Texas A&M AgriLife “Texas Row Crops Newsletter”—Industrial Hemp


Dr. Calvin Trostle, Professor & Extension Agronomist/AgriLife State Hemp Specialist, TAMU Dept. of Soil & Crop Sciences, Lubbock, (806) 746-6101, ctrostle@ag.tamu.edu





Our next statewide AgriLife Zoom update is January 4, 2022, 5:15-6:30 PM CST.  Please register in advance for this meeting:


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What will be the market and interest for CBD in 2022?


Much of the CBD industry, especially for extractable CBD, has been battered by all-time low prices in 2021.  Hemp Benchmarks reported October 2021 the national aggregate price for biomass for extractable CBD was $0.30 per each 1.0% CBD per one pound of dry biomass.  The range was $0.05 to $0.80.  This is compounded by excess biomass from previous years still in storage which is available for processing.  (The low end of the above price range might represent existing biomass in storage from previous years.  I have a hunch it is possible that “new crop” 2021 production might be slightly higher than aggregate.)  Furthermore, some industry observers have suggested that acreage to meet extractable CBD demand is still well below 2021 reported acreage and harvest.


Growers of CBD for extraction that have their own system, markets, their own product, and any level of vertical integration may have some buffer against these otherwise low market prices.  I do not know of a state Extension budget sheet on extractable CBD using the traditional small-acreage hand-oriented production model that shows a profit.  States’ enterprise budgets have not caught up yet with large-scale production models that use straight-run seed and essentially fully mechanical harvest and processing of large amounts of biomass.  Individuals with this production system who are tied into processing agreements tell me this still has a shot at coming out in the black.  But the system depends on getting good yields and having agreements for processing.


Most of you understand the issues as a business producing CBD better than I do.  You certainly need a keen mind, a sharp pencil, and some realism to navigate the extractable CBD market.  I still get a few inquiries from would-be first-time Texas growers that want to enter the hemp industry.  I then outline the concerns on market potential, ensure they are aware of current pricing, etc.


What planting stock to use in 2022 CBD hemp production?


There is now a wide range of views on whether to use transplants, feminized seed, or straight-run (meaning ~50% of your plants will be males) for extractable CBD production.  The low market prices have put a great deal of pressure on using transplants due to their higher cost.  Perhaps you can produce your own?  (A caution about this, or if you have captured seed from some of your plants:  some hemp CBD varieties are legally protected.  Thus, generating new seed stock for either your own planting seed or for transplants is prohibited.  As you purchase planting stock in 2022, if needed, ask if generating your own material from that genetic line is permitted by the seller.  The complicating factor here—a process I am not schooled in—is can you treat your own seeds for feminization?  If you have done this, please send me a note and tell me about it.)


For smaller-acreages, feminized seed is still of high interest as you surely wish to have no male plants in the field.  To plant straight-run seed in a small field then rogue those males out before they would shed pollen and potentially fertilize females could be a lot of work.  I note, however, that in all straight-run varieties I have worked with—including CBD strains, grain, and fiber—the males show about two weeks before the females.  I believe it would be easy to hoe them out before you have initial development of females and thus pollination.  (A potential caveat: if you are growing more than one variety, they may not enter reproductive growth at the same time.  Males are developing on one variety while you now have females already developed on another.)


It may be that small acreage producers eventually find low levels of seed development in your females is actually acceptable.  This may reduce CBD levels slightly and you would have small amounts of seeds in your flower.  For small scale growers this seed may be difficult to separate out.  If you are trying for the highest percent CBD you can get for smokable hemp, then you won’t want the seeds.  But that is higher value hemp so you can more readily justify higher seed costs.  But for extractable CBD the %CBD is actually not as critical.  It could be an economic decision.  You may find that 8% CBD biomass, if production costs are lower, is more economical than 9% and even 10% CBD.  And besides, the former has less potential issue in going hot for THC.


For your planting stock purchases in 2022 shop carefully.  Companies selling seed and transplants are under pressure as the volume they can sell compared to 2020 and especially 2021 has decreased greatly.  Do discuss discounts.  Ensure also as best you can germination percentage and whether the company you buy from will stand behind their seed.  Avoid sellers that are only on the internet (no brick-and-mortar location).


Bailey Co., Texas Hemp Fiber Trial (Andrew Bish)


Andrew Bish, Bish Enterprises, in Nebraska has put forth great effort to identify suitable grain and fiber lines for the U.S.  As we have discussed before most northerly varieties are not adapted to the southerly latitudes in Texas.  Those varieties flower much too soon.


