Dr. Calvin Trostle, Professor & Extension Agronomist/AgriLife State Hemp Specialist, TAMU Dept. of Soil & Crop Sciences, Lubbock, (806) 746-6101, firstname.lastname@example.org
We continue the statewide Zoom updates we began in March. The September update will be Tuesday, September 7, 5:15-6:30 PM Central Time. We will continue throughout 2021 at the same time on the first Tuesday.
September topics will include some overviews of current AgriLife field projects (mostly fiber), observations statewide on industrial hemp fiber lines and desired delayed reproductive growth, and how hemp fiber and grain seeds should be sold in the future. I will also share some industry insights from a hemp field day in Terry County. This includes new industry projections about a further reduction in extractable biomass CBD acres needed to meet national CBD demand.
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from Calvin Trostle containing log-in information for the meeting.
Texas A&M AgriLife Planting Observations—Williamson Co.
Gary Pastushok, Williamson Co. (Georgetown) Ag. Extension agent has maintained the hemp fiber observation trial at Stiles Farm (30.5°N latitude; for reference the U.S./Canada border is 49°N). It was planted May 14. On July 22 AgriLife Extension hosted a field day there with over 45 participants. Table 1 is a partial record of Gary’s measurements through July 17. The primary interest is how soon—or not—individual varieties shoe initial reproductive growth. This is important as we learned in 2020 that most northerly hemp fiber and grain fiber lines flower prematurely in the South.
First, as noted in other discussion the %germination of many of the hemp varieties is low. The highest is Yu Ma (China) at ~75%, a few as low as 25% and several ≤50%. This low %germ is not acceptable. We planted based on what we believed would give us comparable number of plants per unit area (different seeding densities). Thus, the stand ratings reflect some traits that may not be strictly the genetics of the variety but how the seed was harvested and handled. Yu Ma (China) has shown the best germination and best early season vigor/growth at all AgriLife locations. It remains to be seen how this variety may
Table 1. Hemp fiber variety trial growth and reproductive habit, Stiles Farm, Williamson Co., Texas. Planted May 14, 2021.
|Relative Growth||Flowering % (&)|
|Name||Type||July 17||June 23||July 17|
|Yu Ma China||Fiber||3.7||3.7||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|*Relative Stand/Growth Rating: 0, none; 1, poor; 2, fair; 3, good; 4, very good; 5, exceptional.|
|&Observation of male (likely appear first) & female reproductive structure.
First priority is noting initial reproductive growth. Second priority the degree.
|“Combined” flowering is sum of each % of males & females in flower (maximum is 200).|
test for %THC as I have received one report of >0.8% THC though I am not aware of the growth stage. At the Lubbock AgriLife fiber variety trial Yu Ma is the tallest (8’) and with a planting date of May 11. It still shows no early male reproductive growth as of Aug. 31. This is quite appealing as it would provide the grower and contractor flexibility in when to harvest depending on the fiber goals of the user. Also, with Yu Ma’s delayed reproductive growth—a month or more later than any other variety—this should minimize potential THC issues.
From the Stiles Farm research other varieties that show promise are ECO-MS77 and Eletta Campana and possibly Fibranova, AV-1 (based in part on 2020 data, it seems to have flowered earlier this year), and Carmagnola Selezionata. We will be deciding on %THC testing and fiber yield estimation the week of Sept. 6 for Stiles Farm. Several hemp growers and industry has commented that ECO-MS77 has show exceptional growth in South Texas including 12’ tall. I am aware of instances where this Australian variety has flowered somewhat prematurely in Texas so it certainly merits watching.
Texas A&M AgriLife Hemp Trial Work–Lubbock
Several small trials are in place:
- Fiber variety trial. Planted May 11 there is a wide range of variety growth. The northern lines went into reproductive growth within month. Most of these re less than 24” tall. Yu Ma (China) remains in vegetative growth as of Aug. 31 (Fig. 1). Other varieties that have promise are ECO-MS77 and Eletta Campana. We remain interested in AV-1 and probably Fibranova. THC samples will be collected Sept. 3. How to I sample Yu Ma when there is not floral development (Fig. 2)? I will simple cut the outer 3” of the tops or any upper branches.
- Planting date trial for fiber varieties. The April & May planting dates yielded good information on initial reproductive growth. There is a wide range. Again, early reproductive growth is unfavorable and but expected of northerly fiber lines grown in the southern U.S. The June planting received poor emergence, but some data. The July & August planting dates yielded
Fig. 1. Hemp fiber trial, Texas A&M AgriLife, Lubbock. Center left (tall) is Yu Ma (China) which still has no reproductive growth as of Aug. 31, 2021 (planted May 11, 2021). Other varieties demonstrate intermediate and ‘missing’ varieties are northerly lines that flowered within a month of planting and remained short.
