Industrial Hemp Project
in Northeast New Brunswick
In 2017 Global Hemp Group (GHG) and Marijuana Company of America (MCOA) launched a multi-phase commercial hemp project in northeast New Brunswick, Canada. This marked the return of industrial hemp to a region where it had been tried 20 years earlier, but failed to take off due to lack of market opportunities at the time. With Phase One now complete, the Partners are moving forward with Phase Two; commercial cultivation (125+ acres) and extraction of cannabinoids, as will be allowed with the upcoming legislative changes expected by mid 2018.
The final phase of the project will be the implementation of the Company’s Hemp Agro-Industrial Zone (HAIZ). The HAIZ focuses on the development of an industrial cluster around the hemp crop, which will ensure a market for farmers, year-round manufacturing job opportunities for the region, and a model for the Company to attract and develop additional HAIZ projects in other regions in both Canada and the United States. This strategy is expected to create a consistent revenue stream for years to come.
May 2o18 Update
The Partners have hired Joan Parker-Duivenvoorden as fulltime project agrologist and field manager for the project. Ms. Parker-Duivenvoorden graduated from Guelph University in 1981 with a BSc (Agr) majoring in plant protection. She has over 15 years-experience with the Nova Scotia Dept of Agriculture and with the New Brunswick Soil and Crop Improvement Association (“NBSCIA”). While working at the NBSCA, she has developed strong ties in the farming community that will prove to be advantageous as the project expands from the initial group of four farmers to more than fifty farmers as envisioned in coming years. In addition to being responsible for the project locally, she will provide advisory services to participating farmers, will conduct on-farm research projects to properly monitor the behaviourof various hemp varieties in different environments of the region. She will also develop training materials to assist farmers who will join the project in subsequent years. One of the long-term research projects headed by Ms. Parker-Duivenvoorden will be to develop a profitable crop rotation for organic hemp, opening the way for organic CBD.
Contracts have now been signed with the initial group of four farmers, who began seeding this season’s 125-acre industrial hemp crop last week. The farmers participating in the project in 2018 are located throughout the northeastern region of New Brunswick, Canada, making for a good cross section of results for research conducted on the behavior of the crop across that region. The distribution of farms will maximize the demonstration effect and will facilitate the recruitment of additional farmers in the following years. This carefully selected group of farmers will actively participate in addressing the introduction of this new crop across different regions.
A 4,000 sq. ft. facility has now been secured in Bathurst for this project. The building will be used for biomass storage and to install drying equipment that will used to process the fresh material. Dried material will be stored at the facility while awaiting further processing by third party processors. Once proper licenses have been acquired for importing and manufacturing finished CBD products, the site may also serve as a distribution center for the hempSMARTTMand Benihemp line of products.
A THREE PHASE PROJECT
Phase One (completed in 2017)The first phase of the project was the field trials of a number of hemp varieties, and a survey of farming conditions in the area. Data will be collected on yields of the grain, straw, flowers & leaves, and CBD content of the hemp. In addition, farmer commitment to hemp cultivation, and possible rotations in which hemp cultivation would fit profitably will all be critical in appraising the project using information relevant to growing conditions in the Acadian Peninsula.
Phase TwoThe second phase of the project in 2018 expands beyond trials to commercial cultivation and will cover more than 125 acres, and include a larger number of varieties. Key to this phase of the project will be the extraction of cannabinoids from the hemp grown. As this is currently the most profitable aspect of hemp cultivation, extraction will be the foundation to expand and fund the project going forward. In addition, pilot industrial activities will also be included in this phase.
Phase ThreeThe third phase of the project starting with the 2019 growing season, the project will embark on its final phase on the way to full agricultural and industrial deployment. Over the next three years, the area under hemp cultivation is expected to reach 9,000 acres and industrial facilities to process seed, straw, and flowers & leaves will be fully operational. The majority of investment required for the New Brunswick HAIZ will be in years four and five, with the exact amount varying depending on the final configuration of the HAIZ. The project will create hundreds of direct new jobs in both agriculture and manufacturing.
FOCUS - The project has three principal thrusts: hemp farming, primary processing of the crop, and secondary processing into finished products.
Primary processingPrimary processing will include a decortication plant to separate fiber and hurd, a seed processing plant to extract oil and protein powder, and, as soon as Canadian legislation allows, a facility to process flowers and leaves to extract cannabidiol (CBD) initially as well as other cannabinoids (CBC, CBG, CBN) and terpenes. Markets for seed and CBD are already in full development.
Secondary processingSecondary processing however, is where the real sources of employment and environmental benefits are found. The Company is seeking links with manufacturers, to join efforts in processing these primary products locally into consumer products. Cottonization of fibres for the textile market and processing of hurd for use in the construction industry are examples of products derived from the straw. Hemp oil seed cake enriched with CBD is another area of production, to produce healthy human and animal foods. The entire hemp plant will be transformed into an array of environmentally friendly products. The project is established in an incremental five-year framework, in which farmers will be trained and guided as they adapt to the new crop and explore a new farming system model. A multi-dimensional research program will be implemented to support farming activities, to improve processing methods, to develop new products, and to monitor the use and impact of products from the HAIZ. Contacts with research organizations of the region have already been established and agreements are under negotiations.
Location - Bathurst area in northeast New Brunswick, Canada
New Brunswick Hemp Cultivation trials: A final report
Purpose of the Trials in 2017Twenty years ago hemp cultivation trials took place in northern New Brunswick. Unfortunately, no record was kept, but the trials went well according to farmers who participated at the time. Global Hemp’s 2017 trials were limited in scope, due to resource and time constraints. The principal purpose was to reintroduce industrial hemp for all to witness, making it easier to expand on a wider scale in 2018, in the framework of a project planned for the region. A second objective was to explore the impact of plant density on key yield measures: straw, flower and leaves.
