Cannabidiol, or CBD as you probably know it, is a wonderful compound found in hemp plants. It’s part of a group of compounds known as cannabinoids. So far, researchers have discovered over a hundred of these.
Hemp, or Cannabis sativa, is a plant that has been grown, cultivated and harvested for thousands of years yet has been heavily regulated in recent decades. That all changed with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the industrial production of hemp at the federal level. This means it is legal to produce and make things from the hemp plant in all 50 states.
This was a significant win for fans of CBD, the most popular non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It has also led to the widespread availability of CBD products across the country, both online and in specialty stores. This increased demand has put a lot of pressure on the industry to find effective and safe ways to produce CBD products. And in turn, this technology change is revolutionizing the industry.
In this article, we will look at some of the significant ways technology is changing the CBD industry.
How We Used to Do It
It used to all start with the foraging or growing process, done by hand.
Then, the traditional way to harvest the therapeutic and medicinal compounds trapped within any plant was to soak them in alcohol. This process would take weeks and leave you with what is known as a tincture.
The resulting tincture could be boiled down to a highly potent form or further diluted with less potent alcohol or water.
As you can probably guess, the problem with this way of doing things is that it took a lot of time, and the concentration of beneficial components in the end product could never be guaranteed.
Our ancestors did the best they could with what they had, but fortunately for us, we live in an age of technology. This tech is going a long way to improving how we do things, from start to finish.
High Tech Hemp Farming
In the past, many hemp farmers began their crops from seed. But that was when the end-purpose was stalk and fiber. Today, there has been a shift to flower-forward CBD hemp. As a result, things needed to change.
Several farmers are opting for clones and seedlings instead of seeds to ensure the cultivation of specific plant strains that meet federal requirements of <0.3% THC content. However, this presented a labor issue because many modern-day American hemp farmers have transitioned from seed-based crops like wheat, corn and soy.
Enter Checchi & Magli (C&M) with their transformed vegetable transplanting machinery, expertly designed for hemp. Their machines can provide even spacing, can plant through plastic and some models will do up to 1,500 transplants per hour!
On the harvesting side of things, things are moving a little more slowly. The best way to harvest hemp plants for CBD production is to do so by hand. This is because most current machine methods will lose anywhere from one percent to five percent CBD yield from the harvested plants.
There is some equipment emerging, like Henry’s Hemp Harvest 700. It can protect CBD content by harvesting flowers instead of shredding the whole plant. And it’s more practical for field use, fitting in the back of a pick-up truck.
We’re excited to see what’s on the horizon in this area as things continue to change.
High Tech Hemp Processing
Currently, there is an oversupply of hemp in the U.S. and a lack of processing outlets. Take the state of Oregon as an example. There is a grower to processor ratio of 3.7 to 1. As the second largest producer of hemp by state, Oregon is a fine example of how there are definitely some kinks in the supply chain.
Fortunately, some companies are working hard to ensure that things change so you continue to have a quality and steady supply of your favorite CBD tinctures and other CBD products.
Take Mile High Labs as an example. They are coming up with solutions like the Mile High Monster, a modular extraction facility that can process up to 50 acres of hemp per day into full spectrum CBD oil. This means farms can have their own extraction facility on-site without the rigors of transport or letting crops go bad in a warehouse while waiting for processing.
Additionally, more is being invested into supercritical CO2 extraction. This method is popular because it is more environmentally friendly than other methods. It is FDA-approved for industrial extractions and has better yields. The CO2 used acts as a cleaning agent, removing microbial bacteria, molds and fungi.
What Can We Expect in the Future?
The cultivation of hemp for CBD is an industry that shows no signs of growth stoppage, and tech is sure to play a significant role in its future.
With so much money involved, you can be sure that players in the arena of big tech will have their sights set on the CBD market, including farming.
We can expect to see more technology-driven CBD farming in the future that includes drones and artificial intelligence. These, along with other innovations, will give the modern hemp farmer the best chance of producing plants that yield even higher amounts of CBD.
In the end, as customers, we will benefit from this as we’ll be able to buy high-quality products that never compromise on quality, all without supply chain disruption.
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