Farming, Fiber, News, North America

Specialized harvester hopes to tap growing interest in fiber

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A Canadian company is bringing specialized fiber hemp harvesting technology to North America, anticipating continued expansion of applications for the hemp plant’s stalk and expanding hemp fields worldwide.

British Columbia-based Forever Green, which is providing specialist farming equipment maker Laumetris, Vilainiai, Lithuania, with global sales support, is now taking orders for the KP-4 Fiber Hemp Cutter. The harvester can mow down hemp fields at up to 20 km/h (~12mp/h), taking a swath of 2.8 meters (9+ feet).

“With the success and maturity of the hemp seed and foodstuff market there is growing interest in fiber,” said Peter Düshop, co-founder at Forever Green. “Newly developing research on various applications and the growing pressure of climate change and environmental sensitivity make it a great time and a ground floor entry point for those looking to pursue the hemp fiber industry.”

Cut for the processor

The KP-4 works with four combine style sickle bar cutters that sever the hemp stalks into 24-inch (60 cm) sections, the length preferred by fiber processors. The harvester is adjustable to cut from one to four 24-inch stalk sections depending on plant height.

The 4,400kg (9,700 lb.) harvester can be pulled by any 180-HP tractor with a CAT3 3-point hookup and adequate lift capacity. Six of the KP-4 machines cut more than 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of fields in Lithuania last year, Düshop said.

“We have a number of years of experience with growing, harvesting and decorticating industrial hemp. Access to reliable equipment has always been a challenge,” Düshop said. “To support the growth and success of the industry, we need more efficient, faster and more adaptable machinery.”

Demand will grow

The companies said the need for specialized harvesting and processing equipment is certain to grow in the coming years, noting that even in Europe, where fiber processing in the new hemp era is more advanced than in the USA or Canada, options are few. Priced at €69,900 (~$85,000), the KP-4 fills a wide gap between a conventional single sickle mower adapted for hemp stalks — which means further processing is required — and industrial scale double-cut harvesters that sell for more than $1 million.

“We believe there has been some pent up interest in hemp fiber, but barriers to entry, mainly cost, have made it challenging for things to get started,” Düshop said.

Parts and service

Under Forever Green’s agreement with Laumetris, the Canadian company will also provide parts and maintenance support, while the machines will continue to be made in Lituania. Depending on location and method of transport, Düshop estimates average delivery time of three months for the harvesting units.

Forever Green comes from a second-generation family farm operation in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, in the Bulkley Valley, a forestry, mining and agricultural area.

“We appreciate Forever Green’s vertically integrated approach to the hemp supply chain and their hands-on experience in field preparation of hemp to meet the needs of processing mills,” Taurius Putna, Export Executive at Laumetris, said of the partnership.

Laumetris, founded in 1993, specializes in manufacturing small agriculture machinery, including strip till drills, cultivators, transportation and spraying equipment, with customers worldwide. Laumetris also makes the K-15 Hemp Harvesting System, a cannabis flower harvester.

Technical specifications

Laumetris KP-4 Hemp Cutter
Type: Trailed, pull type harvester
Operational width: 2.8m (9.1 ft)
Working speed: Up to 20km/h (~12.5 mp/h)
Working speed: Up to 20km/h (~12.5 mp/h)
Transportation width: 2.5 meters (~6.5 ft)
Wheels: 520/50-17
Weight: 4,400 kg (~9,700 lb.)
Power required: 180hp, with adequate 3pt lifting capacity

Get more information on the KP-4 Fiber Hemp Cutter

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