What Is Hemp Biomass? Everything You Need to Know
Mature, female Cannabis sativa plants consist of many different constituent parts, and not all of these parts are needed to make popular, cannabinoid-rich bulk products like hemp flower and CBD extract. While these leftover components could be thrown away, it’s more sustainable to put the stalks, leaves, and other unwanted parts of hemp plants to good use, which is where hemp biomass comes into the picture. In this guide, we’ll provide you with a thorough description of hemp biomass, explain this hemp product’s economic value, and provide some examples of the finished products you can make with hemp biomass.
What is hemp biomass?
Hemp biomass is everything in the hemp plant that isn’t used to make other products. In most cases, only the mature, trimmed flowers of cannabinoid-rich hemp plants are used to make finished products, and the remaining components of Cannabis sativa plants are discarded.
Mature Cannabis sativa , however, consists of much more than just flowers. The fragrant, resinous flowers that this plant produces grow on thick, fibrous stalks and hemp also produces wide, fan-bladed leaves along with its branching stalks.
In addition to the large leaves that line hemp’s stalks, this plant also produces smaller, cannabinoid-rich leaves called “sweet leaf” that grow near hemp buds. Sweetleaf is commonly trimmed off hemp buds, but its high cannabinoid content makes sweet leaf one of the most potent components of hemp biomass.
Once CBD-rich hemp buds have been harvested and cut from their stalks, they go through an additional trimming process that removes unsightly leaves from the surfaces of the buds. Since this trim is not included in CBD flower, it is added to biomass instead.
How is hemp biomass produced?
The first step in producing hemp biomass is drying each of the leftover hemp plant components we listed above. In some cases, these components are dried together, but they’re often dried separately.
Once the discarded leaves and stalks of mature hemp plants have been dried, they are combined, and they often go through a shredding process to render large leaves and stalks into smaller pieces that are easier to package by the kilo.
At this point, CBD biomass is now ready for sale in bulk quantities. Once trim, sweet leaf, fan leaves, and stalks have been mixed together, the resulting blend usually contains around 10% CBD.
What is fiber biomass?
The term “biomass” is used throughout the agricultural industry to refer to any parts of plant products that are not used for food or other primary purposes. Since high-CBD hemp plants are bred and cultivated to be high in cannabidiol, biomass from these plants is usually used to make affordable CBD extracts. Alternatively, however, leftover hemp material can be harvested for its fibers, which are useful from a variety of industrial perspectives.
Called “fiber biomass,” this type of biomass does not contain very much CBD, so if it is made from CBD-rich hemp, it usually does not contain any sweet leaf or trim and is made exclusively from stalks or leaves instead. The vast majority of fiber biomass, however, is not made from CBD-rich hemp at all, and instead, it is made from low-cannabinoid hemp strains that are cultivated for their seeds, which have nutritional and cosmetic benefits.
Alternative definitions of hemp biomass
Hemp cultivators who produce low-CBD hemp outdoors in massive quantities commonly refer to the total weight produced by hemp crops as “biomass.” In this context, biomass also refers to the mature, CBD-rich flowers produced by hemp plants. Producers of indoor, artisan CBD flower-like Secret Nature, however, use the term “biomass” to refer exclusively to the non-flower byproducts that are created during high-CBD hemp flower production.
How much is hemp biomass worth?
When produced for its CBD content, hemp biomass is generally valued based on the amount of CBD it contains. Hemp biomass that contains 12% CBD, for instance, will usually be priced significantly higher than hemp biomass that contains 5% CBD.
This variance in CBD content can occur due to multiple factors. First, the total CBD content of the plant from which the biomass is derived plays a role. If a hemp plant produces CBD-rich flowers that contain 20% cannabidiol, for instance, the biomass-derived from that plant will contain more CBD than, say, a plant that produces flowers with 10% CBD.
In addition, CBD biomass is often offered in a variety of grades. High-grade CBD biomass, for instance, might be made with more bud trim and fewer stalks while low-grade CBD biomass may be made with more stalks and leaves. Since it uses parts of CBD-rich hemp plants that contain more cannabidiol, high-grade CBD biomass will naturally be higher in CBD and sell at a higher price than low-grade biomass made with low-yielding parts of the plant.
Further factors that dictate hemp biomass pricing
Furthermore, the price of hemp biomass fluctuates based on current market trends. Throughout the 2019 cultivation season, for instance, an unprecedented number of farmers switched to hemp from other crops due to the changes in CBD legislation resulting from the 2018 Farm Bill. As a result, the market became flooded with high quantities of hemp biomass, which pushed prices lower.
