As long-standing veterans in sustainable hemp harvesting and CBD oil production, our team at Tree of Life Seeds has seen it all: from genetically developing our seeds that yield a high percentage of CBD with minimal THC, to working with farmers to harvest the hemp, all the way to extracting the CBD oil itself.
Creating high-quality products that are truly THC-free requires a set of best practices and carefully executed conditions. And with new applications for CBD oil consistently on the rise as new legislature expands legalization, understanding responsible and sustainable hemp plant harvesting has become a top industry priority. For leaders, farmers, and cultivators in the cannabis space, hemp harvesting best practices are no longer merely a good-to-know, but a necessity.
Rules, Regulations, and Impact on Hemp Harvesting
When the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, cultivators became subject to individual states’ plans for regulating hemp production. In most states, a license is needed to produce hemp, and many states have set up research and pilot programs that one can apply to participate in, such as in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In states like New York, participation in research programs is the only legal way to grow hemp.
A few states are in the process of submitting plans to the USDA, with applications for permits on the rise in 2019 and 2020. Licenses and permits can typically be applied for through the state’s department of agriculture.
Hemp grown for industrial purposes has many potential applications, such as being used for textiles, fuel, and building materials. Clothing made from hemp is already on the market, and hemp-based building material such as hempcrete offers excellent insulation and fire resistance. The industry is continuing to grow and advance, with hemp-based paper proving to be more environmentally friendly than tree-based paper and several universities researching the possibility of using hemp as a fuel.
The Process: How to Harvest Hemp for CBD Oil
We at Tree of Life Seeds use the utmost care and attention when growing and harvesting our CBD-rich hemp to produce a THC-free product with natural ingredients. Our geneticists’ engineer hemp seeds that will yield plants high in CBD and low in THC, and that will grow better outdoors. We then work closely with the farmers who grow our seeds and the states’ departments that regulate hemp production. “At Tree of Life Seeds, we work with state agriculture departments across the country to get proper licensing to sell genetics. This is an extra hoop we jump through to ensure that our farmers have access to the best material,” said Brian Madar, COO of Tree of Life Seeds and experienced hemp farmer.
Farmers typically determine the proper time to harvest hemp by monitoring CBD levels, colors of trichomes in the hemp’s buds, and weather conditions since hemp harvesting processes are synchronized with hurricane seasons. Once harvested, the hemp is dried and cured in a well-ventilated area. Madar continued, “we have been in this industry for several years and have the equipment and room to handle processing large amounts hemp. We put that knowledge to good use to help farmers handle the final steps in the growing process. We can dry and process so that farmers aren’t stuck worrying about it.”
From there, the hemp plants are ground up, and then CBD oil itself is extracted from the hemp. An ethanol extraction process is used to draw out the CBD from the hemp plant. During this method, the ethanol is used to separate the CBD oil from the rest of the hemp plant, and then the ethanol evaporates. This method produces a more pure CBD oil than other methods of extraction. The extracted oil then goes through filtration and distillation.
All of the THC is then removed from the oil. This is done without disturbing the other natural compounds of the oil and leaves the full spectrum of phytocannabinoids and terpenes without the THC. While other companies will often simply dilute the THC concentration, we reduce the THC amounts to 0% by removing the molecules themselves, allowing customers to pass drug tests while using our products. The process is expensive but creates a higher-quality product safer for our consumers.
Challenges of Growing Hemp for CBD Oil
The process of growing and harvesting hemp varies between industrial hemp and hemp grown specifically for CBD oil. Hemp grown for its fiber, which is then used in building materials and textiles, is much easier to produce than hemp grown for CBD oil. On the other hand, hemp grown for CBD must be constantly monitored for both its CBD and THC levels. Harvesting hemp at the wrong time can lead to a significantly lower CBD yield, and if the hemp surpasses the 0.3% THC limit, it’s no longer usable. This strict limit makes it crucial that the perfect soil and climate conditions are present to allow for the maximum CBD yield without too much THC.
There is an extra challenge in growing hemp for CBD oil because it is an accumulator plant. Farmers cannot use pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides because these are absorbed by the plant and passed on to the consumers. At this time, there are no pesticides approved for use on hemp crops.
Why Hemp Processing at Tree of Life Seeds is Unique
Our CBD oil also undergoes a process called nano emulsification, which reduces the size of the CBD molecules so that the body can better absorb them. Because CBD molecules are naturally larger than skin cells, it is difficult for the CBD in topical products to penetrate the skin and be absorbed into the body where it can work to affect muscles and joints. Orally ingested CBD products have a similar problem since the oil isn’t water-soluble. Instead, a lot of the CBD gets processed out as waste without having a chance to work in the body. Orally-Ingested CBD products have a bioavailability, or proportion that actually enters the body’s circulation, of under 20%.
Tree of Life Seeds uses all-natural, organic materials to reduce the size of the molecules, resulting in smaller CBD molecules that allow for maximum absorption in the body but are still shelf-stable. While other companies will use synthetics to achieve a smaller molecule size, we only use organic materials. Our process of nano emulsification also leads to more stability of the molecules than other companies’ use of encapsulation, which yield similar results at a lower price but at the cost that the molecules will expand again before long. Our use of organic materials and longer-lasting stability ensures the safety of our customers.
The Tree of Life Seeds Difference
By refusing to cut corners and overseeing every step of production, our team at Tree of Life Seeds can produce CBD oil products with 0% THC and organic materials. Our work in genetics, harvesting, and extraction allows for a high-quality product that is safe for our consumers.