Farming, Fiber, News, Seed, Technology

To choose the right seed, think through the entire process

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By Robin Destiche | Hempoint s.r.o.

As 2021 unfolds we will see the installation of a number of decortication systems in the U.S. This is exciting and great news as the industry continues to develop products that are more sustainable, can help sequester carbon, and replace petroleum-based materials. Problems are being solved; supply chain solutions to process hemp stalks are emerging.


Of course that supply chain starts with buying seed for fiber hemp varieties, which requires some preliminary conversation before the purchase, aside from the details on the seed itself.

Purchasing seed is only the most fundamental part of the process. It’s not necessarily easy, but a responsible seed broker is interested in the success of the buyer, so he’ll work with you, quiz you, advise you and stick with you through the harvest. That being said, is the buyer prepared for the farming, the harvesting, the decortication and the processing of the material? 

Harvesting & decortication

Creating a functional financial model for a decorticator, which sits at the heart of any  fiber operation, is challenging. The end must come first: What is the target industry or product? Who are the customers? What are the annual amounts needed? How much monthly? What about quality requirements, packing, shipping? Is there potential for a second output from the hemp? What is the viable financial model for your region? How diverse should your client portfolio be?

These questions must be answered by each individual buyer, there is no “right” answer for any one project or product. It’s in the process of studying markets and developing a financial model that you’ll find clarity regarding the type of machine needed.

Part II: Overview of European certified hemp seed
Part III: Sourcing hemp cultivation seed from Europe

Taking another step backwards in the supply chain, the harvest also requires a hard look at practical considerations. Harvesting hemp for fiber requires specialized machinery. How much can your machine harvest per day: 50 acres? 75? How are you going to handle those 12-foot plants? How about millions of those plants densely grown? How much downtime for service on your equipment? What’s the backup plan if the harvester goes down? What about baling, and storage?

This is the due diligence of financial planning, but it all traces back to that fundamental matter of which seed you choose to grow.

Case study

To feed one machine with output capacity of 5 tons per hour running two shifts a day requires 20,000+ tons of input material. At 5 tons yield of hemp stalk per acre, that’s around 4,000 acres (6.25 square miles). At a fiber density planting of 50 lbs of seed per acre, that’s 200,000 pounds — 100 tons! — of seed just for one decortication line. 

To secure 100 tons of seed for planting will require partnerships to be formed working with experienced seed suppliers who can help to secure future supply. The long game will be to find the varieties that will perform consistently in the different climates in the U.S. and create partnerships for multiplication to cover U.S. needs. 

So where does 100 tons of planting seed for hemp fiber come from? Europe.

Robin Destiche is Operations Manager at Czech-based Hempoint s.r.o., a cultivation seed broker and vertically integrated hemp company that recently marked its 10-year anniversary. His current portfolio includes seed sales, decortication, product development, and partnerships for seed multiplication. He also leads the Tea Infusion unit at Hempoint, which is a leading European supplier of organic hemp teas. Prior to joining Hempoint, Destiche was Business Management Director at U.S. Hemp Brokerage. His past experience includes work in executive leadership in the hospitality industry in the USA.

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