Andrew worked with cooperators in at least eight states to plant a set of varieties across a wider range of locations including latitudes, irrigated vs. dryland, humid vs. arid climates, etc.  I watched the Bailey Co., Texas site (~34.1°N latitude) which had a June 23 planting date (this is up to two months later than what we would like to see going forward).


Here are the varieties in the Bailey Co. site (and sites in other states).



Greatly premature flowering, short growth of 24” or less (poor growth)—based on this initial trial result these varieties and those like them are not suitable for Texas

  • X-59 (grain, Canada, less than 12” tall, grossly premature flowering)
  • Felina 32 (HempIT, France, fiber, and grain. Company literature suggests this variety can be grown at lower latitudes {in Europe}, but we are not sure how that translates to the U.S.  Based on this observation it is still not adapted this far south.)
  • Futura 75 (Figure at right. HempIT, France, fiber. Same info. about lower European latitudes as noted above for Felina 32.)
  • Fibror 79 (France, fiber and low CBD, variety has a distinct yellowish color in foliage that is not iron or nitrogen deficiency)


Intermediate flowering, marginal growth

  • A2 (Oakes-Wright, Colorado, CBD/fiber/grain; also marketed at SHV-1, by Sun House Ventures of Colorado)
  • Carmagnola (Italy, CBD & fiber—would be interesting to see how this variety performed with an April planting)


Modest growth, longer flowering date

  • EcoFibre ECO MS-77 (EcoFibre, Australia, fiber, developed in and for southerly latitudes.) This variety has performed exceptionally well in far South Texas in part due to high quality seed that came directly from EcoFibre and was transported and stored properly (cool).  Most other U.S. testing came from a seed source that was not stored ideally and resulted in low %germ.  The plants grown from this seed, including Texas A&M AgriLife work and the Bish trial have given mixed results in central and north Texas and other intermediate latitudes.  Seed germination in Texas A&M AgriLife, Cornell Univ., South Carolina, and Bish trials was low—this will be improved.  We will source 2022 MS77 seed directly from EcoFibre.


Good growth, long delayed initial flowering

  • Jin Ma (China, fiber, grows well but tests hot for THC in vegetative stage)
  • Yu Ma (China, fiber, grows very well, good early season vigor, but tests hot for THC in vegetative stage)


Several Texas entities have expressed interest in HempIT (http://www.hemp-it.coop) varieties from Europe.  There are two varieties above noted for southerly European latitudes (which would generally still be 40°N latitude and above; this is equivalent to the Kansas-Nebraska border).  Fiber variety Futura 83 on HempIT’s website also notes southern European adaptation and “more exotic latitudes.”  It is a long-maturity variety.  I am not currently aware if it has been tested in the southern U.S.  It must be tested here before it would be sold commercially.

Due to the late June planting date on this Bailey Co., Texas site, the days were the longest and the nights (dark period) the shortest.  All the varieties above are photoperiod sensitive.  It is the length of the dark period that triggers reproductive growth.  So, in spite of the near shortest dark period in Bailey Co., the first four above varieties entered reproductive growth almost immediately.  Thus, there is no time at the Bailey Co. latitude (or further south) that the dark period would be short enough to NOT trigger reproductive growth.  I have seen many other varieties experience this same reaction at Lubbock, TX (33.5°N).  These include Anka, Altair, CFX-1, Hliana, Bialobrzeskie.

This issue of premature flowering CBD varieties does not appear to be a concern.  These varieties grown in Texas, though they may flower sooner than expected, do not curtail growth.  Plants may be smaller than if grown in more northerly latitudes or even Colorado, but growth and plant size is still good.

Do Chinese fiber varieties have a future in U.S. hemp production?

I noted this past fall that Yu Ma was hot for THC at 0.4-0.8 THC even in the vegetative stage of growth.  This is from samples that had no male or female reproductive growth.  Cornell University and Univ. of Illinois confirm Yu Ma was also hot for THC in 2021 trials.  Texas A&M AgriLife also measured THC > 1.0% in Jin Ma in 2020.

