land that has been abandoned because of Canadian thistles or quack grass.
Under old methods, hemp was cut and allowed to lie in the fields for weeks until it “retted” enough so the fibers could be pulled off by hand. Retting is simply rotting as a result of dew, rain and bacterial action. Machines were developed to separate the fibers mechanically after retting was complete, but the cost was high, the loss of fiber great, and the quality of fiber comparatively low. With the new machine, know as a decorticator, hemp is cut with a slightly modified grain binder. It is delivered to the machine where an automatic chain conveyor feeds it to the breaking arms at the rate of two or three tons per hour. The hurds are broken into fine pieces which drop into the hopper, from where they are delivered by blower to a baler or to truck or freight car for loose shipment. The fiber comes from the other end of the machine, ready for bailing.
Hemp fiber being delivered from machine ready for bailing. Pile of pulverized hurds beside machine is seventy-seven per cent cellulose
From this point on almost anything can happen. The raw fiber can be used to produce strong twine or rope, woven into burlap, used for carpet warp or linoleum backing or it may be bleached and refined, with resinous by-products of high commercial value. It can, in fact, be used to replace the foreign fibers which now flood our markets.
Thousands of tons of hemp hurds are used every year by one large powder company for the manufacture of dynamite and TNT. A large paper company, which has been paying more than a million dollars a year in duties on foreign-made cigarette papers, now is manufacturing these papers from American hemp grown in Minnesota. A new factory in Illinois is producing fine bond papers from hemp. The natural materials in hemp make it an economical source of pulp for any grade of paper manufactured, and the high percentage of alpha cellulose promises an unlimited supply of raw material for the thousands of cellulose products our chemists have developed.It is generally believed that all linen is produced from flax. Actually, the majority comes from hemp -authorities estimate that more than half of our imported linen fabrics are manufactured from hemp fiber. Another misconception is that burlap is made from hemp. Actually, its source is usually jute, and practically all of the burlap we use is woven by labors in India who receive only four cents a day. Binder twine is usually made from sisal which comes from the Yucatan and East Africa.
All of these products, now imported, can be produced from home-grown hemp. Fish nets, bow strings, canvas, strong rope, overalls, damask tablecloths, fine linen, garments, towels, bed linen and thousands of other everyday items can be grown on American farms. Our imports of foreign fabrics and fibers average about $200,000,000 per year; in raw fibers alone we imported over $50,000,000 in the first six months of 1937. All of this income can be made available for Americans.
The paper industry offers even greater possibilities. As an industry it amounts to over $1,000,000,000 a year, and of that eighty per cent is imported. But hemp will produce every grade of paper, and government figures estimate that 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average pulp land.
Sailing the seas with sails and rope made of hemp.
One obstacle in the onward march of hemp is the reluctance of farmers to try new crops. The problem is complicated by the need for proper equipment a reasonable distance from the farm. The machine cannot be operated profitably unless there is enough acreage within driving range and farmers cannot find a profitable market unless machinery to handle the crop. Another obstacle is that the blossom of the female hemp plant contains marijuana, a narcotic, and it is impossible to grow hemp without producing the blossom. Federal regulations now being drawn up require registration of hemp growers, and tentative proposals for preventing narcotic production are rather stringent.
However, the connection of hemp as a crop and marijuana seems to be exaggerated. The drug is usually produced from wild hemp or locoweed which can be found on vacant lots and along railroad tracks in every state. If federal regulations can be drawn to protect the public without preventing the legitimate culture of hemp, this new crop can add immeasurably to American agriculture and Industry.
Hemp Fiber can be used in the same manner as organic cotton for wicking. Slide a piece through your coil or wrap your coil in it. It works amazingly well in EVODS and Protanks with a vertical microcoil by surrounding the coil with hemp fiber. A coil set up in this manner with hemp fiber can last for weeks or even months!
There is a slight earthy flavor to hemp fiber that usually goes away by the first 1/2 tank of e-liquid run through it. Boiling and drying the fiber prior to use helps to remove the earthy flavor, but it may not even be necessary. Description Source: http://bitvapors.com/hemp-fiber-wicking-material-bitcoin
States Poised to Take Advantage of US Farm Bill
By: Arthur Hanks
The 2014 US Farm Bill signed last week by President Obama has a provision for the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes at the state level. This provision will be in effect for the next five years.
The provision builds on years of lobbying efforts by activists, advocates, hemp business and farming associations and the championship of the bills by elected representatives at the state and federal level.
Here is the full text of Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill in PDF format.
Ten states have appropriate legislation that will allow them to grow hemp for research in 2014. In order to take advantage of this new opportunity, other states will have to either create new research-orientated legislation, amend legislation that is already on the table or to derive research guidelines from existing statues. Since legislative calendars vary state by state local advocates will have to determine what tactics makes sense.
