My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Industrial hemp trials in 2016 focus on Canadian varieties
LREC employees harvest some of the taller varieties last year.
Growing industrial hemp in North Dakota is not just a maybe – the NDSU Langdon Research Extension Center proved it could be done last summer.
The center planted Canadian varieties CFX-1, CFX-2, CRS-1, Canda, and Alyssa, along with one variety from Finland and Australia, and five varieties from France for a total of 12 varieties in 2015.
Bryan Hanson, NDSU LREC agronomist who led the trials, said more industrial hemp varieties would be planted this year, and the plan is to focus only on Canadian varieties. Since the climate in North Dakota most fits with Canada, it makes sense to focus on Canadian varieties that have been well researched. Researchers can then learn more about how they will fit on North Dakota farms.
“We are also planning to test more varieties that don’t grow as tall as some of the fiber varieties this year,” Hanson said.
Since the majority of industrial hemp right now is being harvested and sold for grain, rather than fiber, shorter varieties may improve harvest ease for what North Dakota producers want to eventually grow on their farms.
“The height of the crop is an important consideration in determining the end use of the crop. Shorter cultivars tend to have less fiber and are more suited to grain production, while fiber and dual purpose cultivars are taller,” Hanson explained.
Seed mortality was a major issue last year when LREC planted the first industrial hemp varieties in North Dakota.
“We did see seed mortality, but we aren’t sure what caused it, and the issue is not well understood,” he said.
But while the Canadian industrial hemp variety Alyssa had high seed mortality rates, Alyssa, along with the Canadian variety Canda, had higher fiber yields than all other cultivars. Both had good grain yields as well.
Seed was planted into tilled soils at LREC, with the Canadian and Finland varieties planted on May 12, and the French varieties planted on June 5.
“Seeding dates varied because we didn’t receive all our seed at the same time,” said Hanson.
Seed mortality ranged from 48-75 percent, but the Canadian variety Alyssa had 82 percent mortality. Maturity ranged from 100 to 120 days.
Some varieties can be grown for fiber or grain, some just for grain, and some just for fiber. Among the Canadian varieties, Canda, CFX-1 and Alyssa can be grown for both; CFX-2 and CRS-1 are grown for grain. The Finland variety FINOLA is grown for grain and the French and Australian varieties are grown for fiber.
The fiber harvest for varieties from Canada and Finland was on Aug. 4, while the varieties from France were harvested on Aug. 29.
Grain harvest was later, with the variety from Finland harvested on Aug. 27, the Canadian varieties on Sept. 3, the French varieties on Sept. 28; while the Australian variety was late maturing and did not flower.
Final yields for grain and fiber:
– Alyssa yielded 7,498 pounds per acre of fiber and 1,154 pounds per acre of grain. Canda yielded 6,980 pounds per acre of fiber and 1,263 pounds per acre of grain.
– CFX-1 yielded 4,648 pounds per acre of fiber and 1,363 pounds per acre of grain, while CRS-1 yielded 5,037 pounds per acre of fiber and 1,062 pounds per acre of grain.
“The grain yield of CFX-1 was significantly higher than CRS-1,” Hanson said.
– CFX-2 yielded 4,438 pounds per acre of fiber and 1,189 pounds per acre of grain.
– Grain and fiber yields were comparable to research data from Canada, where the crop has been grown for many years.
– French varieties, planted later than varieties from Canada, had lower grain yield, but higher fiber yields. The Australian variety, planted last, was the tallest and the greatest fiber yield, but didn’t produce grain.
Other significant results:
– Plant stands ranged from 2.2 to 6.2 plants per square foot.
– The dual purpose cultivars, Alyssa and Canda, had the greatest plant height.
– Growth rate for the cultivars ranged from 1.5 to 2.3 inches per day from June 18 to July 30, and 3.7 inches per day from June 25 and July 2
Hanson said they are still learning about the best ways to grow and harvest industrial hemp.
“We are hoping to learn more about industrial hemp as we go and that information can be passed down to North Dakota producers who want to plant industrial hemp in the future,” he said. “There is a lot to be learned.”
Whether other areas of the state will have the success that Langdon has had is one question that may be answered this summer when four North Dakota farmers plant and grow industrial hemp on their own farms. That program is being operated by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.