The vast majority of CBD biomass on the market, however, is low-quality. Most first-time hemp farmers don’t know how to avoid contamination and produce high-end biomass, and they may commit other errors that don’t comply with the industry standard.
Established producers of high-end CBD flower-like Secret Nature, however, have the experience and equipment necessary to produce high-end CBD biomass that transcends the boundaries of the mainstream hemp biomass market. Contaminant-free, high-grade CBD biomass intrinsically has more value than shoddily put-together biomass made by first-time hemp farmers.
Biomass production—how many pounds of hemp biomass per acre?
For producers of low-quality, outdoor-grown hemp, receiving the largest possible return-on-investment (ROI) is usually the top priority. As we mentioned above, outdoor hemp producers who have jumped on the bandwagon during the last few years commonly refer to the entire mature hemp plant as “biomass,” and as a result, they calculate their returns based on the amount of biomass that can be produced per acre.
At Secret Nature, we grow our flower indoors in climate-controlled environments under complex lighting systems, so the way we receive returns on our investment is slightly different. We focus on quality over quantity, but at the same time, we can understand why you might be curious about potential biomass yields when hemp is grown outdoors by the acre.
Estimates vary, but some sources indicate that it’s possible to produce 500-1,500 pounds of hemp biomass per acre. The amount of low-quality hemp biomass that can be produced outdoors, however, varies depending on the area where it is grown and the agricultural processes that are used.
What products can be made from hemp biomass?
CBD-rich hemp biomass is most commonly used to produce CBD extracts. Cannabidiol can be extracted from hemp biomass using a variety of different solvents and methods, and the substance that results from the first phase of extraction, commonly referred to as crude or “winterized” CBD oil, has 30-70% potency.
The potency of winterized CBD oil can be increased via distillation, which removes some undesirable components, or by isolating the CBD molecule and removing all other components. Once CBD oil has been isolated or distilled, it can be made into practically any type of CBD product.
Not all extracts made from CBD biomass are equal, however. The lower the potency of your biomass, for instance, the more likely it is that the extracts you make with it will contain contaminants.
This increased risk of contamination arises both from the inferior processes that are used to cultivate low-potency outdoor hemp and the increased amount of biomass that is needed to produce high-potency extracts. To ensure that the products you make with CBD oil extracted from hemp biomass are high-quality, it’s important to use indoor-grown, high-potency biomass.
What is hemp biomass, how is this bulk product produced, and what are its potential uses? Learn everything you need to know about hemp biomass in this guide.
Explanation, Wholesale Pricing, Regulations & More
When cultivating hemp plants commercially, hemp producers will want to get the most out of every single plant. Though most retailers and consumers focus on hemp flowers and their high-CBD levels, the organic material that remains after CBD-extraction is very important as well. Nonetheless, many people are unaware of hemp biomass and its commercial uses.
So, what exactly is hemp biomass? What’s the difference between industrial biomass and CBD biomass? How is hemp biomass regulated? Where can biomass buyers find it for sale? And where can hemp biomass sellers find a network of potential clients? We will cover all of this and more in the following sections, but first let’s take a look at the basics of hemp biomass, as well as its potential uses.
What is Hemp Biomass?
In order to better understand hemp biomass and its potential uses, let’s first discuss the hemp plant. Hemp is a particular type of the Cannabis Sativa species of plants. While very similar in many ways to traditional marijuana, hemp differs in its appearance and chemical makeup. One of the biggest differences between the two plants is the level of THC and CBD present. THC is the chemical compound that produces psychoactive effects when consumed, while CBD is known for various therapeutic effects including pain and stress relief.
Hemp plants generally contain less than 1% THC, whereas marijuana plants can contain anywhere between 15-40% THC, depending on the particular plant, as well as the cultivation process. However, hemp contains much higher quantities of CBD (cannabidiol). So, while the hemp plant cannot produce the same psychoactive effects as marjiuana, it can be utilized in many different therapeutic areas.
However, this does not fully explain the term “hemp biomass.” Biomass refers to any waste material from a plant or animal that is not used for food. So, when hemp flowers are cultivated and processed, biological material is left behind. This excess material is known as hemp biomass, and is generally made up of all the non-flower plant parts, like the seeds, stalks and/or leaves.
What are the USDA Regulations on Hemp Biomass?