Fig. 3. Yu Ma (China) hemp fiber variety remains in vegetative growth as of Aug. 31, 2021, at Lubbock AgriLife (planted May 11, 2021).
almost no emergence for most varieties. This might be due to hot conditions. It is not for lack of babying the seeds with garden mulch to prevent soil crusting and watering enough to ensure the topsoil does not dry out. Seed was covered with ¼” soil then ½” of garden mulch.
- Dryland and limited irrigation fiber trial. We failed to get a sufficient stand on two planting dates, May and June. In 2022, I will target an April planting date. I am using Yu Ma and Eletta Campana. I had planned to use ECO-MS77 but the %germ was too low for research.
- CBD trial. I have four varieties, and like last year a poor stand. This is as much a proof-of-concept trial to validate our variety trial test methods from 2020. There was no commercial interest in the CBD hemp variety trials for 2021.
The Emerging Issue in Straight-run Hemp Seed: Low Germination
As noted above hemp seed germ has been low. This is also an issue in feminized seed for CBD. We have seen modest %germination in a lab test at 65°F but the same sample has poor establishment in the field. This might be due to hotter soil temperatures/weather at more southerly latitudes. My June, July, and August planting date trial seedings were certainly low in establishment compared to April and May at Lubbock. What is a good %germination for hemp planting seed? I believe the target should be at least 75% and hopefully higher. This is still lower than any other seed we plant. Seed germ is complicated by harvesting hemp for planting seed involves a decision to harvest when some seed is mature and shattering off the plant (a loss) vs. younger immature seed at the top. In a sample of hemp seed this immature seed might have a green tint. The seed industry may use a gravity table to eliminate some immature seed from planting seed. This will result in higher quality planting seed.
Pure live seed. I believe this concept may need application to the sale of hemp seed. PLS reflects the percent germ. For example, if your target planting is 500,000 seeds per acre but the %germ is 60%, then 500,000 / 0.6 = 833,000 seeds to be planted. This also means we do not plant based on pounds of seed per acre (which is the common practice for hemp fiber and grain). Texas A&M AgriLife testing shows hemp fiber seeds ranging from 9,900 seeds/lb. (large seed) to 42,000 seeds/lb (Fig. 3). We see a similar pattern in wheat though not to this extent. Texas AgriLife will push the seed industry to consider this fair practice for growers.
Fig. 3. A wide variation in the size of hemp planting seed. Seed that is immature might be of similar size, but the green tint suggest immature seed which is lighter weight (Yuma Crossbow).
An additional seed issue for Texas fiber and also grain is the cost of seed. Varieties and planting seed originating from overseas is too expensive to plant commercially in my opinion. When a good variety is identified, suitable for southerly latitudes, I believe the planting seed will need to be grown in the U.S. under license to reduce cost.
What about Fall plantings for hemp fiber in South Texas?
A couple farmers, encourage by the good growth of ECO-MS77 in South Texas are considering some fall plantings. I would be cautious and commit only to planting enough to see what the hemp will do. Why? We have no reason to expect anything but premature reproductive growth. This will limit overall growth. A review: hemp is a photoperiod sensitive plant, strongly so. (A few cannabinoid lines are not, rather they are daylength-neutral, or in other crops we would say determinant; the hemp industry calls these lines ‘autoflower’.) Daylength decreases the dark period increase. Individual varieties are triggered for reproductive growth once the dark period reaches a certain length. This might vary by up to two hours. For some of the far northern fiber lines like Anka and Altair (Canada), Hliana (Ukraine), and Bialobrzeskie (Poland) there was never a day at Lubbock that was long enough to create a short dark period that would prevent almost immediate reproductive growth.
So, this issue may afflict hemp fiber lines in South Texas. If you fall plant hemp in South Texas, please let Calvin Trostle know your observations. Oregon State Univ. has conducted some November hemp plantings for CBD in California’s Imperial Valley (a few miles north of the Mexico border), with modest success, harvesting in March. Texas A&M is interested in learning more about this as we can have even further south latitudes though our extremes of cold are greater than the Imperial Valley hence adult hemp plants, being more susceptible to cold than juvenile hemp, may suffer if temps near freezing.
Comments from the August 26 Hemp Industry Field Day, Terry Co., Texas
Bingham Family Farms hosted the event at their vineyard and farm. Here are some observations:
- A legislative update from State Senator Charles Perry noted the issues and difficulty in regulating hemp in Texas. There are parties with different objectives pushing for certain outcomes.
- A Kentucky farmer, Bryan Furnisch, who has been active in hemp from the beginning, reviewed the evolution of the hemp industry. Kentucky went gangbusters on CBD but now most of that has disappeared due to lack of demand. There is a growing interest in hemp fiber as a viable long-term play.
- Overall, about 90% of more of the discussion of hemp at this field day was focused on fiber. There was little mention of CBD other than the prices for extractable biomass for CBD remain poor (average price $0.21-0.46/lb; CBG averaged $0.43/lb. Source: Hemp Benchmarks, Aug. 2021). This is not expected to change much soon. It was noted that hemp industry data and trends as assessed by PanXchange now suggest as little as 5,000 acres nationally of field CBD could meet the demand. I am not sure that estimate includes smokable CBD hemp or greenhouse production. Some of my simple “Aggie math” seems to confirm that further reduced CBD acres seems likely. This is compounded by the growing view, shared at this field program, that much of the future CBD supply could come from the cullings from biomass production for fiber.