Experimental ConditionsThe trials were not carried out under controlled conditions in the sense that the choice of plots was left to participating farmers, the history of each plot was different, fertilizer applications, crop management experiences may also have been different. As such they should be considered as on-farm experimentation. Three hemp varieties were tested in two locations in Northeast New Brunswick, one in Jacquet River East of Bathurst and one near Grande Anse, West of Bathurst. The varieties tested were CFX-1 CFX-2 and CRS-1, all dioecious varieties meaning that male and female organs are on separate plants. The western site was sown on June 8th while the eastern one was sown on June 10th. The temperature was adequate from mid-May onwards and would have been suitable for planting. Unfortunately, the area experienced a dry spell from mi-May to Mid June, less than 25 mm for the whole period. Plots were planted as soon as seeds arrived in early June and suffered from this dry spell.
This can be seen from the photo taken on June 28th where the plants are barely 10 cm tall instead of 25-30 as expected. The photo also illustrates the irregularity in the plants, which may reflect poor germination or improper control of seed drill.
The crop really took off by the first week of July as can be seen in the photo taken on July 5th, where the plants averaged between more than 40 cm, as can be seen from the container in the middle of the field. A growth of nearly 30 cm in a week!
Farmers were paid a fixed fee for their participation and were provided with seed and asked to plant according to recommended densities. They had no real incentive to maximize output. Plots were selected late because of the uncertainty in getting the seeds, and were not chosen in prime areas, which had already been sown. In fact, site 1, already planted in barley was ploughed in again and planted afresh in hemp. Inevitably some volunteer plants (residual seed from previous crops) principally barley and some oats made their way, as this field was planted at low density 15 kg/ha (13 lb/acre) and struggled with volunteer barley and oats. In contrast, fields planted at higher densities (30 kg/ha and 50 kg/ha) fared much better.
ResultsTwo samples of one m2 each were drawn from each plot defined as one of roughly 500 m2 on which one variety was sown at a given density. Three varieties were sown at three different densities 15, 30 and 50 kg/ha. Only two varieties were sown on site 1. The collected green materials were brought to the CCNB-Grand Falls laboratory for measuring green and dry weights of the samples. Standard drying procedures were applied and all parts and were heated at 80°C for 24 hours. These measures were averaged for each plot and projected on a hectare basis to get comparable yield figures. Yields in general were more or less consistent but disappointing, particularly those of straw. Straw yields of 1-2.5 T/ha rose with the increase in plant density but remained below expectations of 5-6 T/ha. Reasons for this low performance have been discussed throughout these trials: cropping history of the plots, inadequate land preparation, improper adjustments in seed drill, low level of fertilizers. The late planting (June 8-10) will have constrained the period of plant growth before flowering, which is triggered by accumulated temperatures and the photoperiodicity of the varieties. The plants had reached their maximum height by the end of July. The observed straw yields are too low to be profitable and will need to be improved. However, there is ample ground for improvement, starting with planting date, adequate soil preparation and fertilizer application Yields of flowers and leaves (1.25 - 2.10 T/ha for flowers and leaves combined) are also below expectations of 2.5 T/ha but not dramatically so. Moreover, the yield was found to increase with planting density, contrary to expectation. Grain yields were not measured as the samples were harvested at least one month before optimum harvest time.
Cannabinoid AnalysisFor the cannabinoid analysis, samples were drawn from one site only and dealt with only two densities. Only one site was sampled to minimize the time between harvesting and delivery to the RRC laboratory in Fredericton. Flowers on the low density plots were less than optimal to be sampled. The greater concentration of CBD in leaves rather than flowers is significant and warranted a query to the laboratory to see if such results could be attributed to errors in reporting or in the procedures themselves. In fact, RPC recognized as much in response to our query “Our procedure for the prep of buds is to use a 2mm sieve to eliminate large stems and seeds. However, with these samples, the seeds passed through the sieve and were processed with the bud sample”. As tests are performed on very small samples it may well be that a small amount of seed in the ample would have biased the CBD concentration downwards. A key finding is that the CBD concentration in flowers is consistently higher at densities of 30 kg/ha across all varieties, and this would hold true despite the bias identified above, as it would apply to both samples. This confirms the possibility of a trade-off between producing at higher densities for straw output (and lower value) vs. lower densities for CBD out and much higher values.
ConclusionWhile optimal results were not achieved in the 2017 cultivation trials, the results were sufficiently encouraging for the Company to proceed to Phase Two of the project and increase the number of acres to be grown in 2018 to 125. Management is confident that with additional planning (early field preparation) and earlier planting for current season, results from the 2018 crop should be more in line with expectations, thus allowing for extraction of cannabinoids.
A Word of ThanksThe report cannot conclude without a heartfelt word of thanks to institutions of the regions, namely the Coastal Zones Research Institute, the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau Brunswick, and the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries (DAAF), who all contributed to the success of this trial, either by their advice, insights, or technical services. Jesse Chiasson, of DAAF deserves a special word of thanks for his support and ability to find solutions in the implementation of this modest experimentation.
1 Laboratory Guide for Conducting Soil Tests and Plant Analysis. J. Benton Jones Jr. CRC Press. 2001. 2 Note that this is not equivalent to the curing process of flowers and leaves which is spread over a longer period at lower temperatures