Dr. Larry Smart, Cornell Univ., noted during the Auburn University’s “Science of Hemp” online conference (11/19/2021):  “High THC is what we would predict in Chinese hemp lines based on our molecular marker work.  All the Chinese varieties we have tested have genes for THCA synthase.”  So, could this be fixed in plant breeding?  Dr. Smart is collaborating with University of Florida on this topic.  It is possible that plant breeding (or gene editing) could neutralize the production of THC in Chinese hemp fiber lines, but this would take several years.  It appears to me growing Yu Ma and harvesting early will not likely solve the issue of THC development.  Short of states relaxing their requirement on how fiber crop plants are sampled or harvested (no leaf or floral material leaving the field?) Yu Ma is not a viable option for fiber production in the U.S. at this time.

Do fiber and grain hemp production fit together?

Many hemp varieties suggest suitability for dual purpose (combination of two of CBD/cannabinoid production, fiber, and grain).  I believe saying a hemp variety is for ‘fiber’ is not specific enough.  Bast and hurd production may entail significantly different production methods.   Some varieties even suggest they could be harvested for all three commercial components.  A reality check, however, enters into consideration for any desire to produce mature grain in hemp:  if you wait long enough for maturity of seed (grain) then THC is more likely to be high AND hemp bast fiber quality will be lower.  This higher level of maturity likely eliminate textile-type uses that require high quality.  We don’t have a good feel yet for what types of bast fiber quality the market will demand.  Hurd quality with increasing maturity is less an issue.  It does not undergo the same decrease in quality parameters like bast fibers over time.  Perhaps hurd and grain is a suitable fit.

Subsequent to the above Science of Hemp conference Dr. Larry Smart, Cornell Univ. noted on Nov. 19, “I am very skeptical of the dual-purpose harvest right now. You will not compete with grain producers in Saskatchewan and Montana trying to combine 12-foot-tall plants while also collecting inferior fiber because you let it go too long in order to get grain.  Let’s figure out dedicated short (height) grain varieties and late-flowering dedicated fiber varieties first.

Dr. Smart’s comments offer a guide for the U.S. hemp industry.  Since 2020 I see that almost all grain hemp varieties have photoperiod that is only adapted to the northern U.S., Canada, or Europe.  The southern U.S. cannot compete with northerly production of hemp for bulk grain.  Yes, local markets might be developed, but productivity—and production costs—for hemp grain are much more favorable in the far north.  Yet dual-purpose gets more potential value from one crop, so there still might be opportunity for grain from a fiber line, but it could require specialized harvest

One Texas hemp industry staffer with strong interest primarily in fiber offers that there is minimally a true dual-purpose hemp crop.  One component or the other (cannabinoids, bast, hurd, grain) is the primary objective.  And what does your contract want?  It should offer guidance on what the priority is.  You grow for that contract and its end-use priority.  If for grain, what is the specific use?  If for bast, what standards in quality are your target?

Preliminary Report:  Early Fall Planting of Fiber Varieties, Stiles Farm (Thrall, TX) & AgriLife Weslaco

EcoFibre of Australia has noted fiber variety ECO-MS77 may be planted by mid-September in lower latitudes for fall/winter/early spring fiber production.  One personal communication from the Lower Rio Grande Valley for ECO-MS77 planted fall 2020 and growing into spring suggested good growth.  The coldest temperatures in Central Texas during the winter I believe are unlikely to allow satisfactory growth due to freezes that could injure or even kill the hemp.  The Lower Rio Grande Valley may be different as modest temperatures there in the winter are not that different than summer temperatures in northern Europe.  Low temps can approach freezing though some years in the LRGV.

Working with Williamson Co. agricultural Extension agent Gary Pastushok and AgriLife Weslaco’s plant breeder Dr. Jorge da Silva, we planted small observations for fiber varieties Eletta Campana, Fibranova, Yu Ma, and ECO-MS77.  Stiles Farm (~40 miles northeast of Austin) was planted by hand October 5.  Weslaco was planted October 7.  We wanted to observe when they initiate flowering and overall growth.

We will report in greater detail in a forthcoming newsletter.  For now, we have data on initial reproductive growth at Stiles Farm (Table 1).  Germination percent was subpar for Eletta Campana, Fibranova, and ECO-MS77.  Seeding density was adjusted (as they were in all summer 2021 AgriLife trials for reduced germination) to compensate for low germination.

Table 1.  Initial results from fall fiber planting October 5, 2021, at Stiles Farm, Thrall, TX.  All varieties demonstrated initial female reproductive growth after 11/17/2021 and before 12/17/2021.  Information is courtesy Gary Pastushok, Williamson Co. AgriLife ag. extension agent, Georgetown.


