CannabisNewsWire Editorial Coverage: This year will see the largest U.S. hemp crop since changes to federal law created an avenue for production to start again, turning over decades of fallowed industry.
- Thousands of acres of hemp will be harvested across 19 states.
- Kentucky is seeing particularly good crops, due to near-perfect growing conditions over the summer.
- The main product taken from these crops will be cannabidiol (CBD) oil, used in a growing range of health and wellness products.
- Crop production is set to continue increasing in light of high demand and legal changes.
Sugarmade, Inc. (OTC: SGMD) (SGMD Profile) is profiting from this development by expanding from hydroponics into investment in hemp production, broadening its cannabis-related portfolio. Other companies are expanding internationally. Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) is now working with affiliates and subsidiaries in Europe, South America and Australasia. Cannabis grower Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED) has drawn billions of dollars in investment from the beverages industry as big companies look to get into the market. And Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (NYSE: ACB) (TSX: ACB) has established an extensive network of supply agreements across Canada, which will help to raise sales and awareness of cannabis and related products. New uses are also set to increase demand, thanks to research by companies such as Cronos Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) (TSX: CRON).
Farmers Count the Green from Growing Hemp Harvest
As summer turns to fall, a small number of U.S. farmers are bringing in a new harvest — hemp. For some states, this is the first time that the crop has appeared in more than 50 years because hemp had been outlawed under sweeping anti-cannabis legislation. The last few years have seen significant changes, primarily because the nation’s 2014 Farm Bill funding provisions authorized limited hemp cultivation, and several states began supporting the crop. Now hemp is making a comeback.
This promises to be a good year for hemp. Early indications are that farmers will see a robust crop with a high market value. The growth of the market for CBD oil means that there are plenty of outlets not just for hemp fibers but also for the plant’s other derivatives. And these first successful harvests, accompanied by pending legal change on the federal level, are set to establish hemp as an important crop over the next decade.
The 2018 Hemp Harvest
The past year has seen big growth for hemp. In 2017, the acreage of hemp production expanded by 163 percent through agricultural sites in 19 states. Now the largest hemp harvest of the new era is expected. It’s good news for companies invested in hemp, such as Sugarmade, Inc. (OTC: SGMD).
Like several of the companies involved in the hemp industry, Sugarmade was drawn to the sector by an interest in the wider cannabis market. The company’s main business is the supply of hydroponic equipment used for indoor agriculture. The growth of the legal cannabis market has fueled profits for Sugarmade as growers have valued its supplies. Now the company is diversifying its presence in the thriving sector.
When it comes to driving business, hemp is a beast that is very different from recreational marijuana. While both are forms of cannabis, industrial hemp has very low quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in cannabis that gets users high. In Kentucky, for example, hemp plants must have no more than 0.3 percent THC. Hemp is also grown differently, using large-scale outdoor cultivation rather than the intensive indoor methods used for other forms of cannabis.
Moving into this part of the market involved a different approach by Sugarmade. Instead of simply relying on its presence as a supplier of tools and equipment for profits, the company has committed a million dollars to investment in Hempistry, Inc. Hempistry’s hemp cultivation is based in Kentucky, the state with the third largest acreage of hemp growth, just behind Oregon but far behind Colorado, which is home to nearly as much hemp as the next three states combined.
While the top states have thousands of acres of hemp under cultivation, others are just starting to get involved, thanks to smaller scale projects. Washington State saw its first 175 acres of hemp planted in 2017, while Minnesota went from 51 acres in 2016 to 1,205 acres in 2017.
Kentucky has seen a particularly good year for hemp. Almost perfect growing conditions over the summer and early fall are setting it up for a bumper harvest. Sugarmade executives, including CEO Jimmy Chan, have visited the Hempistry project to inspect it and found that it lived up to the hype. It is seen as ultra-premium-grade hemp, perfect for extracting one of the biggest products to come from hemp — CBD oil.
CBD — Key to the Hemp Market
Hemp isn’t a new crop, even if its appearance in current markets seems like a novelty. As long ago as the Mayflower pilgrimage, hemp fibers were used in North America to produce rope and canvas for sailing ships. Even in the early 20th century, just before it became illegal, it was mostly grown for these fibers.
Now, that has changed.
Hemp fiber still has value in producing everything from cloth to construction materials. But the real wealth is in CBD oil. This is why Hempistry has built a crop labeled as ultra-premium and why Sugarmade determined to invest one million in the business.
While CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC, it’s still an active ingredient in cannabis that produces a chemical response in users. Research into its effects is in its infancy, thanks to so many years without businesses backing. But studies over the past decade have led to its use in a wide range of health and wellness products. Some of the highest-profile research has focused on its potential use in tackling epilepsy, but CBD oil is turning up in a huge range of products that appear to impact everything from pain management to improving mental processes.
The CBD market is growing enormously in the United States and beyond. The large, healthy harvests coming out of Kentucky should find no shortage of demand for the oil extracted from its plants. Sugarmade’s first foray into CBD has all the signs of success.
Where Next for Hemp?
Based on these results, Sugarmade has already begun plans to significantly expand its hemp operations next year. Hempistry has optioned 23,000 acres for potential hemp cultivation, more than is currently growing in the top five states put together.
Statistics taken from the Hemp Business Journal show that the U.S. hemp industry saw at least $820 million in revenues in 2017. Some experts forecast that number to increase to more than a billion dollars in 2018 and continue to grow at a compound rate of 14 percent per year until 2022. This increase is driven in part by growth in demand and in part by changes to the status of the hemp industry.
Central to this is the new version of the Farm Bill currently being considered by the U.S. Senate. The bill includes clauses with cross-party support for hemp cultivation that would expand the potential for farming. Hemp is currently restricted to trial crops and scientific studies, but under the new bill, it could be grown as a regular crop by farmers across the country.
This legal change will let companies such as Sugarmade support the cultivation of large quantities of hemp to meet the huge demand for CBD oil. And if that demand keeps growing, the industry could take off at an exponential rate.
Reaping the Benefits
This growth isn’t just taking place in America. Demand for CBD oil and other cannabis-related products is expanding around the world, as is the industry meeting that demands. Tilray, Inc. (NASDAQ: TLRY) manufactures products used by thousands of patients, researchers and physicians across the globe, and is building that international reach. In addition to affiliates in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Portugal, the company recently acquired Alef Biotechnology SpA in Chile.
One of Canada’s largest cannabis companies, Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) (TSX: WEED) has drawn jaw-dropping financial backing from beyond the cannabis industry. American beverage company Constellation Brands’ $4 billion investment will allow the two companies to develop CBD-infused drinks, building a leisure market for ingredients derived from hemp. With a corporate giant such as Constellation taking an interest, pressure is likely to grow for further reform in Washington, easing the way for growth in the hemp industry.
Canopy Growth isn’t the only big player in Canada, where the recent legalization of recreational cannabis is set to supercharge the industry. Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (NYSE: ACB) (TSX: ACB) is one of the big players and has already established supply agreements that will let it sell products in provinces across the country. Increasing public awareness of cannabis, driven in part by such supply channels, will also increase awareness of related CBD-based products, with a supplemental boost for hemp.
Meanwhile, researchers continue to find new uses for CBD and other cannabinoids. Cronos Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) (TSX: CRON) has recently announced new work with the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology to explore the use of cannabinoids in skin care. Not only are existing markets expanding, but new ones are being created as additional promising uses for cannabis-based products are found.
This year’s bumper hemp crop looks to be just the beginning of a burgeoning industry with an exciting future.
For more information on Sugarmade, visit Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD)
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