U.S. seed developer New West Genetics (NWG) has released ABOUND, a line of dioecious hemp seeds for row crop farming, suggesting that conventional outdoor growing offers a path to scalability, dual-cropping of CBD and grain, and a stable supply chain.
“The costly manual labor required for feminized-only hemp seed production is not a scalable option,” the company’s president, Wendy Mosher, said in a press release. “We saw this in the 2019 season when many farmers ended up upside down financially.”
About one third of the hemp currently grown for CBD in the USA comes from crops raised in greenhouses or controlled indoor facilities from feminized seeds (which produce no male plants), with the remainder grown outdoors. While growing indoors or in greenhouses is preferable for the production of smokable hemp flower, it won’t be economically viable to meet demand for other CBD products if the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) advances hemp rules, NWG said.
“Once the FDA gives . . . approval for use of CBD in supplements and the food and beverage market, as well as grain for animal feed, quickly scaled and affordable production will be urgently needed,” Colorado-based New West said in the release.
Some estimates say controlled “specialty crop” farming in greenhouses or indoor facilities with feminized seeds can cost as much as five times the outlays required for outdoor growing with dioecious seeds (which produce both male and female plants).
Mosher said planting hemp for CBD outdoors will let farmers increase their return on investment through dual-cropping while avoiding those costs. Also, farmers don’t need to invest in new equipment to raise and harvest hemp as a row crop.
97% germination rate
NWG said its Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the Colorado Department of Agriculture shows a germination rate of 97 percent with the ABOUND seed, which is designed to be planted more densely per acre. While the plants may yield less weight per plant, per acre yield of CBD is equal to that obtained from high-CBD feminized plants, the company said.
The new NWG dioecious cultivars are the result of seven years of research and development by breeders and geneticists experienced in crops such as corn, rice and canola, NWG said.