10/19/21 Ratings†            Initial Male                             Average Height

              Variety                   Emergence                 Vigor‡            Growth By       by 11/17/21 (inches)               

Eletta Campana                  3.0                             3.0                 11/2                            28

Fibranova                       2.2                             2.2                 11/2                            28

ECO-MS77                       1.2                             1.5              ~11/10                          16

Yu Ma                          3.0                             3.0                11/17                           18


†0-4 Visual Rating Scale:  0 = no emergence; 1 = poor emergence or vigor; 2 = fair emergence or vigor; 3 = good emergence or vigor; 4 = excellent emergence or vigor.

‡Vigor ratings are based on the plants present regardless of the degree of emergence.


Fig. 2.  Hemp fiber variety trial, Stiles Farm, Thrall, TX.  Planted October 5, 2021.  Top:  October 18, 2021.  Bottom:  November 8, 2021.  Plot ID of varieties:  Bottom, left to right:  Eletta Campana, Fibranova, MS77, Yu Ma; Middle, left to right:  MS77, Yu Ma, Eletta Campana, Fibranova; Top, left to right:  Fibranova, Eletta Campana, Yu Ma, MS77.  Photos courtesy Gary Pastushok.



Conditions at Stiles Farm have been much warmer than normal for fall 2021 so this level of growth may not be repeated.  The establishment of ECO-MS77 was slow.  This could be due to reduced vigor from the seed we had from low germination/improper storage.  (As noted above we will source 2022 ECO-MS77 seed directly from EcoFibre.)


AgriLife Weslaco results:  From the October 7 planting, Dr. da Silva notes much female reproductive growth in Eletta Campana as of Dec. 8.  Yu Ma had initial female growth.  There was no emergence on ECO-MS77, the variety that drove this fall planting effort.  Other ECO-MS77 growing in the LRGV is not having this issue.


What we will watch for:  I expect a freeze will knock back the Stiles Farm planting.  If there is sufficient canopy to protect the lower plant, then I expect growth to continue.  We want to see how tall these plants get.  Once female growth starts, we don’t expect much further increase in height, but we are not sure.  The Lower Rio Grande Valley plants we anticipate will continue to grow through the winter.  I am not sure what we will get.


Possible Off-Season Testing of Hemp Variety Photoperiod Response?—Growth Chambers


An August 2021 publication from the University of Florida outlines how hemp variety photoperiod response can be tested in growth chambers to reproduce different lengths of day/night.  This could be quicker than relying on field tests though field evaluation may be needed to confirm GC results.  The paper is available at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2021.694153/full

If is possible that growth chambers tests initiated in January could reveal hemp variety photoperiod response in time for the 2022 cropping season.  Will hemp lines flower prematurely at shorter dark periods?  This could prevent planting of hundreds of acres of hemp fiber and grain lines that are not adapted to the southern U.S.  Texas A&M AgriLife may be able to offer fee-based testing to get an early indication of photoperiod response before companies and processors commit to contracts for seed or production.  For further information contact Calvin Trostle.


Fertilizer Prices are at All-Time Highs


Prices for common fertilizers like urea (46N-0P-0K), ammonium sulfate (21-0-0-24S), and monoammonium phosphate (or MAP, 11-52-0) are at record highs.  For Texas hemp growers following organic production methods (even if not certified organic), this is not an issue.  For other production this will be another increased expense for hemp.  It is possible many hemp growers may overfertilize, which is more justified when crop prices are high.  Will prices come down in 2022?  AgriLife Extension economist Dr. Mark Welch, College Station, believes they will, but whether that occurs in time to reduce costs on summer 2022 crops remains to be seen.


Texas Department of Agriculture Hemp Reminders


TDA again reminds licensees to be sure to file your lot crop reports for 2021.  If you planning to renew your hemp licenses and permits or your sampler licenses for 2022, be sure you do not let your 2021 license lapse.  As always, if you have questions for TDA call or e-mail.



Upcoming Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Programs


I do not have any current hemp programs scheduled.


February Hemp Zoom.  After January the next statewide hemp Zoom will be Tuesday, February 1.  Notification of registration will come by e-mail and hemp newsletter the last week of January.


Ongoing Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hemp Resources


General Information

We continue adding resources at http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/hemp including under ‘Hot Topics & Latest Updates’ on the main page.

Hemp Plant Disease Diagnostics—Texas A&M AgriLife @ Amarillo                     

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, ken.obasa@ag.tamu.edu  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.







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