HHH Hemp Harvesting Technology (HHH) of Germany has signed a sales and distribution agreement for North America and named a representative for specific Latin American markets as the company manages strong demand for its breakthrough cannabis bud stripping technology.
HHH has partnered with Craftfarma, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, which has already ordered 12 of the HHH-700 specialized harvesters for customers under a licensing agreement. HHH has sold a total of 20 harvesters in North America and Europe since starting up production late last year with manufacturing partner Eilhauer, a German specialty machine maker. Craftfarma said inquiries about the bud stripping technology in North America are running high.
Potential in Latin America
HHH also named Juan Levrero as the company’s sales representative for Uruguay and Paraguay and is pursuing arrangements to serve other Latin American markets, said Heinrich Wieker, owner of the company and developer of the patented HHH-700 technology.
In Uruguay, Wieker said the company has strong potential to tap into business among 40 major cannabis companies and the country’s large number of legal cannabis clubs, which are looking for harvesting solutions.
As sales expand, HHH is also adding manufacturing partners to serve key markets, focusing first on North America, Wieker said.
The right moment
The affordably priced HHH-700 harvester hits the market at a time when hemp CBD and marijuana operators are trying to rationalize their businesses as those sectors mature. Wieker said analysis of field work in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg last autumn showed the HHH-700 reduced labor costs by 73%, and trimmed work staff from 15 to only 4 workers required to run the harvester in “semi-stationary” operation.
Founded in 2020, North American partner Craftfarma is developing a portfolio of advanced technology solutions for the agricultural processing industry, focusing on innovations in industrial processes that make manual, repetitive work easier, safer, more sustainable and more efficient.
“This deal is a major development in our global strategy for the HHH-700,” said Wieker. “The North American markets for CBD and marijuana flowers are maturing quickly, and are clearly ready for advanced solutions that have a major impact on their bottom lines.”
In field or stationary
With the HHH-700 operating in “semi-stationary” mode, workers collect and then hand feed bushy plant stalks into the harvester’s stripper mechanism as a tractor moves the unit from one spot to the next in the field. But the HHH-700 can also operate stationary in farm buildings for indoor and greenhouse growers, or can be mounted on a tractor to collect flowers from conventionally planted, straight-stem industrial hemp varieties while running continuously through the field.
The modular system means units can be lined up a maximum three across for tractor-mounted, continuous field harvesting. Harvesting of both flowers and plant stems is possible with the addition of an optional cutter bar. Wieker said HHH has sold one such dual-cropping configuration for hemp harvesting in Germany.
Four years in research, development and production, the HHH-700 has an aluminum frame and rollers for weight reduction, and stainless steel components such as chains and other flower-contacting parts for pharmacy- and food-grade yields. Eilhauer produces the HHH-700 under Wieker’s supervision.
The machine gently detaches cannabis flowers from the stalk and stems by a patented stripping mechanism. The flowers can be collected in a bag or container. In field operation mode for harvesting traditional hemp plants, the hemp stalks are left in the field for retting. Depending on plant maturity at the time of harvesting, it’s also possible to shake out the seeds.
Wieker said last year’s field tests showed the HHH-700 harvested hemp 20 times faster than hand harvesting. With bushy plants, the HHH-700 was 12 times faster. The results showed the harvester reduces the time required for hand harvesting one bushy cannabis plant from 3-5 minutes to roughly 40 seconds.
Designed to be efficient for conventionally planted hemp and marijuana grows as small as 5 hectares (12.3 acres), the standard single-unit HHH-700 can harvest up to 2 hectares (4.95 acres) per day in industrial hemp and 0.5 to 1 hectares (1.25 to 2.5 acres) in bushy crops. The cannabis bud stripping model comes in single modules without intake chains and cutters.
The HHH-700 was named winner of the European Industrial Hemp Association’s “Hemp Product of the Year” competition in June 2020.