Ten states: California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia (depicted in green) have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production, while two states: Nebraska and Indiana (depicted in grey) are on the verge of passing industrial hemp legislation. Research Brings Real Opportunities
In general, states that have passed commercial hemp laws have a form of licensing/registration. With this new federal provision, researchers affiliated with the state Ag department or relevant college or university would be the holders of the hemp license. Farmer co-operators can participate in these trials as long as their work falls under the umbrella of the licensed research.
There are many forms research could take, ranging from modest variety trials to more ambitious commercial scale pilot projects including start up processing and market development initiatives. Conceivably if there is enough public and private sector funding, many hundreds of acres could be seeded, hundreds of bales of fiber and thousands of bushels of grain could be harvested in the next few years. That’s a comfortable ceiling.
Farmers and businesses hoping to grow hemp on a commercial basis still have to contend with barriers at the Federal level. The success of research projects over the next half decade will help make the case and go a long way towards aiding the passage of legal commercial regulations federally. Without those regulations, would-be commercial farmers could still be subject to such nonsense as crop raids, civil asset forfeiture of property, charges that could lead to jail time, and legal expenses. That said, there is now some oxygen in the room. Hopefully some clear thinking will follow.
The Big Ten
Ten states (California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia) have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. California
Governor Jerry Brown signed a Commercial Hemp Bill in the fall of 2013. California has valuable and rich farmland chock full of diverse crops. Land costs may be high and water could be an issue. There are many enviable large urban markets in the state. Dr. Bronner’s and Nutiva are both vociferous hemp advocate and current volume hempseed importer and processors. Colorado
An early leader. State legislation efforts began under State Senator Lloyd Casey back in the 1990’s. Changes to Drug Policy in 2012 through ballot initiative led to an obvious opportunity for hemp. Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin planted 60 acres in 2013, as part of a proposed remediation trial, despite the fact that farmers were not yet allowed to register to grow the crop. Colorado State regulations are here: www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/ag_Plants/CBON/1251644613180. Note that there is a 10 acre ceiling for research and May 1st, 2014 is the registration deadline. Kentucky
Senator minority leader Mitch McConnell was instrumental in arranging for the hemp research provision to be included in this year’s Farm Bill. Bluegrass state of Kentucky has been a home for many advocates of industrial hemp for the past two decades. A strong grassroots lobbying effort helped send hemp to the Capital. Kentucky has a rich hemp fiber heritage and the reintroduction of this new crop will be regulations developed by the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission Maine
Hemp regulations in Maine were passed in 2009, with proponents looking to grow hemp as an alternative fiber. Licenses would be issued by Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. A provision for research was developed in 2003. Climate and soils are seen as appropriate. Will hemp find a place among wheat, cheese, hops, and blueberries? Montana
Thirty thousand farms in Montana and more cattle than people, big crops include beef, wheat, oilseeds and legumes. Hemp legislation was passed in 2001. A US leader in organic production, there probably is a strong niches for hemp to get started in. Close proximity to major Canadian hemp production region means ease of technology and knowledge transfer. North Dakota
State legislator Dave Monson and farmer Wayne Hague once sued the federal government in an effort to overturn the prohibition on hemp. The state is well positioned to take advantage of existing and current business knowledge due to close proximity to Canada. Large acres of hemp’s bast fiber cousin flax are known and grown here. A $200 million dollar sunflower seed industry shows that ND has high volume seed oil crushing capacity. Oregon
Oregon passed a commercial hemp law in 2009 and recently formed a rules advisory that is in the process of developing regulations for industrial hemp that will now be expected to have a research component. Many businesses in Oregon manufacture, market and sell hemp products, including The Merry Hempsters and Living Harvest. Oregon is home to diverse ecologies and terrain so research should be very fruitful. Vermont
So nice they passed it twice. Vermont’s legislative passed regulations in 2008 and the state’s then governor declined to veto the bill saying “The consequence of this bill is so low, so insignificant, that it doesn’t rise to the level of a gubernatorial veto.” Time moves forward, and the legislature passed a second more progressive law in 2013 that cuts away some of the regulatory hurdles and hassles. See the simple registration form at www.ruralvermont.org/issues-main/agricultural-hemp Washington
A 2012 ballot initiative decriminalized marijuana in small quantities and have authorized the Washington to license, regulate and tax production. Hemp regulations have not yet been issued, but there is authority to do so. Long time hemp watchers can note with some irony that marijuana has become the stalking horse for hemp, but there it is. The state senate is deliberating over a bill that would allow Washington State University (WSU) to study the feasibility and possible value of an industrial hemp industry in Washington. Both the State Ag department and WSU seem keen. West Virginia
Passed its hemp Act back in 2002 and has been patiently waiting for the federal regulations to change or clear up. In recent years, work has been put to remove the federal licensing barriers from applying to state law. Interestingly, WV’s original hemp law recognized industrial hemp as having no more than 1 percent THC, rather than 0.3%, which is the usual standard found internationally.