- Field tour questions included concerns about the need for improved seed quality, weed control options, hemp use in reclamation sites, etc. I responded there is little funding available for a wide range of hemp research AND until we can address some of these initial issues in Texas like adapted varieties, we won’t be able to move beyond initial considerations yet.
Texas Department of Agriculture Hemp Reminders
TDA continually reviews existing rules. Numerous situations arise that were not described in the original rules that no one at TDA, AgriLife, farmers would have thought of. For example, if you are taking cuttings from a female mother plant for transplants, is that a harvest? Technically it is. But that is not the intent of the existing rules to require it be tested for THC. Seed production could be even more problematic as you must wait for mature seed, which for a cannabinoid hemp plant means you probably exceed 0.3% THC. What to do?
These are the issues that TDA considers apart from the testing, the reporting, etc. Randy Rivera, TDA hemp program coordinator, notes on August 26 that the agency continually assesses and considers potential changes/additions in the rules to meet current needs. These changes/additions are not matters that require legislative action due to the broad authority given to the agency to develop the rules—which must be in accord with federal guidelines—and implement them.
What is the Status of Delta-8 THC in Texas?
This would be an example of an emerging issue like TDA noted above. Delta-8 THC is apparently only in trace levels in cannabinoid hemp plants, but it can be converted from extracted CBD to delta-8 THC via chemical methods. Delta-8 has narcotic properties, but it is not regulated currently at the federal level. In fact, the hemp program rules developed under the U.S. Farm Bill in 2018 do not mention delta-8. But it has become popular. About 15 states have regulated (banned) it, but Texas has taken no legislative action on D8. However, subject to interpretation of the existing rules I understand through TDA that Texas Dept. of State Health Services, which regulates consumable hemp in Texas, does consider delta-8 THC a controlled substance. Currently there is a lot of consumer interest in hemp products containing added, or infused, delta-8 THC. Texas hemp growers and retailers that are orienting toward the combination of smokable hemp (which itself is in regulatory limbo in Texas) infused with delta-8 THC must understand that this market may be fragile. Investments could bear some risk.
Upcoming Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Programs
Sept. 27, Lubbock—Lubbock AgriLife hemp mini-field day. Dr. Trostle will host a two-hour review of hemp work at Lubbock and discuss issues in the region. Other participants will include AgriLife Extension ag. economist Dr. Justin Benavides, Amarillo; AgriLife Extension plant pathologist Dr. Ken Obasa, Amarillo; Dr. Sukhbir Singh, specialty crops, Texas Tech University, Lubbock. We will invite state Senator Charles Perry or his representative as well. The meeting will be held 1:30-3:30 PM at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center, Lubbock, 1102 East Drew (F.M. 1294).
Week of October 4, Chillicothe—We will host a regional hemp update at our AgriLife Research Station hemp fiber observation. More details date, time, and the location address will be forthcoming.
October Hemp Zoom—In addition to the September 7 statewide hemp update listed above, the October meeting will be October 5, 5:15-6:30 PM.
Ongoing Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Resources
We continue adding resources at http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/hemp including under ‘Hot Topics & Latest Updates’ on the main page.
Download the needed hemp-specific form from https://thppdd-lab.tamu.edu The policy for hemp diagnostics and collection/packaging/submitting plants is on the back of the form. It is best to notify Dr. Ken Obasa in advance of sending samples, office 806.677.5600, email@example.com In fact, you may e-mail digital images first which might provide a diagnosis and save the transport permit and diagnostic fees.
Texas A&M AgriLife Hemp Potency Testing for THC & Cannabinoids
Sample analyses of hemp for THC and cannabinoids is available through Texas A&M AgriLife labs at Uvalde and Lubbock. College Station will be added soon. The labs are now equipped with an auto sampler which greatly speeds analysis of large sample sets. For further information consult http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/hemp.html This service is not currently for official THC analyses required by law.
Our Hemp Program Twitter Account
Video Series: Economic & Legal Considerations for Hemp Production in Texas
This series of 29 videos is available at https://agecoext.tamu.edu/resources/legal-and-economic-considerations-for-growing-hemp/ Topics cover legal, contracting, economics, and potential crop insurance. The website is divided into the sections below. Choose the YouTube video you want to see and also the slides for each presentation (3 to 15 minutes).
Do you have hemp questions?
Find regional and topical Texas A&M contacts for hemp at https://cdn-ext.agnet.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AgriLife-Hemp-Resources-Personnel-2020-02Feb10-Trostle.pdf
If you have a question that we can include in our Twitter communication, via this newsletter or the First Tuesday updates, please e-mail Calvin Trostle.