Agricultural Hemp Essay Research Paper THE NEW

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Agricultural Hemp Essay, Research Paper THE NEW GLOBAL HEMP INDUSTRY Industrial hemp is similar to marijuana, but has only a tiny amount of Tetrahydro Cannabinol, or THC, the ingredient that produces a high. Industrial hemp could even hurt the state’s marijuana trade, because when people smoke hemp leaves they are only left with a headache. Hemp is a type of the cannabis plant that has been selected over many generations for fibre and seed production. Hemp is a bast fibre similar to flax, kenaf, and sun hemp. It is flax with an attitude. Hemp fiber is very similar to flax and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Fiber hemp grows in many different climates, altitudes, soils and weather conditions. It is grown for the fibers (outer bark), hurd (woody inner core) and

seed. Hemp is sown during April and May depending on climate. The stalks typically grow 10 to 12 feet tall in 100 to 120 days. Hemp cultivation requires no pesticides or herbicides. In many cases small amounts of fertilizer are used. Hemp crops are seeded in very tight rows. As the plants mature they form a dense forest which chokes out weeds leaving the field in excellent condition for planting at the beginning of the next season. When fiber hemp is harvested, the foliage can be left to rot and then be turned back into the soil. This returns much of the nitrogen and nutrients back to the soil so that less fertilization is required on subsequent plantings. Hemp is typically harvested in August. Harvest times in other parts of the world depend on climate and time of planting. Hemp

fiber crops are harvested prior to flowering for optimal fiber quality. Fiber hemp is densely planted in rows. Very little foliage is produced. The foliage in fiber hemp contains minute amounts of tetrahydral cannabinol (THC) which is the drug component in marijuana. Marijuana is also comes from the cannabis plant but the THC levels in marijuana varieties are 10 to 20 times higher than fiber hemp varieties. Fiber hemp plants typically contain between .01% and .05% THC. Marijuana plants contain between 3% and 15% THC. The hemp stalks and fiber contain no THC. Hemp stalks, fiber and even the sterilized seed are legal under US law but hemp is still illegal to grow without special permits. After the hemp stalk is cut, it is laid out on the ground for 3 to 7 days (depending on

weather) so that it can be dried by the sun. It is then bundled and stacked in upright in shocks that look like tee pee’s. In a good season a farmer can yield 10 to 12 metric tons of dry stalk from 1 hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) of land. Hemp has been cultivated continuously in eastern Europe for hundreds of years. After drying and bundling, the hemp stalk must be baled and transported to a rotting and processing facility. The drying process prepares the stalk for rotting. Rotting is the process which begins to separate the fibers from the hurd by breaking down the lignins or glues that hold the fibers and hurd together. Huge outdoor in ground tanks are filled with water. Hemp stalk bales are placed in the water and allowed to “rott” for about a week. The natural

bacteria contained in the water breaks down the lignin’s and pectin’s that attach the fibers to themselves as well as the herd. Cotton, for example, has desirable features but is hard on the environment. Cotton requires not only huge amounts of water but also enormous quantities of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Hemp, in contrast, will grow almost anywhere without depleting the soil and needs little, if any, pesticides and herbicides. Those features, plus its high yield per acre, also make hemp a potential raw material for paper. One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as 4 acres of trees or two acres of cotton. Hemp fabric requires fewer chemicals than cotton and is stronger and longer lasting. 5-10,000 Cancer related deaths are caused yearly from