Europe, Farming, Fiber, Seed

Polish hemp varieties lead grain and fiber trials in North Dakota

Henola growing in fields at Bożnowice, a village in Lower Silesia, Poland.
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Two Polish hemp varieties were top performers again in this year’s research trials by North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) Carrington Research Extension Center.

Henola, which is grown for food seed, outperformed seven Canadian hemp cultivars in grain production while Białobrzeskie, a legacy Polish fiber variety, reached heights of nearly 6’8” (~2 meters), more than one foot taller than the second-ranked variety in the trials.

Both hemp varieties were developed by researchers at the Institute of Natural Fibers & Medicinal Plants (IWNiRZ), Poznań, Poland, a government research and development agency that is the official custodian of Polish hemp varieties through its Polish Hemp Program.

The varieties were entered into the North Dakota trials by International Hemp, which produces and distributes the varieties in North America.

Henola tops in grain

Results showed that Henola yielded 1,266 lbs. of seeds per acre (~1.42 tons/hectare) topping a total of nine varieties trialed. It’s the second year that Henola has been the best performer for grain production in the NDSU research, having topped a total of 11 varieties in the first year of trials in 2020.

As farmers turn more to grain and fiber production, Białobrzeskie offers dual cropping potential. In addition to producing the most fiber, Białobrzeskie produced 1,000 lbs. of seeds per acre (~1.1 tons/ hectare), ranking fourth in that category among the varieties studied.

The Carrington center trials a diverse range of crops and varieties each year aimed to help inform North Dakota farmers which cultivars are optimal for their region. Canadian hemp varieties in the NDSU 2021 hemp variety trials were CFX-2, CRS-1, Katani, Canda, Joey, Vega and X-59.

High marks in Europe

Developed specifically for grain farming through seven years of breeding research at IWNiRZ’s Pętkowo Experimental Station, Henola made its debut in Europe on a limited basis in 2017, later entering the U.S. market in 2018.

The Polish Hemp Program (PHP), an initiative set up by IWNiRZ to manage commercialization of intellectual property worldwide, said reports from Europe also showed high yields from Henola. In Poland, controlled commercial harvesting by IWNiRZ produced 2.6 tons of grain per ha (~1.04 tons/acre) while a separate commercial organic plantation reached a record yield of 1.7 tons of grain per hectare (~0.68 tons/acre). And one grower in Germany who farmed Henola through organic methods harvested 1.32 tons of hemp grain per hectare (~0.53 tons/acre), according to the Institute.

Henola has been selected to participate in the Industrial Hemp Variety Trials co-funded by AgriFutures Australia, according to PHP. Those trials aim to provide Australian hemp growers with independent information about the performance of new industrial hemp seed varieties suited to specific geographic locations within Australia.

Białobrzeskie’s versatility

Białobrzeskie, the first Polish variety of fibrous monoecious hemp, has historically been grown for textile fibers; its stem cores are also used for a variety of hurd applications such as hempcrete construction and animal bedding; and the variety’s flowers have also proven suitable for CBD and other extracts, primarily due to a cannabinoid profile that is stable at less than 0.2% THC.

IWNiRZ’s Polish Hemp Program commercializes industrial intellectual property rights developed at the research institute. The goal of the program is to ensure large-scale production of qualified and exclusive industrial hemp seeds of hemp varieties owned by the Institute, such as Henola, Białobrzeskie, Tygra and Rajan. Those genetics are sold in Poland, elsewhere in Europe and on other continents. The varieties are cultivated in 41 states of the USA, in Uruguay, South Africa and Australia.

The Polish Hemp Program promotes the plant varieties, and fosters knowledge transfer in the fields of agricultural engineering and processing in order to increase the popularity of the hemp plant worldwide.

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