Industrial Hemp (iHemp) is made up of varieties of Cannabis Sativa that contain less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is an annual broadleaf plant with a taproot and is capable of a rapid growth under ideal growing conditions.
The female flowers and seeds are indeterminate, meaning that there are both ripe and immature seeds on the same plants at the time of the grain harvest.
Fiber ihemp plants will grow 2-4 meters tall without branching. In dense plantings, i.e., seed drilled, the bottom leaves fall off due to lack of sunlight and the male plants die right after shedding pollen, generally 4-5 weeks into the growing cycle, lasting approximately 1 week. The stem has an outer bark that contains the long, tough bast fibers. They are similar in length to soft wood fibers and are very low in lignin content. iHemp rope, textiles and clothing is made from these fibers. The core contains the “hurds” or “shives” (short fibers), similar to hardwood fibers and these are used for building, particle board (MDF), pet bedding, as well as plastics.
For grain production the plant may branch and reach heights of 2-3 meters. Tall plants do not mean more grain and shorter plants are preferred for combing. In well structured and drained soil the taproot may penetrate 15-30 cm (12”) deep. In compacted soil the taproot remains short and the plant produces more lateral, fibrous roots.
Here is an interesting and enlightening assortment of ihemp facts
- iHemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of ihemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.
- Presidents Washington and Jefferson, both grew ihemp.Americans were legally bound to grow ihemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized ihemp during the Second World War and the U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of ihemp as a part of that program.
- iHemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source. iHemp is second only to soybeans in complete protein content (but is more digestible by humans), is high in Vitamin-B group, and is a good source of dietary fiber. iHemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug.
- The bark of the ihemp stalk contains bast fibers, which are among the Earth’s longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose. The cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. iHemp stalk is not psychoactive. iHemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.
- According to the Department of Energy, ihemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all ihemp products. The hydrocarbons in ihemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas.
- Eco-friendly ihemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use ihemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with ihemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name a very few examples. Over two million cars on the road today have ihemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards, luggage racks, etc
- iHemp can be grown organically. Only eight, out of about one hundred known pests, cause problems, and ihemp is most often grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. iHemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to the fast growth of the canopy.
- iHemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. iHemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. iHemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it’s creamy color lends itself to the environment-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical byproducts.
- iHemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not turn yellow with the age when an acid-free process is used. A ihemp paper, of more than 1,500 years old, has been found. iHemp paper can also be recycled greater number of times than their wood-based counterparts