As of December 2018, it is legal to grow and sell hemp and hemp-infused products in the United States, thanks to provisions in the Hemp Farming Act. That said, there are still complications surrounding the identification of hemp plants, and the USDA is still in the process of crafting rules that can be applied nationwide.
Since THC is still illegal in many states, local authorities need a way to differentiate between hemp plants, which contain less than 1% THC, and marijuana plants, which contain much higher levels of THC. As of now, there is little standardization in the hemp industry regarding plant testing, making it difficult for authorities in many states to determine the legality of individual materials.
That said, the USDA wants to follow in the footsteps of the Hemp Farming Act by making it easier for growers and retailers to comply with state and national regulations. Industry leaders anticipate greater standardization and clearer guidelines regarding CBD biomass by 2020.
What is CBD Biomass Used For?
You may be wondering why cannabis producers or retailers would want hemp biomass. After all, it is simply a collection of plant parts that do not contain as much CBD as hemp flowers. However, hemp biomass actually has some very important uses.
Fuel is the primary use for biomass. As researchers continue to look for the best resources for renewable energy, more attention will be given to the advantages of biomass. When burned, the energy that is naturally stored in hemp plants is released. This is particularly useful for farmers and other small to midsize enterprises in need of renewable energy. Additionally, hemp plant growth has a relatively quick turnaround time, with plants reaching maturity in about 4 months. However, hemp biomass does not need to be burned to create energy. In fact, a more modern method involves converting hemp biomass into liquid biofuel.
Finally, some producers also use hemp biomass to extract CBD oil, CBD distillate, or CBD isolate. Hemp fibre can also be used for the textile industry. However, the former requires CBD biomass, while the latter requires industrial hemp biomass.
Industrial Hemp Biomass vs. CBD Hemp Biomass
The two primary types of biomass are industrial biomass (also known as fibre biomass) and CBD hemp biomass. They can be differentiated by their respective chemical makeup, as well as their potential uses. That said, they are both composed of the excess materials from hemp plants.
What is Fibre Biomass?
Industrial hemp biomass, sometimes referred to as fibre biomass, can be used in a variety of ways, from producing clothing to fueling machinery. However, industrial biomass generally has lower levels of CBD, and is therefore not as useful in the production of CBD products. Naturally, hemp fibre biomass requires different processes, depending on the type of products it is used to create. For example, when creating clothing, the biomass must undergo a retting process, in which moisture is applied to the materials in order to separate the fibres.
What is CBD Hemp Biomass?
Alternationaly, CBD biomass refers to excess hemp plant material that is rich in CBD. This kind of biomass is best used to extract CBD oils, distillate, or isolate. The resulting solution can then be used for the production of virtually any CBD products, from lotions to edibles.
How to Transport Biomass
As stated previously, the differences in localized THC legalization can make standardization across state borders complicated. Until the USDA provides clarification on the proper testing methods, traveling over state lines with hemp biomass may require a few additional hurdles. To learn more about transporting hemp biomass, consult this article.
Wholesale CBD Biomass Prices
While prices vary by vendor and location, there is one place where you can compare prices and shop for wholesale biomass: Kush.com. At Kush.com, you can find the latest industry pricing data, as we update the average offer price, average listing price, and average offer accepted price on a monthly basis. We also use this data to make accurate forecasts about future prices, as well as predictions regarding material and product availability by region. To learn more about how we collect and analyze our data, check out this link.
Since wholesale pricing can change from one month to the next, you will need to consult Kush.com for the most up-to-date prices. The chart above illustrates the current biomass price, though this will inevitably change going forward. This is why we are constantly collecting data and analyzing current pricing models across the broader market.
That said, there are a variety of factors that can affect CBD biomass wholesale prices, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Specific vendor
- Larger market trends
- Product shortage/surplus
In any case, when you are in the market for bulk hemp biomass, it is vital that you do ample research before making a purchase. Thankfully, Kush.com has you covered. Our data will not only show you how prices have changed recently, but also how different market trends will affect prices in the future.
Where to Buy Hemp
Shopping in a marketplace that is relatively new and dependent on ever-changing legislation can be intimidating. After all, if you’re in the market to buy hemp biomass, you won’t want to choose a vendor that has not been properly vetted. You could end up losing a lot of money if you’re not careful. Similarly, if you want to sell hemp biomass, you will need to have access to a large network of interested wholesale buyers.
Hemp Biomass refers to any material left behind from flowers after they are cultivated and processed. This material is generally the seeds, stalks & leaves.