And Then There Was More…?
The Farm Bill continues to stimulate legislative action on industrial hemp. More states are in hurry up mode and getting legislation ready. Breakin’ and of note: Indiana
The State Senate recently voted to for a bill, that would enable farmers to legally grow industrial hemp. There would be a proposed annual fee of $150 in addition to $2 for every acre of hemp planted. Crop inspections would be part of the regulatory regime. This bill now moves to the House for a vote. Indiana advocates cited the Kentucky example and did not want to miss out on a competitive opportunity. Of course, commercial farming would still be subject to Federal licensing and restrictions. Nebraska
A hemp bill was recently introduced to the state legislature. Proposed regulations would require an annual $150 permit from the Department of Agriculture, a legal description of the land and criminal background checks. Because of agricultural history, feral hemp grows widely across Nebraska. Any regulation would have to account for that agronomic reality. It is also a potential genetic gift. No final decision has yet been taken on the state bill.
More states to come…
Strong prices have led to ‘unprecedented’ interest in the crop, says Hemp Oil Canada rep
Hemp acres in Manitoba are set to shatter records again this year as interest in the crop rises to an unprecedented level, the seed production manager for Hemp Oil Canada said last week.
Kevin Friesen told about 30 farmers meeting at the Food Development Centre here that he anticipates 90,000 acres of contracted production this spring, up from about 67,000 last year, and way, way up from just 8,000 acres in 2007. The crop was approved for production in Canada in 1998.
“Normally, people migrate towards hemp when it’s about twice as profitable as canola,” said Friesen, who estimated that a good crop of conventional hemp, at about 40 bushels to the acre contracted at 70 cents per pound will rake in gross revenue of $700/acre compared to about $240/acre for canola.
“It is an easy crop to grow, but you have to be willing to put in extra time and management to be successful,” he added.
In Manitoba, the most popular variety is CRS-1, but Finola and CFX-1 and 2 are the mainstays in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Finola, brought in from Finland in 1998, has the smallest seed, with 1,000 seeds tipping the scale at 13 grams compared to CRS-1 at 17 g/1,000. Finola matures in 100 days, CFX-1 and 2 at 103-105 days, and CRS-1 at 110 days.
Finola is the shortest variety, but with hemp, “height expression” varies according to the latitude where it is planted. The higher the latitude, the taller hemp grows, and vice versa, said Friesen, noting that in southern Ontario, Finola only grows knee-high, but 800 km north of Edmonton, it can reach eight to 10 feet.
Shorter plants are easier to harvest, but taller plants cope better with weeds. It matures according to hours of daylight, so pushing back the seeding date can ensure a shorter crop at harvest.
The herbicide Assure II, already allowed in Eastern Canada, may be approved for use here by spring, becoming the first herbicide registered for use on the crop.
A handful of dual-purpose, grain and fibre varieties have also been developed by the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers (PIHG), but a market for hemp fibre may still be a few years away due to delays at the Gilbert Plains processing plant.
Jeff Kostiuk, acting diversification specialist with the Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation based in Roblin and provincial hemp agronomy contact, said that it’s still not too late to apply for permission from Health Canada.
Permits are good for one year, and growers need only submit field GPS co-ordinates from Google Earth, proof of consent from the landowner, and agree to a criminal record check.
Only pedigreed seed is allowed because farm-saved seed can spontaneously boost THC levels — the compound that gives marijuana its buzz. Crop samples must be submitted for testing by an approved sampler at a cost of $300 per field, but some hemp varieties such as CRS-1 are exempt from that requirement due to consistently low THC levels.
Seeding is best at half-inch depth into well-drained, warm, moist soil at 8-10 C at a rate of 25 pounds per acre at low fan speed to avoid seed damage. Research shows seed mortality averages 50-70 per cent regardless of seeding density or variety, and best results for grain come with two to 12 plants per square foot due to the crop’s ability to fill in thin spots. Row cropping hemp at 22-inch spacing works well, too.
Hemp is a big plant that is “very hungry” for nutrients, especially potash which goes mainly into the stalks, said Kostiuk. It loves nitrogen, and especially well-manured fields.
Some of the best hemp growers are organic farmers who grow alfalfa for hay for three years followed by silage peas and hemp. The crop, which pays $1.25 per bushel for organic, does well for them because a mid-June seeding date allows for a few weeks of tillage to control weeds.
Disease issues with hemp are minimal. Gophers are the most serious pest.
Harvest is best done while the plants are still a bit green, and many have found that a John Deere 9600 combine with a draper header works best. Knives must be new or in good shape, and setting the apron three to four feet high to avoid the fibrous stalks prevents plugging.
“Don’t put hemp fibre through the combine if you don’t have to,” said Friesen.
Residue can be a headache, he added, but some farmers use a forage harvester to chop up the stalks, which are then harrowed into piles and burned.
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A source of protein
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