Study: Hemp in Toxic Soil Produces Clean CBD Flower

Here are the biggest CBD news stories from this week:

  • A new study has found that hemp cleanses toxic soil yet produces a clean, CBD-concentrated flower.
  • The USDA has announced that hemp will qualify for a new crop insurance pilot program in 2020.

Study: Hemp Grown in Contaminated Soil Produces More CBD

One study is showing that hemp grown in contaminated soil increases CBD concentration and that it may still be suitable for human consumption.

The Study

The researchers, primarily from Penn State Harrisburg, took six cultivars (a plant variety cultivated by selective breeding), half of which were meant to be grown for fiber and seed.

In contrast, the other half were intended for CBD production.

Each cultivar was grown in two types of contaminated soil and two types of clean soil (Miracle-Gro Potting Mix and PRO-MIX HP Mycorrhizae High Porosity Grower Mix).

Furthermore, every plant cultivar in each soil was grown in two different environments: outdoors and in a greenhouse.

The hemp grown in the contaminated soil produced 2.16% and 2.58% CBD content, while the hemp in clean soil produced 1.08% and 1.6% in the outdoor and greenhouse environments, respectively.

“Total CBD content in the floral buds grown in mine land 1 soil in both outdoors and in the greenhouse was higher than the floral buds grown in Miracle-Gro in both environmental parameters and in the field, which can be concluded due to the heavy metal stress,” said the researchers.

In addition to the higher CBD concentration, the heavy metals absorbed by the hemp cultivars grown in contaminated soil were not present in the hemp flower, according to an article from Leafly.

Sairam Rudrabhatla, a professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg and one of the study’s lead authors, told Leafly, “We did see metal uptake in the leaves and removal from the soil but not in the floral buds.”

THC levels only increased in one hemp strain.

What This Means for the Hemp-Derived CBD Market

The increase in concentration and purity of the hemp flower in contaminated soil may have implications for the commercial production of CBD.

However, learning that CBD products are being sourced from toxic soil may not sit well with the majority of CBD customers.

“The main part of the market will probably be a little fearful of hemp grown in toxic soil,” said Chris Boucher, co-founder of the Hemp Industries Association and CEO of Farmtiva. “That’s the dilemma I see. Right now, they’re beating the drum: ‘If you don’t use organic [source material], it will be toxic and poisonous.’”

USDA Announces Crop Insurance Pilot Program for Hemp in 2020

Select hemp farmers will have access to crop insurance in the 2020 growing season.

The USDA announced a pilot insurance coverage for hemp growers from certain counties in the following 21 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

“We are excited to offer coverage to certain hemp producers in this pilot program,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “Since this is a pilot program, we look forward to feedback from producers on the program in the coming crop year.”

The program provides Actual Production History coverage, which protects producers against yield losses due to natural causes, under 508(h) Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI).

Coverage is for hemp grown to produce fiber, grain, or CBD oil.

To be eligible for insurance, producers must comply with all federal, state, or tribal regulations, have grown hemp for at least one year, and possess a contract to sell the hemp.

Additionally, for farmers to receive insurance, they must be a part of a pilot program as prescribed in the 2014 Farm Bill or a program approved under the USDA’s 2019 interim final rule.

The USDA’s hemp rules have been under scrutiny since they were released in October 2019.

Lawmakers have sent numerous letters asking the department to consider specific changes.

The USDA also announced that starting in 2021, hemp can be insured under the Nursery crop insurance program and the Nursery Value Select pilot crop insurance program.