The grain or seed category for industrial hemp is very promising. The seed is packed with oil and protein. Currently the human consumption seed market is flourishing with Canada leading the way. However with many US state programs researching the crop the seed market futures are good. The seed harvesting does not require special equipment, but there is seed loss and complications with traditional combines. The seed is harvested green to prevent pods from opening and seeds falling to the ground. The green material produces tunnels in auger driven bins, the auger driven head struggles to sometimes move smaller heads and the operator tends to drop the head lower in the plant producing more stalk debris mixed into the seed bin. Draper headers and stripper headers will be more designed for large scale efficient grain harvesting.
The second challenge for the seed or grain category is the infrastructure to dry, clean, and store the seed. Auger driven facilities can damage the seed, and the damaged seed and oil can cause the bin to go rancid. The facility long term needs to be up fitted with belts and scoops not augers, depending on harvest location and transportation time the seed could require open bottom air driven trailers, like used for peanuts. The drying facility needs to be within four hours of the harvest time, depending on temperature and environment harvested.
Food grade facilities will also be a requirement for entering the current hemp seed market. Indoor storage facilities, like the ones used for sweet potatoes, and vegetables will probably be implemented in seed storage. The largest market is yet approved, that is the animal feed market. Currently Hempleton has funded the first FDA guided hemp animal feed study in the nation for livestock production. Over this past winter researchers at NC State University performed the study and the public release of the results have not been made, however the study has been successful enough to generate a lot of interest in a second study to detail FDA requirements for approval.
If you would like to participate in the Hempleton research projects or funding for additional studies in the animal feed market, please contact us!